Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Website Certification

I admit, this is another of those dry, dusty librarian posts. But - if you've ever tried to find reliable information on the web - this just might interest you too!

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article called "Certifying Online Research" on June 6, 2008. It initially talks about faculty members seeking tenure with a publication record consisting mainly of work done online (rather than in the typical scholarly print journals). The author (a dean at Illinois State University) suggests a voluntary certification process for scholars who publish their research in website form. It would require that major professional organizations in each academic discipline form a review committee where, for a nominal fee, scholars can send their site to be scrutinized and vetted. Then if it meets the appropriate standards, it can display a certification symbol assigned by the organzation.

Thinking beyond faculty tenure, if a plan like this were broadly implemented then it could actually change the way we academic librarians view the internet. We see it as an evil, for the most part, encouraging students to attend to scholarly databases and other sources for valid and verifiable information. But if students could Google "Aristotle's Ethics" and be rewarded with sites certified by the American Philosophical Society, that would be just as valid as digging up dusty copies of Phronesis or the Journal of the History of Philosophy.

Cool, huh??

1 comment:

JAG said...

I read the same Chronicle article. My initial thought was that it's a good idea. It's very hard for a non-expert to evaluate a website. It does create the problem of how much a website counts towards tenure and promotion, but I suppose individual institutions would have to make that clear.