Since the Internet has put just about all the information in the world at the fingertips of the average individual it is necessary for educators to teach students how to properly research a subject. Rather than spending time in a library looking through reference material, many students simply cut-and-paste information from a variety of websites or fail to look beyond the first page of Google results when trying to find information about a specific subject. In addition, many students do not know how to distinguish between which sites are appropriate and reliable sources of information and which ones are little more than advertisements.
There are a few simple solutions that can help students with some of these common problems. One way to prevent students from plagiarizing information found on websites is to require that they use note cards when they research. They can be instructed to write only one or two sentences on a card. This tactic will force students to do more reading so that they can select the information that is most relevant. A teacher could even require that students turn in these note cards as part of their grade. Students should also be required to write down all source information as well.
When it comes to teaching research to students, helping them identify good sources of information will help them a great deal once they reach college. A teacher may want to introduce students to specific websites or databases such as EBSCO or Info Trac. Most databases can be accessed free of charge by using a library card. If it is a specific subject that an entire class is writing about, it may be in the best interest of the teacher to recommend a few specific websites that they have already examined and found to be appropriate for the topic.
In order to get the most relevant search results when using the Internet, students must learn how to create search statements that give better results. Using very broad terms will return a lot of useless information, but by carefully wording the search terms a student is likely to get much better results without having to sift through a lot of worthless information. Some teachers do not allow students to use the Internet to help research a paper at all. This is a mistake since it is a great source of information and likely to be the first place that a student looks when it comes time to write a college research paper.