Today Internet is one of the major sources of information. You can find information on almost any topic you desire on Internet. It is a huge database of useful information. It is a major repository of scholarly journals, news, books, magazines and other general information.
Two common user approaches for information access on the Internet are browsing and Research. Though both are used to get the information they are very different. Specifically, the purpose, quality, time taken, strategies involved, and skill required to get the required information are very different for browsing and research.
Purpose and focus
Browsing through Internet is usually more for the purposes of entertainment and general interest. Browsing is for time pass. You stop when you get bored. Browsers work without any intent to get credible information. Browsers have tendency to get off track by the information presented on the Internet. With browsing you start somewhere and end at a totally different place. Where as, research is more for professional uses. Researchers are intent-driven and will be looking for some specific information by setting objectives. They define their objectives clearly. The objectives will be like bulls eye, which help them to stay focused on their goal.
Browsing is generally unstructured form of searching for information. It involves navigation through information collection. It does not have any specific task to get the required information. Where as, research uses a series of queries to retrieve credible information from the Internet. Research follows a series of instructions to search, find and obtain the data.
Web research is not easy and requires considerable skills such as active mindset, vigorous hard work and patience, which are not necessary for browsing. Apart from these, a good knowledge of how the search engine works, different kinds of search operators and using the right keywords are very much essential to find and capture the relevant, latest and credible information. Search operators act as commands to the search engine to gain more specific outputs. The most commonly used search operators are the Boolean operators such as ‘AND’ ‘OR’ and ‘-‘ functions.
Browsing doesn’t have any time limits. Due to its unstructured form, browsing the web may take more time or sometimes may not provide the desired information, even if it is readily available. Where as research is time bounded, where timelines are set clearly. Researchers usually work heads down and focus on what they are looking for, where to find the credible information and how to find the information. They know what is found till now and what exactly is to be found. They regularly narrow down their choices to get the desired information quickly.
One of the main differences between the two is unlike net surfers, researchers save the data they have collected for further analysis. Later, when they are offline they analyze the collected data, draw the conclusions and document or present the information in simple terms, which is easy to understand.
Casually surfing for information on the Internet is not efficient in finding useful information. Where as research is more thorough and involves a lot of hard work and skill, for the same reasons, information will be of good quality.