Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi)
Marcel Wieth: Web Source Evaluation for sites related to Chiang Kai-shek
One of the most revolutionary research tools that have come into existence in the last 25 years is the internet. Rare materials that used to take days to find sifting through endless shelves and bookcases are now only a mouse click away. However, within this ever-expanding resource tool remains a very detrimental problem. As of now, there is no legislation or generalized code of ethics that website creators and authors have to follow. Currently any person can create a website and have what ever they wish on it. On those same lines, any website can take a number of actual sources, facts, and information and manipulate them with little regard for the truth, with no legal consequences.
Faced with all the dangers involved with using websites in research we come to the current question. If there is such a high risk of using websites, for the basis of research, how can we determine which ones are reliable and which ones are bogus? To put this very vague question into more concrete context which websites are reliably when doing research on, Chiang Kai-shek? In order to answer this question this paper will review and analyses four websites, pertaining to Chiang Kai-shek.
The website http://www.ibiblio.org/chinesehistory/index.html appears to be a reliable site. The first thing, which makes this website seem reliable, is the author of the website prominently displayed at the top of the site. The researcher should remain cautious, although we know who created the website (Richard R. Wertz) we are unclear if he actually is the author of all the documents found on the website or is using other people’s works. If he is using other people’s works, the original authors must receive proper citation or acknowledgment. Upon further investigation of the website, we come upon a link entitled Source Index. This link takes you to a separate page where is clearly spells out all the various sources for the material. It even breaks down section for section what information came from where. Now that we are sure from where/whom the sources on this website are coming from, we can continue to critically analyse this site.
Immediately following the Authors name comes an introductory statement by the author or legal disclaimer. This Disclaimer provides us with still more clues as to the trustworthiness of this site. The key point of the disclaimer is that the site is the official website of the Journal of Chinese History. This discovery should not automatically rule out this site as a source but it should make the researcher aware that the creator has a motive for maintaining the site. Overall, the actual content provide by this website is very large and goes quite in depth in most areas. Given all these facts presented above this website is a reliant and useful source for researching the topic of Chiang Kai-shek.
Another website that could ultimately strengthen a research paper on Chiang Kai-Shek is http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/. The first item, which makes this website appear reliable and trustworthy, is the address or URL. The .edu ending of the address shows its affiliation with the Marist educational institution. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, we discover that the National Archives and Records Administration administers this site. In addition, it acts as the main website for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. These two facts leave little room for doubt as to the reliability and source of the material on the site.
Now that we have established that the origin of material on the website is from the Franklin D. Roosevelt library and that Marist College is backing this website we can begin to look at the actually sources. A series of links leads the researcher to a web page with a slew of documents and materials pertaining to Chiang Kai-shek. The format of material adds further strength to the reliability of this website since it is all scanned versions of the actually documents. In many cases, it even has the original versions of Chiang Kai-shek's communiqués to Franklin Roosevelt. The presentation of the material and the careful detail found in each document leaves no question as to the accuracy or reliability of this website. Overall, this website is a highly reliable source and would be worth using, when researching.
For Primary source material dealing with a little broader range of topics related to Chiang Kai-shek http://www.taiwandocuments.org/ is very appealing to use. However, like all websites, this one demands a thorough examination for trustworthiness and content before using it. Applying the same systematic process used to analyses the previous websites the researcher must first take note of the URL and author/creator of the website. The .org URL clearly establishes that the backers and creators of the website are some sort of organization. After reading the brief disclaimer at the bottom of the home page and the about TDP link, it becomes clear that this website has an agenda. The website mentions that is gives "objective analyses" and commentary on the primary sources found on the website. Although this statement appears to be persuasive evidence against using this website, it in fact does not rule it out completely.
Knowing that the website or organization that created it is trying to promote an agenda by giving its own analyses, gives the researcher an advantage. The researcher before even read a single document found on the website knows to look extra critically at the source and statements made by the Taiwan Documents creators. The researcher on this website can choose from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources.
The variety in sources gives the researcher numerous options and viewpoints about every aspect of Chiang Kai-shek‘s life. However, the assortment of content does not account for the accuracy and reliability of the sources. After reading the document, or material provided by the website keeping in mind the possible bias in any thing written by the website creators themselves the researcher comes upon several footnotes. The footnote clearly spells out the sources of the material presented on the web page. The careful documentation of sources of the materials gives this website its greatest appeal.
Overall, the Taiwan Documents Project website appears to be a highly useful and reliable source for research information about Chiang Kai-shek. Although the nature of the website might have some bias, the accuracy and reliable documentation of the sources more then make up for any short comings. This website ultimately provides the researcher with access to a large variety of sources, both primary and secondary, pertaining to Chiang Kai-shek's life and career on Taiwan and Mainland China.
The Fourth and final reliable website for information both specific and general about Chiang Kai-shek is in many respects the broadest of the four. The website http://www.loc.gov/rr/ provides the researcher with a solid base for any research undertaking. The website has numerous links to all forms of material directly and indirectly related to Kai-shek. Before deliberating the usefulness of material on the website to the main topic of Chiang Kai-shek, the researcher must first inspect the website for reliability and trustworthiness. Immediately we notice that the website is a government-affiliated site, through the URL of .gov. The affiliation with the Library of Congress automatically gives credibility, and reliability to any material access throughout this extensive database. However the potential for bias remains. In fact, the website's main objective, as stated in the link entitled Contact Us, is firstly to serve the members of congress, then the government, other libraries and then lastly the people.
The real test of a websites trustworthiness and reliability lies in the content and sourcing of the material presented on the website, not to whom it caters. The website contains a plethora of links ranging from book, picture, and even film resources. The Library of congress website also either provides direct citation of sources at the bottom of the web page or provides a link to a web page going into detail about the original author or compiler of the material. Overall, the website provides a lot of information to the researcher, in a number of formats.
In general, the website provides a powerful research database for finding information about Chiang Kai-shek. The main draw back of the website includes the possible bias. However, this clearly gets out weight by the sheer amount of resource material available. With the multitude of reliable and trustworthy sources, the website acts as a primary building block of any future more in depth research.
The internet researcher constantly faces slurries of website related questions when attempting any in depth research. Although this paper only mentions four websites pertaining to Chiang Kai-shek, a simple search on any internet search provider will find tens of thousands of websites all related to Chiang Kai-shek. It is both unrealistic and overly time consuming to go through every single one. In addition, the risk involved with basing any real research on websites chosen haphazardly is far too great. The ideal method of in depth research remains standard non-electrical based sources; the internet is far too powerful a tool to ignore completely. The time factor alone, for getting text based source materials from China or Taiwan, about Chiang Kai-shek, makes a persuasive argument for the instantaneous access the internet provides. As stated in the paper identifying and evaluating the reliability, accuracy, content, sourcing, authorship and motivation behind maintaining the website before using the site will provide more reliable and trustworthy source material. If used properly the internet can be a highly effective research tool for any number of topics.
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4. Library of Congress, Especially for researchers, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/rr/
5. Marist College, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration, http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/
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8.Taiwandocuments.org, Taiwan Documents Project, Taiwandocuments.org, http://www.taiwandocuments.org/
9.Ulrich Teobald, Chinaknowledge A universal guide for China studies, Chinaknowledge, http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Rep/jiangjieshi.html
10.UCLA center for east Asian studies, Constitution of Republic of China, UCLA center for east Asian studies, http://www.isop.ucla.edu/eas/documents/taiwan-cons.htm#Chapter%20XIV.%20Enforcement%20and%20Amendment%20of%20the%20Constitution