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Evaluating our favorite web-sites

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Hi,

Amnesiac did a thread a little while back on how we all evaluate information. I posted a sort of meandering discussion of the way librarians do it. She suggested that it might be interesting to apply the librarian's standards to some of our favorite web-sites. I have summarized them into an easy to follow list, here:

1. Who stands behind the site? Is that information easy to find? Clearly stated?
2. How often is the site updated? Do articles and postings have dates?
3. Do links work? A lot of unusable links indicates a neglected or badly managed site.
4. Do individual articles have an author? Footnotes or endnotes? A bibliography? Info about original publication? Is it an excerpt from a book? Originally published in a journal? When and where? Is conflict of interest information for the author and for his/her sponsoring organization available?
5. Does the site carry advertising? Does it recommend particular products? Look for possible covert conflicts of interest (an example would be the CDC simultaneously monitoring the safety of vaccines and promoting their use).

Nana
post #2 of 45
Thread Starter 
Just quickly, I did a nice site evaluation to start off this thread and then a phone call came in and I lost it! I'll try again later, sorry for the mess-up.
Nana
post #3 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah
Just quickly, I did a nice site evaluation to start off this thread and then a phone call came in and I lost it! I'll try again later, sorry for the mess-up.
Nana
Eagerly awaiting it.
post #4 of 45
Good info to look for, thanks for posting this. I get most of my information from books but I also check the references and the same questions for evaluating websites are good to apply to book references as well.
post #5 of 45
I wanted to get some clarification - I'm on the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) website constantly. Are we evaluting the site or the organization - or both?

For instance, with respect to confict of interest, almost 100% the AAP's corporate donors are pharmaceutical companies. Now I don't know if that applies to the funding to keep the website up and running, but it does apply to the organization itself.

Thanks!

ETA: I think it would be a good idea for people to put language such as: EVALUATION: [name of website or publication] in the title of the thread
post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 

Vaccine Science Site

Here is a site I'm quite fond of:
http://www.vaccinescience.org/index.html

I'll run through the analysis step by step:

1. The site has a clear statement of purpose and ownership: click on "about"
Quote:
VaccineScience.org is a watchdog group dedicated to protecting scientific integrity in vaccine research. We invite both full time scientists and others interested in scientific standards to contribute reviews and participate on this site. Vaccine research strongly influences both government policies and public health care standardss. It benefits us all for those knowledgeable about methodology and statistics to evaluate the scientific merit in these research papers.
VaccineScience also seeks to educate consumers on distinguishing valuable research from "junk science." Parents, especially, have a vested interest in learning to evaluate evidence for themselves, rather than simply rely on controversial claims made by both sides of the debate. We will be providing tutorials on basic scientific principles, and welcome feedback in order to make the tutorials as easy to understand as possible.

Lastly, VaccineScience is also a email discussion list hosted by Yahoogroups for those interested in news and debate on this topic. All participants are welcome, regardless of their position on the vaccine issue.

The site is solely and privately funded by the webmaster and editor, Helen Tucker. All participation is free, and no ads or donations are solicited.
2. Dates: All of the citations and reviews have dates. The site has not been updated lately. The "Newsmakers" on the home page are from 2004.

3. I didn't take the time to test all the links, but the random selection I tried all worked.

4. Reviews show an author. Quoted material is correctly cited, sometimes with links. It is easy to tell who said what, when, and where it was originally published. Reviews have notes, but no bibliography (however, reviews are usually not held to a scholarly standard, so this is not a huge problem).

5. No ads. No products being promoted.

Other comments: Includes pro-vaccine links along with anti-vaccine links. The reviews published on the site all criticize articles that support vaccinations.

Summary: A good site, but not current.

Nana
post #7 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LongIsland
I wanted to get some clarification - I'm on the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) website constantly. Are we evaluting the site or the organization - or both?
The idea is to evaluate the way in which the site presents the organization (or the individual, or the cause). To evaluate the organization you would need to go off of the site and do further research. That would be a different thread! Good project, though.

Quote:
For instance, with respect to confict of interest, almost 100% the AAP's corporate donors are pharmaceutical companies. Now I don't know if that applies to the funding to keep the website up and running, but it does apply to the organization itself.
It is unusual for an organization to have a special funding pool just for their web-site, but for a major non-profit association, the web-site should have extensive information on their funding sources, or tell you where to find it.

Quote:
ETA: I think it would be a good idea for people to put language such as: EVALUATION: [name of website or publication] in the title of the thread
Great idea. I'll go back to my first "site" post and put the name in the title space.

Thanks for some really constructive questions and suggestions.
Nana
post #8 of 45
I really enjoyed your ideas, Deborah & I think I'll go bump up the other thread to go along with this one because you had some other tips in there too!
post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by amnesiac
I really enjoyed your ideas, Deborah & I think I'll go bump up the other thread to go along with this one because you had some other tips in there too!
Yes, I wanted to distill it down to a few essential points in the hopes that people would pop up a few web sites and look at where they are coming from.

I'll just grab another one at random and see what I see

Nana
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 

Evaluating K.N.O.W. Vaccines

http://www.know-vaccines.org/controversy.html

1. Who stands behind the site? A little hard to figure out. If you go to the tab that says "Know about us" you find their Mission, Goals and Services. At the bottom the copyright: © Copyright 2001 Vaccine Awareness of North Florida, Inc. tells you the name of the organization, but that is all.

So-so on "who" [I just found a description of the organization: it is on the contact page.] They just went up a couple of notches, but this information should be easy and obvious.

2. Dates, etc. Only dates are copyright dates at the bottom of some pages. It is impossible to tell if information has been updated recently. This is a particular problem because they have info on Florida statutes and exemptions. Out of date info could cause real problems.

