Vol 6|No 9|June|1997
Comparing & Evaluating Web Information Sources
A major challenge in a time of Info-Glut and Info-Garbage is evaluation of information sources.Before basing a decision on the information available, wise researchers (and students) will give thought to the following criteria:
Staff and students need to learn to apply these concepts critically to the sites they are visiting so they become thoughtful and discerning information consumers. A healthy amount of scepticism is warranted.
Using a table as a "visual organizer" often helps focus the evaluation of sources. List the site or source on the top and then rate each source from four asterisks to one asterisk.
**** Excellent *** Good ** Satisfactory * Weak
For additional information and resources to support the development of Web site evaluation skills, visit the following sites:Note: This list was culled in September of 2006 to remove broken links.
To what extent can we count on the information provided at this site? Is the source trustworthy? How did they come up with the information listed here? Do they cite sources? Did they follow good research procedures? Do they have a bias? A reason to distort? Is this advertising? An advertorial? What are they selling? Back to the list.
Are these real numbers and facts? Do they match reality? How do we know they are real and on target? Back to the list.
How recent are the facts and figures? Were they gathered ten years ago? Do they tell us? Does it matter? Might crime or employment have changed since then? Back to the list.
Do they have any credentials to be providing this information? Any evidence of training or professional skill? Do they identify the author or provider by name? Who did this work? Back to the list.
Have they presented the material selectively or in an unbalanced manner? Is their bias or slanting in the reporting? Did they leave some information out? Did they focus only on the positive? the negative? Back to the list.
Do they tell you enough? Do they provide sufficient data or evidence? Do they go into enough detail and depth? Back to the list.
Can you find what you need at this site relatively quickly or is it loaded down with graphics and elements which prolong your visit and your searching unnecessarily? Back to the list.
Is the information laid out in a logical fashion so that you can easily locate what you need without wandering around and wasting time? Back to the list.
- Credits: The background is from Jay Boersma.
Other drawings and graphics are by Jamie McKenzie.
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