A world of information is available at our fingertips in the 21st century, thanks to the “free” Web and subscription databases. Studies show that students still go first to the Web for information they need, whether for research or personal needs. While we introduce them to the advantages of subscription databases and peer-review Journals in databases, after students leave our educational institutions, they will rely on freely available web sources both for their jobs and for personal use.
Librarians assist researchers in identifying resources that are both relevant to their research as well as trustworthy and accurate. As professionals, we are committed to teaching them how to evaluate the information they find. While many scholars still use the standard “MLA/APA” citation format to list their resources, librarians have found that, with so many articles and other information published digitally and available from the Web, the writers/creators are now providing hyperlinks to bring users to the original sources they they have used for their articles. This way of providing transparency is part of the constantly evolving information landscape in the Digital Age.
Part of academic integrity is the open and honest use of sources. Students can find excellent sources on the Web but they need to be able to evaluate the source before they decide to include it in their research project. Librarians have long worked with evaluation criteria and we show students how to apply criteria for evaluation: is the source authoritative (trustworthy), relevant, timely; is there a clearly stated bias (if so, this doesn’t rule out its use); is the source appropriate for the research project; is a source perhaps false or misleading? We believe that journalists’ techniques of finding, verifying and referencing sources can also be helpful for educators when they create research assignments for their students. We also believe that news media can be fruitfully used by faculty in any discipline.
Take a look at the article "Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence." What do you look at when you are evaluating whether the source is likely a reliable, trustworthy, relevant article to use for your research on the criminal justice system's sentencing of adolescents?
Then look at the Web article "Kentucky Attorneys Argue to Expand..." and decide what you look at to evaluate it's reliability and relevance to your research.