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ABSTRACT: Understanding trust formation in digital information sources: The case of Wikipedia


This article contributes to knowledge on how users establish the trustworthiness of digital information. An exploratory two-stage study was conducted with Master’s and undergraduate students in information studies. In the first phase of the study respondents commented on the factors and processes associated with trust formation. Participants commented on authorship and references, quality of writing and editing, and verification via links to external reference sources. Findings from the second phase, based on a checklist, suggested that participants relied on a range of factors when assessing the trustworthiness of articles, including content factors such as authorship, currency and usefulness together with context factors such as references, expert recommendation and triangulation with their own knowledge. These findings are discussed in the light of previous related research and recommendations for further research are offered.

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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