How to evaluate the quality of online information and research.

In a world awash with freely-available information, one would imagine that students are spoiled for choice with myriad resources that they can use in their assignments.  The opposite, unfortunately, is the case.  With so much material available online and in comprehensive library databases, today’s business students have to develop information literacy skills.  We often assume that today’s digital natives are able to assess the quality of information sources and evidence ‘naturally’, but forget that each discipline has it’s own standards. So, we need to help new business students understand what a quality information resource looks like.

Of course, librarian’s are excellent at doing this  (especially these guys!), but if we depended on the most hardworking people on campus to always be available to help every student assess the quality of every source they encountered, our library staff wouldn’t have a second to spare to do all the other stuff they do.  This is where a little help is needed to help familiarise students with the concept of information literacy.

One approach that was developed in the humanities was published in the Journal of Information Science in 2013.  Dr. Jane Mandalios’ ‘RADAR‘ approach to familiarising students with quality online information sources is an excellent method for separating the quality wheat from the pointless chaff in information search results.  Moreover, it gets students to focus on what they have been asked to focus on in their assignments and tailor their information searches appropriately.

I’ve experimented with tailoring RADAR for business students in a way that has been well received in the past.  I’ve put together a couple of YouTube videos that I hope students can use to apply RADAR in a practical way.  Please bear in mind that I’ve oriented these towards business students and business-related sources, but hopefully the key principles might be useful to all new undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Part 1 can be seen here, and part 2 is here.

Up until recently I’ve been more of a podcaster and I haven’t figured out how to stop myself from ’emm’-ing, ‘you-know’-ing and ‘ahh’-ing when recording the audio whilst simultanously recording video.  Here’s hoping I get the hang of it before too long as I’ve a lot more videos to upload!

Many thanks to Jane Mandalios and Adrian Dale at the Journal of Information Science for their support.



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