Websites are updated on a regular basis and this makes it challenging to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of any given website. However, Professor Robert Harris has developed a rationale for critiquing websites. Professor Harris (2010) has engineered the CARS (Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness and Support) checklist. Harris indicates that the initial stage of website evaluation begins prior to conducting any search on the web. In line with this guidance, I selected the intended topic; I wanted a website that offers educative information on schizophrenia to the general public. This paper evaluates, compares and contrasts two websites that address a psychological issue (schizophrenia).
Two websites will be evaluated: www. medicalnewstoday.com and www.nhm. nih.gov.
Www. medicalnewstoday.com website is managed by MediLexicon International Limited, which is a UK based company. Likewise, www.nhm. nih.gov is a credible website that is operated by the national institute of mental health. The Provision of company details such as location (Bexhill on sea) and contact details, which are showing the physical location of MediLexicon International Limited, is a clear indication that it is an authentic company/website.
Likewise, there is valid contact information on the www.nhm. nih.gov website. There is a site map that shows where the national institute of mental health offices’ are located. On top that, there are contact email addresses and hotline numbers. There is also a contact us form that allows people to send direct messages from the websites. On both websites, news and information are updated regularly. There are hundreds of publications on this site and the authors responsible for those publications are boldly indicated. In this case, the article under evaluation is that on schizophrenia.
On both sites, the information provided has been custom made for easier understanding by the website’s audience. Anyone without a medical background can understand the published information. According to Prof. Harris’s checklist on credibility, a website that has verifiable information qualifies to be termed as being credible. Likewise, www.nhm. nih.gov is a credible website because it is operated by a federal agency.
In terms of accuracy, www.nhm. nih.gov and www. medicalnewstoday.com provide not only balanced, but also fair and accurate information. The information that is posted on these websites is verified by a press office. The information is educative and as such, it has been put in as simple language as possible so that the audiences can easily understand the message that being broadcasted. However, www.nhm. nih.gov website appears more detailed than www. medicalnewstoday.com.
Substantiation of the claims made on the websites is boosted by the use of scholarly and reliable information such as journal articles, government publications, and medical bodies among others. For instance, I intended to find tout more on schizophrenia. Upon submitting the query, a page with information on schizophrenia on both sites opened up. First, the articles define schizophrenia, and later highlight its causes and symptoms, and how it can be managed.
These sites have a search window where a visitor on the websites can type any question and submit a search request. Information that is on the websites’ databases is easily accessible through the search window. If the information is not in the websites’ databases, the visitor is informed accordingly. Truth be told, these websites have a huge library of health related information. A tour on both websites reveals the rich medical information that is available.
The information posted on these websites is exceptionally reasonable. The press teams as indicated earlier, ensure that the information that is posted is verifiable. This ensures that the information that is posted on the websites is not sentimental, but factual. The idea of sourcing information from other government agencies is an indication that both websites endeavor to provide reasonable health information to their audiences. Critical information such as statistics of a given disease, mortalities and morbidities allows for an individual to compare previous and latest statistics. In addition, detailed explanation is given to account for the differences in the reported figures.
The aspect of corroboration is easily evident following a tour on both websites. As indicated earlier, critical information such as statistics of a given disease are sourced from reliable sources. Statistics from other agencies such as the census.gov, American Heart Association or Cancer association are verifiable. If the reported data was extracted from other sources, those sources are listed at the end of the page.
In conclusion, this activity has proven that searching for accurate health related information on the web is challenging. There are tons of inaccurate medical information on the web especially from dot com domains. However, the checklist documented by Prof. Harris has been of exceptional help. It has guided me in selecting a website that offers accurate and verifiable information. The rationale prepared by Prof. Harris has widened my scope of website evaluation. I now know that most dot com websites offer inaccurate health information; dot gov and dot org websites have authentic information. However, through the use of Prof. Harris’s checklist, I have garnered confidence to search for information on dot com websites.
Harris, R. (2010). Evaluating Internet Sources. Retrieved on 5 March from http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.html