Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Link of the Week: Intute

There's a reason college faculty warn their students to "avoid the internet." It is full of out-of-date, inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and sometimes just plain crazy content. Yet there are some materials out on the web that are appropriate for college level research. How do you find them? Our Sawyer Library "Research Guides" can help. And there are also some general web portals that have been constructed and maintained by academics specifically to provide links to materials worthy of perusal.

Here at the Reference Desk, several of us were fans of SOSIG, which was a European-based gateway to Social Science materials on the web. Well, a while back SOSIG was absorbed into another web portal called Intute.

Intute is "a consortium of seven universities working with a whole host of partners, bringing together the expertise of people and processes through which we can evaluate web resources and provide a structured approach to help people find and use them. Intute originates from the Resource Discovery Network."

The database further describes itself this way: "Intute is a free online service providing access to the very best web resources for education and research. All material is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists to create the Intute database....Issues of trust, quality, and search skills are very real and significant concerns - particularly in a learning context. Academics, teachers, students and researchers are faced with a complex environment, with different routes into numerous different resources, different user interfaces, search mechanisms and authentication processes. The Intute database makes it possible to discover the best and most relevant resources in one easily accessible place. You can explore and discover trusted information, assured that it has been evaluated by specialists for its quality and relevance. "

While the old SOSIG covered only the Social Sciences, Intute includes sections on Science and Technology, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Health and Life Sciences. The opening page allows you to search for a particular key word concept across one or more of these subject areas, and annotated results help you choose the websites you really want to visit and explore. A browse feature and an advanced search option are also available.

This is a very well-designed web resource, and because it comes from "a network of UK universities and partners" it is not as Americacentric as many U.S. websites are. That expands your options and viewpoints.

To state the obvious, as valuable and worthwhile as this web portal is, it is NOT a substitute for doing library research in our high-quality databases that provide subject indexing (and often fulltext) to peer-reviewed journal literature. Still, if you are looking to expand your research by looking into available general web resources, this portal can definitely help you identify some of the rare quality materials out on the world wide web.

1 comment:

Paul Ayres said...

Hi Kathi

Thanks for making Intute your Link of the week. Nice to know all our hard work is appreciated!

I completely agree with your points about the importance of information literacy and using a proper research strategy. You may be interested in another service we provide under the Intute banner called the Virtual Training Suite which tries to address these issues.

Or if you would like to embed our search boxes, records or other items in the services you provide, we have a range of options available