Today, the internet is the internet is an essential part of historical research. However, this does not mean that using the internet in research is as easy as a google search. Historians must still evaluate the information they come across. Presnell notes that while a lot more information is available, this information may not always be useful as it does not go through the checks that article in journals do (136). No sources should be assumed useful. Historians should research its value to their topic and credibility.
The article starts off by discussing the different types of sources researchers can look for and if they even should. This specific section focus on the different academic sources such as primary sources, bibliographies, and reference sources rather than what researchers would find on a Google search. For each sub category Presnell provides possible sites that could be used for those types of sources.
Next, Presnell goes over the basics of internet. She begins by discussing search engines how how which you use can impact your search results. Then she discusses search directories. She discusses how these are limited and allow researchers to do more specialized research. Presnell also provides different search techniques to use when using the search directories. These tips included using “and” and “or” and quotations to get better and more focused search results. She also briefly discusses “Google bombing” in which people would connect certain phrases to websites (like with George W. Bush) which could potentially affect search results on search engines.
Presenell also discusses the concept of the deep web. Google, while good for general searching, does not necessarily connect you to good scholarly works. The deep web however, which is accessed through databases, gives historians access to scholarly journals and primary sources that could be extremely useful in research. Within these databases, you can also narrow down your research and find more specialized information relating to research topics.
Finally, Presnell discusses primary sources on the internet. She goes over where primary sources can be found and things to consider when historians find primary sources. When sources are transcribed and posted, it is important to note possible changes or missing information. Presnell notes that transcribing primary sources takes time and money, because of this, not every single primary sources can be processed. So it is important to note that the sources that are posted are ones that were deemed important by someone else. Something else to note is possible markings on the paper that are left out. On a primary document, there may be smudges or other marking. These are lost when a document is transcribed. However, just because a document is scanned does not mean that that sources was not also cleaned up to be easier to read.
The internet, while a valuable sources of information, must still be analyzed to ensure that good scholarly sources are being used. And historians must ensure that they are using the best methods to research their topics.