Scholarly Databases Vs Websites – NR 500

Differences between a scholarly database and a website

First, a website’s authority varies at best and it’s difficult to verify. It is limited to profession, scholarly literature. They exhibit a high doubt in authority as the information on the Web is rarely regulated. On the other hand, the authority of databases is easy to determine as most of the databases have scholarly/peer-reviewed filter or rather contain scholarly literature only (Burden, 2010). The trustworthiness and authority of the databases are effectively guaranteed.

Secondly, websites have relevance concerns as they lack subject focus which result to so many irrelevant hits –or “junk” to maneuver through. A good portion of Web information is biased and opinionated. Unless one explores on the use of subject-specific search engine, expect every kind of information in the results filtered (American Psychological Association, 2011). While the focus by subject (nursing, art business) and/or format (book reviews, journals and books) present a more relevant information and less time wastage in handling junk in the databases. The information from the databases comes from quality-controlled and legitimate sources.

How to know the credibility of a website

These highlighted guidelines assist in evaluating the various types of Web resources and making adequate assessment of the credibility of the information it presents.

Author-The information on the internet is credible when it has a list of authors. Since the author is ready to stand by the work or the information presented (in some cases even including his/her contact information) is a perfect indication that the information presented is reliable (Folk & Apostel, 2013). Moreover, one should seek to inquire about the evidence that the author of the Web information is having some authority in the field he/she is providing information. That is, his credentials, qualifications and connections to the subject.

Date-The date of the research information is a critical aspect in determining the credibility of the online information. Through inclusion of a date, the website allows researchers to make decisions on whether the information presented is recent enough for the purpose it should serve.

List of works cited-The information should have a complete list of works cited, be of authoritative sources and credible references. According to Ryan, Frazee & Kendall (2012), lack of a backing of the information with sources raises the question of what is the author’s relationship to the subject in order to be considered to have a basis to provide an expert opinion.


American Psychological Association. (2011). Publication manual of the American Psychological   Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assoc.

Burden, P. R. (2010). A subject guide to quality Web sites. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.

Folk, M., & Apostel, S. (2013). Online credibility and digital ethos: Evaluating computer   mediated communication. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Ryan, S., Frazee, D., & In Kendall, J. S. (2012). Common core standards for high school English language arts: A quick-start guide.


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