Quality of Internet Information
The internet has greatly added to the sources of information, but it must be used critically and legally.
The large amount of information available using the internet means that you need to take care with the resources you choose to use.
Please keep in mind that finding most academic peer reviewed information is much easier using Library databases than using the internet.
You'll learn about these databases later.
Most academic journals use peer review to ensure the quality of articles published. When authors submit articles for publication in a journal, the editors send the article to experts in the field. These experts will usually suggest changes to the article, examine the the methods and conclusions of the authors, and check that important literature in the field is cited. The article won't be published until the authors satisfy the requirements of peer review. While the internet might give you some ideas on a subject it is always much better to make sure that any articles you find are peer reviewed.
The quality of information found on the internet varies greatly. Most of the material has never undergone peer review, and you must be very careful whether the information is correct. Below are some simple checks that you can use to help decide on the quality of a site.
How up to date is the site
Most good sites will indicate when they were last updated. If recency is an important indication of quality for you, check this.
Is the name of the person responsible for the site provided? If someone claims responsibility for a site, they are more likely to make an effort to ensure quality. An email address should be included so that you can ask for further information.
The qualifications of the authors/Compilers should be included.
Sites that are published under the auspices of well respected institutions or funding bodies are likely to be of good quality. Is there a link to the institution?
Does the site indicate the extent, depth, and time period covered by the information presented?
Are these relevant to your needs?
Accuracy of Information
Can you check the accuracy of some of the information provided? If some of the information is wrong can you trust the rest?
If there is more than one opinion on a topic are all of them included on the site? Are there links to other sites on this topic?
Is the site designed to change opinions?
Is there advertising on the site, if yes what does this tell you about the site?
Are the sources of information on the site referenced?
Does the site indicate who the information is for? Is it pitched at a higher education, or professional level?
Large sites should have 'fuzzy' search engines to help you find what you are after, smaller sites should have a table of contents.
Here is a web site that will help you decide on the quality of information
Evaluating Medical Information on the Web From the Human Genome Project Information
You should now know how to evaluate the quality of web sites.
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