Researching and Critiquing Internet Resources
It is important to know the difference between reliable and unreliable information transmitted by all means of information sharing. Because anyone, in theory, can publish on the Web, it is imperative for us to develop a critical eye to evaluate the credibility of information transmitted via the Internet.
The goals of this assignment are to help you:
• become knowledgeable about doing research on the Internet
• develop your critical thinking skills and back up your conclusions with evidence.
• create clear concise text (using the necessary editing and layout skills).
You can select one Web site and give an overview of various components. If your site is not very extensive you can critique the whole site. If the site you choose has a significant amount of information, you can pick representative samplings of information to deal with in detail and give a general overview of what is covered.
Use the following guidelines to assist with your critique
1. When you analyze the sites and form opinions, backup your opinions with supporting evidence to support your points. You have flexibility in format and style, as long as your report is clear, concise, and well organized.
2. Give the URL (http:// address) of the site, and a brief overview of its content.
3. What are the major categories of information covered on the site?
4. Who are the audiences for this site? What clues define the audiences? Provide evidence such as language, accessible to the general public.
5. Are there hypertext links on that “page”? How do the various links relate to the main theme? Are the links consistent with the main theme, or does the site have personal links? Is it a collection of various personal interests of an individual?
6. What kinds of graphics are on the sites? How do they relate to the topics? Are the graphics designed to grab your attention? Do they make the site easier to use, or help explain concepts? Do the graphics support text information or do they stand alone? Do they overuse graphics to the point of distraction? Who are the various audiences for these graphics? What are your clues?
7. What clues do you have about the credibility of the sites and information? You may not be familiar with the institutions, organizations, or individuals who sponsor or who contributed information to the sites. Can you also find text material by these authors or institutions in the library? From what institutions or organizations do the sites originate? Any group can give itself an official sounding name or logo.
8. Does the site have built in bias? For example is the Web page an advertisement for a product or service? Does it have a particular political or social agenda? Having an agenda or selling a product on the Web is not necessarily “bad,” but is the sponsor “sneaky” about its alliances or “up front”?
9. Make some general observations about what you learned about the subject you chose to investigate from exploring this site. What general observations can you make about the usefulness and value of the information you found on the Internet? What did you learn about the importance of critiquing sources.
10. On what kind of Web site does the information appear?
Some types of Web sites:
• Personal Home Pages – Web sites which are maintained by individuals. They are often informal. Individuals can post their resumes, link to favorite sites, and showcase their interests and ideas. Some personal Web sites also serve as professional sites. For example, many professors publish their syllabi and other course material on their own Web pages.
• Special interest sites – maintained by non-profit organizations or activists dealing with special issues, such as environmental concerns, legalization of marijuana, etc. They can be relatively mainstream or radical in interests and vary widely in credibility of information.
• Information sites – which include research, reference sources, and fact sheets. Many institutions provide such services to the public. The credibility of the institution providing the facts gives clues as to the reliability of the in formation. Is the material documented?
• News and journalistic sites – which include national, international news, online newspapers, magazines. Anyone can publish his or her own “news,” on the Web. As in print – just because it is published does not necessarily mean it is true. If a periodical article has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) it will probably have more authority. Web serials that do not have ISSN numbers are probably created by entrepreneurs and less authority than other publications
• Commercial sites – Although many legitimate businesses have Web sites; some are not legitimate. Companies are in the business of making money and acquiring and keeping customers. They are naturally biased in favor of their own products, so watch out for inflated claims for performance and quality. Companies will not showcase their competitors’ products. If you are, for example, comparing products, get impartial reviews, not company information. Many entrepreneurs use “rented” Web space e to create their own Web sites to sell their services or products – buyer beware ! Can you track the reputation of the company?
No category of Web site is “better” than another. They serve different purposes. There are reliable and unreliable Web sites in all categories of Web sites. Below are some extensions on Web addresses, which give clues as to where the Web server/site resides:
.edu – for education sites
.gov – for government sites
.org – for organization sites
.com – for commercial sites
.net – for network infrastructures
Researching and Reviewing Internet Resources
It is important to know the difference between reliable and unreliable information transmitted of information sharing. Because anyone, in theory, can publish on the Web, it is imperative for us to develop a critical eye to evaluate the credibility of information transmitted via the Internet. Therefore, the capacity to be able to critically evaluate information is central with the research process of locating resources for academic or personal improvement purposes. Apart from being able to differentiate facts and fiction, it is important for you to be able to access the relevance, accuracy, and suitability of information for the particular intended purpose. The use of poor quality information sources or worse still citing misinformation degrades the quality of your work. Thus, as much as the evaluation of information has always been important part of research, it is particularly important for information found on the internet and establishes the accuracy of the web document, authority, objectivity, and the coverage.
The site under review is Oral Health America (OHA), URL http://oralhealthamerica.org/ that brings health mouths to life. From the URL’s .org, we can tell this is an organizational site.
