Web Subject Guides
There are several resources available that make it easier to find reliable web sites. For example, rather than going straight to Google or another search engine, try searching at the Librarian's Internet Index (http://lii.org). Librarian's Internet Index includes sites that have been vetted, or evaluated, by libarians with subject area expertise. It includes a brief annotation (a description of the site, the resources available on the site, and information about the publisher of the site), and information about when the site was last updated. Sites are organized into broad subject categories (like books in the library), so you can either browse by subject, or you can search for sites on a particular topic.
In general, anyone can publish on the web. Unlike traditional print resources, many web sites rarely see an editor or reviewer. There are no standards for content on the web, though there are technical requirements for posting web sites (use of specific protocols, html, etc.). The challenge then is determining which sites provide 'good' and sound information.
Listed on the next tab are five basic evaluation criteria that can help in identifying quality web sites. A quality web site in this context is defined as a site that provides fairly reliable information and that meets most of the criteria outlined below.
One should distinguish between online information that is
- available for free through a common search engine (like Google) and
- information found through a propriety databases (like the library's online periodical indexes).
In the first case, there are no checks or balances. Quality research will be intermingled with less reliable sources. In the second case, information has been collected, organized and made 'searchable'. For the most part these resources have undergone a review process and met certain quality standards. The criteria outlined below will focus on the first case: free information found on the web using a common search engine.
A couple of things to remember:
- The open web provices access to only a fraction of the scholarly materials that are available in libraries.
- The internet has been compared to a library where "all the books are scattered across the floor, with their pages torn out and strewn everywhere, in which there is no catalog." (Quoted in, Bangs, Patricia C. “Washingtonpost.com Publisher Marc Teren Links Future of Libraries and Media” Digital Library and Archives Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, July 12, 2002 http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/VALib/v45_n3/bangs.html February 9, 2008. There is no overarching system of organization on the web!
Don't hesitate to contact a reference librarian, or stop by the reference desk.
Rebekah Ambrose-Dalton extension 4450