MUS 4935: Music Senior Seminar

Use this guide to locate library resources pertinent to your research.

Searching the Web

Searching the web can be very useful, but you need to be careful about the sources consulted.  Analyze the sources used and be sure they are CURRENT and AUTHORITATIVE.

As a research tool, however, the Web lacks the quality assurance that editors provide with print publications or that librarians provide when collecting materials for their library. Therefore, given that some Web sites are out-of date, biased, or inaccurate, it is crucial that people doing research in this medium learn how to critically evaluate the material they find.

The following checklist, divided into five separate criteria for evaluation, presents questions that should be asked to determine if a Web resource is of high quality or not. Go through each of the criterion and answer the questions. The greater number of questions answered "yes," the more likely that the source is of high quality.

Criterion #1: Authority

  1. Is it clear who is sponsoring the creation and maintenance of the page?
  2. Is there information available describing the purpose of the sponsoring organization?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the page's sponsor? For instance, is a phone number or address available to contact for more information?
  4. Is it clear who developed and wrote the material? Are his/her qualifications for writing on this topic clearly stated? Is there contact information for the author of the material?

Criterion #2: Accuracy

  1. Are the sources for factual information given so they can be verified?
  2. Is it clear who has the responsibility for the accuracy of the information presented?
  3. If statistical data is presented in graphs or charts, are they labeled clearly?
  4. Are there errors you can substantiate in the data presented?

Criterion #3: Objectivity

  1. Is the page and the information included provided as a public service?
  2. Is it free of advertising?
  3. If there is advertising on the page, is it clearly separated from the informational content?
  4. Are there any other signs of bias?

Criterion #4: Currency

  1. Are there dates on the page to indicate the following:
    • a. When the page was written?
      b. When the page was first placed on line?
      c. When the page was last revised or edited?

  2. Are there any other indications that the material is updated frequently to ensure currency of the data?
  3. If the information is published in print in different editions, is it clear what edition the page is from?
  4. Are the links on the page up-to-date?

Criterion #5: Coverage

  1. Is there an indication that the page has been completed and is not still under construction?
  2. If there is a print equivalent to the Web page, is there clear indication of whether the entire work or only a portion of it is available on the Web?
  3. If the material is from a work that is out of copyright (as is often the case with a dictionary or thesaurus), has there been an effort to update the material to make it more current?
  4. Is there any other evidence of omissions?
  5. Does it cover the subject adequately?