Blog Assignment #9

This week, please use a single search string related to your research topic and plug it into Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Dogpile, and Vivisimo. List the three (3) websites that most commonly appear in the top results for each of those searches. Visit each website and assess the quality of the information using the criteria given on the class handout for Monday: Is the website created by an authoritative, credentialed source? Does it seem objective, or else make its bias clear? Is it current? Does the website give sources so that you can confirm its information?

Then, describe some of the differences and similarities you saw in the results. Which result list seemed to put the best information highest in the rankings? Which result list led you to potentially useful new websites? Did you discover new keywords from these searches? What kinds of information are on the open web? Is it useful information for your research?

You might also want to visit these sites and do some exploration:

Also mentioned in class: RefGrab-it, a downloadable plug-in which allows you to keep track of websites using RefWorks.

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    • Patrick Proctor
    • March 31st, 2007

    My search string: ct radiation risk
    Top 3 Website Results:
    1. http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/risks.html – This website is published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so the information it provides can be considered authoritative and credentialed. Any data on this page is most likely the product of government-funded research or other trustworthy sources. The FDA does not stand to gain from providing false or sensational information, so the information is probably sufficiently objective and as free of bias as possible. This page was published less than two years ago, which is recent enough in this field. The text is full of references that link to other information sources that can be used to confirm the information in this report.
    2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/496297_print – This website was published by Medscape, a derivative of WebMD. It is a popular information source instead of a scholarly one, and the information for the most part is not peer reviewed. Richard Semelka, the author of this particular article, is an M.D. and professor of radiology at UNC Chapel Hill. Medscape includes a disclosure stating that Dr. Semelka “has no significant financial interests or relationships to disclose.” No bias is apparent in reading the article, but it is hard to be sure of total objectivity because this is the work of an individual. This page is just over two years old, so it isn’t the most current work on the topic, but it is recent enough for most purposes because progress in researching this issue is slower than in many other scientific fields. In a style typical of scientific writing, this article cites sixteen references that can be used to verify much of the information.
    3. http://www.mercola.com/2001/may/30/ct_scan.htm – This website in published by a doctor named Joseph Mercola. Dr. Mercola is an osteopathic physician, also known as a D.O. He has been practicing medicine since 1982. The URL suggests that his site is commercial, but Dr. Mercola claims that it is non-profit and funded only with his personal money. I think this site has some degree of authority, but Dr. Mercola is not a researcher, and his knowledge is no more authoritative than the opinion of any M.D. or D.O. Dr. Mercola says that his objectives for this website are to provide people with accurate and unbiased health information and to expose mass media hype. It seems to be objective, but it is unlikely that Dr. Mercola would have revealed any bias that he might have. The information on this webpage is not extremely current for a scientific field, but it is so general that currency is not a problem. Dr. Mercola does not provide many sources that can be used to confirm the information he offers, so a reader has to take his word for most of the data.
    Each of these pages is very different from the others. One is written by a single author and is not subject to any form of review, another is by a single author but is an academic article citing many references, and the last is produced by a government organization. Of all the search engines I used, Ask.com ranked the best results highest. It doesn’t include many useless sources like blogs and small personal websites. Most of the pages are published by the government or other large organizations. The three results I listed contain the type of information that I need to write my paper, especially the FDA’s data.

    • Myra Fulp
    • April 2nd, 2007

    My search string was: avian influenza pandemic united states
    1. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/
    This is a highly authoritative website published by the CDC which is a government agency. There is no one author of the website, it was compiled by researchers specializing in influenza associated with the CDC. The objective of this page is to inform the public on known facts about avian influenza, it is clear to state that there is no human to human transmission yet and give facts to educate a layperson about the disease. Therefore, this page is highly objective. For this subject which has had no recent developments, the page is current (updated March 2nd). This site
    has all of its references listed that are fully cited and it also provides links to every article that connect to the full text for free. alexa.com gives this website a very high rating.
    2. http://www.pandemicflu.gov
    This is a .gov page that is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and it is a compilation of events and information from WHO, CDC, and other government agencies. Even though this is a government website meant to educate the public, it adds a lot of scare tactic phrases and language that makes pandemic flu seem imminent. From most of my research, scientists are will to say that pandemic flu comes in cycles and could develope at anytime, they are reluctant to give estimates and prefer to stress being watchful and cautious. This website seems to be promoting hysteria and so I would say this website has moderate to low objectivity. This site is current, it was updated March 29th. I would also this site only has moderate verifiability because this site claims to get all of its information from government agencies but doesn’t cite specific researchers or even divisions within the agencies themselves. alexa .com didn’t rate this site but it has a very high traffic rating.
    3. http://www.usda.gov/birdflu
    This site actually contains a link called USDA quality of information guidelines that it uses for evaluating the information it chooses to present on its website. The main parts are objectivity, utility, and integrity and are defined by similar criteria as what was on the hand out given to us in class. This agency has “quality officials” that act as peer reviewers, has a contact for complaints about information quality, and must give annual reports on information quality. The reports are archived and accessible on the website. alexa.com reports this site as having the lowest traffic rating of the three.
    By far this assignment has shown me that the cdc website is a superior resource for this project. Not only is the information totally objective, but this site is a great resource for free full length articles that have already been pre-filtered as being relevant.
    I also will probably use the pandemicflu.gov website for information relating to preparedness in the United States as opposed to information about the actual disease aspect of my question.

