Net cred: evaluating the internet as a research source

Tony Doyle (Hunter College Library, New York, New York, USA)
John L. Hammond (Hunter College Department of Sociology, New York, New York, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 1 January 2006

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how web sites can be a valuable research source for students if approached with due caution.

Design/methodology/approach

This article is the product of collaboration between a sociology professor and a librarian. The authors discuss the nature of their collaboration and present their views on web evaluation in the context of an extensive literature review.

Findings

Reputable print sources have numerous mechanisms to help ensure reliability: proven authors and editors, track record, and (sometimes) peer review. Obviously, the vast majority of web sites lack these features. Accordingly, the paper offers a critical look at the standard criteria of web evaluation with illustrations from two sites, one credible, one not.

Originality/value

Healthy skepticism regarding the internet is urged. It is suggested that web evaluation has costs and benefits. The chief benefit of careful web site evaluation is that the process makes it more likely than otherwise that one will wind up with reliable sites. The main cost is that evaluation takes time, and the value of a given piece of information declines according to the effort one spends verifying it. A second potential cost is that undue skepticism can prompt one to dismiss perfectly respectable sites.

Keywords

Citation

Doyle, T. and Hammond, J. (2006), "Net cred: evaluating the internet as a research source", Reference Services Review, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 56-70. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907320610648761

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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