In the course of your studies, you will often need to find information and make use of it. Sometimes, this will inevitably involve using the Internet. In the academic world, the quality of information is very important. Following a brief introduction to the Internet and the web, this module will show you how to assess the quality of information provided on websites.
By the end of the module, you will be able to:
This module will take roughly 20 minutes to complete.
We assume that you regularly search the Internet for information.
The URL of a web page doesn't necessarily have to start with www. See for example http://library.albany.edu/. The address library.albany.edu belongs to the homepage of the library of the University of Albany. The homepage of the university itself has the address www.albany.edu. In the library's address, library is the subdomain, i.e. part of the domain belonging to the University of Albany.
A URL also provides information about the origin of the site, in the form of the name of the top-level domain, such as:
.edu educational establishment
.ac academic institute, university
.net network provider
.org non-profit organization
.com commercial organization
Some top-level domains are specific to a particular country. Examples of these two-letter country code domains include:
.nl The Netherlands
.uk United Kingdom
.us United States
Anyone with a computer, a modem and an ISP can place information on internet. Web pages are easy to create, so everyone can publish their own information without much difficulty. This does not mean that information on the web is necessarily untrustworthy or less valuable than information published in other ways. On the contrary, you can find really useful information on pretty much any subject you care to think of on internet. But you need to learn to look critically at web pages, so you can decide how good the information on them is.
Note! Search engines cannot find all the information on the web. A lot of the web is "invisible". Much academic information remains hidden to search engines in this invisible web.
In this module, we introduce a number of content-related criteria that you can use to assess the quality of information on the web. There are also formal and technical criteria against which the quality of websites can be assessed, but these are not considered here.
Below, you will find a number of quality criteria, summed up in the form of keywords.
(Move your cursor over the keywords)
Suppose you use a search engine to try to find out when Sir Isaac Newton was born. If you look closely at the search results, you will see that different sites give different dates for Newton's birth. Most Internet sites give the date as 25 December 1642, but some say Newton was born on 4 January 1643.
Screenshot of a Google search on Sir Isaac Newton
In fact there is a new query, namely: which year is the correct one? Try using appropriate information to answer this question. In this case, look for a reliable site that lists the dates and explains which date is correct. Realize that new questions might derive you from the original query!
The web is growing all the time, with billions of new pages added every year. Unfortunately, the bigger the web gets, the harder it becomes to find reliable information on the subject you are interested in. Wherever possible, you should therefore apply the criteria given below to assess the quality of information on websites:
You can try to resolve contradictions in the information you come across by looking at different websites.
Sites belonging to educational establishments (.edu), non-profit organizations (.org) and government bodies (.gov) tend to be more reliable than commercial sites (.com). Personal pages often have tildes (~) in their addresses.
NARCIS is dé nationale portal voor wie informatie zoekt over wetenschappers en hun werk. Naast wetenschappers maken ook studenten, journalisten en medewerkers binnen onderwijs, overheid en het bedrijfsleven gebruik van NARCIS.
NARCIS biedt toegang tot wetenschappelijke informatie waaronder (open access) publicaties afkomstig uit de repositories van alle Nederlandse universiteiten, KNAW, NWO en diverse wetenschappelijke instellingen, datasets van een aantal data-archieven, alsmede beschrijvingen van onderzoeksprojecten, onderzoekers en onderzoeksinstituten.
Dit houdt in dat NARCIS (nog) niet gebruikt kan worden als ingang tot complete overzichten van publicaties van onderzoekers. Er zijn echter steeds meer instellingen die al hun wetenschappelijke publicaties via NARCIS toegankelijk maken. Op deze wijze kunnen de publicatielijsten van de wetenschappers zo compleet mogelijk worden gemaakt.
In 2004 is de ontwikkeling van NARCIS gestart als een samenwerkingsproject van KNAW Onderzoek Informatie, NWO, VSNU en METIS in het kader van de dienstenontwikkeling binnen het DARE-programma van SURFfoundation. Dit project heeft de portal NARCIS verwezenlijkt, waarin in januari 2007 de dienst DAREnet is geïncorporeerd. Sinds 2011 is NARCIS een dienst van DANS.
A MOOC is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.
National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System
NARCIS is the main national portal for those looking for information about researchers and their work. Besides researchers, NARCIS is also used by students, journalists and people working in educational and government institutions as well as the business sector.
NARCIS provides access to scientific information, including (open access) publications from the repositories of all the Dutch universities, KNAW, NWO and a number of research institutes, datasets from some data archives as well as descriptions of research projects, researchers and research institutes.
This means that NARCIS cannot be used as an entry point to access complete overviews of publications of researchers (yet). However, there are more institutions that make all their scientific publications accessible via NARCIS. By doing so, it will become possible to create much more complete publication lists of researchers.
In 2004, the development of NARCIS started as a cooperation project of KNAW Research Information, NWO, VSNU and METIS, as part of the development of services within the DARE programme of SURFfoundation. This project resulted in the NARCIS portal, in which the DAREnet service was incorporated in January 2007. NARCIS has been part of DANS since 2011.
When people create educational resources, they may choose to share them with others openly and freely. This means that others can use these materials as part of their courses and lessons without permission. A creator of an open textbook, for example, can give explicit permission to others to use their book free of charge. We call these open education resources (OER).
Read more about it in our LibGuide Resource Centre for Education Resources and Copyright