    • Nikki Harris
    • April 2nd, 2007

    I searched “global warming and El Nino” in all five websites
    The most popular site that returned was The Weather Factory-El Nino and Global Warming. This website is published by PBS, so it is authoritative. The actual article is by Daniel Pendick. The article has references listed in the article and this website also has links to videos and more articles on the PBS website. Though this site doesn’t have direct research on it, it does give a nice overview of El Nino and global warming and attempts to find a connection between the two. This is a good website to get background information that is not biased.
    The second most popular site is the Real Climate site with an article on El Nino and global warming. Though this site is .org and it seems like it could be biased, the site is actually very authoritative. The authors of this article are Rasmus Benestad & Raymond Pierrehumbert and they are climate scientists. This article has sources that you can link to and this article was just written last May, so the information is recent. I really like this site because you can read the article, link to the sources, and read comments that people have posted about the article.
    It was hard to find a third commor site in all 5 search engines, but I found 2 CNN articles that came up (maintly in Google and Yahoo). The article is “Scientists: El Nio may slow global warming.” Since this site is a news source, it can tend to have some bias. Of the three sites, this is the most non-authoritative, but it is still useful. I can use it to bring in different ideas on the connection between El Nino and Global warming. The article is by The AP, so it is compiled by different authors. This site is also .com so it is more commercial than the other sites, since this is a site for people to go to get daily news. And this article doesn’t have any sources and it is from 1999, but still useful. I do like this website though because this site is still useful and there are links on the site for related articles and related sites that are also useful.
    This assignment was very interesting. In the past I have only used Google to search, but now I know how Google lists its hits and have found the other search engines useful. But I still think I will use Google predominately since I am most comfortable with it. Maybe I will use the other engines when I get used to them. But through this assignment, I found that though the .org sites can be biased, these were the most reliable. And of these, I like the Real Climate site the most since it has real research behind it. The CNN provides useful, but limited information. My least favorite search engine is Vivisimo since I couldn’t seen to find any blogs on my topic. But the other search engines were useful since they opened up my search. But this assignment has allowed me to find more article on line that are useful for my project. In my searches, I didn’t find any sites that were too biased, but I’m sure if I looked more, I would find them. The PBS site has alot of traffic and a good rating, which figures since it is PBS. The Real Climate site has low traffic levels, which figures since it is sicentific. The CNN site has a high traffic level, which is to be expected, but it has a lower rating than the PBS site.

    • Joseph Barton
    • April 2nd, 2007

    I went to all of the search engines and searched for ?textile composite?. The three websites the appeared most often were: http://www.intagliocomposites.com, http://www.woodheadpublishing.com, and http://www.JamestownDistributors.com.
    I visited intaglio composites first and found it to be a technical research paper (in pdf form) titled TEXTILE COMPOSITE CONCRETE PROVIDES SPECIAL ARCHITECTURAL AND PERMANENT SHUTTERING OPPORTUNITIES. The authors were all from credible engineering institutions, and the article was fairly current. The references were cited just like any other research paper; I?m just surprised to find this technical paper from just a normal search in many of the regular search engines I tried.
    Next I visited woodheadpublishing. This website is a book publishing company that sells technical books online. Many of the books I looked at on the website were written by professors from credible universities on the subject of composite materials. There doesn?t seem to be any bias on the website?s material because the subjects they publish are objective and scientific. The main purpose of this website is to sell books, so there may be bias in that respect.
    Jamestown Distributors is a website that is largely in the sales of textile composites for the wholesale/business market. There are brief descriptions of the materials they sell, but for the most part, the descriptions are definitely written for the layman who is not interested in the technical aspects of textile composites. This seems like a reputable business with many ways to contact store locations, search inventory, and learn some basics on textile composites.
    Yahoo!, Ask, and Dogpile gave the best results for my simple search. Google probably would have the best, had I specifically searched GoogleScholar, but those first three I mentioned gave immediate scholarly articles at the top of their lists, which were all different. The similar websites did not reflect the quality of search results from the individual search engines. Vivisimo gave moderate results, and I will probably not include that engine in my regular search arsenal. Ask.com was the most organized of the my top three because it separated the businesses who wanted to sell composites from the articles about composites. For this particular search, Ask.com was the best source; however, Yahoo! and Dogpile gave diverse results that I did not find in any other engine, so they came in a close second place. These search results gave useful information for beginning a research project, not so much as material I would cite, however. I found some useful keywords that I may incorporate as well as general information for the layman to get an introduction to the subject of interest. Some of the random technical articles found in the search results not really on my topic, and expecting to find one on my topic would be very improbably; I would assume. This blog was very insightful to the differences in open web resources versus the deep web resources.

