Updated: April 25, 2000
Psychology Resources on the World Wide Web by Edward P. Kardas (1999 Brooks/Cole) by P. Nurius.
Reprinted with permission from Journal of Technology and Human Services, Volume 16, Number 4, 1999. Published by The Haworth Press, Inc.
This book (151 pages) is specifically designed with psychology students in mind. The organization of the text is purposefully similar to typical texts in general psychology and the "jump start" needs of many students toward gaining understanding, confidence, and operational skill with efficiently searching the Web on their own define the purpose of the book. The book has an accessible writing style and the topical categories used to cluster web resources do look like they would easily mesh with many different types of psychology courses and areas of interest.
Site descriptions contain a title, the URL, a brief statement of site contents, and single word characterization of: the type of site (e.g., interactive, index, graphic, tutorial, publication), the difficulty level, its length, whether or not it contains links to other pages, whether or not the page contains graphics, whether or not it contains an internal search facility, and whether it requires additional software beyond the basic browser. Also included is a CD-ROM that contains the text of the book and, once installed, permits the user to access the sites by clicking on the URLs or titles. Rather than a text on how to search, the focus is a distillation of sites and their characterization. Perhaps because of the presumed student readership and, thus, educational resources that will likely be available, the book does not provide instruction as to the kind of equipment needed or the basics for how to use a browser or discussion about the various types of search tools.
The author notes issues related to variability in information quality, stability, and usefulness among online resources. Also offered are questions to ask in evaluating a site and resource information for further reading on evaluating internet resources. This is very welcome content. The next challenge is to take this a step further. For example, in assessing whether material appears to be accurate, factors such as lack of spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors may be misleading criteria. Presentation style and panache can be impressive even with virtually baseless information. Particularly with students and use in academic settings in mind, linking evaluation of web resources to methods and criteria commonly used for evaluation purposes within the discipline of psychology (e.g., what are the strengths and limitations of the logical arguments? are cited sources or evidence provided to support theories, findings, claims, generalizations, or services? if so, what are the merits of these?) would facilitate analytic skills in judicious consumership. In a related vein, students would benefit from comment on issues such as citing online content. For example, aside from published work in the more conventional form, what are one's obligations for citing "stuff" one gets from the Web? How does one do that? What issues or restrictions may be associated with launching one's own research project on a Web audience? With using treatment guidelines obtained from the Web in an educational clinical context?
The volume of sites listed (nearly 1,100) is extensive. This achievement alone is impressive as are the underlying efforts to err in the direction of stability and meaningful substance among the sites selected for inclusion. Although the listings under substantive topics are particularly well suited for the general level psychology student, many sites contain archives and links that will make them useful for students, educators, researchers, and practitioners with more in-depth expertise and information needs. In addition to the CD-ROM accompanying the book, the author directs readers to the Brooks/Cole Web page for site changes and updates that, if regularly maintained, will reduce the problem of information "perishability" and help keep this helpful resource up-to-date.