Society and the Future of Computing
SFC'96 Poster Abstracts
extracted from a page originally found at:
The INTERNET and Research: Proceed With Caution
Floyd H. Johnson, Assistant Professor Computer Science
Northwestern College 101 Seventh Street SW Orange
City, IA 51041
(712) 737 - 7028 (Work and Voice Mail) (712) 737 - 8236 (Home)
Students, faculty, employees, and other creative thinkers are turning to
the INTERNET as a source for research material. This poster examines six
critical issues facing those who use the INTERNET as a tool to support their
FLUIDITY - Information that is available today may not be available
tomorrow or it may be changed in some significant way.
AGING - The amount of work needed to keep information current is significant.
If the original creator of a page has a change of jobs or interests, he or
she may not take the time to remove or update information that was current
at the time it was originally written. Dated material appears no different
than current material when presented on the INTERNET.
AUTHORITY - The identity of the supplier of on-line information is
not always apparent. There is little that will distinguish the on-line presentation
of an expert, an amateur, a dabbler, or a smart aleck. As with other sources,
it is imperative that those using the INTERNET for scholarly purposes seek
to verify information from two or three reliable sources.
AUTHENTICITY - Unless the origin of material is personally known by
the researcher, caution must be exercised as one seeks to identify the author
of on-line material. Nothing prevents one on-line user from claiming unearned
credentials. At the extreme, nothing prevents one on-line user from being
someone he or she is not - i.e. a relatively well-known person.
SECURITY/OWNERSHIP - Information placed on the INTERNET is easily
duplicated. The copyright of material placed on the INTERNET has not yet
been tested or proved. Material (not just a WWW link) is copied and used
DOCUMENTATION - Standards for citing the INTERNET resources are not
yet established. Some initial assistance is found in the APA Publication
Manual (1994) and the MLA Handbook (1995). Yet both of these standards ignore
the world wide web. Until such time as standards are clearly set and publicized,
standards are set by individual faculty, institutionally, or by interested
organizations. Scholars using the INTERNET for research will need to locate
standards appropriate for their disciplines.
The INTERNET may appear to be a window on the world. However, until these
six issues are addressed, extra care will need to be taken in using the INTERNET
as research resource. These six challenges do not represent obstacles for
the scholar, but challenges to be understood and incorporated into our own
use of the INTERNET.