Article writing ideas: consulting web sources

Typically, writers must do some research for the articles they intend to write. Not everyone is an expert in every field, and in any case, there’s almost always some sort of intriguing, additional information which can be added to an article. Today, the Internet is easily the simplest and most convenient way to research most topics. However, using Internet sources in a responsible way can prove to be a challenge.

Reliability of Internet Sources

One reason that internet sources can be problematic is the question of their reliability. It’s a trivial matter for almost anyone with internet access to create a reputable looking webpage. To determine whether or not a source is reliable, consider several things:

  • Its reputation
  • Whether or not it cites sources
  • Whether or not those sources are legitimate

Opinion vs. Fact

Another issue, tangentially related to reliability, is separating opinion from fact online. With few editorial constraints, many writers online state their opinions as fact. It’s certainly reasonable to cite others opinions on a topic, but these should be identified as such. One also needs to consider whether or not the author’s opinion has any real credibility. With so many sources available, and so many varied opinions, there’s a temptation to cherry-pick those which suit your arguments and ignore the others. This leads to low quality research and poorly written, misleading articles.

Sensationalism

Click-driven revenue has made an already serious media problem even worse. Exciting headlines and sensational articles have always sold better, but now, that excitement is being used to generate clicks with pay-per-click ads. Consider the title of the article and the manner in which the information is being presented. If it cites sources, follow up on those sources and determine whether or not they really say what the author of the article claims.

Plagiarism

It’s important not to plagiarize articles you find online, as well. While reading articles and citing them can inspire many writers to have more and better topic ideas, there’s a fine line between being inspired by an article and plagiarizing it. Keep in mind that your primary goal is to create original material. If you’re simply regurgitating that which you’ve found online you’re not producing quality work.

Citing Sources

Along the same lines, it’s a good idea to cite your sources carefully when using online research. If you’re doubtful about whether or not your citation is sufficient, contact the author or host of the source you’re citing.