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Evaluating Library and Internet Information

 

Introduction

Being able to quickly and critically evaluate references to library and Internet materials is a very useful skill. Academic libraries and the Internet are large and very dynamic resources. There are so many different types of information available that identifying and evaluating quality resources can sometimes be difficult. Library and Internet collections grow in very different ways...

In Libraries

  • librarians develop plans and use specific criteria to add materials to the library
  • librarians try to purchase only high quality materials
  • each item added is carefully cataloged or recorded in the online catalog
  • the size of a library is determined by its budget and physical space limits.

On the Internet

  • almost anyone can add anything to the Internet at anytime
  • no one makes plans for the whole Internet and how it will look or grow
  • many Internet resources are poorly indexed or not indexed at all
  • the Internet is growing faster than anyone could imagine!

Use the criteria listed below, and your search experience, to improve your ability to quickly and efficiently identify and evaluate library and/or Internet information references and resources.

Evaluation Criteria
Use the following questions to critically evaluate print and Web based information:

Accuracy or credibility Is the information provided based on proven facts?
Is it published in a scholarly or peer-reviewed publication?
Have you found similar information in a scholarly or peer-reviewed publication? 
Author or authority Who is the author?
Is she or he affiliated with a reputable university or organization?
What is the author's educational background or experience?
What is their area of expertise?
Has the author published in scholarly or peer reviewed publications?
Does the author/Web Master provide contact information?
Coverage or relevance Does the information covered meet your information needs?
Is the coverage basic or comprehensive?
Is there an "About Us" link that explains subject coverage?
How relevant is it to your research interests?
Currency When was the information published?
When was the Web site was last updated. 
Is timeliness important to your information need?
Objectivity or bias How objective or biased is the information?
What do you know about who is publishing this information?
Is there a political, social or commercial agenda?
Does the information try to inform or persuade?
How balanced is the presentation on opposing perspectives?
What is the tone of language used (angry, sarcastic, balanced, educated)?
Sources or documentation Is there a list of references or works cited?
is there a bibliography?
Is there information provided to support statements of fact?
Can you contact the author or Web Master to ask for, and receive, the sources used?
Publication and
Web site design
How well designed is the Web site?
Is the information clearly focused?
How easy to use is the information??
How easy is it to find information within the publication or Web site?
Are the bibliographic references and links accurate, current, credible and relevant?
Are the Contact addresses for the author(s) and Web Master(s) available from the site?

Another good guide on evaluating web sites has been done by librarians at University of California, Berkeley.


Web Site Reviews


The following sites provide evaluations of selected Internet resources. 

Web Site Reviews
Name of Site Search Methods Features
Internet Scout Project
Browsable Menus, Keywords, Boolean, Proximity The Scout Report and the NSDL Scout Reports provide evaluations each week on a selection of new and newly discovered Internet resources. Sites are selected based on the  quality of the content,   authority, information maintenance, presentation, availability and cost of access.
Librarians' Internet Index Browsable Menus, Keywords, Boolean The Librarians' Internet Index (lii.org) is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 10,000 Internet resources selected and evaluated by librarians for their usefulness to users of public libraries. lii.org is used by both librarians and the general public as a reliable and efficient guide to Internet resources.


 

Updated March 5, 2009 . Please send comments to Carol Hansen
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.

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