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Assessing Information Validity In An Internet Age

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.224.1 - 9.224.9

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Paper Authors

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C. Richard Helps

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Michael Bailey

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1450

Assessing Information Validity in an Internet Age

C. Richard G. Helps, Michael G. Bailey Brigham Young University


Students and technical professionals have come to rely heavily on the Internet as a technical reference resource. They need to be aware of the validity issues of these resources and how to assess validity.

Historically technical professionals have obtained information from a variety of printed resources. The validity of the printed information was assured through a combination of internal and external mechanisms, the most prominent of which was some form of peer review. Technical students and professionals now rely very heavily on information accessed over the Internet for catalogs, technical data sheets and other reference information. Although the traditional peer-reviewed sources are still available, even more available in some instances, they are often ignored in favor of more convenient Internet options. Many databooks and technical magazines are now only available on the Internet.

These changes are part of a cultural change in technical referencing. Problems have developed because the validity and quality mechanisms work differently for Internet resources than for printed resources. Research studies show that students and others will use a search engine to find technical information and will often accept the first datum found without evaluating its validity.

The Internet provides a wealth of useful information, but we must recognize and adapt to the culture shift that has occurred. There is a need for new approaches and habits of evaluating the information we find. In particular, students need to understand the issues and be trained to evaluate resources appropriately

This study outlines and analyzes the changes that have taken place as we have moved from printed to on-line references and resources, and then goes on to present principles and rules that can be used to obtain reasonable assurance that technical information is valid. Although external mechanisms, such as peer review, are de-emphasized in the web data distribution paradigm, internal validity checks are still possible. These internal checks, based on critical thinking, writing quality, and other techniques, can combine with new forms of external validity checks enabled by Internet resources to give assurance of the reliability of information found on the Internet.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Helps, C. R., & Bailey, M. (2004, June), Assessing Information Validity In An Internet Age Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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