Skip to Main Content

Research Fundamentals Tutorial


You can find almost any type of information on the free web via google searching, social media, or linking. As you’ve seen throughout this module, plenty of reference works, books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, are available on the free web. 

But there’s more...

Every website is its own publication. Website publishers could be the government, non-profit organizations, news agencies, retail companies, political candidates, social media conglomerates, etc. The list is endless.

When searching online, it’s important to know what type of information you’re looking for before you dive in. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an overview of the work and career progression of industrial engineers. Although this is not an encyclopedia article, it provides reference information. This overview might be useful for a career-choice assignment, but it would be insufficient if you wanted to know the factors influencing female undergraduate engineering students’ career choices. This information, which requires original research to uncover, would more likely be found in a journal article. 

In addition to understanding the type of information you've found, it’s important to evaluate it's quality. Website evaluation is covered in Module 4: Evaluating sources.

Research Question

Research question:

How does workplace automation affect job opportunities in the United States?


Source type: website

Person using a laptop and smartphone at the same time.Information provided:

  • Any information on almost any topic. 
  • Easy to access, but often  difficult to trust.
  • Anyone can create a website, so they require extra evaluation before trusting them.  
  • All other sources covered in this module can be found online, but for our purposes we are not considering them websites.
  • Although they can be frequently updated, they are not published with entirely new content on a regular schedule. 

Example publications:

Example that would help answer your question:

The website for the Future of Jobs report indicates that machine automation is growing at a slower pace than experts predicted. But artificial intelligence is growing quickly.

How to use a webpage:

Use this report for evidence that machine automation may not cause as many job losses as expected in the future.


Image credit: Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash.