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Internet and Webpage Credibility.

Site presented by Bill Tillier

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You be the Judge.

There is a great deal of information available today, so much so, that no one can keep up. As we search for information pertinent to our situation, it becomes critical to become an expert consumer of information. One of the key components of this is evaluating the credibility of the information you are looking at.

The source of the web page is often the best indicator of its overall credibility (from highest to lowest).

  1. Pages reporting information directly from scientific research sources (from on-line journals for example).
  2. University and Government sponsored pages.
  3. Hospital and other health-related agencies.
  4. Physicians and research scientists often present pages that summarize their work.
  5. There are now on-line textbooks.
  6. Webpages sponsored by NGO (non government organizations) and other "private" groups.
  7. Pages created by individuals.

Each of these levels of page has pros and cons.

Some Examples:

1). Information directly from scientific research has high credibility, but is also usually the most difficult to understand. Many journals today have much of their content available on-line.

Often, news sources summarize and "interpret" scientific information for consumers. For example, Science Daily.

2). There are many Government pages that offer medical information, for example, The Human Genome Program of the U.S. Department of Energy. Another is The National Institute of Health. The National Library of Medicine sponsors the huge data base of medical research called Pubmed. A feature called MEDLINEplus offers more general health information.

Many Universities offer pages on diseases or areas of science that they specialize in. Here is one example: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO offers pages on various topics, here is their page on neuromuscular disorders.

Some people don't "trust" information from the government or from Universities, however, in terms of basic science, these pages are generally of a high calibre.

3). Examples of hospital pages include: The Mayo Clinic  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center  Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles  etc.

4). Here is a typical site from an individual researcher (picked at random), here

5). An example of a biology textbook is Kimball's Biology Pages.

6). There is a great variety seen in the non-Government, not for profit organization category. Many organizations are nonprofit and focus their efforts on various disorders and scientific topics. Here are some examples of major not for profit sites. Muscular Dystrophy Canada. The Myositis Association of America.

Many pages represent groups with political or religious agendas or communities with given viewpoints. I am not suggesting that bias is inherent in these pages, however, the reader needs to be aware of the possibility of bias. One has to consider if there is a possible bias introduced by the affiliation with the supporting group that has organized the page. For example, how objective is the coverage of information presented? To their credit, many sites make their agendas clear.

7). An example of a private page is my own page. There are millions of such pages. These pages represent the highest possible bias because they represent individual opinions and experiences. My advice is, if you see concepts or ideas here that interest you, use a search engine to cross check them against Government or University pages. Anecdotal experiences (what I say it is like for me, based on my personal experience) vary widely and can not be easily applied to another person. Still, much can be learned about how people cope with various conditions. In addition, many individuals assemble terrific information on topics they are passionate about, so, some personal pages contain a lot of helpful information.

Search Engines:

Today, there are many examples of search engines. I have found Google to be efficient. Also there are specialty search engines that focus in one one topic area. For example, scirus is a search engine of scientific literature.

Dictionaries:

There are many dictionaries online. Enter "dictionary" in a search engine for a list. Add keywords (example: biology) to focus your search. Some are general dictionaries: Dictionary.com. A good biology source is X refer. Many dictionaries are highly specialized, for example, genomics glossaries. There are also many specialized glossaries on-line as well.

Mail Bill: btillier@shaw.ca

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