The internet plays a very important role in our life today; it has made communication more convenient and made it possible to find information very easily whether it’s for an academic or general purpose. Students have specific topics covered in their courses of study or faculty research agendas for which they need information, so the use of electronic resources found on and off the Internet is becoming increasingly important for education.
Years before the internet emerged traditional books and journal articles had to pass some kind of editorial scrutiny before being published. Libraries had rules and policies that administer what materials they will purchase; the Internet and the Web, having no such policies, collect anything reliable or unreliable. When researchers are on the mission of finding information they are looking for resources that are accessible, understandable, relevant and reliable. The Internet is a source that excels in being all those except in most cases, being reliable. Due to the huge growth of documents and links that are still increasing rapidly every day, and how effortless it is for any individual to create his own webpage and provide inaccurate information, the worldwide web has become a source that requires some time and effort to find authentic information.
Search engines are often used to describe both crawler-based search engines such as Google, yahoo etc. and human-powered directories such as Open Dictionary. Most search engines build an index based on crawling, which is the process through which engines like Google, Yahoo and others find new pages to index.
The crawler starts a single URL or a seed set of pages which then downloads, extracts the Hyperlinks and then crawls the pages which are connected to by those links. Once a crawler reaches a page with no more links to follow, it goes back to the links it may have missed before and have been kept for future crawling. This process goes on until there are no more pages to download.
The CARS checklist
The CARS Checklist (Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support) is designed to make learning easier and finding information more reliable. There are only a Few sources on the worldwide web that will meet all guidelines mentioned in the list, however even if they do still won’t have the highest level of quality possible. But if you learn to use those guidelines correctly, you will much more likely be able to tell the high quality information from low quality information. There are a few ways to tell if sources follow these criterions:
Credibility: In order to judge whether a source is trustworthy, researchers should firstly look for websites with a listed author that stands behind the information presented.
Author’s credentials such as his education, and experience in a field relevant to the information, his position of employment as well as some Contact information (mail address, phone number) indicates that the information is reliable. Another thing that can also indicates credibility is the Writing Style and Design. Poor spelling and grammar are an indication that the site may not be credible and in some cases but not always, a well-designed site can be an indication of more reliable information. In an effort to make the information easily understood, credible sites keep an eye out for such mistakes.
Accuracy: The goal of the accuracy test is to make sure that the information is up to date and exact. Timeless work indicates accuracy, like works of literature and historic stories, other work has a limited life for example news about technology gets outdated with time as technology is rapidly advancing. Sources should also be comprehensive and give a full complete story. Any source that includes no date/old date and has a one sided view with a carelessness of detail indicates the lack of accuracy.
Reasonablness: The test of reasonableness involves examining the information for being fair, moderate and consistent. A good information source will also possess reasoned tone, arguing or presenting material and without attempting to take sides or inflame feelings. A good source will also have moderateness, meaning that the information is probable and believable. If a claim being made is out of the extraordinary and hard to believe, demand and search for more evidence should be made. Information should also be free from contradiction. When the ideas start to contradict each other and become inconsistent, it indicates unreasonableness.
Support: A reliable source is the one that includes supporting evidence such as statistical Information, Reference, contact information etc. To make sure the evidence is strong; it is advised to go through more than a few sources that share the same opinion before conclusion is made. The more supporting evidence included, the more reliable the source is.
Effective search engines
Microsoft Academic Research
With over 48 million journals and articles written by over 20 million authors. Microsoft academic research is yet another top search engine for academic resources. Launched in 2006, it has a wide range of journals about subjects like IT, engineering and social sciences. It gives researchers the chance to search for information based on domains or authors. After ending in 2012 and Re-launching as Microsoft Academia in 2016, it featured an entirely new data structure and more advanced search technologies.
Bio line International
Founded in 1993, Bio line is one of the top trusted and reliable search engines that have academic journals on health, nutrition and medicine. It provides free access to over 70 journals and information across many third world countries the promoting exchange of ideas through academic resources.
It is a free search engine accessing primarily data and reference on biomedical topics. Founded in 1996, it has over 20 million citations for biomedical literature from medical journals, and online books. PubMed is mostly used for medical scholars and covers subjects like biomedical sciences and health, psychology, chemistry etc.
In conclusion, for scientific researchers and academic students to make sure of information reliability and authentic, it is required for them to spend some extra time and effort checking sources that have credibility, accuracy, reasonableness and supportive evidence. The internet will always be an increasingly important source for an academics and research when used correctly following the guidelines mentioned above.