Using Web Sites as a Research Tool
To be presented in COMM-2400-003 – Information Analysis & Synthesis
February 27, 2003
Introduction: Cites, Sites, and Web Pages
- We live at a unique moment in history
- The fundamental ways in which we create and store information are changing
- From paper-based media
- Newspapers, Books, Magazines, Personal Letters, and Diaries
- To electronic media
- Television news, e-books, zines, e-mail, and personal web sites
- And many more: the range of media is exploding
- The change is a fundamental one
- For the first time in history, literally anyone can create and publish content that can potentially reach everyone
- The last moment of this kind of profound change accompanied the mass manufacture of paper and culminated with the printing press
- And the result is a lot of noise
- An explosion of content
- Over 3 million public web sites
- Over 30 million registered domain names
- Billions of web pages
- Some people will tell you that electronic content is inferior
- I'll just say its different, and will be more so
- But easier to publish is another way of saying "reader beware"
So what do you need to watch out for:
- Purpose and Audience
- Web sites are used for a wide variety of purposes, including:
- Many would be inapproprite to use for citation
- And sites often mix up these purposes with an objective
- Information and Entertainment aimed at getting you to buy
- News, Information, and Entertainment aimed as misleading (or at least presenting a biased point of view)
- What is your purpose in using the information. What audience are you trying to reach? Is it the right kind of information?
- This question applies to any source
- Authority, Objectivity, and Accuracy
- Who wrote the page? Do they even tell you?
- What sources do they reference? Do they reference any?
- Has anyone reviewed the page?
- Freedom of speech without editorial checks is also a freedom of bias and inaccuracy
- Pages that other sites refer to at least have those references to recommend them.
- Editorially managed sources are often even better
- Peer reviewed sources are best.
- What expertise does the writer have? Can you find out?
- Do the pages appear to advocate a perspective? If so, what?
- Consider the source.
- Check the details
- When in doubt, doubt.
- Use your Common sense
- If it seems to good to be true, it probably is
- Completeness and Adequacy
- Can I get better information from other sources
- Can I get more detailed information from other sources
- Many published sources are more complete than the web
- Internet pages are often overviews rather than in-depth
- When was the page produced? last revised? How up to date are the links? Can you tell?
- Distinguish Web pages from pages found on the Web.
- Lots of older material has been republished on the web.
- If you can't find an old page, check at http://www.archive.org/
Synthesis Using Web Sites
- Adams, T. and Clark, N. (2001). The Internet: Effective Online Communication. New York; Harcourt, p. 165-184.
- Alexander, J. & Tate, M. A. (2001). Evaluating Web Resources. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm
- Alexander, J. & Tate, M. A. (2001). Evaluating web pages: Links to examples of various concepts. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webevaluation/examples.htm
- Grassian, E. (2001). Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/college/help/critical/
- Henderson, John R. A Guide to Critical Thinking About What You See on the Web. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ithaca.edu/library/Training/hott.html.
- Netcraft. (2002). Netcraft. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.netcraft.com.
- Zook, R. (2002). Zooknic Internet Intelligence. Retreived on February 25, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.zooknic.com/
|| -- Last edited September 18, 2015 |
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were written by participants on the Media Space Wiki, operated by Davis Foulger,
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Foulger, D. and other
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