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ENGL 100 YAH 50618 with Vincent Fitzgerald 8:10 - 10:15 am - MTW, SUMMER 2022

This Libguide supports students research needs in the summer 2022 ENGL 100 taught by Vincent Fitzgerald *:10 -10:15 am MTW

WEB EVALUATION TECHNIQUES

The best way to use web sources is to first conduct a domain limited search.

  • Limit to .edu or .gov domains

When you search for sources with a .org domain name, conduct a domain limited search to .org sources. Then choose only those sources that you know have a long-standing reputation for quality such as American Heart Association, or League of Women Voters or Habitat for Humanity

If you find what appears to be good content from a .org web page, find more about the web page "publisher" by using  a knowledgeable & reputable third-party source of information e.g., Newspaper Source Plus, or Masterfile Complete, and see if you can find information about the web source. For example in March 2022 a search in Masterfile Complete found 502 articles mentioning the organization Doctors Without Borders (https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/).  72 of these articles had the name of the organization in the article's title. Most of these articles were very positive about the group. 

More on this idea in the box below on "lateral research".

Short videos that provide some basics on URL domains

This 7 minute video provides some background on the pros of using library databases and the issues with using web resources. This clip comes from the full Films on Demand video.

This 5 minute video from  Films on Demand  starts the discussion on web evaluation.

When using web sources, the key is to use known vetted resources to help on verify the identity, reputation, and expertise of a person or company or organization as a source of information. Corollary Resources that exist outside of the internet that have a long standing (pre internet) reputation such as library databases Newspaper Source Plus or MasterFile Complete.

Licensed library database content mostly eliminates the need for a intensive evaluation effort. For web resources a domain limited searching greatly reduces the risk of inaccurate or faulty information or outright misinformation. When the need for very new information means you must use web sources. Evaluate it carefully.

Using "lateral research" to verify a website

In practice Lateral research means using resources that exist outside of the internet that have a long standing (pre-internet) reputation such as library databases Newspaper Source Plus or MasterFile Complete. A March 2022 search in MasterFile Complete found 502 articles mentioning “Doctors without Borders”. In Newspaper Source Plus there where 360 articles where “Doctors without Borders appeared in the article’s title.  After reviewing the first 20 articles in either database it apparent that this is a real organization with a great reputation for quality medical care in emerging disasters.

Use of content from an .org website requires knowledge of the information ecosystem!

The range of organizations that can use the .org extension is too broad to be able to draw any conclusions regarding quality.

As one becomes educated, critical thinking requires knowledge of dominant & influential organizations in a specific area of control i.e., gun control orgs, gun manufacturers, etc.

Use "authoritative library databases" to find information about a specific company or NGO. When satisfied that that company is real and has expertise, then do a domain limited search. Consider this example.

The Google search, “Site:. doctorswithoutborders.org refugees” finds web content from this non-governmental organization (NGO) on its work with refugees.

NO More CRAP!

No more CRAP

Some of you may have been taught to use C.R.A.P. checklist to evaluate a website. The C.R.A.P. method had some usefulness in its day for  high school level, but it leads to mechanical thinking instead critical thinking. If you are curious about C.R.A.P. here's more.  Using the C.R.A.P. method, a notorious website (and now banned from publication of the new owners of the web address)  "www.martinlutherking.org" which was published by a neo-nazi groups "passed" the evaluation steps as credible. At the same time, under the C.R.A.P. method reputable information appearing in well known popular magazines would fail when a piece of content was written by professional editors at the magazine published the piece without a by-line (without giving their personal name) in accordance with the magazines internal style guidelines. For a concise but more detailed critical look at the CRAP method click this link and scroll down to "A Mental Model for the Instruction of Web Content Evaluation Skills, Using Graphical Representations of a Stakeholder Model" and click on submitted materials for the abstract.

Predatory publishers

The flaws and obvious limitation of CRAP most likely approve of content published in "predatory journals" by predatory publishers. Predatory publishers are disreputable publishers that masquerade as top tier journals by closely mimicking the names of top journals. Unlike, authentic scholarly journals, predatory journals say they do, but do NOT carry out peer rereview, and often their list the members of their editorial board. These predatory journals exist because they charge researchers a high fee for publishing their paper, under the fraud that their journal is well reputed, and that submitted papers have undergone rigorous peer-review.