How accurate is Wikipedia, and just how much information can you trust on Twitter or Facebook? A Europe-wide project is set to develop a simple template which will allow academics and students to assess the credibility of information on the web.
User-generated content (UGC) on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is popular and topical, but to date there has been no foolproof way to judge whether it is reliable.
A survey carried out for Nature magazine in 2005 found that Wikipedia was as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but citing from such web content is still regarded with suspicion by many academic institutions.
Now, funding of EUR400,000 has been awarded to a group of researchers from universities in the UK, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Finland and Belgium. The initial project by the Concede group will involve the partners assessing which UGC sites are being used by universities.
In addition, they will examine UGC options to develop an easy-to-use tool to assess credibility, veracity, quality and provenance. They will also develop recommendations for academics and teachers to use UGC for educational purposes.