English 100: Discovering Information Homepage

English 100 Course Description




How to search for information (some general principles)

How to use Internet search engines

How to use the Internet to discover information about the world

How to evaluate web pages and web sites

How to find general information for humanities research

How to find scholarly journals

How to search for information--some general principles:

If you have subscribed to Britannica Online, you can go there directly to get an interactive discussion of Internet searches: Britannica's Guide to Effective Searches at Britannica Online (for subscribers).

Even if you do not have full access, you can visit the Britannica World Wide Web site and get an interactive discussion of Internet searches at the Britannica Search Site--with live links.

If you want quick download and a brief text-only overview of Britannica's guide to Internet research, try clicking here: Searching for information.


How to use Internet search engines:

For a clear and easy-to-follow description of the major Internet search engines (Altavista, Yahoo, Lycos, etc.), with links to those search engines, and a general discussion of similarities and differences in the ways these search engines work (including information about Boolean searches), click on the address below. Terry Gray, a librarian at Palomar Community College, has also created an exciting Shakespeare site--and this page provides links to that site as well as to other articles on Web searching This page was last updated July 1996:

http://www.palomar.edu/Library/TGSEARCH.HTM .

How to use the Internet to discover information about the world:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: BOL. The Encyclopaedia Britannia is the world's finest encyclopedia. Now available as Britannica Online, it serves as a rich and reliable source of information that can help you find meaning in and make sense of the chaos on the Internet. With over 200 years of scholarship in its database, Britannica also provides links to WWW sites reviewed as credible and reliable by the editors and by consultants from universities all around the world. BOL is an excellent place to start a research project.

Washington State University site: World Cultures. For a good compendium of links to Internet resources on world cultures, visit this site by Richard Hooker (updated 10-12-96)--with links to Africa, the African Diaspora and Africa-America, Hebrew, Mesopotamia, Persia, Ancient Greece and Rome, Buddhism, Islam, China, Egypt, India, Japan, Native Americans, and Europe (this lengthy section includes early Christianity, the Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance, the Reformation and Enlightenment), and America (the idea and the nation of America). Modernity and Modern History are also included in Hooker's listing of world cultures.

Bea McWilliams' links to World Culture. Bea McWilliams, Communications Professor at MiraCosta College (see Speech Communications), has gathered a wealth of information to assist her speech students in their research projects.


How to evaluate web pages and web sites:

The Internet is a large electronic network which currently has no centralized monitor and is not regulated for reliability, authority, or accuracy. When you use the Internet and itsWorld Wide Web to do research, it's important to evaluate the credibility of the sites you access. Also, when you are developing your own web pages, you'll want to follow good design practice. The following sites provide helpful information.

http://www.science.widener.edu/~withers/webeval.htm . This site, entitled "Teaching Critical Evaluation Skills for World Wide Web Resources," is authored by Jan Alexander and Marsha Tate, Reference Librarians at the Wolfgram Memorial Library of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Created August 1996 and last revised in March 1997, the site provides materials teaching how to develop critical thinking skills and apply them to the evaluation of informational content of Web resources. Materials on the site include a Presentation Outline for a 1996 American Library Association Poster Session on evaluating web resources, web evaluation checklists for various kinds of web pages (advocacy, business/marketing, informational, news, and personal pages), links to exemplary websites, links to other web-evaluation web sites, and a bibliography of web evaluation techniques. See also their aritcle ("Teaching Critical Evaluation Skills for World Wide Web Resource") in the November/December 1996 issue of Computers in Libraries.

http://www.library.cornell.edu/okuref/research/skill26.htm . "How to Critically Analyze Information Sources"--authored by Joan Ormondroyd, Michael Engle, and Tony Cosgrave of the Reference Services Division of the Cornell University Library--is an essay showing that you can appraise a source by examining the bibliographic citation (evaluating the author's credentials, date of publication, edition or revision, publisher, and title of journal--the author shows you how to distinguish scholarly from non-scholarly journals) and by doing a content analysis. In a content analysis, you examine the parts of the source--such as preface and bibliography--and assess the intended audience, the quality of reasoning, the extent of coverage (here you learn something about the difference between primary and secondary sources), and the quality of writing style. In content analysis, you also locate critical reviews of books or articles to provide more substance to your assessment. The site--revised October 20, 1996--includes links to a hypertext guide to library research, seven steps to effective library research, and resource guides and bibliographies.

