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Information accuracy

BSIM0005 Information society issues. Information accuracy. Class 4 1 March, 2007 Peter Sidorko Overview. Information accuracy: why is it important? A growing problem. Changes in publishing and accuracy? Misinformation and disinformation. Accuracy and the Internet.

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Information accuracy

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  1. BSIM0005 Information society issues Information accuracy Class 4 1 March, 2007 Peter Sidorko

  2. Overview • Information accuracy: why is it important? • A growing problem. • Changes in publishing and accuracy? • Misinformation and disinformation. • Accuracy and the Internet. • Assessing the accuracy of information. • Libraries and information accuracy.

  3. 1 Information accuracy:why is it important?

  4. Exercise • Think of an experience you have had where information has been incorrect – it may have been an assessment mark, an utilities bill, a transport schedule etc. • What were the implications for you? • Share this with your group.

  5. Accuracy • The quality of correctness as to fact and of precision as to detail in information resources and in the delivery of information services. In libraries, it is essential that the resources used by librarians to provide reference service be free of error. Accuracy is also an important criterion in judging the reliability of information provided on the Internet. The accuracy of a statement is verified by consulting other sources that provide the same information. • The opposite of inaccuracy (the quality of being incorrect or mistaken). • From ODLIS — Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz

  6. Why is accuracy important? • First consider why information is important.

  7. From class 1 • An information society: • We are producing information • Knowledge, not labour is what is valued in production • Ultimately leads to the suggestion that ideas can have an IP value • The theme of information overload and the need for an ‘expert’ to filter, select and evaluate is seen in the literature. • As information professionals these filtering, selecting and evaluating skills are essential.

  8. The value of information: organisationally • Problem solving • Decision making • Strategic planning • Environmental scanning • SWOT analysis • Resource allocation • Competitive advantage • Outcome measurement • etc

  9. The value of information: individually • Finance • Health • Career • Education • Entertainment • Travel • Lifestyle • Romance?

  10. 2 A growing problem.

  11. Recent example • Tuesday’s (27/2/07) Shanghai Composite Index plummet. • The Shanghai composite index plummeted 8.8 per cent, wiping out nearly US$108 billion (ca HK$842,400,000,000) in investor wealth. • Securities analysts said the culprit behind the "Black Tuesday" panic was a rumour that China is to levy capital gains tax on retail equity investors (Xinhua).

  12. Why is information accuracy a growing societal issue? • Quantity versus quality • Information overload concept • 108,810,358 distinct web sites with an estimated 29.7 billion (that’s 29,700,000,000) pages on the World Wide Web as of February 2007 - • Changes in “publishing” • Not just the Internet but traditional scholarly publishing.

  13. From Class 1 • Richard Wurman on information overload • • Information quality and accuracy • Information volume and accessibility • Usability • Information anxiety

  14. 3 Changes in publishing and accuracy?

  15. New publishing models • Traditional publishing • Open access (OA) • Institutional repositories • Self-publishing • Print on demand

  16. Traditional publishing • Publicly funded research • Researcher submits findings to publisher • Publisher provides: • Editorial work • Quality control of content (peer review) • Quality control of form • Marketing • Dissemination • Libraries subscribe to the journals and pay for access to the publicly funded research output.

  17. Open access • Publicly funded research • Researcher submits findings to publisher • Publisher provides: • Editorial work • Quality control of content (peer review) • Quality control of form • Marketing • Dissemination • Author/researcher pays for article to be published.

  18. Traditional vs OA • “Traditional publishers raise countless objections to the perceived threat of open access. Objections include such scaremongering as the suggestion that a payment-supported model would harm quality control by compromising peer-review or editorial judgment. But any journal’s reputation for quality and accuracy is critical in persuading authors to publish in it: successful open access journals will not accept scientifically unsound articles.” • From

  19. and this… • Beyond shifting to an entirely online publication service and the cost savings associated with having no paper copies, it is difficult to see how further savings can be made, certainly without compromising on the quality of the end product. • From

  20. In an author-pays system journals might see ‘their’ authors attracted by journals charging a lower fee. Journals under this competitive pressure may be tempted to reduce their fees and consequently need to reduce their cost base. A reduction in the cost base may result in lower quality, that is less editorial and peer review activity. Such activities may be seen as a primary source for cost cutting because they form a high proportion of total costs. A downward spiral might then occur, where journals reduce price to compete for authors, reduce quality and then go round the cycle again in a series of competitive price reductions. Such a response is particularly likely where profit, or surplus, is a key objective for journals. A submission fee and publication fee system would reduce the potential for this damaging spiral. • Costs and business models in scientific research publishing: A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, April 2004.

