Often, in the process of conducting a research, it is difficult to identify reliable authorities, especially when a researcher deals with information retrieved from the Internet. Today, it is impossible to imagine all the advances in the fields of technology and science without conducting a research. Besides, a scientific inquiry is an indispensable part of development of all the existing disciplines of human knowledge. The Internet is the wonderful database of information sharing. Unfortunately, most of the data found online are neither sufficient nor appropriate.
1. As part of this assignment, there was an attempt to find reliable sources for studying the topic of Cell Phones and Cancer. According to the first ten Google search results it can be concluded that the URLs containing the .gov extension are the most reliable. Web pages containing .gov in their web addresses are either prepared or checked by the governmental agencies (e.g. National Cancer Institute – www.cancer.gov/cancertopics /factsheet/Risk/cellphones). Also, it seems that websites with .org and .com domain suffixes represent reliable and accurate information (e.g. Cable News Network at www.cnn.com), but it is not always true. URLs which have .com suffix in their name often belong to commercial businesses and, therefore, are not always trustworthy.
Moreover, some of the sources seem to give a biased perspective; for instance, the web address containing some words which seem to be opinion-based rather than fact-based, appear to be not very reliable (for example, www.askmen.com or http://xkcd.com/925/). Data from such websites seem to be not worth reading. Askmen.com is a specially designed website for a male reader and thus it does not take into account female views on the issues.
When a URL contains some words or combination of letters the meaning of which is not clear, such source seems to be totally unreliable. Often, it is information found on forums and blogs placed by unknown authors. Hence, there is no way either to prove or check information found in unfamiliar or even questionable sources. An unfamiliar online source would be website with address like http://xkcd.com/925/. It is totally unclear what kind of information such URL may contain.
2. The information found at the website of the National Cancer Institute is an article titled “Cell Phones and Cancer Risk”. It presents major key points related to the topic and gives answers to the important questions on the cell phones usage and probability of having cancer disease. This entry is a fact sheet. There is no author, but there is a references list presented below the article. It contains 22 sources which come from professional medical journals. It means that the abovementioned URL is a reliable source.
Another seemingly reliable source found on the Internet is an article “WHO: Cell Phone Use Can Increase Possible Cancer Risk” by Danielle Dellorto. It has been found that the author is a Senior Producer of CNN Medical News Unit. Besides, Dellorto has been proved to be a very good journalist in medical sphere where she has already written a number of articles on various topics.
3. The web page address (www.askmen.com/sports/health_60/72_mens_health.html) which seemed to be unreliable and biased at first turned out to be an online media for advertisers and entertainment agencies. The author of this article is Joshua Levine who is Health correspondent and contributor of the mentioned website. No other information about this correspondent is available. Also, there are a few electronic sources presented below the article.
Furthermore, the webpage address mentioned above www.xkcd.com/925/ also presents a comic on the topic of Cell Phones and Cancer without an author. At first sight, it is unclear what kind of information a webpage with such an address may contain. The name of this website is A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language. Having analyzed this source it becomes clear that it is rather a humoristic website containing a lot of entertaining entries like comics and funny sketches.
4. Unfamiliar source of information can be found at www.mashable.com/2011/10/21/cellphones-cancer-study/. It has been found that Mashable is actually the name of the biggest online news website. Its main purpose is to inform the reader on variety of topic related to technology, digital culture, as well as social media. The article found on this website has been prepared by Stan Schroeder, who is a professional journalist and editor. This source is reliable because the article found here is actually a part of the scientific research, “Use of Mobile Phones and Risk of Brain Tumours: Update of Danish Cohort Study,” presented in other academic sources, for instance, BMJ. There are several authors who have been working on this research. One of the authors is postgraduate research fellow and the other is doctoral student. The coauthors of the study are a professor, a director, a statistician, and a head of section. There is contact information of one of the authors which can be found in the website.
To conclude, it should be noted that it is not easy to always identify the reliable online source at first sight. Some of the websites are really reliable because they are constantly being controlled by the state agencies and officials; while others only seem to be reliable when in reality they represent biased information showing only one side of the coin.