http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/college/instruct/critical.htm. This is an article by Esther Grassian of the UCLA College Library, entitled "Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources." Beginning with "The World Wide Web has a lot to offer, but not all sources are equally valuable or reliable," Grassian's essay lists relevant questions to ask under the following headings: Content and Evaluation, Source and Date, Structure, and Other Considerations (such as availability of appropriate interactivity, encryption, and links to search engines). Last updated February 1997, the site includes links to college library instruction guides and to the UCLA Libraries and Home Page. Permission is granted for unlimited non-commercial use of this guide.

http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/Eval.html. Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe's online essay, "Evaluation of Information" (1995), provides another discussion of the evaluation process for the Internet. Hinchliffe cites a popular reference text [Smith, Linda C. (1991) "Selection and Evaluation of Reference Sources" in Richard E. Bopp & Linda C. Smith (eds.), Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, p.240)] in her brief discussion of several criteria, including the following: format (file archives, gopher files, or hypertext documents), scope (intended coverage of the source, actual coverage of the topic, currency of the information, audience for the website), treatment (e.g., scholarly vs. general public and expert vs. novice), and cost. Hinchliffe says, "While the Internet is often touted as a free resource, there are many hidden costs, and others that are not so hidden. . . . Finding and/or providing information on the Internet is sometimes a frustrating and time-consuming experience, requiring much patience and energy. For some people, this is not a problem; for others, it is better to be less involved with the Internet."

http://thorplus.lib.purdue.edu/~techman/eval.html. Last updated January 1997, this page begins with "Anyone can (and probably will) put anything up on the Internet." The information on this site is adapted from The Savvy Student's Guide to Library Research by Judy Pask, Roberta Kramer, and Scott Mandernack (Purdue University Undergraduate Library: W. Lafayette, IN. 1993). Primarily, it's a listing of questions to ask to test reliability, accuracy, truthfulness, meaning on the Internet, where it is often "difficult to determine what something is, where it came from, how it got there, and who the author is. . . if it is original, updated, revised, quoted out of context, plagiarized" or in some other way altered. The site creator recommends checking a list of questions to evaluate reliability, credibility, purpose, and perspective of information and sources. Links are provided to Lisa Janicke's "Resource Selection and Information Evaluation," the Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides, and a worksheet used in Purdue Libraries' Information Strategies course, entitled "Evaluating Web and Internet Information." Even Web search engines should be reviewed and evaluated using these criteria.


How to find general information for humanities research:

THE VOICE OF THE SHUTTLE. Liu, Alan. "Voice of the Shuttle: Web Page for Humanities Research." 18 April 1996. < http://humanitas.ucsb.edu/ > (19 April 1997). This is an extraordinarily useful site, which provides leads many areas for scholarly research in the humanities. Alan Liu, its creator and preserver (he updates the pages regularly, on average weekly or more often), works in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

How to find scholarly journals:

THE VOICE OF THE SHUTTLE. Liu, Alan. "Voice of the Shuttle: Journals and Zines Page." 17 April 1996. <http://humanitas.ucsb.edu/shuttle/journals.html > (18 April 1997). On this page, you'll find listings for scholarly journals which are available online--many providing article abstracts free of charge.

For a brief review of the differences between scholarly journals and other kinds of periodicals (like magazines, newspapers, and e-zines), check out this article, which answers the question: "What is a scholarly journal?"


More coming soon!

Gloria Floren, Letters Department, MiraCosta College, One Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056. U.S.A.

Send e-mail to: gfloren@miracosta.edu URL=http://www.miracosta.cc.ca.us/home/gfloren/default.htm

Created 19 April1997. Last revised 25 April 1997. Contents copyright 1997 Gloria L. Floren. All rights reserved.