Caveat Lector: I occasionally consult many of the resources linked to
below and I have had at least a fairly careful look at all of them.
But that doesn't mean I endorse all of them equally. Some of them
I have found useful, accurate, insightful, etc., others less so, a
few much less so.
In fact, I regard some of these sources as downright suspect, in so
far as the claims they make can be shown to be biased, self-serving
and/or misinformed. In such cases, I include them here not as guides
to the truth, but as evidence for what some people actually do claim
about the issues in question.
In short, be forewarned: Not
everything you read on the internet is the unvarnished truth.
The Nature of Online Information: It is very easy to simply copy text
from a web page and paste it into your word processor. By now, practically
everyone knows how to do this and, to the extent that it cuts down
on time spent typing and trudging to the library, it is probably a
great aid to scholarship. But just because they are so easy to manipulate,
online electronic texts also give rise to various hazards. I can think
of at least three:
1.) Because it so easy to find factual information (statistics, legal
citations, etc.) online, it is easy to plunk it down into your own
work without actually having to think about or to reflect on what
you have found. Resist this (and see 3. below).
the Internet also creates some fairly strong selection effects in
favour of anything that is new, hip, popular, well-funded, etc. as
against anything that is old, square, esoteric or located outside
of the cash nexus. This is true of mass media in general, of course,
and it is true of the Internet precisely to the extent that the Internet
has become a mass medium. (If you don't believe me when I say that
the Internet has become, in large part, a mass medium, consider the
logic of search
engines.) Notice, however, that there is no reason to expect that
the truth will be found among that first bunch of adjectives rather
than the second. In particular, it seems fair to assume that whatever
you find on the Internet will be more or less favourably disposed
toward technology in general.
In short: Just because a view isn't well-represented on the Internet
doesn't necessarily mean that it's nugatory or false. And, conversely,
just because practically every Internet source seems to support some
particular claim doesn't necessarily mean that it's true.
sources may also tempt you toward plagiarism and other sorts of academic
dishonesty, again, partly just because they are so easy to copy. By
"plagiarism" I mean any occasion on which you use someone
else's thinking, writing, or data and attempt to pass it off as your
own. The U of S Office of the Registrar provides a more comprehensive statement
on academic dishonesty that I suggest you read, paying special
attention to the list of available
In my view, what makes plagiarism wrong (at least in an academic setting)
is not so much the misuse of someone else's intellectual property
(though others might disagree on that score), but the plagiarist's
misrepresentation of herself as a student. A plagiarist, perforce,
attempts to deceive me and to gain an unfair advantage over other
If that isn't enough to dissuade you, be advised that I do in fact
follow up on cases of suspected plagiarism. These days, using ordinary
search engines and tools like plagiarism.org,
it is almost as easy to catch plagiarists as it is to plagiarize in
the first place. Every year, I catch a half-dozen or so students trying
to cheat in this way. Don't be one of them.
means use Internet resources in your research but, when you do, be
sure to include appropriate citations
in your work.