Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting
What You Find (Tips for Selecting Resources)
| How do I
know what to look for? | Additional considerations
| Tips for Selecting Resources | Suggested
Exercises | Evaluating
Web-based Resources for Virtual Collections
To recap from Lesson One, the Web is a self-publishing
medium; this means that anyone with a computer, a modem and Internet access
can publish ("mount") a web page or site. Anyone can publish anything --
and remember, there is no such entity as the "Internet Police."
do I know what to look for?
Assuming that you find something that seems as
if it might fit your information needs, you may wish to consider the following
points to evaluate the resource:
Who sponsored or created the site? Why? (for
If you know this, you can make intelligent assessments
about any potential
(For example: if the NRA publishes a site
on Gun Control, the point of view or bias for or against the issue would
be different, perhaps, to an article published in a web site with a focus
Also related to bias or perspective are
issues of authenticity and credibility -- is the information
true, accurate and believable?
(For example, usage statistics for a new
drug might be more reliable coming from a government web site rather than
those offered by its manufacturer)
A quick clue as to the source of a web site is
the domain (in the url or "address")
(For example: .edu means either an educational
or affiliated institution, .com means commercial enterprise (which may
have a financial reason for promoting a product or site), .gov means government
agency ,and .org means organization)
Homepages of individuals are frequently identified
by a ~ (tilde) sign in the url
(For example: http://www.fakehomepages.net/~Leroy)
(Note: many individuals have constructed very useful sites -- don't
overlook *all* personal web sites)
Information about the publisher of the web site
can usually be found at the top and/or bottom of the page
Be especially wary of sites in which the
author or sponsoring organization is not clearly stated or there is no
contact information provided
What is the reason for mounting the web site?
remember that the motivation behind the site in part dictates the approach
and tone of the content
(For example: to function as a resource?
for public relations? to promote a cause? to show long-distance relatives
wedding or baby pictures? as a teaching aide?)
Who is the intended audience?
Although not always true, often language is a
good clue to the targeted audience. If you are looking for general information
on a topic, a site written for professionals in the field or scholars may
not be helpful. Similarly, if you are looking for the latest research on
a topic, a consumer-oriented site will probably not provide it.
Does it contain accurate information
that is useful?
Now that you have ascertained that the site was
mounted by a reputable organization, written in the level and language
you need, you are well on your way to determining if the site is useful
When was the site last updated? Is that
important to your topic?
Most well tended sites will clearly state when
the content was last updated. Sometimes frequent updating is essential
(for example, at news sites or where the information changes rapidly).
Sometimes this is not a priority -- such as with online texts or with historical
or archival data.
Would a traditional print source or specialized
computer database be more appropriate for your needs?
If you are looking for academic research in particular,
you may have better results searching in a database indexing articles published
in professional journals -- in other words, information which has been
reviewed by other professionals in the field.
Is the site easy to use?
If the site is difficult to navigate, it may
be hard to extract any information. Some of the more annoying or cumbersome
features include: new browser windows opening unexpectedly, annoying color
schemes, tiny graphics for buttons, and flashing buttons and the use of
frames (for page layout).
for Selecting Resources:
To summarize, be especially wary of a web
site in which:
the identity of the creator or sponsoring body
is not clearly stated
the page does not seem to be connected to an
overall site (no header or footer information, no way to return to a "main"
it is not clear when the site was last updated.
As a follow-up to the Exercises in Lesson
2, evaluate three web sites which deal which the same subject matter.
Be sure to include:
your search topic (including depth and scope)
the urls (addresses) of the web sites you choose
your evaluation criteria
Last updated: February 11,
2019; Links checked: February 11, 2019
Copyright © 1998-2019,
Leroy, Director of Learning Technologies, MIA
| Lesson 1 | Lesson 2
| Lesson 3 | Lesson
4 | Lesson 5 | Lesson
5a | Lesson 6