This is not just an academic issue, Eisenberg says. "We know that more than 80 percent of high school students turn to the Internet first when they do research. People use the popular search engines because they are easy to use. Our goal is to develop tools that are equally easy, but also establish criteria for returning information that is highly credible."
As examples of highly credible information, Eisenberg cited the digital reference services developed by libraries around the country, the Internet Public Library, and the Ask-a-Mathematician site, maintained by the Millennium Mathematics Project. "If we mine those sites that librarians and professionals in a variety of fields use, they might outperform conventional searches in terms of credibility," he says. Eisenberg and Lankes intend to collaborate with a variety of experts in the information field, including those conducting research at private corporations. "There are a lot of people interested in issues of Internet credibility, but to date there hasn't been a lot of collaboration. We're out to change that."