There has been a giant leap in the amount of research that students, teachers, and researchers alike are doing. Although their use has increased, there is still a large majority of these groups who prefer not to use online resources or simply do not know how to do so. There is also a large percentage of people, especially in academia, who find online encyclopedias unreliable. This mindset has turned out to be unfortunate because online reference materials are often just as factually correct as their print counterparts. To discuss the benefits of finding data online, it is important to approach the topic from both the student and the teacher/researcher’s point of view.

Student benefits of using an online encyclopedia

1. Speed

It is much faster to use online encyclopedias for research than to spend hours in the library. When working online, the student simply needs to find the encyclopedia of her choice and type in a search phrase. From here, the student can receive a series of articles related to her research approach. They will be able to accumulate a large amount of information in a matter of minutes. This same process can literally take hours when using print materials in a library.

2. Updated information

By using an online encyclopedia, students will receive up-to-date information. If the facts change, these changes will be reflected in the online reference materials. With printed materials this is simply not possible. Once a book is printed, it cannot be changed. Many schools and libraries have encyclopedias that are five or ten years old. Students who are forced to use these materials may be absorbing information that has been long out of date.

3. Depth and breadth

Because online encyclopedias are constantly being updated, they often have more depth and breadth than a traditional encyclopedia. This gives students the opportunity to find much more information on any given topic. Also, if you are focusing on a topic that is not well known, it may not be found in traditional print reference materials. One last advantage is that when there is a citation or footnote in an online encyclopedia, it is usually accompanied by a link to the original source. This gives students an easy way to gather more information, as well as easily refer to original sources.

Teachers and researchers Benefits of using online encyclopedias

1. Create a connection

Students are using the Internet and all it has to offer at an ever-increasing rate. By using online reference materials, you can make a connection with students. This will typically increase your attention to the project, as well as increase your overall level of commitment. A more engaged student will not only work harder, but will naturally also retain more of the information they encounter.

2. Construction of images

For a teacher or researcher to be taken seriously and to be more respected, they must gain the approval of their audience. With more people using the Internet, a teacher or researcher will naturally appear to have used resources that their audience would find acceptable, thus improving their image.

Should online encyclopedias and reference materials be trusted?

While there are benefits to using online reference materials to find important data, whether or not they can be trusted has been debated for some time. At the center of this debate, there is an important issue; Where do online reference materials and encyclopedias get their information? If they get their information from low-quality resources, the information is likely to be incorrect. There are many print encyclopedias and reference materials that have been replicated online, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and are considered legitimate. However, the most popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, and similar websites are often criticized.

Since anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, many academics argue that it is full of errors and inaccurate information. The founders of Wikipedia admit that some of the information may be inaccurate, however, in total it has been found to be surprisingly true. To contribute to a Wikipedia entry, you must be cited. It is then reviewed by editors and the citation must come from an unbiased source and proven to be factually accurate. In fact, several studies have been carried out and it has been concluded that Wikipedia is almost as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta. If you’re still wondering if Wikipedia can be trusted, keep in mind that it took more than 70 years and thousands of contributors, including an inmate in an asylum for the criminally insane, to create the original Oxford English Dictionary. The fact that thousands of people have made a contribution does not mean that the information is incorrect.

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