3. Links, etc. I tried seven out of twelve links on their "KNOW Resource Links" tab. One failed, one gave a new address.

4. Quality of articles. No authors shown for any content. No footnotes for any article that I checked. There is a list of recommended reading, here:
http://www.know-vaccines.org/reading.html

5. No advertising, nothing being sold, so no obvious conflicts of interest.

Overall take. The site could be improved a lot by adding dates, adding authors for articles and/or citing sources for information mentioned. Running link checking software on a regular basis would also be a good idea. And telling who they are on the "Know about us" tab is essential.

This is not a site that a librarian would recommend. All of the information, including the state specific info is available on other, better organized sites.
Sorry

Nana
post #11 of 45
Thread Starter 
So, hey, somebody else want to have a try? Who wants to tackle one of the Pro Vax sites? CDC? Pediatricians? Immunize and be happy (probably doesn't exist, but it should)? Does Paul Offitt have a site?

Nana
post #12 of 45

Evaluation: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Website

Specifically the Immunization Information portion of the site

www.aap.org

1. Who stands behind the site?

The AAP, an organization of 60,000 pediatricians.
© COPYRIGHT AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007, 847-434-4000


2. Dates, etc.: I find that all immunization information is up-to-date and mirrors information contained on the CDC's official website. I went on the site today and it indicated that is was "modified" on June 6, 2005. When information is new, a flashing yellow icon with the words "NEW" appears next to the information on the "Immunization Information" homepage.

3. Links, etc.: There is a disclaimer: *Links, organizations, information and resources contained within this site do not constitute an endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP is not responsible for the content of these resources.

There is a link of web resources for parents; however, each organization is pro-immunization. VAERS is actually listed though.

There is a link for journals and periodicals such as:
Pediatrics
AAP News
AAP Grand Rounds
NeoReviews
Pediatrics in Review

4. Quality of articles. Authors and footnotes are shown on articles. Articles I have come across are from respected, peer reviewed journals.

5. There is no advertising. Products sold on the site:

Pediatric Infectious Disease Care Pak
Red Book®, 26th Edition, Softcover and Multimedia Set
Visual Red Book on CD-ROM, 2003 Edition
Red Book 2003, Hardcover
Red Book® for PDA 2003 Edition
Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools

Potential conflicts: The organization itself receives a considerable amount of money, the overwhelming majority from the pharmaceutical industry.

Overall take: I think the site format is superior and easy to navigate. The search function is very helpful. Type in anything - and you will find a link to one of the journals or periodicals. I use this site quite a bit.
post #13 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thanks Long Island! Nice job.

One question: is the funding information available on the site or did you track it down elsewhere? Organizations should tell you where they get their support, when they tell you who they are, or at least point to where you can find it.

For example the Florida organization didn't explain their sources of support, but it is pretty clear they are a parent run organization and it would be easy enough to call or e-mail and ask how they are funded. The contact info is on the site. So how about the AAP?

Nana
post #14 of 45
Thread Starter 
Found this:
Quote:
Build a Relationship

Corporate members have access to leaders in pediatrics and can play a role in developing and refining programs that support the Academy’s mission to ensure the health and well being of children. Member activities enable you to develop and strengthen relationships with Academy leadership and network with AAP representatives.
http://www.aap.org/donate/fcfmembroc.htm

I don't know about the rest of you, but that statement totally creeps me out.
Nana
post #15 of 45
http://www.aap.org/donate/fcfhonorroll.htm

The big spenders receive the honor of having their logo's splashed on the page. The other pharma's are listed in black underneath.

You'll notice that McDonald's and PepsiCo donate as well . . . two other companies that like to poison children.
post #16 of 45
I just wanted to say thank you. This is a great idea. As a resident of Florida I have been to the K.N.O.W site several times for the statutes. And my take of the website was pretty much as you described. While I use the site, I have always felt the need to double check the info, but I couldn't quite expain what didn't sit well with me. You summed it up perfectly. I now use the actual Florida statutes website to get my info. I wonder if it would be helpful if we contacted the owners of the site to tell them your critique. Perhaps they could make some changes that would give us a little more confidence in them?
post #17 of 45
see previous post by me.
post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by LongIsland
http://www.aap.org/donate/fcfhonorroll.htm
You'll notice that McDonald's and PepsiCo donate as well . . . two other companies that like to poison children.
I guess to them money is money, but you would think that ethically they would not take money from companies that have such unhealthy products and specifically target children in their advertising. Well, at least I would hope...[sigh].
post #19 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERSsmom
I just wanted to say thank you. This is a great idea. As a resident of Florida I have been to the K.N.O.W site several times for the statutes. And my take of the website was pretty much as you described. While I use the site, I have always felt the need to double check the info, but I couldn't quite expain what didn't sit well with me. You summed it up perfectly. I now use the actual Florida statutes website to get my info. I wonder if it would be helpful if we contacted the owners of the site to tell them your critique. Perhaps they could make some changes that would give us a little more confidence in them?
Feel free to share my review with them. You can mention that I just picked them out of a Google search with no intention of giving anyone in particular a hard time

If anyone reading this has a web-site that they would like to have reviewed, just post it and I'll go have a look. Free professional librarian service!

Nana
post #20 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LongIsland
http://www.aap.org/donate/fcfhonorroll.htm

The big spenders receive the honor of having their logo's splashed on the page. The other pharma's are listed in black underneath.

You'll notice that McDonald's and PepsiCo donate as well . . . two other companies that like to poison children.
Oh my G_d!

Road to h*ll paved with good intentions! I suppose somewhere along the line they meant well.

Nana
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