credibility and reliability of a source of information

Objective criteria to judge the credibility and reliability of a source of information on CAM

Credibility and reliability of a source is of essential importance for every research. In determining the appropriate CAM therapy capable of identifying a patient’s symptoms, research plays a vital role. Since the information derived from sources might contain opinions and not facts, the researcher has a duty of ensuring the source used is both credible and reliable. Reliability is measures the degree to which a research source provides the necessary information without any biases or contradictions (Joppe, 2000). Presently, the health sector makes more use of CAM therapies compared to the past. The system has become of great importance to many patients because it helps in evaluating symptoms of their diseases. The following objective criteria enable a researcher judge the credibility and reliability of a source of information:

  • To determine the author’s authority to write on the topic

Does the source give evidence that the author has authority in the field where the topic is concerned? The source should provide author’s name, author’s organizational affiliation, and date of documenting the research.

  • The document provides the needed information.

When evaluating the credibility of the research information, the source should provide the needed information. The information should have facts, arguments, opinions, descriptions, and narratives.

  • Does the source have cited information from other sources, examples of publications in -peer-reviewed?

The following criterion enables a researcher to determine the reliability of a source because it shows the author used information from different sources to come up with his/her own research.

  • What is the type of website that the author used, and the type of information given on it

The website is checked whether the information is provided on a personal page, professional site, commercial site or, news site. On the other hand, the website information should be fair, qualitative, objective, and has no hidden agendas.

Table 1 summarizes the above criteria

Factors to consider Least reliable Possibly reliable Most reliable
Author’s background Unaccredited Educated on topic Expert in the field
Date published None Outdated Recently revised
Depth of review Controversial reviews Good public response; general approval Peer-reviewed by reliable sources
Sources cited None Credible sources Citations referencing other well-cited works
Objectivity Clearly biased Sponsored source Balanced, neutral


Table 1: Summary of objective criteria for determining the credibility and reliability of a source of information

A review of the chosen website

            A lot of researches have been carried out on CAM therapy modality. I found out a source on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Modalities for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Facts or Myths? By Justin C. Y. Wu. The source website is

            The following website is both credible and reliable because it meets all the objective criteria discussed above. Firstly, the author had full authority to write on the topic of CAM therapeutic modality. Justin C. Y. is a professor in the Department of Medicine and therapeutics and the Institute of Digestive Disease in The Chinese University, Hong Kong. This is clear evidence that the author has the authority in writing articles on the medicine topic. In addition, the source provides the author’s names in full, his organization and the date of publishing the document, that is, November 2010.

            Secondly, the source gives the needed information of CAM therapeutic modality. Justin gives the facts and myths of using alternative medicine for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The facts provided make the alternative more reliable since it provides a researcher with information for basing the arguments. In addition, the author provides a variety of opinions that a researcher could chose from while analyzing the best alternative to take.

            Thirdly, the author makes use of other peer reviewed articles to explain his findings. Other sources assist an author in identifying what new things are found in the source and determining research gaps. For instance, the author uses an article by Webb to explain the lacking components on his research that have been made available in this research.

            Finally, the website used in valid and easily assessable. Any researcher can easily trace the above website because it is reliable and has no problems opening on the internet. This is an institutional website maintained by US national Library of Medicine: National Institute of Health making it more credible because the topic in question falls under the medicine industry.

Describe how a consumer’s attitudes and beliefs about CAM could hinder objective assessments of reliability and credibility in CAM

            Consumers have varying believes about CAM that are capable of affecting the reliability and credibility of sources for CAM information. Firstly, the consumers’ cultural believes have an impact on the use of alternative science medicine especially when a community does not believe in healthcare services. These believes affects the way people view an article because it faces negative feedback and becomes less popular hence, people lose trust on CAM. Secondly, some articles provide very shallow information on CAM making people doubt the reliability and credibility of such a source. Sources that lack a lot of elaboration creates a lot of doubt to readers making them disregard them since they seem unreliable (Joosten, 2012).

Demonstrate, in detail, how you reached your conclusion about the website. Consider using a grading scale or grid for this exercise.

            I had to undergo a lot of reasoning into deciding the best website to take. I had chosen 5 websites (W1, W2, W3, W4, &W5) from where to select one that best fits my requirement. After reading all the sources, they were graded in terms of their reliability in a scale of 5. Each objective criterion was given a rank and the website that scored the highest was taken to be the most reliable. Table 2 shows the results from my selection criterion. From the table, website three (W3) was ranked the top hence was selected to be the most reliable with 21 points.

Factors to consider












Author’s background 2 5 5 4 5
Date published 5 4 5 5 5
Depth of review 3 2 4 5 1
Sources cited 5 3 5 2 4
Objectivity 1 5 2 3 5

Totals ranking












Table 2: Grading scale for selecting the most reliable website

Discuss what steps the website could take to increase its credibility

            The above website was selected to be the most reliable but, it was not 100% reliable. Various things needed to be done to increase its credibility and reliability. Firstly, the author could have provided all his contact information so that customers could easily reach him in case of any question or clarification. Secondly, the author could have provided an area where customers could provide their views on the article. This area allows people to discuss on the issues affecting the medicine sector that the website owner could use to increase the reliability of information written according to people’s demands. Finally, the owner should open a page on social media channels like FaceBook, Twitter, or WhatsUp in order to give more people a chance to view his documents and gain interests on it (Avangate, 2007).


Avangate. (2007). How to Improve Website Credibility. Retrieved from:

Joppe, M. (2000). The Research Process. Retrieved from:

Joosten, H. (2012). Consumers in control studies on the effects of control beliefs on attitudes and behaviors of service customers. S.l

Justin C. Y. Wu. (2010). “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Modalities for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Facts or Myths?Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y), 6(11) 705-711. Retrieved from:











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