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Library Research Skills

Evaluation Criteria

Authority

  • Is there an author? Is the page signed?
  • Is the author qualified? An expert?
  • Who is the sponsor?
  • Is the sponsor of the page reputable? How reputable?
  • Is there a link to information about the author or the sponsor?
  • If the page includes neither a signature nor indicates a sponsor, is there any other way to determine its origin?

Rationale for these questions

  • Anyone can publish anything on the web.
  • It is often hard to determine a web page's authorship.
  • Even if a page is signed, qualifications are not usually provided.
  • Sponsorship is not always indicated.

Accuracy

  • Is the information reliable and error-free?
  • Is there an editor or someone who verifies/checks the information?

Rationale

  • Anyone can publish anything on the web.
  • Unlike traditional print resources, web resources rarely have editors or fact-checkers.

Currently, no web standards exist to ensure accuracy.

Objectivity

  • Does the information show a minimum of bias?
  • Is the page designed to sway opinion?
  • Is there any advertising on the page?

Rationale

  • Frequently the goals of the sponsors/authors are not clearly stated.
  • Often the Web serves as a virtual "Hyde Park Corner", a soapbox.

Currency

  • Is the page dated?
  • If so, when was the last update?
  • How current are the links? Have some expired or moved?

Rationale

  • Publication or revision dates are not always provided.
  • If a date is provided, it may have various meanings. For example,

                      It may indicate when the material was first written
                      It may indicate when the material was first placed on the Web
                      It may indicate when the material was last revised

Coverage

  • What topics are covered?
  • What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere?
  • What is its intrinsic value?
  • How in-depth is the material?

Rationale

  • Web coverage often differs from print coverage.
  • Frequently, it's difficult to determine the extent of coverage of a topic from a web page as the page may or may not include links to other web pages or print references.
  • Sometimes web information is "just for fun", a hoax, someone's personal expression that may be of interest to no one, or even outright silliness.

Go To

Evaluation of Printed Sources                              Evaluation of Web Sources

 

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Susan Kelly, Wexford County Library Service.
Adapted and modified (5th December 2005) from Beck, Susan. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It’s a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources.  1997.  http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html Last updated on 11/07/2005The author assumes no responsibility for this collection of web pages if they do not originate from the New Mexico State University Library's web site (http://lib.nmsu.edu). All commercial rights are reserved


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