Background of internet and computer

In this essay, I will define key terms that are internet and research or research process. Secondly, l will give a brief background of internet and computer. Thirdly, l will present the limitations and merits of the internet for research purposes. Lastly, l will conclude by evaluating both sides and find out which sides outweigh the other.

The term internet refers to a global network connecting millions of computers running internet protocol .With the arrival of the World Wide Web [www], the internet has opened up new vistas in surveying. The web began to become widely used in the early and mid 1990s. The web offered respondent email addresses. The web is only a small part of the internet as a whole. The web stores primary documents ranging from scanned or digitised versions of historical documents, newspapers, paintings, photographs and digitised archives.Dolowitz et al defines research as follows

"Research is the process of systematically gathering information in an attempt to answer a specific question in order to solve a problem"[1]. As internet usage increases, researchers continually turn to it for information. Therefore, there is need for researchers to be well equipped in how to use it, otherwise it will cause more harm than good.

Before, addressing the limitations and merits of using internet for research purposes; l will first look at the history of internet. The internet has been one of the successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and committed research and development of information[2]. From this website we find out that the internet revolved around four different aspects namely; technological evolution [early research on packet switching and the ARPANET, operations and management, social aspect and commercialisation. People believed that the internet started since the early days of the computer which is incorrect. David Dolowitz[3] points it out that with the launch of the advanced research projects agency network [ARPANET] in late 1960, that is when the embryonic internet emerged and it linked to four host computers [at Stanford,UCLA, UC Santa Barbra and university of Utah] The internet started in mid 1980s.

Advantages of internet for research purposes.

Nick Moore[4] describes the internet as a wonderful thing that allows researchers to gain access to information that long time ago have been hard to obtain. It provides information without the need to travel to a library. David Dolowitz agrees with Nick in that the internet provides vast range of information through archives, basic searches of the library catalogue, and specific databases in parts of the invisible web. In addition to that, according to Conrad[5] the internet provides a vast of ever-expanding sources of information including accessing articles and journals. Therefore, the internet allows researchers to access unprecedented amount of information without moving from your desk. As a result of this great opportunity the internet can enrich the quality and depth of the research you undertake.

The internet gives you the chance to compare information with what you are studying. In a summary, the advantages of online research are that:

  1. They reduce the cost of conducting a survey
  2. They are faster and cheaper.
  3. They offer unique new capabilities
  4. They yield high response
  5. Ability to obtain wider information than the traditional sources. From the above advantages it tends to suggest that with the introduction of internet life has become easy for researchers because all information is just available at one point. Below, l will look at the other side of the internet that is l will be discussing at the limitations of the internet for academic researchers.

On the other hand, a growing number of evidence tends to suggest that the internet is causing more harm than good. In Dolowitz[6] book on online research Jaeger agrees with Rothenberg in that:

"...electronic resources appear to reduce students' ability to engage in rigorous, to encourage academic laziness and to inhibit the ability to engage actively in higher forms of analysis....."

The above quotation seems to suggest that due to the introduction of internet there has been a decrease of vigorous research practices in the student body in particular. Academic researchers tend to fall in the habit of coping and pasting which will lead to plagiarism. With the improper use of internet it is very easy for academic researchers to conduct a poor research. Further, to that the internet has the disadvantage that when academic researchers cannot find something on the web they just assume it does not exist. They become lazy to search the information in libraries.

Despite that the internet provides us with information, Clarke[7] argues that it is not sufficient to locate information and evidence. There is need to assess its appropriateness, otherwise improper use of the internet leads to a poor research.

West group research sum up the disadvantages of internet in point form as follows:[8]

  1. Content often based on what is popular or profitable.
  2. Web addresses change, sites disappear
  3. Conducting research often leads to non-productive searches
  4. No process to check information for accuracy
  5. Often only current information is available online.
  6. No process to check information for accuracy.

In conclusion, the essay has identified a number of advantages and disadvantages of internet for research purposes. With the evidence provided, the balance of the arguments tends to favour the view that even though the internet provides a vast of information there is need to assess its appropriateness and suitability to the relevant subject. It tends to suggest that improper use of information leads to poor research and leads to a decline of academic students. Therefore, if the internet is to play a crucial role, it is important that a thoughtful approach is taken and full awareness is maintained of how the internet can be used effectively and remains the servant and not the master of the research purposes.


  • Ashley Conrad, Improving study skills: A competence Approach [NY, New York: Cassel, 1995]
  • Clarke Alan, e-Learning skills [NY, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004]
  • Dolowitz David, Buckler Sweeney and Fionnghula, Researching Online [NY, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005]
  • More Nick, How to do research: A practical guide to designing and Managing research projects [London, UK: Facet, 2006]
  1. David Dolowitz, Steve Buckler and Fionnghuala Sweeney, Researching online [NY, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008], pg xiii.Titles of books in italics!
  2. accessed?
  3. David Dolowitz, Steve Buckler and Fionnghuala Sweeney, Researching online [NY, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008] p. 38ff.Used before, so abbreviate!
  4. Nick More, How to do research: A practical guide to designing and managing research projects [London, UK: Facet, 2006], p.109. Words in title should start with capitals!
  5. Conrad Ashley, Improving study skills: A competence Approach [New York, NY: Cassel, 1995], p.68. See previous
  6. What is this???
  7. Alan Clarke, e-Learning skills [New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004], p.39.

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