  21. Open Access: rapid growth • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) • This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. • There are now 2586 journals in the directory covering 127556 articles. •

  22. Self-publishing • Bookstand Publishing • How do you rate the quality and accuracy of these publications?

  23. 4 Misinformation and disinformation.

  24. Why does some information lack accuracy? • Intentional (disinformation): • Deception/fraud • Mischief – eg rumour • Propaganda • Unintentional (misinformation): • Rumour • Outdated • Computer error • Human error “To err is human…”

  25. Media misinformation • After basing a report about President Bush on a forged document during the 2004 election campaign, CBS and journalist Dan Rather endured a wave of negative publicity and suffered in the ratings. Shortly after, Rather announced his retirement — and CBS still lags far behind NBC and ABC in the Nielsen ratings today. •

  26. Cultural disinformation • Consider the case of “The Great Unknown Talent of classical music” Joyce Hatto: •,,2015335,00.html • EXERCISE: Read this newspaper article and provide 2-3 views on its implications. • A case of technology exposing inaccurate information!!

  27. 5 Accuracy and the Internet.

  28. Disclaimers! • The information published on this website is provided for the convenience of its visitors and you are advised that, although care has been taken to ensure technical and factual accuracy, some errors may occur. No guarantee is given of the accuracy or completeness of information on these pages (typical website disclaimer). • This article is about a recently deceased person … Please be aware that while vandalism is usually fixed quickly, it is particularly likely in these articles (Wikipedia).

  29. Why focus on the Internet? • Easy • Cheap or free • Unregulated • Not proof-read • Unmonitored • Anonymous • Hyperlinked • Incredibly HUGE

  30. Internet misinformation and disinformation • User review websites • • Tripadvisor, etc • Wikis, blogs etc • Satire/parody • Hoaxes • Scams • Urban legends

  31. 6 Assessing the accuracy of information.

  32. Information verification • Using suitable search strategies to “filter” the unwanted – false drops • Confirming “quality”, applicability and relevance • Matching discovered information to specific needs

  33. What are signs of (academic) information accuracy? • Is the author reputable? • Is the publisher? • Can the facts be supported by evidence i.e. verified by another source? • Does the information appear to be biased? • Are research findings presented and is methodology explained? • Does it contain spelling or grammatical errors? • Is it well structured? • Are other works’ cited and can these be traced? • Is the information current?

  34. Signs of Internet accuracy • Is the data relevant to your needs? • Are the authors / editors reputable? Check ‘about us'/‘about this site' to discover who the authors are and what their reputation is • Is the information published in a quality source e.g. peer-reviewed journal? • Is the item objective or is there inherent bias? • What form of language is used? • Does the website display a date when the page was last updated or created? • Is the information accurate? For example is the research methodology explained, are there typos etc.

  35. Other clues • URL - .com, .gov, .edu, .net, personal names, etc • Reputation • Currency • Relevancy • Biased or objective • Quality of graphics etc • Overall layout and appearance • Word and grammar errors • Advertisements • Traceability • Supporting links, references etc

  36. Is this a web site for you? • Does it meet your needs? • Who is the intended audience? • What is it’s purpose? Scholarly, commercial, comical, etc? • Is it worth the effort in checking its likely accuracy?

  37. Exercise • Analyse 3 of the following websites and provide an analysis of each as to their credibility and likely accuracy for scholarly use: • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

  38. 7 Libraries and information accuracy.

  39. Opportunities for inaccuracy • Selection (including internet resources) • profiles vs humans • Acquisitions • Receipt • Cataloguing • Labeling • Shelving • Reference services • 55% rule

  40. Final thought/question. • Is there anything new about information accuracy problems in libraries?

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