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Article: Thinking Critically about Discipline-Based World Wide Web Resources
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Thinking Critically about Discipline-Based World Wide Web Resources

Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library

The World Wide Web has a lot to offer, but not all sources are equally valuable or reliable. Thinking Critically About World Wide Web Resources offers some basic points to consider. Here are additional points to consider regarding Web sites for subject disciplines.

Content and Evaluation
  • Does the site claim to represent a group, an organization, an institution, a corporation or a governmental body?
  • Does the site offer a selected list of resources in a particular discipline or field or does it claim to offer a complete list? (Note: Be sure to check with a librarian on the range of information resources in a particular discipline.)
    • Does the site refer to print and other non-Internet resources or just Internet resources?
    • If a selected list is offered, are criteria provided describing how the list of resources was chosen?
    • Is an explanation provided for use of particular criteria?
  • Does the site claim to describe or provide the results of research or scholarly effort?
    • Are sufficient references provided to other works, to document hypotheses, claims or assertions?
    • Are references cited fully?
    • Can the results be refuted or verified through other means--e.g., by use of library-related research tools?
  • Is any sort of third-party financial or other support or sponsorship evident?
  • Is advertising included at the site, and if so, has it had an impact on the content?
  • Does the site combine educational, research & scholarly information with commercial or non-commercial product or service marketing?
Source and Date
  • Who designed the criteria used in selecting items for this site (if any), and who selected the items listed?
  • Is the site officially or unofficially sponsored or supported by particular groups, organizations, institutions, corporations or governmental bodies?
  • Can the researchers, scholars, groups, organizations, institutions, corporations or governmental bodies listed as authors, sponsors or supporters, be verified as such, and what are their qualifications?
  • How up to date is the study or the site?
  • Are results of research studies reported in the style expected for that discipline?
  • Are references provided in the style normally used for documentation in that discipline?
  • Is there a fee for use of access to any of the information provided at this site, or is all information at this site freely available?
  • Are there options for text only, non-frames and non-tables views of this Web site?
  • Is alternative text provided for images, to guide the visually-impaired?

About the Author
Esther Grassian holds a MLS in Library Science from UCLA and currently is the Instructional Services Coordinator, UCLA College Library. Her professional background includes teaching library and information sciences, and research to create and experiment with use of an online database consisting of merged ready reference file data. Her publications pertaining to various aspects of library science include refereed journal articles, book chapters, books, and many Web Pages.

Created by Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library @ 1997 Regents of the University of California.
Permission is granted for unlimited non-commercial use of this guide.
Reproduced by the CMSC with permission.

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