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growth and nature of the Internet is such that it is now possible for
anyone to put together a good-looking web site. As we all know too well
this does not guarantee the accuracy or quality of the finished product.
Just as there are very few school lessons devoted to the core educational
topic of 'how to learn' there are relatively few websites telling you
how to spot a 'good', 'accurate' site when you land at its homepage.
If "the truth is out there" then there's also a great deal
of weirdness out there as well! This is not just a question of those
sites of questionable taste or those openly inciting hatred based on
race or other characteristic (although both types are increasingly causing
pressure to be put on internet service providers to remove them) but
those which put a perspective which appears at first sight to be fair
but it often holds a hidden agenda.
sites mentioned below are a few of the better ones that can be found
through a simple web search (ideally using each search engine's directory
of best sites - try Google's).
However, there is a flaw here. Many of the sites say, in effect, that
you can trust an official site such as .gov or .org but that it's less
likely to be accurate if it's a private homepage. This depends - after
all, this is a private homepage and it aims to be as accurate as possible!
Do visit these and other similar sites but also bear in mind the following
that I use when trying to pick a good site for inclusion here:
the site say clearly who's running it? Can you find out
their names, organisations they're linked to, qualifications that
could be checked? In all, does it look like an open, fair site?
the information it provide look current? Good sites are
updated regularly (although excellent information can be years old
and still current). What you're looking for is a site where the
managers are trying to keep up with current events (useful in environmental
the information given fit in with that found in other sources?
There are two aspects to consider here. Firstly, if it does fit
in then it might well be another source to look at (but if it duplicates
other work then there's not too much point in bookmarking it!).
Secondly, if it doesn't fit in then it might be biased (i.e. only
giving a very one-sided view) or its trying to put forward a new
theory. There is an idea that all information presented should be
'balanced' in some way. All this leads to is some very bland sites.
What's interesting is the site that's obviously putting something
new but which makes us think about what it's saying. Don't discard
something just because its new, just look at it very carefully.
Remember, if Einstein were alive today it is most unlikely he would
be allowed a university lecturing job because his ideas were developed
privately and were initially considered too unusual!;
you contact the webmaster or other staff easily? Often,
sites with a highly political agenda are less easy to contact that
the more open organisations;
the site linked to other reputable sites and is the link reciprocated?
There are many 'private' sites in universities giving each lecturer
some space to promote his/her courses and ideas. Some, like this
one, are linked to publishers and the BES etc. Just as we see with
peer-reviewed papers, a series of credible links helps establish
the authority of the work;
check with others. Good sites are often used by groups researching
the same topic. If you're in this situation, get co-workers to share
a list of key sites they visit. Start surfing the topic and you'll
soon find those that turn up all the time in searches and in links
to/from other sites.
after you've gone through all these checks and read the work on the
sites mentioned below it's still possible to get a poor web-site. At
the end of the day it just takes constant exposure to the web to be
able to get a sixth-sense reaction on whether a site is going to be
'good' or not. When I've been looking through sites I've seen things
that don't quite feel right and I've left them out. I may be missing
something vital but at the end of the day that's a judgement call I
have to make. Hopefully, the more I surf, the better I get.
you want to comment on this , or for any broken links or new sites,