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Pathfinders are lists of print and electronic resources on a specific topic. The pathfinders on this website have been provided to help users find reliable information on a variety of topics using print and electronic resources. While I have checked resources for reliability I am not responsible for the material on these resources and cannot guarantee that every piece of information is 100% accurate. I recommend that all users do a reality check on any information. More details about my criteria for including resources are listed below.

Please note that I have linked to websites and listed print resources that are intended to represent a variety of opinions, beliefs, and preferences within the limits listed below. I do not agree with all of the material included on the linked websites and it is likely that you will disagree with some of the material on linked websites.

Unless otherwise noted on the specific pathfinder these pathfinders are focused on English speaking countries. If you are looking for information for a school assignment, job, or for another person it is best to direct specific questions to the individual who requested the information. A source that is considered generally reliable may not be acceptable for a specific situation. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is considered a reliable resource, but it is not appropriate if your professor wants only peer-reviewed journals.

It is in the nature of film, politics, medicine, and other subjects included on these pathfinders that some material is not appropriate for all ages. I am assuming that eight year olds are not interested in the specifics of copyright law nor journal articles about the oil industry. Thus, I am expecting that these pathfinders will be used exclusively or almost exclusively by adults and older teenagers who are capable of determining whether they wish to follow a link.

Basic Criteria

  1. Resources must provide information detailing the source(s) of information and information about the credentials of the person or persons who have gathered the information.
  2. To the best of my knowledge the information provided must be accurate, or if the information is a matter of opinion or analysis it must provide citations and/or otherwise show that the person is knowledgeable about the subject. Details regarding my verification method are listed below under Specific Criteria. The exception is resources may be included that include both verified information and user inputted information if the resource makes it clear what information is unverified. This will be noted in the annotation. An example of an exception is the The Internet Movie Database which is often the only easy to access resource for information about lesser known films and television shows and is usually accurate about cast, crew, and production information, but often less accurate in other categories.
  3. For internet resources, a substantial amount of information must be available to all users for free. For print resources the material must be either in print and available to order or, according to FirstSearch, available at a substantial number of academic libraries. If a resource goes out of print or becomes difficult to find between the time I list it and when you are viewing the website, you can try a used bookstore or online resource that sells used materials. When using an online resource it is recommended that you verify the reliability and honesty of the seller by checking recommendations and reviews from respected consumer review websites and publications and from people you trust. Some websites such as Amazon marketplace and Ebay include reviews of individual sellers.
  4. The resource must provide a substantial amount of information that is not available from other sources, include an especially good search function, or otherwise provide reasons for users to choose it instead of similar resources.
  5. The resource must have substantial information in English. Pathfinders focused on a specific country or region are noted on the pathfinder.
  6. The majority of external links should be functional. If I have included a site that is on the edge of being rejected due to dead links it will be noted in the annotation.
  7. The site should be functional. There should be few or no errors (ie dead links, javascript errors). An exception may be made for sites that are in the process of being redesigned if it appears the redesign period will be short.
  8. The site should be generally accessible. The site should not be regularly down due to bandwidth issues nor should attempts to connect regularly time out. If I am having accessibility issues with a site when I check links I will make note of that site. If I continue to have issues over a long period of time (1 month or more) I will consider removing the site. I will not remove a site if it is inaccessible once or during a short period of time.
  9. A preference is given to websites that load in a reasonable amount of time and allow users to easily choose whether or not to view video or audio content or large images. If a site includes an automatically playing audio file or video file with sound I will note that in the annotation.
  10. Any exceptions to the above criteria will be noted in the annotation.

Specific Criteria demonstrating a resource's reliability

  1. Government resources are usually included.
  2. While I will link to new sites, I give preference to older sites that have demonstrated that they are regularly updated and that the URL has either remained constant or only occasionally changed.
  3. Websites or other internet resources by organizations or individuals that are considered reliable offline will often be included. Examples include newspapers and other media outlets (ie The New York Times), respected universities or junior college if the material is provided by a professor, department, or otherwise shows the appropriate scholarship, professional organizations (ie The American Library Association, The Association of Moving Image Archivists), organizations that have shown their reliability in gathering information on a specific topic (ie The American Cancer Society, The British Film Institute, Amnesty International), and companies that are focused on the subject in question (ie Warner Brothers, Kaiser Permenante).
  4. Publications or websites by scholarly presses may be included.
  5. Exceptions are listed below under Specific Criteria: Criteria that will cause me to automatically exclude a resource

Specific Criteria that will cause me to automatically exclude a resource

  1. The resource contains material that promotes hatred of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, handicap, or other status. An exception is made for material, particularly historical material, that maintains scholarly merit. For example, I would not refuse to include a film resources that included films that are racist if the information is not presented in a way that promotes hatred.
  2. I cannot determine the identity or qualifications of the person or people responsible for the resource.
  3. I use a pop-up blocker. If multiple advertising pop-ups get past my blocker I will exclude the site. This does not include pop-ups that are part of the primary content of the site (ie pop-ups giving definitions of terms used in an article).
  4. I do not include resources that are primarily or entirely focused on pornography. I will include film resources that material relating to R and NC-17 rated films.
  5. A resource will not be included if I have a reliable reason to believe that it is outdated, inaccurate, or otherwise not useful for users.

Web searching tips

Both Internet Explorer and Firefox can be configured to improve your internet experience. In Internet Explorer go to Tools and then Internet Options. In Firefox go to Tools and then Options. There are also extensions for Firefox that allow you additional control over viewing video content, flash, and other web design elements that can increase loading time.