You must appreciate that if you had a specific query pertaining to
occupational or environmental health or medicine and merely walked to
nearest newsagent, or even general bookshop, the chances of finding
specific, valid and detailed enough for your purposes would be quite
The same applies to the Internet - just like newspapers and magazines
it contains a lot of material which is irrelevant to your needs, poorly
researched or written, and sometimes downright rubbish or advertising.
You will need to learn how to use it sparingly and to best advantage.
page is made available to help you search, appraise and cite
and environmental health and medicine information through the internet.
Before pursuing this exercise it is important that you have achieved an
adequate mastery of literature searching and critical appraisal for
literature, using the library for your source, and conventional critical
appraisal approaches. (The Internet if used correctly may be a
but not a substitute). Therefore if you have a literature review
or other similar task, you should try to follow the discipline of not
by using the Internet - use conventional methods first, unless
stated. Later allocate perhaps a fraction of your time to using the
If the output of your search is
to have any scientific credibility, then it must primarily be based on
the critical appraisal of peer-reviewed
or other scientific literature. It bears to repeat what has been said
namely that the classical approach of searching for peer-reviewed
is still paramount.
You can engage in free searching of a range of medical
databases through PubMed (besides the
ones available on subscription).
Rather than searching the internet indiscriminately, as mentioned
you might have a smaller and more specific, and better validated search
result by using those tools which include only pages which have been
in some way. However you could miss out on some useful
You can start off by using a directory, or better still a
and follow the leads. As a start, one has been provided
for you. However the contents of directories can be very biased
the interest of the people looking after them, their available time and
resource, and perhaps also by the extent to which authors attempt to
their pages linked to the directory.
You can find a very large number of 'pages' if you use a fast
tool such as Yahoo or Google;
better still for scientific articles you can search Google
to press the 'back' button on your browser if you want to return to
page]. You can find other search engines here.
Generally speaking you can conduct searches in various ways:
generate huge lists of pages from the indiscriminate use of keywords
then 'surf' aimlessly from A toB to C to D and so on and hope that you
slowly find a "hot" trail that will lead to what you are after. This is
not a very productive approach.
You can conduct more focussed searches, using more specific
which are less likely to lead you to vast numbers of pages which are
to pursue. You can improve on these by better selection of key words,
of the Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT. In some search engines
operate like this search
tool where + (plus) and - (minus) signs are
to achieve similar ends. Thus if you include a larger number of
but expecting them all to be present in the pages that you find (i.e.
linking them with the conjunctive AND, or alternatively by preceding
with +, as the case may be) you will find a lesser number of more
pages - hopefully specific to your requirements.
This is even more difficult than the search itself. The following are
very rough guides, which must be interpreted cautiously:
- Apply the basic principles of critical
as far as you can: Unfortunately you will find that in many instances
information on the Internet is not detailed enough to permit you to do
so. You should be very cautious in accepting the validity of
that is not detailed and explicit enough to fulfil these
The clear identification and affiliation of the author may be of help.
However one should not assume that if something is coming from an
institution it is necessarily beyond reproach, nor that if it is
from a commercial organisation, that it is necessarily seriously
Academic bodies have their own vested interests as well! Some personal
home pages may include or lead to useful resources but others are
a reflection of the agendas, beliefs and prejudices of their author,
at best unreliable or at worst fraudulent.
If the work replicates and summarises material that is already in the
domain and peer reviewed in a written form, this may also provide some
reassurance, especially if you can then go to the original and carry
a critical appraisal.
If the page has been through some form of internet peer review, this
may help but the quality of the review is not often explicit. A number
of organisations such as Health on the Net
are engaged in projects to establish quality criteria for WWW
and thence to provide a gateway only to those information sources which
achieve and maintain such standards.
- Evidence of plagiarism does not do much credit to a
site. It is associated with poor quality in many respects.
Sadly some web sites are nothing more than a collage of material copied from
other sites (including this one) without either seeking permission or providing
due credit and attribution.
The World Wide Web affords a wide range of technologies which can be
adapted for what are arguably technical variants of plagiarism. For
it is possible to create a 'frame' with a border of zero thickness. In
other words the URL at the top relates to the site that has developed
frame (a few lines of 'html' commands), while for the content the
contains material from another website. People viewing this might
be misled into thinking that the content is part of the work of the
whose URL features at the top of their browser. Whereas in fact it has
all been essentially swallowed from another site without appropriate
A few websites (to which no links are being provided) have done this
resources from this 'Health, Environment and Work' web resource
from the agius.com domain.
This explains why a distinctive style with a background is used on
When you include URLs in a bibliography or list of references, it is
important that others can establish clearly the necessary basic
to determine the content, and likely quality including timeliness of
You should therefore at the very least:, specify:
Students are often uncertain as to how references found
on the World Wide Web should be cited. There are a number of sources providing
further more detailed information on this important issue,
- date of wrtitng
or of last stated amendment of the WWW page,
- as well as the URL and the
date on which you accessed it.