Assessing the authority of free online scholarly information
- 564 Downloads
Authority generally relates to expertise, recognition of official status of a source, and the reputation of the author and publisher. As the Internet has become a ubiquitous tool in modern science and scholarly research, evaluating the authority of free online scholarly information is becoming crucial. However, few empirical studies have focused on this issue. Using a modified version of Jim Kapoun’s “Five criteria for evaluating web pages” as framework, this research selected 32 keywords from eight disciplines, inputted them into three search engines (Google, Yahoo and AltaVista) and used Analytic Hierarchy Process to determine the weights. The first batches of results (web pages) from keyword searching were selected as evaluation samples (in the two search phases, the first 50 and 10 results were chosen, respectively), and a total of 3,134 samples were evaluated for authority based on the evaluation framework. The results show that the average authority value for free online scholarly information is about 3.63 (out of five), which is in the “fair” level (3 ≤ Z < 4) (Z is the value assigned to each sample). About 41% of all samples collected provide more authoritative scholarly information. Different domain names, resource types, and disciplines of free online scholarly information perform differently when scored in terms of authority. In conclusion, the authority of free online scholarly information has been unsatisfactory, and needs to be improved. Furthermore, the evaluation framework and its application developed herein could be a useful instrument for librarians, researchers, students, and the public to select Internet resources.
KeywordsFree online scholarly information Authority Assessment Evaluation tools
This study is partially supported by Social Science Foundation of China “public sector information exploitation” under the agreement 09 & ZD039. The authors want to thank all the home and international participants of survey for this research.
- Alexander, J. E., & Tate, M. A. (1999). Web wisdom: How to evaluate and create information quality on the web. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Barnes, S., & Vidgen, R. (2002). An integrative approach to the assessment of e-commerce quality. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 3(3), 114–127.Google Scholar
- Bopp, R. E., & Smith, L. C. (2000). Reference and information services: An introduction. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Corp.Google Scholar
- China Internet Network Information Center. (2011, January). The statistics of China internet information development. Accessed February 15, 2011, from http://www.cnnic.cn/research/bgxz/tjbg/201101/P020110221534255749405.pdf.
- Collins, B. R. (1996). Webwatch. Library Journal, 1 February, 32–33.Google Scholar
- Cornell University Library. (2010). Five criteria for evaluating web pages. Accessed October 21, 2010, from http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/webcrit.html.
- Commission of the European Communities. (2002). eEurope 2002: Quality criteria for health related websites. Journal of Medical Internet Research 4(3), e15. Accessed October 21, 2010, from http://www.jmir.org/2002/3/e15/.
- Fox, S. (2006). Online health search 2006. Pew internet & American life project. Accessed October 15, 2007, from http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2006/PIP_Online_Health_2006.pdf.pdf.
- Hairston, M., & Ruszkiewicz, J. J. (1996). The Scott Foresman handbook for writers (4th ed.). New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- HealthInsite Editorial Team, National Health Call Centre Network. Publishing standards for healthinsite. Version 6, 2010. Accessed November 3, 2010, from http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/UserFiles/File/HealthInsite_publishing_standards_v6_June_2010_PDF.pdf.
- Horrigan, J., & Rainie, L. (2006). The Internet’s growing role in life’s major moments. Pew internet & American life project. Accessed February 25, 2007, from http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/181/report_display.asp.
- Kapoun, J. (1998). Teaching undergrads web evaluation: A guide for library instruction. C&RL News, July/August, 522–523.Google Scholar
- Katz, W. A. (1980). Collection development: The selection of materials for libraries. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
- McGeachin, R. (1998). Selection criteria for web-based resources in a science and technology library collection. Accessed January 21, 2007, from http://www.library.ucsb.edu/istl/98-spring/article2.html.
- New Mexio State University Library (2009). Evaluation criteria. Accessed October 21, 2010, from http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/evalcrit.html.
- Pitschmann, L. A. (2001). Building sustainable collections of free third-party Web resources. Washington: Digital Library Federation, Council on Library and Information Resources.Google Scholar
- Rieh, S. Y., & Belkin, N. J. (1998). Understanding judgment of information quality and cognitive authority in the WWW. In C. M. Preston (Ed.), Proceedings of the 61st ASIS annual meeting (pp. 279–289). Silver Spring, MD: American Society for Information Science.Google Scholar
- Sheridan libraries of Johns Hopkins University. (1996). Evaluating information found on the internet. Accessed June 11, 2007, from http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/.
- Smith, A. G. (1997). Testing the surf: Criteria for evaluating Internet information resources. The public-access computer systems review, 8(3). Accessed January 21, 2007, from http://epress.lib.uh.edu/pr/v8/n3/smit8n3.html.
- Tenopir C. (2003). Use and users of electronic library resources: An overview and analysis of recent research studies. Accessed February 25, 2007, from http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub120/pub120.pdf.
- Tillman H. (2003). Evaluating quality on the Net. Accessed January 21, 2007, from http://www.hopetillman.com/findqual.html.
- University of Alberta Libraries (2009). Critical evaluation of internet resources. Accessed October 21, 2010, from http://guides.library.ualberta.ca/eval_internet.
- University of Southern Maine Library. (2004). Checklist for evaluating Web resources. Accessed February 25, 2007, from http://library.usm.maine.edu/research/researchguides/webeval.php.
- Wilson, P. (1983). Second-hand knowledge: An inquiry into cognitive authority. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar