The Case of the Questionable Content
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Using this resource as an example, look at how the quality of the Content
might be evaluated (in reality this would be only one part of the evaluation
criteria that you would need to consider).
The illustration below gives some first thoughts about the clues offered
on the front page of the journal:
1) Investigating the "Description
of the Journal"
In fact this link takes you to relatively little information, and focuses
on the scope of the subject coverage:
"The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology publishes original
papers in all areas of personality and social psychology. It emphasizes
empirical reports but may include specialized theoretical, methodological,
and review papers. "
OK, not much clue about the actual quality of the content, except for
the fact that the language used implies that this is an academic resource.
2) Checking out the URL and the
By deleting the right hand side of the URL down to:
the homepage of The American Psychological Association (APA) is reached
- a reputable and authoritative source - good sign!
The "Home" button also returns to the APA Home page.
3) Investigating the Editorial Board
This link proves very useful - it points to a list of all the editors and
gives the institutions they work in - universities around the world.
This is a positive sign - all the information is filtered by academics
- presumably authoritative and learned individuals.
4) Looking at the Tables of Contents
OK - here is where you find out about completeness and substantiveness
- how much information does the journal offer online?
Sadly, full text of the journal articles are not available online.
The Contents Pages of past editions are all available, but abstracts only
for the current edition.
5) Looking at the "Pricing and Subscription
This link leads to a price list and an order form for obtaining a printed
journal (ie paper not electronic format).
Case is Solved!
authority and reputation of the source - the journal is published by a
reputable organisation and has a learned Editorial Board
validity - the URL supports its claim to be published by the APA
uniqueness - all the information reached via the links is held on the same
this is clearly the Internet site of a printed journal
(probably designed to market the printed version)
completeness/substantiveness - only titles or at
most, abstracts of articles are given
This is the Internet site of a reputable print journal
that does not offer a great deal of content online. A sceptic might
say that the motive for the site is to sell more copies of the print journal.
However, many users may appreciate the "current awareness" service offered
by online Tables of Contents.
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