Locating Film Reviews

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For years providing and evaluating quality research has been accomplished by the editorial/publishing process and the efforts of librarians who evaluate the sources once more before they are put on the libraries' website or shelves. Many of the sources on the Internet bypass this traditional process and the researcher is put into the position of becoming their own editor and librarian when they choose to search their topics independently on the Internet.

For further information or assistance in evaluating Internet sources or in locating other sources of information, please contact the Reference Department on the 2nd Floor of the AUM Library or by phone at 334-244-3649.


Points to Remember While Surfing the Internet

  • Although designed to be democratic, the Internet has no quality control. Anyone who has a computer and access to a web server can create a web page without worrying about an editor checking their work.
  • Internet resources may change over time.
  • Internet resources are easily transferred from one server to another so URLs may change as well.
  • ALWAYS look critically at what you see and evaluate the information according to authority and accuracy, purpose and content, currency, design, organization and ease of use.
  • Surfer beware, independent research on the Internet puts the responsibility of quality control on your shoulders.


I. Authority & Accuracy

Since anyone can create a website, determine who the author of the website you are evaluating is and what expertise or qualifications they have. This will assist you in determining the credibility and realibility of the information presented.

Ask yourself:

  • Can you easily determine who the author (individual or organization) of the site is?
  • Is this a personal web page?
  • What expertise or qualifications does the individual or organization have in offering the information?
  • Can you verify that expertise from information other than that presented on the website?
  • Is there contact information for the author so you may ask questions or verify information?
  • Do you have reason to believe that the information is biased in some way?
  • What type of domain is the site registered to and what is the motivation for the web page on the site?

    - .edu (education)
    - .gov (government)
    - .org (organization)
    - .com (commercial)

  • Is the information properly copyrighted?


II. Purpose & Content

What is the motivation behind the individual or organization that created the site? In reviewing the site, look for links to 'About This Site', 'About Us', 'Mission', 'Information', etc. Look over the content on the site to determine if the information is presented in an objective (factual) or subjective (opinionated) manner. If the topic has different points of view, are all points of view presented?

Ask yourself:

  • Does the site have information that is useful to you?
  • Can you verify the source of the information?
  • Can you easily determine what the specific purpose of the site is? Are links to information offered in an easy to spot place on the site?
  • Who did the author create the site for? What type of individual or organization are they targeting their message to?
  • Is the purpose of the site to provide academic research, data, to make money, to entertain, or to gain support for a particular point of view?
  • Are points of view well supported?
  • Is there a balance of factual and subjective information?
  • Do you have reason to believe that the information is biased in some way?


III. Currency

Web sites may change frequently depending on their purpose and content. Current news and financial pages change frequently while digital archive collections may change infrequently.

Ask yourself:

  • When was the website created?
  • When is the date of last update? How recent is that from today's date?
  • What is the nature of the site and how important is currency?
  • Are links working?


IV. Design, Organization & Ease of Use

No matter how credible and reliable information is, it can't be located on a web site that is poorly designed and hard to navigate.

Ask yourself:

  • Can you locate information easily from the site's main page?
  • Is there a site map? A way to search from the main page?
  • Is information organized into main categories?
  • When you go into the site, does a toolbar of the main categories follow you?
  • Is information communicated in easy to understand language? Are there spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Do images take a long time to load?
  • Does the site load quickly on a consistent basis at all times?


To do a thorough job of research for assignments, never rely solely on one information source. Verify the information you obtained on the Internet by also locating books and articles from the library.

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