NCBI: Evaluating Website Credibility

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Introduction

In the contemporary times, there have been increased advancements in the field of medicine and biomedical research, which has led to a plethora of information being posted on the Internet. Among the many Internet sources of medical and biomedical research information, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, (NCBI) website is one of the easily accessible and reliable sources. Under the URL, practitioners can find information from this site, which they can apply in their practice. The website is open to access to researchers and the general audience. However, most users are students and scientists, who find the site crucial due to a number of services of interest. The resources of NCBI are inexhaustible.

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Authority and Information

The NCBI allows access of information to the public though some unquestionably powerful and sensitive information is normally restricted to certain users. The website offers detailed information on all the topics it addresses. However, the information is often restricted based on access rights. This can limit other users from accessing vital information (Anderson, & Klemm, 2008, 55). The NCBI group is a government website as seen from its address (.gov), and it is made up of a number of experts in different fields related to health (NCBI, 2012a). Therefore, the group is made up of physicians, structural and molecular biologists, biochemists, mathematicians and nurses. These contributors make tremendously significant contribution to the existing theory of knowledge as well as help in providing newer information as soon as they discover or invent any (NCBI, 2012a). One of the major contributions by NCBI to the body of knowledge, in the modern world, has been the creation of human gene map, where the entire human genome is studied and documented. The new information is usually evaluated empirically to offer better and credible evidence to enhance credibility of the site. The information is hence stored in databases that can be accessed by all users.

Objectivity and Ease of Navigation

The National Center for biotechnology Information was created to be a resource for biology and biotechnology research. Since its formation in 1988, to complement the services of the National Institute of Health and the National Library of medicine resources, NCBI has been an integral group in the molecular biology advancement (NCBI, 2012a). The site has intensified its range of information to become a particularly significant source in the understanding of the molecular mechanism affecting human health. With this objective and the goal of uncovering new technology, NCBI has developed numerous databases with different specializations and a guide for use so that it can complements human health literature and empirical evidence.

NCBI site is well structured with tabs easily locatable guiding any new user on where to search information. The site has also guidelines and tutorials on how to access information and use it (NCBI, 2012a). This makes navigation through it remarkably straightforward, but the terminology used in some articles are unusually deep for the ordinary people.

Privacy and Security Policies

With decidedly vital information like the high-density genomic data, some, which are unique to certain individuals, the possibility of linking that information to a certain person, remain an issue to worry (Lowrance, & Collins, 2007, p. 600). This has necessitated the need to have better security for the data in terms of information storage and dissemination of information. There website has a policy for ensuring responsible sharing of information from participants among the authorized user and submitters. This measure is done to assure public trust. As a result, NCBI only releases de-identified data as encrypted files to the authorized users. Each PI has the responsibility of establishing a secure computing facility for local use (Lowrance, & Collins, 2007, p. 601). All these measured are implemented to ensure not data is leaked maliciously or by unintentional means. The fact that authorized access only data is never directly accessible via the Internet could be disadvantageous. The data is not posted on any other website or ftp server for security reasons, and access to data is limited whenever it is posted on shared systems are also demerits. Access is authorized at all instances of individual access. Whenever stored on laptops or other PCs, the data must be encrypted (Lowrance, & Collins, 2007, p. 602).

Website Credibility

The credibility of the website relies on the factors that are closely related. First, the rigorous methodologies and techniques that the researchers use for collecting and analyzing data adhere to the issues of triangulation reliability and validity. Second, the researchers, who keep on updating information on the site, are of credible reputation (NCBI, 2012b). Their training, experience, and record of accomplishment assure their credibility. These contributors are professors, doctors, and scholars from credible academic institutions; therefore, their contribution to scientific knowledge is informed by the best research guidelines and groundbreaking scientific information (NCBI, 2012b).

These facts are evidenced by the libraries that NCBI has. For instance, PubMed is an exceptionally large medical online library with over 18 million peer-reviewed medical journals and articles as well as the general science articles since 1960s. The library has links to other useful articles and medical books (NCBI, 2012b). This library was created by the NCBI at the United States National Library of Medicine to offer resourced for biomedical studies. With highly learned individuals, mainly researcher, continuously updating the site, its knowledge is highly reliable.

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Importance of Evaluating Internet Information

Information about any medical condition can be found on the Internet published under scientific literature. Most websites publish peer-reviewed articles while many others still publish any information that is even obtained from unreliable sources (Montgomery & Fitzpatrick, 2002, p. 218). Therefore, nurses must possess information literacy skills for accessing and evaluating information found. Due to the variety of sources providing information to the Internet databases, nurses must scrutinize this information to determine its credibility. Sometimes the information could be biased just to sell it.

Many sites on the Internet offer any information, which someone might need. Therefore, the Internet is a veritable resource. Recent studies have indicated that, nurses almost exclusively depend on the Internet for information (Montgomery & Fitzpatrick, 2002, p. 218). However, this information is not evidence-based and can be detrimental when blindly applied. Therefore, to avoid such unreliable health information outcomes, the NIH under NCBI offers guidelines for nurses on how to evaluate the Internet information for credibility (Verhoeven et al, 2010, p. 117).

Nurses can use data from NCBI in the following ways; first, they can obtain extremely pertinent information for research on fundamental medical problems at a molecular level (Cleary et al., 2009, p. 34). NCBI offers computational assistance, as well. Second, nurses can use the information for reference when providing treatment to their patient since most of the information is evidence based and articles are peer reviewed and continuously updated based on current information (Verhoeven et al, 2010, p. 124). Third, the website can be used for learning purposes so that nurses are well updated on the latest health related technologies and medical information.

Conclusion

Since health-related decisions affect human health directly, practitioners and patients are motivated to seek the best treatment. They hence venture on the Internet to seek all the information about a certain condition. Validity of that information is particularly critical as it can contribute to treatment decision. National library of medicine documents only peer-reviewed journals and articles; therefore, information published in PubMed by NCBI is credible.

Reference List

Anderson, A., & Klemm, P. (2008). The Internet: Friend or Foe When Providing Patient Education? Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 12(1), 55-63.

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Cleary, M., Hunt, G., & Horsfall, J. (2009). Conducting Efficient Literature Searches. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 47(11), 34-41.

Lowrance, W., & Collins, S. (2007). Ethics: Identifiability in Genomic Research. Science, 317, 600–602.

Montgomery, K., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2002). Essentials of Internet Use in Nursing. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

NCBI, (2012a). PubMed- Home Page. Web.

NCBI, (2012b). NCBI at a Glance. Web.

Verhoeven, F., Steehouder, F., Hendrix, M., & Gemert-Pijnen, E. (2010). How Nurses Seek and Evaluate Clinical Guidelines On The Internet. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(1), 114–127.

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