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Selection criteria for Internet information resources: a Poll of members of info-quality-l
On 8 May 1996 Alastair Smith posted the following query to info-quality-l.
What selection criteria do you use to decide which sources to include in web sites you maintain, or to use for answering queries?
This repeated a question asked of the email@example.com email group in May 95, responses summarised at http://coombs.anu.edu.au/SpecialProj/QLTY/QltyLinks.html
Tony Barry, Centre for Networked Information and Publishing/
Centre for Networked Access to Scholarly Information
Australian National University Library.
- Are they useful to the target audience -
- Up to date
- Do they meet the collection depth level of the collection being built.
You might only want a refernce level collection or you may
wish to be comprehensive. Its a trade off between what the
users might want and what resources you have to maintain it
- Is the site likely to be stable.
A pointer to a page maintained by an undergraduate is
less likely to be there in a year's time than one maintained
by a national library for instance. [comment by Bran Muffin]
Margaret F. Riley, Internet Job Search/Recruiting Consultant.
[and responding to a comment on stability of sites by William Shaw:]
- What is the authority of the person(s) or organization who created this site?
- How often is it updated?
- What is the information included, and how is it organized? Is the
sequence logical and
easy to follow?
- Is there a fee for use of this service?
- Is this site unique in the information and/or service offered?
- Does the site respond well?
However, beyond stability is authority. What is the expertise of the
students *or of any other person* maintaining this site? Have they
demonstrated a significant professional or personal expertise in this
subject area, or is it just something that they started putting together?
One criteria that I like to use when looking at sites is the presence
of evaluations and to determine the quality of the evaluation. It's one thing
to just list a bunch of interrelated sites, but another to discuss why these
were chosen (ie,
collection assessment and development) and to impose guidelines
on the collection so that users know what they will and will not
I don't have the largest or most inclusive site for employment resources
on the Internet, but I have the evaluated list with guidelines for what I
will not include. Many users thank me for that piece of the information
and value it much more as an aid to their own search.
Bran Muffin (ACTlab sysadmin), commenting on Tony Barry's view:
> >3. Is the site likely to be stable.
> > A pointer to a page maintained by an undergraduate is
> > less likely to be there in a years time than one maintained
> > by a national library for instance.
It makes me sad & mad to see such blanket statements. I think it is that
kind of attitude that allows Rupert Murdoch to drive the information
dissimination stream, rather that the people who MAKE the news. "Oh, the
Zapatistas won't be here next year, so let's ask Maurey Povitch what's up
in Mexico." grrrr.
[Comment by William Shaw]
If you fear that an information source may dry up capriciosly, why not
CONTACT the creator/maintainer, and ask that you be made the new
caretaker should he fail in that capacity?
I would hope that as site maintainers that we woudln't short circuit the
possibilities of this medium just to make things easier or more
Christine Conlon, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism
University of Technology Sydney.
I'd like to caution against only selecting official sites - and those sites
which have a lot of funding to hold them up. As a journalism researcher and
developer of a Web site, my experience shows that most "official" sites can
be like newspapers and public relations machines - which contain highly
filtered and controlled information. The more grass roots and individually
dedicated groups of Web gurus often provide access to information that is
less filtered - often raw - and in my mind gets you closer to the truth of
a story/subject. And this is the beauty of the internet - it lets others
opinions and stories get out. I'd like to see that encouraged to prosper as
a mechanism against market oriented news reportage, which at the end of the
day is quite confined to its own interests.
William Shaw, Consulting Engineer, Electronic Systems Associates.
Keep in mind that these criteria being discussed are not criteria
for limiting what is on the web, They are just criteria that need
to be considered when planing ones own site/pages. Part of the
freedom of the net is the freedom to reference the sites you wish to
link to. If you don't want to become a proprietor of ex-student
web-pages, and you don't want to have to monitor all your links that
closely, then stability of a site is important to you.
Granted, the statement made by Tony regarding student pages ('A
pointer to a page maintained by an undergraduate is less likely to
be there in a years time than one maintained by a national library
for instance') was just an example of stability. I know of many
Students who have maintained a web site/web presence for over two
and a half years now ... which is longer than most sites have
existed. [comment by Margaret Riley]
Another thing to keep in mind is that students have limited space,
and thus as their priorities change so does their web sites. Old
pages have to be removed in order to make room for new ones to be
created. Brian, as a University Laboratory Sysadmin, should be
aware of the quotas usually applied to student accounts. I used to
administer a lab of NeXTs when I was still in school, and one of the
frequent issues was space.
The question to be asked here is weighing the value of the link
against it's 'stability'. What is longevity when it comes to
websites? 6 Months? 2 years?; How often do you intend to redo or
rework your own site? What is the propose of your site?
Like Christine I see a fine line between credibility, stability, and
A Quality site would know their target audience, and use criteria to
limit the links to those criteria preferred by their target audience;
keeping in mind some flexibility. A global search engine should not
limit, but a academic historical society should.
James Vincett, Training Coordinator, Information Systems and Services,
California Lutheran University
The following article appeared in College & Research Libraries News for
March 1996. What follows is a summary. I strongly suggest you get your hands
on the full article.
Pratt, Gregory F.(firstname.lastname@example.org) et. al. "Guidelines for Internet
resource selection." pg 134-135.
The authors note that an information resource does not have to meet ALL of
the following criteria.
CLU is currently reviewing websites for inclusion in a special "Internet
Database." We use a "collection policy" based on the above criteria.
- Quality and Content
- Credible source: peer-reviewed; from an organization with an established
reputation; archived or indexed electronically.
- Demonstrated importance through availablity: linked by multiple internet
sites; available in multiple forms (i.e. cd-rom, print).
