ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — June 2003

In This Issue
When Executive Coaching Shifts
to Clinical Consultation
Observations From a “Reinvented” Coach
Leading Wholeheartedly:
A Quality Approach
Full Engagement Leadership
Looking Toward the Future
AQP’s Team Excellence Award Evaluation Criteria

 

Features

AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
News Bites
What’s Up?
The Help Desk

Book Nook

Our Readers Say

June 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

 

NFC Index

AQP Home

“Questions to Ask About the Web Page”
Reprinted with permission

Authority

  1. Is it clear what organization is responsible for the contents of the page?
  2. Is there a link to a page describing the goals of the organization?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the organization (phone number or postal address)?
  4. Is there a statement that the content of the page has the official approval of the organization?
  5. Is it clear whether this is a page from the national or local chapter of the organization?
  6. Is there a statement giving the organization’s name as copyright holder?

Accuracy

  1. Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  2. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors?

Objectivity

  1. Are the organization’s biases clearly stated?
  2. If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?

Currency

  1. Are there dates on the page to indicate:
    a. When the page was written?
    b. When the page was first placed on the Web?
    c. When the page was last revised?

Coverage

  1. Is there an indication that the page has been completed and is not still under construction?
  2. Is it clear what topics the page intends to address?
  3. Does the page succeed in addressing these topics or has something similar been left out?
  4. Is the point of view of the organization presented in a clear manner with its arguments well supported?

The Help Desk
Tips for Internet-Based Research

In recent years, the Internet has changed the world around us tremendously, bringing information and commerce to our fingertips at almost lightening speed. However, the value of the Internet as a resource also is accompanied by several negative realities—particularly, the proliferation of biased or even bogus information. Fortunately, there are several methodologies available for evaluating Web sites and determining which advocate specific viewpoints and which lack appropriate validity.

 

For instance, the Wolfgram Memorial Library at Widener University in Chester, PA, has a Web site (www2.widener.edu/ Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/ webevaluation/advoc.htm) that defines advocacy Web sites as being “sponsored by an organization attempting to influence public opinion (that is one trying to sell ideas).” Clearly, Web sites of this type may contain reliable information, but they may not present a comprehensive view of the subject matter because their sponsors advocate a specific position.

Widener’s library’s Web site offers a handy list of evaluation questions developed by Janet Alexander and Marsha Tate (see sidebar) that address five key areas related to the quality of Web site information: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage. A revised and expanded version of the questions is available in the authors’ book, Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999. xv, p. 156 ISBN 0-8058-3123-1), which received a five-star rating from Amazon.com’s readers.

Another worthwhile source of evaluation techniques and questions can be found at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/ Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html, which provides a tutorial on this topic. Here the author, Joe Barker, recommends four evaluation steps:

  • Glean all you can from the URL, determining the nature of the domain and the credibility of the publisher.
  • Scan the perimeter of the page, looking for information about the author/sponsoring organization and associated philosophies, background, credentials, etc., as well as development and revision dates.
  • Look for indicators of quality information, such as footnotes or links to other supporting sites (as well as sites with differing viewpoints) and authenticity of reproduced information.
  • Find out what other sources say about the author/sponsoring organization and the information on this Web page, including what other Web pages link to this page, which directories include it, where else the author/sponsor is quoted.

There are many other sources available for learning how to critically evaluate Web sources, but the suggestions from these two resources provide useful pointers that are easily applied. Ultimately, the decision on whether the information from a particular Web site is appropriate depends on how you plan to use it. Even the sites that contain phony information can be useful as examples of misunderstandings of the topic or for humor. The key, of course, is to recognize the validity of your sources and to choose the sources that best fit what you’re trying to achieve.

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