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The term research ( French recherche , '(Nach- )forschung', 'search', 'investigation'), also investigation ( Latin investigatio , 'Aufspürung', 'Erforschung') or research ( English research ← from French recherche , see above ) ), describes the targeted, not incidental search for information .

Scientific research

During an intensive discussion, it is necessary to deal with certain topics and areas of the subject area concerned. The advantage is that you can often fall back on known prior knowledge, for example from events you have attended and previous research. This prior knowledge is decisive for the choice of the approach and the search for suitable literature .

Students often resort to class schedules and introductions. They also use databases that are also used by scientists.

In order to develop the scientific basis for a topic, it is often necessary to consult literature on a larger scale. The following information may be helpful in this process of research.

Research in a scientific context is understood as follows:

  • investigate
  • inform yourself about something in order to know
  • systematically develop something
  • Get to know the background and circumstances
  • can get an idea.

Research process

The research process can be divided as follows, based on Landwehr:

  1. Phase - before researching
  2. Phase - while researching
    • incorporate new information permanently
    • Review of the information obtained, revision, if necessary changes or
    • Make revisions
  3. Phase - after researching
    • Evaluation of the information
    • Fixing of goals and final problem determination or weighting
    • Establish a final schedule.

The literature research often accompanies the entire work, with the three phases reappearing in each cycle. In addition to an outline, the use of mind maps has also proven itself in many cases . While at the beginning the primary aim is to develop an area, in the later stages of the work, research is often carried out in order to specify individual positions and arguments. At the end there is sometimes a final research to make sure that something important has not been overlooked. Those who do research can use various reading strategies to develop texts.

Journalistic research

Journalistic research describes the independent procurement of information as opposed to the mere processing of press releases, agency material or press conferences.

Journalistic research collects as diverse a range of information as possible that illuminates a certain topic from different and conflicting perspectives in order to enable balanced reporting. Ideally, any information that flows into journalistic work should be backed up by research. In practice, this would usually mean too much effort.

Journalistic research uses many sources, including archives , databases , personal conversations ( interviews ) with those affected, experts and eyewitnesses , official press material, inquiries from press offices, applications based on freedom of information laws, specialist literature or the Internet .

Research is the freestyle of journalism: this is the only way people can find out about events that would never have come to light without the efforts of the journalist. No journalistic task is more difficult, but it is also so dependent on coincidences, luck - and detailed detective work. Only the hardworking and courageous take it upon themselves. ( Wolf Schneider , Paul-Josef Raue: Handbook of Journalism)

In general, it is criticized today that due to the economic bottlenecks journalists are hardly able to do sufficient research. Press releases are often accepted uncritically. As a countermovement, the research association NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung was founded in Germany in 2014 . The European Investigative Collaboration (EIC) has existed at the European level since 2016 .

Library research

A large part of scientific work consists of taking note of what has already been published, the so-called literature study. Literature holdings and bibliographies can be requested via the online presence of the libraries , i.e. via library catalogs . Library lists offer important help here because you can query a library directly for literature. The most important portal here is the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog (KVK), which can also be used to research library holdings internationally. Using the results of a KVK search, you can get an initial assessment of how promising an interlibrary loan is.

In order to stay up-to-date as staff in academic libraries, you have to keep yourself informed about the available portfolio of search services, take into account the changes in the respective licensing of the search services in relation to the individual library and, on the other hand, make sure of the canon that is currently considered necessary .

Research on the Internet

Quality of online documents

Anyone can publish anything on the World Wide Web, there is hardly any quality assurance. There are websites with bizarre reports, with articles about aliens, with general paranoia , urban legends and with criminal content. Apart from such extraordinary examples: Private websites rarely contain all the information that is desirable in order to check their content-related reliability according to the criteria of scientific publications, because most private websites are simply not scientific publications. The information value of different types of documents (everyday examples: advertising material, daily press, trade magazines, printed books, handwritten diaries, poetry albums) is quite different.

Much information on the web is therefore incomplete, unsubstantiated, argumentative not completely understandable, outdated, incorrect or intentional (advertising) like the sponsored links . Occasionally, texts on the World Wide Web are even falsified by hackers , i.e. without the consent and against the will of the website owner.

Information can be wrong because it is out of date (example: a legal basis has been changed but the information has not been updated) or information is deliberately forged ( censorship , propaganda , ideological reporting). The value of much information diminishes over time; after a few years much information is hardly meaningful. New subject areas are also constantly emerging.

Volatility of the World Wide Web

The number of all websites is growing faster than the bandwidth that search engines have available to index these websites. In 1999, the best search engine indexed only around 16% of the content of the World Wide Web in a study, all search engines examined together achieved 42%. Search engines create their own databases in which they store information (character strings as keywords, link texts ) from the websites; they do not have a full-text index of the websites that is fully accessible . So the search is not done in the World Wide Web but in the databases of the search engines. As web crawlers are constantly searching the World Wide Web, the search engine databases are constantly growing and changing. In this way, the same queries can produce different results on consecutive days. The structure and content of many websites are often changed. Websites with significant content cannot always be found again and, in the worst case, an exactly identical search will lead nowhere . With luck, websites that no longer exist on the World Wide Web can be called up in the Wayback machine . The half-life of hyperlinks in 2002 was about 55 months, the life of a document in 2003 on the WWW was 2.5 months.

