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Peer Review

On the Origin of Species

by Charles Darwin


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Feb 17, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is an electronic version of the first edition of the classic text On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.
Type of Material: Electronic version of printed book
Recommended Uses:
  • Classroom resource
  • Class assignment--reading and understanding what Darwin actually said.
  • As a primary source for students studying evolution.
  • This provides a free and accessible text of this classic for anyone who wants to read it.
Technical Requirements: Web browser
Identify Major Learning Goals: There are no specific learning goals published on the site. However, it is clear that the goal is to make an accurate copy of the Origin of Species available to everyone on the web.
Target Student Population: High school through postgraduate.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
  • Background about the history of evolution as an idea
  • Darwin's appropriate place in the history of evolution.
  • Knowledge of 19th century language
  • Knowledge of biological terminology

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • An accurate version of Darwin's text of the Origin of Species.
  • Preserves Darwin's thought and the process of science in his time
  • Links to other resources
  • None

  • Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

    Rating: 4.5 stars
    • High potential as it contains an the original writing by Darwin
    • An excellent way to get students involved with primary literature
    • Provides a historical perspective
    • Links to outside web sites provide some interesting background information
    • The glossary is useful for people not familiar with biology
    • Instructors could use this as a basis for assignments or other projects
    • Being an original writing from the late 1800's, students may have some difficulty following the style and language
    • No annotations are provided
    • The resources is hosted by TalkOrigins, which may be perceived as biased

    Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

    Rating: 4.25 stars
    • Students can select chapter by chapter sections to focus on specific sections
    • Had no problem navigating the site
    • All links checked worked
    • Needs an introduction on the web site to explain what document it is and cultural mores at the time
    • The text is in paragraph blocks which change configuration based on the size of your browser window
    • There is no way to search the complete text

    Other Issues and Comments: A search function would improve this resource. An introduction to the text would also be useful, noting that this is the first of six editions, etc.