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Finding Reliable Information Online

Adventures of an Information Sleuth

Leslie F. Stebbins

We live in an information-saturated environment and spend far too much time searching, surfing, skimming, contributing, and organizing the information in our lives. We spend too little time immersing ourselves in reliable high quality information. We are often so buried in information and strapped for time that we grab information like it was fast food, without bothering to evaluate its quality.

Finding Reliable Information Online: Adventures of an Information Sleuth uses stories or “information adventures” to illustrate the best approaches to searching for information and to help us develop our aptitude for locating high quality resources in a rapidly changing digital environment that is becoming proficient at monopolizing our attention with useless or unreliable information. This book is about taking charge of the search process and not handing over the reins to search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo to dictate what information we consume.

Each chapter focuses on a quest for different types of information while digging deeper into the complexities of finding credible places to look for information and ways to think about evaluating it. As the Internet evolves and becomes more sophisticated, our strategies for finding and evaluating information need to evolve as well. The stories in this book range from investigating challenging research questions to exploring health issues and everyday life questions like finding a reliable restaurant or product review. These chapters go beyond the simple and more mechanical checklist approach to evaluating information, though these factors are also discussed.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 204Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-5392-6 • Hardback • September 2015 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4422-5393-3 • Paperback • September 2015 • $26.00 • (£17.95)
978-1-4422-5394-0 • eBook • September 2015 • $24.00 • (£15.95)
Leslie Stebbins has more than twenty years of experience in higher education with a background in library and information science, instructional design, research, and teaching. She has a Masters in Education from the Technology Innovation & Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Master’s in Information Science from Simmons College. For twenty years she created and led library research instruction and information literacy programs at Brandeis University. Currently she is the Director for Research at Consulting Services for Education (CS4Ed). Her clients both at CS4Ed and as an independent consultant have included Harvard University, the California State University Chancellor’s Office, the U.S. Department of Education, Facing History and Ourselves, Tufts University, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. She is the author of numerous articles and three books including the popular Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age. For more information, visit http://www.lesliestebbins.com
Foreword by Miriam Metzger
Chapter 1. Drinking: An Information Story. Finding Reliable Health Information

Chapter 2. Five Stars! Four Girls and Free Brunch. Finding Reliable Restaurant Reviews
Chapter 3. The Wisdom of a Crowd of Experts. Finding Reliable Scholarly Research
Chapter 4. Word of Mouse. Finding Reliable Travel Information.
Chapter 5. The Dog Effect. Finding Reliable Popular and Science Information.
Instructor Guide
About the Author
This is a handy and entertaining guide for anyone trying to understand how to find reliable information online, whether it's through Google (or similar search engines), or by using topic-specific sites and databases. . . .Readers can certainly relate to Stebbins' real life examples, and she brings a lively wit and sense of humor to each search situation. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
Journal of Academic Librarianship

This book is an excellent basic handbook on how field researchers in various fields (e.g. archaeology, anthropology, geology, biology, etc.) can prepare for the various types of mishaps – and in some cases – disasters, that can occur out in the field, and what to do when these things do actually happen. . . .[To t]hose who are relatively new at doing research out in the field – this is a treasure trove of healthy and sound advice. I would read it – this may help you recover from various screw ups in the field – and even save your life in others.
The Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath

Leslie Stebbins’s book is a splendid exploration of the twists and turns that the search for information can take. It’s lively and engaging without sacrificing depth, seriousness of purpose, or professionalism. She uses examples that are relevant and connected to the everyday problems and questions of search while deeply engaging with a wide variety of perspectives and literature on the field, all in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. I think a lot of people are going to find this valuable and fun to read.
Joseph Janes, Associate Professor and Chair, MLIS Program, Information School , University of Washington

If you want to improve your own life, the lives of those around you, and the quality of life online, read (the wonderfully readable) Finding Reliable Information Online, give copies away to your friends (as I plan to do), and see if you can get it added to your local high school or college curriculum. Founded on well-researched principles and brought to life through stories we can all relate to, Leslie Stebbins’ book is a valuable contribution, a useful tool, and a sign of hope for the future.
Howard Rheingold, former lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.and author of NetSmart, The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs and other books

Anyone who searches for information on the Internet, which is everyone, should read this book and take its advice to heart. Self-described “information extremist” Leslie Stebbins both uses the checklist approach to evaluating information and goes well beyond it by delving into the psychology of search and the nuances of experts, amateurs, and crowds. Her fun narratives about finding and evaluating scholarly and everyday information read like detective stories, and her many strategies, tips, mnemonics and lessons learned will be invaluable to students, librarians, educators, and researchers everywhere.
Marc Meola, Assistant Professor and Information Literacy Librarian at the Community College of Philadelphia

The search for reliable information, from restaurant reviews, to health, to research findings, requires a deep understanding of the nature of information and the methodology of search. As everyone worldwide leaves the secure confines of encyclopedias and research librarians, we enter the unknown territory of the search engine and crowd-sourcing. Leslie Stebbins' Finding Reliable Information Online provides an easy to read guided tour of the information wilderness. Built around compelling anecdotes, the solid, research-based approach is a must read map for the 21st century.
John Richards, President, Consulting Services for Education and Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Leslie Stebbins’ Finding Reliable Information Online is an indispensable guide for librarians and educators everywhere helping today's students learn the critical skill of information evaluation. Using real world stories, she delivers in-depth strategies for cracking some of the Web's thorniest credibility gaps. Once you read this book, you'll never read a Yelp review or Airbnb listing the same way. A must-read, as entertaining as it is instructive.
Alison J. Head, Director and Principal Research Scientist, Project Information Literacy at the Information School at the University of Washington and a Faculty Associate, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

For more information, visit http://www.lesliestebbins.com