Information literacy

More people than ever have access to a significant amount of information on the World Wide Web. The sheer unmanageable scope of the offers accessible in this way makes it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, that is, to identify high-quality information with a reasonable amount of effort ( information literacy ). Sources must be properly assessed.

Someone who is not yet familiar with a topic is often not in a position to properly understand and assess information found on this topic. For example, in a study by the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention , users could not critically and reliably assess the results of a search for health questions on the World Wide Web. This means that the evaluation of newly found information often requires specialist knowledge that many people do not have.

A clue for higher quality information is e.g. B. the review by an editor or a review according to scientific rules (e.g. by double-blind peer review ).

Although a variety of search services is ready to provide information to prove that most Internet users use only a few market-leading search engines and web directories , the popular science prove websites as well as scientific and evaluate.

Search tools

According to information scientist Wolfgang G. Stock from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf , world regions of digital information can be distinguished: the surface web and the deep web .

By Querweltein additions, Stock understands links from the surface web to the deep web (e.g. bridging pages) or vice versa. Hybrid systems are search tools that offer research across the Internet.

High quality sources from specialist information centers

In Germany, specialist information centers with state and private funding are entrusted with the task of collecting, editing and classifying literature in their respective subject area with editorial input and of making it available on the World Wide Web in databases and specialized search engines as sources of reliable information.

Examples :

More problems from search engines

It can take weeks to months from the publication of a website to its inclusion in the search engine index. Search engines cannot immediately identify documents that are currently available on the World Wide Web. In addition, there is no meaningful ranking for new websites . Technical manipulations ( search engine optimization , search engine spam , link farm ) and purchased placements also influence the sorting of the result lists ( page rank ). Due to these many influences, the sorting is hardly understandable. Nevertheless, good search result positions are perceived as a relevance indicator and are seldom deliberately questioned. The neutrality of search results is therefore rarely questioned.

Research service provider

  • Information brokers , research service providers, carry out professional Internet research and mostly use sources that are subject to a charge.
  • In addition to commercial research services, there are also several websites where private individuals answer questions on various topics, such as meta-re-search .

Other forms of research

Even detectives and detective agencies perform research on. The police conduct criminal investigations and secret services spy . Illegal methods such as wiretapping are also used. Personnel service providers use research to recruit personnel. Market research institutes examine consumers and markets, while other research services have specialized in patent research , for example .

In school, research is usually one of the forms of free work . The students conduct research on a project.

Systematic analysis of information on the financial situation of individuals, businesses, financial products or markets in general are in German as financial analyzes referred to in technical jargon as Research .

See also


  • Andreas Baumert: Interviews in research. Editorial discussions to obtain information . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-531-13883-9 .
  • Peter Berger: Unrecognized in the network. Communicate and research securely on the Internet (=  practical journalism series ). UVK , Konstanz 2008, ISBN 978-3-86764-087-9 .
  • Christian Ellwein: Search the Internet for industry and science . Oldenbourg-Industrieverlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-486-27039-7 .
  • Michael Haller : Research (=  practical journalism . Volume 7 ). 8th edition. UVK, Konstanz 2008, ISBN 978-3-89669-434-8 .
  • Markus Kaiser: Research. Classic, online, cross-media (=  journalistic practice ). Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2015, ISBN 978-3-658-08720-3 ( yellow- ).
  • Thomas Leif (Hrsg.): Passion: Research: Scandal-Stories and Revelation-Reports , 1998 (2nd extended edition 1999)
  • Dirk Lewandowski: Web Information Retrieval: Technologies for Searching the Internet . DGI, 2005, ISBN 3-925474-55-2 ( ).
  • Marcel Machill , Markus Beiler, Martin Zenker: Journalistic research on the Internet. Inventory of journalistic working methods in newspapers, radio, television and online (=  media research series of the State Institute for Media North Rhine-Westphalia . Volume 60 ). Vistas, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-89158-480-4 .
  • Klaus Niedermair: Research and Documentation: The Correct Use of Literature in Studies . UVK, Konstanz 2010, ISBN 978-3-8252-3356-3 ( Notes (PDF)).
  • Christian Stock, Wolfgang G. Stock: Research on the Internet . Expert Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-8169-2278-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Research  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Landwehr, Matthias Mitzschke, Rolf Paulus: Practice of information determination. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-7705-1576-5 , p. 23ff
  2. See also List of Libraries , List of German Libraries , List of German City Libraries and List of Specialized Libraries
  3. Jürgen Plieninger: Research in Scientific Libraries (pdf), (Checklists; 39) Ed. Professional Association Information Library / Commission for One-Person Libraries, 2015.
  4. See Lawrence and Gilles, 1999
  5. See the Netzeitung ( Memento from August 31, 2003 in the Internet Archive )
  6. See the instructions ( Memento from July 26, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) of the Heidelberg University Library
  7. ^ Wikipedia relevance criteria
  8. Table of contents and excerpts online