    • Jeremy
    • April 2nd, 2007

    search string: big dig boston
    http://www.bigdig.com/
    This site was generally unbiased because it is the official Massachusetts turnpie authority webpage. This page is mainly for information about the current progress of the big dig along with some of the history of the construction process. It is also, though this is not applicable to what I am currently researching, gives traffic updates for Bostonian commuters. A word of caution about this site it that, though it is authorative, it tends to not talk about the scandal involved and leaves out the negative side of the project. Overall it is a strong authoritative resource.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig
    This site is great. Partly because I love wikipedia and also because I believe that constantly edited and monitored sources have the most recent and the most accurate information. This site tells me most everything that I need to know about getting started researching the big dig, pros and cons, and from what I can tell very unbiased views. This site was a top hit for every search engine.
    http://www.masspike.com/bigdig/index.html
    This site is actually part of the previous site (www.bigdig.com/) but I added it because both of these sites turned up in the top 4 or 5 hits for most of the search engines. The reason why I believe that this site was so prevalent is because it had a lot of links to it because it is the traffic portion of the Massachusetts turnpike authority website. This would make sense that there are a lot of commuters that are only interested in their daily traffic report and mot the history or current status (other than traffic) of the big dig.
    Of all these sites I still have to say that google remains my favorite. I was dissapointed with sited like dogpile and vivisimo which gave me returns of adds for lude products in my first or second return. Google did not have and lude adds when I searched the smae thing there. Google remains the best because it is uncluttered with adds, which all of the other sites are, except ask.com, which just did not give as quality returns. Also, the fancy sites take time to load your response and google is near instantaneous. Also, to get to all of these sites I did not type in their URLs, instead I just searched for them in google, which was must fast, especially if I misspelled something. Overall, I did not find any more useful sites from this activity than the ones I already have, but were I to start this project over, I think it would have been helpful to use a couple more search engines than just google alone to see if there was anything good out there that google had missed.

    • Amy Stepp
    • April 2nd, 2007

    So, this assignment isn’t working for me. I have tried many things, including lots of variations on my search string. Every single time, I come up with wesbsite results that are inconsistent amongst the search engines used and that are completely off-topic (and some of the time aren’t scholarly).
    I decided to stick to this string: blood cell lysing research
    This resulted in:
    Google came up with what I think are the most useful results out of all of the engines, because the results were the most scholarly. It first gave me suggestions for scholarly articles. Following that, there was a list of scholarly articles or reference materials that were not necessarily on topics that would be able to assist me in my particular research. However, I appreciated that they were trying to give me pertinent information.
    Top websites included articles on effects of whole blood lysis and fixation on the infectivity of human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I), differential effects of beta- and gamma-interferons on natural killer cell-mediated lysis of lung carcinoma cells, differential effects of c7E3 fab on Thrombus formation and rt-PA-Mediated Thrombolysis Under Flow Conditions.
    Yahoo tried to give me some scholarly journals. However, it was really disappointing, because for a lot of the search strings, it would send me back results that were all trying to sell me something. I don’t want to buy a lysing agent! This search string seemed to give me some articles, though, that were trying to be helpful.
    Top websites included an article on lysing reagent, cartridge and automatic electronic cell counter for simultaneous enumeration of different types of white blood cells and Blood and Erythrocyte Fractionation.. It also had a amazon.com results page.
    Ask.com had its fair share of articles. However, as expected, none of the articles were consistent with any of the other engines.
    Top websites included articles on Evaluation of stabilized whole blood control materials for lymphocyte immunophenotyping and Aldosteronism and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Activation. It also referred me to a Blood Weekly newsletter website.
    Vivisimo was moderately useless in this process. The first result was trying to tell me the protocol for using lysing reagent in mouse spleens. Other results seemed just as unnecessary in my pursuit of information.
    Top websites included a commercial website as mentioned before, a paper on Red blood cell magnesium concentrations: analytical problems and significance, and a guidance for industry on how to treat blood before transfusion.
    Dogpile was kind of disappointing. The first result didn’t have anything to do with consistencies amongst different search engines as it is supposed to. It returned a result that it found from ads on google for human blood and component products. Other results followed the same trend of that first one.
    Top results included the commercial site mentioned above, the same mouse spleen protocol page from vivisimo, and a fda government page devices that it regulates that deal with blood. Pretty useless.
    Overall, the only consistency that I found amongst the engines was that page about red blood cell lysis in mouse spleens protocol page. The results were either off-topic, commercial, or were unrelated scholarly articles to what I am seeking information for. Out of all of the search engines, google seemed to be the best for the scholarly information that I need, most likely because of it’s affiliation with google scholar. I don’t think that this is an effective mode of searching for me, because the information for my field is primarily located in a dialogue found in journals. The databases that we have used previously are the best place to look for this information. It would have been nice to find information, because these resources are open to everyone, anywhere. But that’s the nature of the beast in research… most researchers want credit and recognition for their work, so it’s not going to be free information.

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