An Evaluation Tool for Archaeology

Using the principles suggested above, a tool designed to meet the specific needs of archaeology

Archaeology Tools

Evaluation Tool for Archaeology

was de-veloped and subjected to some preliminary testing. The criteria were chosen mainly from the Toolbox of Criteria (Smith, 1997). They include questions that have been used in the past for print media, and oth-ers specifically produced for the WWW. The list naturally has similarities to those proposed by other information professionals, including Cooke (1999) and Tillman (2000). The real difference is that the

choice was made specifically for archaeology and, therefore, included questions such as “Are artefacts depicted with good quality illustrations?” The outline list of criteria for evaluation is as follows:

  • scope,
  • purpose and audience, reviews,
  • content (including; accuracy, authority, copyright, currency, uniqueness, links, quality, and overall quality),
  • graphic and multimedia design,
  • workability (including; user friendliness, computer environment, searching, browsability and or-ganization, interactivity, connectivity).

 

The majority of the evaluation questions follow a checklist format (score one for the desirable answer and zero for an undesirable answer). Sometimes, however, a text answer is more appropriate so as to al-low richer annotation, which would be displayed with the ratings in any publicly available evaluations using the tool. The numerical rating scale can be expanded where necessary. Thus, the answer to “Are there contact details, i.e. email and postal addresses for clarification, error correction and new informa-tion?” will score one each for the email and postal addresses. In other cases a rating is required, on a scale of one to five, for instance, of the overall quality of the content of the site. A maximum of 64 points was available. When scores had been allocated to a site, they could be totalled and the total used as an overall rating, reflecting four broad classes identified as excellent (58-64), good (42-57), fair (26-41) and poor (0-25). The evaluation tool that produces these ratings takes the following form.

 

Scope

 

Scope calls for assessment of the site’s depth (scholarly level) and breadth (subject range), which should be suitable for the proposed audience. Types of material covered should be looked at, including pub-lished literature, databases, audio and video clips, and virtual reality. The format of material covered is also relevant, for example, telnet, Gopher and FTP protocols, because accessibility may be restricted by software and hardware considerations. It is usual to ask within this criterion whether coverage is retro-spective, but archaeology is by definition a retrospective discipline, so this is taken as given. The ques-tions are as follows.

 

Is the scope stated (not implied)? Yes = 1, no = 0 Does the scope meet expectations? Yes = 1, no = 0

 

Breath – how comprehensive is it, what is covered? Text answer Depth – what audience level is served? Text answer

Are the following resource format types mentioned: audio, video, Telnet, Gopher, FTP? Text an-swer

 

Purpose and Audience

 

Addressing a specified audience for a particular purpose assists user retrieval of appropriate sites. Statements of aims, objectives, purpose, audience and coverage should be found on home pages, or the “about this site” or FAQ pages. The subject material should be of an appropriate level or depth. A site counter may indicate popularity, but any visitor comparisons should be made at one time point across various sites and not an accumulation of previous visits. This project does not have the technology to do this.

 

Is the purpose of the web site clearly defined? Yes = 1, no = 0.

 

Is the audience of the web site clearly defined? Yes = 1, no = 0.

Does the resource accomplish its purpose as described? Yes = 1, no = 0.

Does the resource suit the intended audience? Yes = 1, no = 0.

Is there a counter on the web site? Yes = 1, no = 0.

 

Content

 

Content questions are generally the most important group of criteria for any site and they include matters of accuracy, authority, copyright, currency, uniqueness, links, and quality. It is important to distinguish between content that is factual and that which is opinion. It should also be asked if factual information is stand-alone or is abstracted from elsewhere. Similarly, it should be distinguished whether the site con-tains original information itself or acts as a directory to other sites.

 

Is the content factual (not opinion)? Yes = 1, no = 0.

 

Is there original information and/or links? Yes = 1, no = 0.

Does it contain some stand-alone content (not just abstracted from an original source)? Yes = 1, no = 0.

 

Content – accuracy.

 

This may have to be inferred rather than measured directly, and may actually be a perception of accu-racy. The author’s academic record, a clear statement and fulfilment of aims, justification of methods, findings, and conclusions, plus references to appropriate published sources, are reasonable indicators.

Other indicators of accuracy include the identification of editors and referees. It needs to be noted from the scope statements or “about us” pages, if special interest groups whose agenda may suggest some form of bias are associated with the site. Indicators suggesting questionable accuracy may include un-dated information, obsolete data in fast moving topics, over simplification, exaggeration, emotional and intemperate language, and a stance that does not take opposing views into account.

 

Is the information likely to be accurate? Yes = 1, no = 0.

 

Is the information subject to biases, e.g. political, financial, ideological, etc.?

Yes = 0, no = 1.

Does it contain advertising? Yes = 0, no = 1.

 

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