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Evaluating Websites and Blogs (Law Library): Evaluating Websites and Blogs

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Guide to Evaluating Legal Information Online

CALI

 
To access the complete list of tutorials visit http://www.cali.org/

Click here for information about the CALI authorization code for UA Law students.

Lessons:

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

How to search the web...

...and get great results!

What is information literacy?

An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

 

Source: Association of College & Research Libraries, Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

Also see: AALL Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency

Information Literacy and the Web

Websites, blogs, social networking sites- the web has grown and continues to add content.

The purpose for a website is not always apparent.  Web pages pretending to be objective may actually have a hidden agenda.  Some sites are neglected and have outdated information but still turn up in Google searches.  On the web, inaccurate information gets cross-posted, passed around and hyperlinked so much, that after reading the same information in several sources, the unwary researcher can easily assume the false information is true.   
 

The difference between web resources and paper publications

Materials in academic libraries have gone through several evaluations before they are added to the library’s collection. This includes paper as well as academic electronic databases.  Here are the basic steps for academic publications:

1.  The author gets feedback from peers on his/her research proposal.

2.  The author may post a draft on pre-publication databases to get additional feedback.  See SSRN http://www.ssrn.com/ and SelectedWorks http://works.bepress.com/

3. The author works with the publisher, through many edits, citation checks and reference checks (fact checking).

4. Librarians may read reviews or recommendations by other librarians before purchasing the material.

5. Librarians evaluate the need for the new material and the quality of the new material using all of the criteria listed in this guide.  Librarians do this daily with all information they encounter.

There is no evaluation process for web postings. The web is a self-publishing media.  The good, the bad and the ugly all reside on the web and show up in searches. Quality of information, author credibility, and fact checking all vary from high quality down to the lowest extreme. 

Caveat lector: Let the reader beware!

You have to learn to evaluate what you read on the web.  Apply critical thinking skills and question everything on the web. This library guide gives you some evaluation tools to use when searching for and using information on the web.

Criteria to use

A. Authority

B. Accuracy

C. Scope

D. Currency

AND cross-check the information using other sites.  Investigate the site using other sources.