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Checklists for Internet sources

Researchers, teachers and librarians have developed checklists for evaluating resources in general and Internet sources in particular. Below such checklists are presented (later to be analyzed and discussed).

The library of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, for example, provide this link about General Source Criticism and this one about Topicality and Reliability of Printed Documents.

Annette Skov's Criteria

Annette Skov (2000) Criteria for evaluating web-resource (translated from Danish):

• Fitness for purpose
- information about purpose and target group?
- does the page live up to its purpose?

• Authority/trustworthiness
- is it possible to identify the author/originator?
- what are the qualifications of the originator?
- the publishing institution/organization?
- contact address?
- opinions or facts?
- evidence by one of the parties? (piece of special pleading?)
- advertising? Sponsorship?
- references to sources?/references to literature?
- quality control?

• Content
- unique information?
- coverage? (depth-comprehensiveness)
- relevant, annotated links to other pages?
- correct information?
- misspellings and scamped work?
- unfinished sections?

• Updating
- opdatering og vedligeholdelse regelmæssigt?
- dating for the set-up and updating?
- news section?
- dead links?

• Navigation
- clear logical structurer? Order?
- easy to navigate between sections?
- table of contents? site map?
- buttoms for up, down and home?
- standardized, recognizable design?
- internal search engine?

• Design/style
- relevant graphics?
- readability and legibility of text? Is it worth reading
- quality which create enthusiasm?

• Tilgængelighed
- busy server?
- toll access/free access?
- registrating/cookies?

• Performance
- heavy graphics?
- text-only possibility?
- suitable for the disabled?

Criticism of the checklist approach

The checklist approach has been criticized by, for example, Meola (2004). Basically is this approach promoting "a mechanical and algorithmic way of evaluation that is at odds with the higher-level judgment and intuition that we presumably seek to culticate as part of critical thinking. The checklist format can give the impression that the checklist is a kind of machien that spins out correct Web-site evaluations when given the right input" (Meola, 2004, p. 337).

This brings us to epistemology, because the belief in such mechanical and formal ways to evaluate information sources (and thus knowledge) is an epistemological belief (related to positivism).


California Medical Association (1999): Health Care Links - How to Evaluate Medical Information Found on the Internet. Lokaliseret den 23. september 2008 på http://new.cmanet.org/publicdoc.cfm/60/0/GENER/99

Children's Evaluation Criteria of Search Engines. http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00002164/01/text2.htm

Cooke, Alison (2001). A Guide to Finding Quality Information on the Internet: Selection and evaluation strategies. 2nd ed. London: Library Association Publishing. (1st ed. 1999). Chapter 1 is an introduction, Chapter 2 describes a variety of tools (search engines, electronic directories, gateways etc.) for searching various types of material (which are described in detail in Chapters 3 and 4) available on the Internet. The book is explicit and takes readers by the hand, while explaining where and how to start their searches. Chapter 3 is about assessing the quality of an information source and provides a set of useful and practical check-lists to be completed in Chapter 4, where various examples of types of sources are described and evaluated. Finally, Chapter 5 is where the use of check-lists is fully explained and a wider range of tools for evaluation is introduced to give readers the possibility of choosing the best for their needs. Examples drawn from the author’s experience in health care are provided to illustrate how to use the various techniques.

Evaluating Internet Information. Bibliography. http://www.iecc.cc.il.us/overstreetk/bib.htm

Fritch, J. W., & Cromwell, R. L. (2001). Evaluating Internet resources: Identity, affiliation, and cognitive authority in a networked world. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52, 499-507.

Harris, Robert (2007). Evaluating Internet Research Resources. Retrieved 2008-07-31 from: http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm

Kim, Paul et al (1999): Information in practice - Published criteria for evaluating health related web sites: review. British Medical Association Journal. Lokaliseret den 23. september 2008 på http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/318/7184/647#SEC

Meola, M (2004). Chucking the checklist: A contextual approach to teaching undergraduates web-site evaluation. Portal: Libraries and the Academy , 4(3) , 331-344. Downloaded 2008-10-23 from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/portal_libraries_and_the_academy/v004/4.3meola.html or in pdf: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/portal_libraries_and_the_academy/v004/4.3meola.pdf
Abstract: This paper criticizes the checklist model approach (authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage) to teaching undergraduates how to evaluate Web sites. The checklist model rests on faulty assumptions about the nature of information available through the Web, mistaken beliefs about student evaluation skills, and an exaggerated sense of librarian expertise in evaluating information. The checklist model is difficult to implement in practice and encourages a mechanistic way of evaluating that is at odds with critical thinking. A contextual approach is offered as an alternative. A contextual approach uses three techniques: promoting peer- and editorially-reviewed resources, comparison, and corroboration. The contextual approach promotes library resources, teaches information literacy, and encourages reasoned judgments of information quality.

Mintz, Anne P. (ed.). (2002). Web of deception. Misinformation on the Internet. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Skov, Annette (2000). Kvalitetsvurdering af web-sider. (Revideret 2007). http://vip.iva.dk/tutorials/Kvalitet/default.htm


Back to Source criticism
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The Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/about/

See Also


Entry Added: July 30, 2008
Last Update: October 23, 2008