The Drama with Internet Resources: The Search

How do you quote something? What is scientific, what is allowed?

The Internet is the best possible, if not the most intensive, or the best-structured source of information on almost all topics. It only takes a few seconds to enter a search term and call up the associated article, and networking with hyperlinks makes it easy to access and use additional sources of information become. This also applies to science: insights can be exchanged internationally, and discussions are held at the highest level in the specialist forums.

On the other hand, it looks different when students of the first semester search for sources for their chores and thereby encounter a variety of useful and useless pages (in between a gray area of ​​enormous breadth).

May and should I use this information? Is it a scientific source? Is it a message or a message parody? Is Wikipedia scientific? For what purpose does the site provide information? Does she want to lecture, enlighten, convince or manipulate? Do you dupe senseless ads or links to completely foreign topics? How should, how can a Youtube video be cited as a source?

Sources are everywhere – even for mistakes

Anyone who has little experience with scientific work or the associated Internet research can quickly be overwhelmed: It must be made decisions whether a page should be cited or not and whether their content is assessed as secure.

At this point, no flat-rate judgments should be made: Even a video with make-up tips can of course be used for a scientific work – provided it forms part of the study object. Likewise, an essay with lofty phrasing and countless footnotes may be omitted as a source on the side of a professor if, on closer inspection, it turns out to be illogical or nonsensical.

It is important to collect your own research experience, to exchange ideas with others and to make mistakes – only on this basis does the necessary judgment for the sensible handling of sources emerge.

How to Separate Quotable from Non-Quotable.

Scientific work requires scientifically sound initial questions, scientifically oriented ways of thinking – and scientific sources. While in the time before the development of the Internet relatively clear signs of the scientific nature of a text were still recognizable and easy to interpret (a renowned publisher, who gained a renowned professor as an author), the subject has become far more complex today:

Self-proclaimed scientists of different quality and mental attitude put their texts on private pages on the net.

Under the slogans “Open Source”, “Open Science” or “Open Access”, portals offer scientists the opportunity to publish their works and results and thereby facilitate international exchange.

Some of the articles featured on Wikipedia certainly meet the requirements of scholarship, but are subject to frequent changes or ideological and commercial manipulation attempts.

“Gray papers / gray literature”, ie not or not yet officially published working papers can be found in large numbers in the network.

Online platforms such as GRIN source masses of free (because stranger) content by getting inexperienced students to advertise their homework there, with the high proportion of “very good” specimens already making them suspicious.

So check who wants to quote

So what is a scientific source (and thus citable) when the simple equation “if it has footnotes, is it science” is no longer working today?

In the case of all difficulties, the texts must be thoroughly examined before they can be used as sources: The questions: Where does the text come from? Are content and author credible? Does the text itself use scientific sources? Does he deal with these sources or does he just inflate his footnote apparatus? Can the text contribute to your own investigation?

If all these questions are not sufficient to allow a clear classification, then there is a third option: the text can be quoted as “cum grano salis”, justifying the quotation, but at the same time indicating which reservations exist – In this way, future authors who deal with the topic can be made aware of the problems.