Try Evaluating this Subject-Based Web Site

Some general questions to ask about Subject-based Web sites:


Here are some pictures and clues from a subject-based Web site. Take a look and answer the questions.

What does the subject coverage of this site appear to be?

  1. Sociology
  2. Sociologists
  3. Death

On the front page of the site the author of the site states:

I can't take all the credit for the Dead Sociologists' Society, I just pieced some old ideas together. In order to give credit to where it is due, I have listed my references below. The pics were borrowed from Don Martindale's classic book The Nature and Types of Sociological Theory, mostly from the original 1960 version which I what I cut my teeth on. There is also a second edition which has some of the same pictures with some new ones and an updated text. These are listed below if you're interested in some additional reading.

The other material, which is most of the text that you find here, is borrowed from Lewis Coser's classic work, (which is what I had as an undergraduate) and still one of the best overall sociological theory texts around, Masters of Sociological Thought. It is also referenced below.

The Nature and Types of Sociological Theory by Don Martindale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1960.

The Nature and Types of Sociological Theory (2nd Ed.) by Don Martindale. Prospect Heights, Illinois, 1981. ISBN 0-88133-353-0

Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context (2nd Ed.) by Lewis A. Coser. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1977. ISBN 0-15-555130-2 (I learned on the original version of this one too, but I am referencing the second edition because it was also updated like Martindale.)

Is the information on the site mainly:

  1. Primary information
  2. Secondary information

Which of the following clues is the best indicator that the sources of the information are reputable?

  1. The sources are printed books that have been filtered by academic publishers
  2. The sources are printed books referred to as 'classic works'
  3. The titles imply they are academic texts and they have ISBN numbers

The Index of information available on Karl Marx reads as follows:

What is the "added value" of this site? (you may select more than one)

  1. It brings together lots of disparate information on the subject, from a variety of print and Internet sources
  2. It has made information from printed books available in electronic form on the Internet
  3. It has organised the information in a user-friendly way that makes it easy to browse

How could you find out if the hyperlinks on the site pointed to internal sites (held on the same server as the front page) or external sites (held on remote servers)?

  1. Click on them and check to see if the sites you were taken to had the same domain name as the homepage
  2. Hold the cursor over the links and read the URL that appears at the bottom of your Web browser - then see if the domain name was the same as that of the homepage

There is a link to the personal homepage of the author of this site. This says:

What could you do to check the validity of the claim that he teaches at Radford University? (You may pick more than one)

  1. Look at the link to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology page and see if his name is mentioned on the site
  2. Take his word for it
  3. Look at the URL and see if it has a mention of Radford or a .ac or .edu in it
  4. See if his vita (CV) also says he teaches at Radford
  5. Look at his email address to see if it mentions Radford or .ac or .edu

What conclusions do you draw about the quality of this site?

Am I right?


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