- Comprehensive or unique: currency; broad AND deep coverage; full-text
- Content of Internet version is complete or fully meets client needs.
- Resource stays current through regular updates or demonstrates ongoing
- Relevance (i.e. recommended by a respected review source)
- Ease of Use
- Logon sequences can be scripted or automated for clients.
- Search engine similar to other resources, or if unique, the information
- is "worth the trouble" of learning the new interface.
- Help files readily available
- Downtimes are infrequent and announced
- Reliability and Stability.
- Review the peak usage times for the resource
- Review the possibility of using a mirror site
- URL changes should be infrequent and announced
- Cost and copyright
- Subscription or access costs are reasonable and justifiable
- Simplicity in complying with restrictions on duplication or dissemination of information
- Hardware and software
- Gauge the need to use updated hardware or software.
Bibliography of relevant material from Nicole J. Auer, Reference/Instruction Librarian, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. This bibliography has been updated at http://www.uwgb.edu/~auern/crithink.htm.
- Tillman, Hope. "Evaluating Quality on the Net."
[14 April 1996]
- Rettig, James. "Putting the Squeeze on the Information Firehose: The Need
for Neteditors and Netreviewers."
<http://www.swem.wm.edu/firehose.html> [22 November 1995]
- Stepno, Bob and Bob Henshaw. "Quality of Information...and Disinformation
Online." <http://blake.oit.unc.edu/~rbstepno/disinfo.html> [12 April 1995]
- Grassian, Ester. "Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources."
[29 March 1996]
- Argus Associates and University of Michigan. "Clearinghouse: Information:
[1 December 1995]
- Rosenfeld, Louis. "Resource Evaluation: Assessing Resource Quality for
"Building Subject Guides to Internet Resources.""
<http://http2.sils.umich.edu/~lou/bsgeval.html> [5 December 1995]
- Janicke, Lisa. "Resource Selection and Information Evaluation."
<http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/Evaluate.html> [4 December 1995]
- Elementary School Student's Internet Gateway. "Evaluating Information:
Some questions to Help You Judge Online Information."
<http://volvo.gslis.utexas.edu:80/~clig/evalinfo.html> [13 February 1996]
- Ormondroyd, Joan and Michael Engle and Tony Cosgrave. "How to Critically
Analyze Information Sources."
<http://urislib.library.cornell.edu/skill26.htm> [21 December 1995]
- O'Reilly and Associates and Trish Information Systems. "Defining the
Internet Opportunity." (demograhic statistics)
<http://www.ora.com/www/info/research/users/index.html> [16 April 1996]
- Liu, Jian. "Understanding WWW Search Tools."
<http://www.indiana.edu/~librcsd/search/> [9 February 1996]
- December, John. "Challenges for Web Information Providers."
Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, vol 1, no.6 (1994) pg. 13. Online.
[5 December 1995]
- Ciolek, T. Matthew. "Information Quality." World Wide Web Virtual Library
<http://coombs.anu.edu.au/WWWVL-InfoQuality.html> [4 April 1996]
- Rader, Hannelore, Billie Reinhart, and Gary Thompson.
Evaluating Information: A Basic Checklist. (Item number A127).
Chicago: ALA, 1990.
- Oberman, Cerise. "Avoiding the Cereal Syndrome, or Critical Thinking in
the Electronic Environment." Library Trends 39 (3) Winter 1991, pgs 189-202.
- Oberman, Cerise. "Unmasking Technology: A Prelude to Teaching." Research
Strategies 13(1) Winter 1995, pgs 34-39
- Collins, Boyd. "WebWatch" column.Library Journal February 1, 1996, pgs 32
- Collins, Boyd. "Beyond Cruising: Reviewing."Library Journal
February 15, 1996, pgs 122-124
- Courtois, Martin and William Baer. "Cool Tools for Searching the Web."
Online November/December 1995, pgs 15-32
- Bodi, Sonia. "Scholarship or Propaganda: How Can Librarians Help
Undergraduates Tell the Difference?"Journal of Academic Librarianship
January 1995, pgs 21-25
- Hernon, Peter. "Disinformation and Misinformation through the Internet:
Findings of an Exploratory Study."Government Information Quarterly 12(2)
1995, pgs 133-139
- Rosenfeld, Louis B. "Guides, Clearinghouses, and Value-Added Repackaging:
Some Thoughts on How Librarians Can Improve the Internet."Reference
Services Review Winter 1994, pgs 11-16
- Page, Mary and Martine Kesselman. "Teaching the Internet: Challenges and
Opportunities"Research Strategies 12(3) Summer 1994, pgs 157-167
- Gorman, Michael. "The Corruption of Cataloging."Library Journal
September 15, 1995, pgs 32-34
- Pratt, Gregory F., Patrick Flannery, and Cassandra Perkins. "Guidelines for
Internet Resource Selection."College & Research Libraries News March 1996,
- Makulowich, John. "Quality Control on the Net."Database February 1996, pgs 93-94
- Pagell, Ruth A. "Quality and the Internet: An Open Letter."Online
July/August 1995, pgs 7-9
- Garman, Nancy. "When Online Is Not Enough."Online May/June 1995, pgs 6-7
- Doran, Kirk. "The Internot: Helping Library Patrons Understand What the
Internet Is Not (Yet)."Computers in Libraries June 1995, pgs 22-26
- Santa Vicca, Edmund F. "The Internet as a Reference and Research Tool: A
Model for Educators."The Reference Librarian no. 41-42 (1994), pgs 225-236.
NETTRAIN send email to email@example.com
BESTWEB send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Info-Quality-L send email to email@example.com
Web4Lib send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
BI-L send email to email@example.com
COLLIB-L send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Net-Happenings send email to email@example.com
Libref-L send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last modified 23 May 1996 by Alastair Smith