Academic Journals: Using Them Properly

An academic journal contains meticulously-researched articles, written by researchers who have a very deep knowledge of a very narrow field.  

By contrast, web articles written by amateur webmasters, or even professional journalists, generally reflect a shallow knowledge that has been watered down and simplified

While some simplification is necessary in order to give causal audiences (or TV viewers) the gist of a complex issue, when you are doing academic research, the gist isn't enough.

Students at other universities who have posted their projects online, reporters and magazine writers, and even professors who write on self-published web sites (like this one) can post web pages that are full of mistakes.  

Don't Believe Everything You Read Online

Some professional-looking web pages are complete hoaxes, such as this completely believable -- but entirely fictional -- "History of a Victorian Era Robot".  See also this article on prankster Joey Skaggs, an artist who makes a career out of tricking gullible journalists.

How is the novice researcher expected to be able to sort out the good stuff from the worthless stuff? You can't do it on your own; you have to rely on credible sources to do that for you. That's why it's worth the effort to check what the academic journals have to say about the subject you've chosen to research. 

See Also

by Dennis G. Jerz
28 Dec 1999 -- first posted.
22 Jul 2002 -- last modified

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