web-researchThe creation of the World Wide Web is one of the defining achievements of human history – rarely does a tool this powerful find its way into the hands of the masses. The internet allows us to access a vast repository of knowledge at unthinkable speeds, with the sheer breadth of knowledge available online far outstripping even that of the most well-stocked library or museum. Despite all this, however, the web is far from the perfect research tool. While some research projects can be completed using web-based research alone, you’d be naive to assume that online information is entirely infallible. Take a look at some of the pros and cons of web-based research and see whether you’d be better off with an automated data capture service instead…

Breadth of knowledge

The web is home to such a vast quantity of knowledge that almost any data you could wish to possess is available online. Medical journals and research reports are commonly available on the web, often without the need of a subscription, while facts and figures regarding every major event, organisation and industry can be yours with just the click of a mouse or the stroke of a track pad. There’s little you’ll be unable to discover online.

Original research

One of the main problems with web-based research is that you’re necessarily restricted by the efforts of those researchers to have gone before you. You may be able to take existing data and analyse it in a way that develops a new hypothesis, but you won’t be able to access any new information online. If you want to blaze a trail, you’re going to have to do so yourself – which can either be a slow and cumbersome process or something faster than you can think, depending on the methods you use. Original research could be in the form of online questionnaires, or can be much more involved, looked at sentiment data gathered from Twitter, for example.

Speed and accessibility

Of course, one of the key advantages with conducting research online is the sheer pace with which data and information can be accessed. Writing academic papers using printed research can be incredibly time-consuming, but with search engines like Google and other useful online tools, relevant results can be yours in a matter of seconds. With the right automated tools, research can become a much simpler and collaborative task.

Veracity of information

While the web will provide you with reams of free data at your very fingertips, trusting that this data is accurate is a different matter entirely. The overwhelming majority of web content is user-generated, scantily researched and repeated at third or fourth hand, so the veracity of the facts you’re presented with online has to be questioned – web based research is often no different to asking questions of passersby on the street!

Accuracy versus time

The usefulness (or otherwise) of web-based research boils down to this: researching online is likely to be fast and cost-effective, but it’s less likely to provide you with accurate, original data from which to construct legitimate conclusions. You need to ascertain your priorities before embarking on any research project, allowing you to choose the most effective method of capturing the data you need. For an accurate, reliable and professional approach to research data capture, take a look at the range of automated research data capture solutions on our website or contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation workshop where you can learn about our services in more detail.