Using Reference Resources and Online Encyclopedia: How They Help Students, Teachers, and Researchers
There has been a huge leap in the amount of research being done by students, faculty, and research alike. Although its use has increased, there are 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 proven to be unfortunate because online reference materials are often just as factually correct as their printed counterparts. To discuss the benefits of finding facts online, it is important to approach the topic from the point of view of both the student and the teacher / researcher.
Benefits for Students of Using an Online Encyclopedia
It is much faster to use online encyclopedias for research than it is to spend hours in the library. When working online, the student must simply find the encyclopedia of their choice and enter a search phrase. From here, the student can receive a series of articles related to the focus of their research. They will be able to accumulate a large amount of information in a matter of minutes. This same process can take literally hours when using printed 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 Students who are forced to use these materials may be absorbing information that has been out of date for a long time.
3. Depth and breadth
Because online encyclopedias are constantly updated, they often have more depth and breadth than a traditional encyclopedia. This gives students the opportunity to find much more information on any topic. Also, if they focus on a topic that is not well known, it may not be found in traditional printed reference materials. One final advantage is that when there is a quote or footnote in an online encyclopedia, it is often accompanied by a link to the original source. This gives students an easy way to gather more information, as well as to easily reference original sources.
Benefits for teachers and researchers of using online encyclopedias
1. Create a connection
Students are using the Internet and all it has to offer at an ever-growing rate. By using online reference materials, you can connect with students. This will usually increase your attention to the project, as well as increase your overall level of participation. A more engaged student will not only work harder, but will also naturally retain more information that they find.
2. Construction of images
In order for a professor or researcher to be taken seriously and to be more respected, he must obtain the approval of his audience. With more people using the Internet, a teacher or researcher will naturally appear to have used resources that their audience would find acceptable, thereby enhancing their image.
Should Online Encyclopedias and Reference Materials Be Trusted?
While the benefits of using online reference materials to find important facts, whether or not they can be trusted has been debated for some time. At the center of this debate, there is an important question; Where do online reference materials and encyclopedias get their information? If they get their information from low-quality resources, the information is likely incorrect. There are many printed encyclopedias and reference materials that have been reproduced online, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and are considered legitimate. However, the most popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia and similar websites, is often criticized.
Since anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, many scholars argue that it is full of errors and inaccurate information. Wikipedia’s founders admit that some of the information may be inaccurate, yet in total it has been found to be surprisingly factual. To contribute to a Wikipedia entry, it must be cited. It is then reviewed by the editors and the citation must come from a source that is unbiased and has been proven to be factually accurate. In fact, several studies have been conducted and it has been concluded that Wikipedia is an Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta is almost as objectively accurate. If you’re still wondering if Wikipedia can be trusted, keep in mind that it took over 70 years and thousands of collaborators, including an inmate in a criminally insane asylum, to create the original Oxford English Dictionary. Just because thousands of people have made a contribution doesn’t mean the information is inherently wrong.