Best of the Web
The Internet provides a vast array of information on respiratory health and disease and other topics that may be useful to our members, but finding the site that contains the desired information, presented in a clear, up-to-date, and reliable manner is another matter.
The Best of the Web series reviews Internet sites on topics relevant to ATS members and persons seeking respiratory health information. These articles will generally identify and review about five to ten of the best sites on a particular topic.
Each review will contain a brief introduction that describes the topic's importance and its niche. The author will describe the search and review the top sites individually. The sites will be scored on their authority, currency, accuracy, navigational ease and utility. The ratings for each of the subcategories will be 1 to 5, where 5 = excellent, 4 = good, 3 = satisfactory, 2 = poor, and 1 = disappointing or with serious flaws (see below).
The review of each site will also contain a brief summary that may include additional comments and rate the site with a 5-star scale (see below).
Questions asked to rate subcategories include:
Are the names of the contributors and organizations clearly identified? Is the group responsible for the site recognized as a leader and authority? Does the site have an easily identified mission? Is there contact information? Is there an appropriate "About Us" to identify who is responsible for the information and the basis of the information? Is the material from individual opinions or experimental evidence? Are sources documented? What is the quality of the bibliography? For research documents, are methods given? Is their bias or sponsorship? Are there links to reliable authorities?
Is all material up to date? Is it dated? Is timeliness important?
Is the content correct? On what evidence is it based? Are speculative areas clearly identified?
Navigational ease and readability
Is it easy to find what you want? Is the layout simple and aesthetically pleasing? Is the site searchable? Is material understandable to the audience for which it is intended? Do the links work? Do the graphics, audio and video enhance the message? Is the site slow and frustrating? Is it interactive?
Is material free? Do you need to be a member? Are downloads easy? Would you often return to this site? Is it essential for a specific purpose? Does it contain information that is not readily available from other sources? Is it a great teaching resource? How useful is it for ATS members?
A 5-star (highest) rating is given to an outstanding site, regarded as a top resource and a "must-bookmark." The site provides essential information or material that may be difficult to obtain from other sources. It could be a great teaching resource and should be extremely useful for its purpose. Five-star sites stand out against their competition, often making going to other sites unnecessary.
A 4-star site is an excellent site with much useful information. It should be worthy of being "book-marked." Most of the subcategory ratings are good to excellent. It may be the best in its field. All of the material is reliable, authoritative, current and useful.
A 3-star site is a valuable site. Its material is reliable, current and useful, but it may have poor navigation or score lower on the subcategories. A 3-star site may be a source for specific information or have a niche on an otherwise average site.
A 2-star site may have useful information and does not have major reliability problems but better sites exist. A 2-star site may not hold much interest for our viewers or good material might be restricted by cost or subscription. A 2-star rating could have low subcategory scores. It could have bias, minor potential for harm or minor inaccuracies.
A 1-star site is hardly worth mentioning unless it is famous for another reason. It may have serious reliability problems. A 1-star rating warns viewers to be cautious or not to bother. Misinformation, potential for harm and quackery are reasons for a 1-star rating.
Thank you for reading ATS' Best of the Web. Please send me your comments.
Thomas B. Stibolt, Jr., M.D.
61 Broadway · New York, NY 10006-2755 · Voice: 212-315-8600 · Fax: 212-315-6498