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Evaluation Guidelines for VBIC Content

The purpose of the Virtual Business Information Center (VBIC) is to serve as a pathfinder for quality business information that can be found on the Internet and in print by business school students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. All resources are evaluated with the following general evaluation guidelines that include two key criteria. In general, all criteria apply to online sources while only the content criteria apply to print resources. These criteria have been written using the standards prescribed by William Katz in his Introduction to Reference Work Volume I: Basic Information Sources, Seventh Edition (1997).

1. Content

  • Authority
  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Relevance
  • Target audience
  • Reliability
  • Update frequency
  • Special features

2. Format

  • Navigability
  • Design
  • Speed
  • Access

Content: Quality content is accurate and current. It is updated frequently. Subscription services that the University of Maryland libraries subscribe to are always included where appropriate. These subscriptions are valuable sources that are provided to University of Maryland authorized users at no charge. Sites are reviewed for any special features that may provide value-added to the user and sets the site apart from others. The authority of the source is reviewed as well as the reliability. The scope must be appropriate for the primary user group of the VBIC (Robert H. Smith School of Business graduate students).

Format: The format of a resource is important. While the content could be valuable, if it is not in a user-friendly format, the information becomes useless. All sites on the VBIC are evaluated for navigation, design and speed. The information must be easy to find. On the Internet, design may also impact access and use of information. Slow loading sites are discouraging and have not been selected unless especially important.

Number of Resources: VBIC attempts to point users to a limited number of effective resources rather than to a comprehensive list of all possible sources, so that users can find information faster and more easily.

A typical entry in VBIC will list the source, the author, scope of the source (date range, subject area covered), how the source is accessed (free web site, proprietary web site, paper source, etc.), specifics for searching the source (i.e., key words for an online search), how often the site is updated, and how easy it is to use.