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LAS 389: Evaluating Web Resources and Webpages

How to gage the accuracy and reliability of information on the web, use of appropriate domains in research...
by

Terence Kratz

on 10 March 2014

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Transcript of LAS 389: Evaluating Web Resources and Webpages

Evaluating Web Resources and Web Pages
Information in the Wild
What happens when I Google it?
Will your reader trust it?
Is it reliable? Is it scholarly?
The person responsible for the page's content
Authorship
Is the author speaking with the authority of a larger body?
Publishing Body, Server, or Organization
Many pages on the web are outdated.
You don't want your information to be.
Timeline
Is this an in-depth, original source?
Scope, Accuracy, Objectivity
Where did the author get this information / What is it based on?
Footnotes, References, Bibliographies
Types of Web Sites
http://www.example.com
Understanding Web Addresses
Uniform Resource Locator
URL
an exercise in frustration
Tricks and Traps
ask yourself-
"what is right (or wrong) with this picture?"
Take a Look at These...
watch out for doppelgangers!
The Problem of Authority
Who is the Author? Who created the page?
What are the Author's Credentials? Does this person have expertise in this field?
Is contact information provided?
Be extremely wary of unnamed authors
. Everyone has an opinion -- Anyone with an opinion can make a blog.
Do a little research on the author.

Is this person published in this field? In peer -reviewed publications?
Is this person respected / credible?
What institution or organization is this person affiliated with?
Is this person really who you are meant to think he or she is?
Authorship
Authorship
Is the website on a university or institutional server?
Is the author associated with an organization or institution?
Is the content of the site
sponsored
or
endorsed
by that organization or institution?
When was the web page created?
How recently was it updated?
Is the information current?
Is the range of information presented
comprehensive
?
Does it organize or present material in a creative, original, or useful way or just recycle information found somewhere else?
Is this source accurate?
Scope, Accuracy, Objectivity
Is the author presenting a neutral or objective viewpoint?
Scope, Accuracy, Objectivity
Are there clues that the author/s are biased?
For example, is he/she selling or promoting a product?
Is the author taking a personal stand on a social/political issue or is the author being objective?
Bias is not necessarily "bad," but it is something you should be aware of.
Are Web Resources Enough?
Footnotes, References, Bibliographies
Does the webpage provide references and links to other sources?
Are the references provided
credible, authoritative
sources?
"You have reached Bob's personal website.
Bob is not in right now, and this page looks like it was last updated in ...1996

Bob should be back very soon. Sometime in the summer of 2040."
Personal Web Pages
"Legalize it!"
Special Interest Web Sites
Resources for Professionals
Professional Web Sites
The latest happenings, editorials, and more
News and Journalistic Web Sites
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Commercial Web Sites
Is the information you are using from a
credible source
?
Determines whether or not your reader will consider
your argument
to be credible
Can you corroborate the author's statements with another source?
Watch out for statements that can not be confirmed
Remember that web sites often have a particular agenda or viewpoint they are trying to portray.
Keep an eye out for Bias!
Is this author open to inquiry about his / her research or argument?
Remember that the majority of scholarly research is still only available in
journal publications
books from academic presses.
In general, the wider the range of sources you use, the more solid your conclusion will be.
Created and maintained by an individual
Often informal; focused on personal information
Can also be professional; i.e. a professor's website can contain links to publications, course materials, syllabi, ect.
Often go out of date
Focused on an issue or topic
Can have an agenda or advocate a particular perspective
Can be associated with an organization or not
Can be mainstream or radical
Can vary in credibility / degree of bias
Can include research, reference sources, fact sheets, statistics, graphs.
Can be maintained by institutions, organizations, or individuals.
The credibility of the institution / organization or the credentials of the individual can help you determine how reliable the information is.
?
Includes national and international news services, newspapers, online-only news, magazines, blogs, and "homegrown" publications.

Remember: anyone may publish "news" on the web...
What is the reputation of the publication?
Is it the electronic version of a credible / respected print publication?
Many legitimate businesses have websites. Most illegitimate businesses have websites.
Regardless of reputation, remember that companies are in the business of making money.
Companies are always biased toward their products and services; don't expect them to be impartial.
Most important factors:
Who made it?
What kind of information does it contain?
What is the site's reputation?
Terence Kratz
Web Services Librarian
Carroll College
a label for the type of address
Top-Level Domain
not just anyone may register a restricted domain
Top-Level Domain
http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/
http://www.carroll.edu
Protocol
Host Name
Top-Level Domain
Second Level Domain
URL (Continued)
http://www.carroll.edu/library/resources.cc
Path
Filename
Extension
.gov US Govt
.edu US Educational
.mil US Military
.int International Treaty Organizations

.museum Museums
.org Organizations, Nonprofits, the UN
--
but anyone may register a .org
.com Commercial
.net Generic
.info Generic
.(country) Domain for specific country, i.e. ".uk"
Common Domains
Restricted Domains
http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/
Addresses can provide clues to the origin, purpose or authority of a website.
http://www.dhmo.org/
http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7398/1057.full
http://www.aim-digest.com/gateway/pages/women/articles/preg2.htm
http://www.iwr.com/becalmd/


http://www.thekingcenter.org/
martinlutherking.org


http://www.gatt.org/
http://www.wto.org
http://www.theonion.com/
http://www.rythospital.com/2011/
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172 . 16 . 254 . 1
The "real" address
IP address
Page Rank
What does Google Crawl?
What doesn't Google Crawl?
Advertising ("sponsored results")
Google / Page Rank and Democracy
Full transcript