One of the topics we will discuss in this new Virtual Training Suite blog is Web credibility.
The Virtual Training Suite is all about offering a guide to the best of the Web for education and research and so for many years our staff have considered the value judgements and critical thinking required when using the Internet for academic research.
The Internet has thrown up both opportunities and threats to academic study and research.
The good news is that many sources of authoritative research information publish on the Internet – it offers quicker and easier access to academic resources and facilitates scholarly communication.
The bad news is that it can be very difficult for students or new researchers to pin point the resources that are most appropriate for their academic work, especially with recent explosion of un-moderated, user-generated content.
Locating resources on the Web that are suitable for academic work requires knowledge and skill and some there are some interesting initiatives to raise awareness of this.
I’d like to use this blog to highlight some of these, so will kick off with one I have found very useful over the years:
BJ Fogg and his team at the Persuasive Technology lab at Stanford University are doing interesting work to investigate not only how people evaluate the credibility of information found on the Web, but also how people can enhance the credibility of the information they publish on the Web.
The group also acknowledges the individual and contextual factors involved in making value judgements about information, which helps explain the complexities and diverse opinions in this field.
They have some fascinating research findings describing how experts evaluate website credibility with very different criteria from the general public.
Their website aims to offer a clearinghouse for the academic literature on this topic and offers a very useful list of Web Credibility Research Literature.
I would recommend their work as interesting reading for an academic community faced not only with using the Internet for research, but in having some responsibility for ensuring that students develop the skills and knowledge required for the same. Otherwise we face the danger that the Internet will degrade the quality of academic research rather than enhance it.