Site Content over View
The site aims at promoting dental care in US, with the mission of changing lives by connecting communities with resources to increase access to care, education, and advocacy for the people of the United States especially those most vulnerable. The web site promotes the organizations vision for the future of a free of oral disease and pain. The site aims at educating Americans that Oral health America gives affordable oral diseases prevention and oral health promotion for all Americans of all ages through funding, technical assistance, donated dental products, and by facilitating public-private partnership.
The web site aims at educating the public, with OHA’s message on the web site to the public centered on self-care, regular dental visits, tobacco avoidance and use termination, and healthy food choices, with the site generating over 400 million impressions. The site advocates on behalf of the organization encouraging policies that create oral health equity for all 300 million Americans, inclusive of the over 100 million who cannot afford or simply lack dental insurance, and those unable to obtain dental care due to various reasons.
Some of the available contexts on the web site include; children’s oral health, oral health facts, older people, and people with special need oral health. For all these categories, the site provides sub categories on how to look after your teeth, nutrition, and oral health, causes of oral ill health and how to prevent it, and fluorides and your oral health.
Major Categories of Information Covered on the Site
The scope of information covered in the site include materials relating to oral health, aspects of dentistry viewed from a dental public health and health services management perspective. Topics covered include preventive dentistry, pediatric dentistry, community dentistry, geriatric dentistry, orthodontics, oral pathology, orthodontics, TMJ disorders, implantology, cardiology, period ontology, epidemiology, health services research, practice management, and the development of systems and education to deliver oral health care.
The web site provides information on previous campaigns the Oral health American organization has had, showing achievements and collaborations with other stakeholders in oral health care. Examples of campaigns shared include the partnership with Health Mouths and a shared link http://oralhealthamerica.org/news/ad-council-campaign-continues-to-reach-millions-2/. Their expansions to other states such as Montana on the initiative to continue fighting tooth decay across America on the campaign ‘smiles across America’ shared on the link: http://oralhealthamerica.org/news/smiles-across-america-expands-to-montana/. There is also covered information on working together for older adults oral health, under the project dabbed OHA’s wisdom tooth project, working with other dedicated organizations to serve older people throughout the country. The link for older people’s initiative is http://oralhealthamerica.org/news/working-together-for-older-adults-2/.
Additionally, the site share information on where to find resources for those who need dental care, or those who might need to donate dental equipments. Information on available programs is also shared for Smile across America, campaign for oral health equity, and the wisdom tooth project.
Audiences for this site
The web site targets audiences of all ages promoting oral health for kids, adults, and the old people in the American society. This is in line with the mission statement posted on the website, that is, oral health America’s mission is to change lives by connecting communities with resources to increase access to care, educate, and advocacy for all Americans, especially those most vulnerable. Thus, the site targets the larger American audience to provide future free of oral disease and pain.
Hypertext Links on the Page
Among the available hypertexts, links available on the web page include http://oralhealthamerica.org/resources/need-dental-care/; titled do you need dental care? The link provides for further information in line with the organizational theme presented on the web site of providing further information towards acquiring information on oral health services, to guide attaining dental care in different areas in the US. To help health center the web offers the link http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/, for state oral program the offered hyperlink is http://www.astdd.org/index.php?template=memberslist.php&tier1=Members%20Roster. Thus, offering links that are in line with the provision of dental care to the American public.
Graphics on the Site
The graphics on the page relate to the topic by showing instance of good oral health, show how to take care of once teeth, show the health diets to be consumed. Thus, the pictures and diagrams help explain concepts on oral health, support text information, and clearly show the targeted audience. For instance, when discussing nutrition and teeth, appropriate foods are displayed with a child consuming them, hence encourage healthy eating habits among the young as in the example picture below on nutrition and health.
Figure 1: Nutrition and Health on the website
Credibility of the Site
The website is recognized and apart of the American Dental Association (ADA), the leading source of oral health related information for dentists, which is also the approving body for over 300 oral health products. In addition, OHA is a registered non-profit organization working to educate Americans about the importance of mouth health and well-being. Moreover, the site does not have any form of bias inform of advertisements of products or hidden agendas to sell products.
Accuracy: the page provides a list of author and the institution involved in publishing the site, in addition, it provides contact information for the publishers, authors, and the organization head office in Chicago.
Authority: the page authority stands as a registered a national non-profit organization, which is also suggested by the page’s URA that ends with .org.
Objectivity: the page provides accurate information on oral health with limited advertising, and presents its objective of promoting good oral health among the American people.
Currency: the page is current with regular updates, showing progress and new techniques in oral health promotion, continuing to issue advice to the people on proper health habits.
Coverage: the organization has made all publications and resources available for download and viewing from the website free of charge, with no limitation to fees, browser technology, or software requirements.
The most positive aspects of the Web is that it provides a means for people to express themselves; it allows for freedom of speech and ideas; and allows people to meet and communicate who would not ordinarily ever have met. As long as the Web retains these qualities of freedom, it will also remain unmonitored and unregulated. Therefore, this leaves the users of information from the web to evaluate critically the credibility of information on the web.
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