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Stem cell research today, holds a high promise of providing more powerful new treatments for a significant number of debilitating diseases than other conventional treatments. This is because of their unlimited dividing capacity that enables them to continually replenish dysfunctional cells and tissues. However, it is an area surrounded by many controversies since it raises a number of difficult moral problems as it involves some form of human experimentation (Almeder 163). In essence, the difficult issues surrounding stem cell research includes justifying why human embryonic stem cells should or should not be accorded protections usually extended to full members of the human moral community (Panno 18).
Despite the arguments that the increased stem cell research devalues humanity by treating them as mere "commodities", various stem cell research centers continue to be established. This is especially due to the great levels of progressively successful and promising research that has been conducted using adult stem cells. These institutes includes Research!America, Sanford Burnham research institute, Invitrogen, and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their websites are continually updated with the new developments in the area of stem cell research and offer valuable information for academic and research purposes.
As such, this paper evaluates the National Institutes of Health website versus Research!America with focus on how effectively they target their audience, their contents, ease of navigation, the visual design and general readability. For reasons justified in the discussion, I'm compelled to choose National Institutes of Health's website over Research!America's website as a viable resource for academic purposes and resourcing.
It is reasonable to argue that both Research!America's and the NIH's target cuts across all demographics. To narrow down, the target audience consists of research scholars, governments, individuals, civil society and academic demographic. For example, Research!America target audience is grouped into four: the public, associates or members, researchers, Congress, and Media ("History & Mission"). On the other hand, NIH audience seems undefined and thus targets anyone who wishes to learn about the stem cells, their biological properties and important issues and concerns about stem cell research ("Stem Cell Basics").
As such, NIH is more of an informative website due to its well researched and presented topics that allows the readers to make informed decision and positions on the subject. On the contrary, Research!America's website is presented on a persuasive tone with main focus being on advocacy and promotion of the stem cell research to influence its audience's thinking about the subject. For example, lots of emphasis is laid on convincing potential donors, scientists and even political class perhaps to make policies favoring its activities. Furthermore, unlike the NIH, the website omits basic information on stem cells, their scope and their potential benefits in medical applications. In this regard, NIH information is unmatched in terms of organization and simplicity hence, ideal for academic use-useful to teachers, students and researchers.
In respect to the visual design, both websites have deployed state of the art designs and though they are significantly different, it is only fair to conclude that they are equally superior. The designers have used appealing and balanced content alignment, grouping, consistency, and enough contrast to easily attract readers' attention while guiding them to various links. However, some aspects in the design are quite different. While NIH uses subtle colors, restrained yet conspicuous text and minimal graphics-purely informative, Research!America uses very bright colors, perceptibly opinionated texts, conspicuous graphics to not only induce but influence the emotions of its audience-its persuasive and advocacy approach is highly evident. In reality, Research!America's website unlike NIH, distracts the audience from digging deeper into the information through its visual design and graphics.
In addition, its slogan "Making research to improve health, a higher national priority" and the tag line "An alliance for discoveries in health" ("Home") are placed noticeably at the top of every webpage while use of patriotic red and blue color on a white background closely associates the organization with the American people and advocacy objectives. Conversely, NIH's website is in deed, quiet on its position or stand about stem cell research (judging from homepage) therefore, allowing the audience to process and evaluate information for relevance without undue external influence. In this regard, NIH is best drawing of solid and supported conclusions.
In regard to stem cell research content, both websites pay keen attention to detail with only differences arising from the way their contents are custom tailored to suit their audiences. There are many reasons to disqualify Research!America as a good source for academics. As aforementioned, the website is highly persuasive and influencing. Its main goals entails securing funding for medical and health research, informing the public of the benefits of medical research, motivating and convincing the public to actively get involved and support stem cell research, and generally empowering public and political class through medical and health research ("Advocacy & Action").
Similarly, some links in the NIH's website demonstrate a slight bias towards supporting stem cell research; after all, that is its fundamental activity and goal. Nonetheless, its efforts in upholding its mission- "science in the pursuit of fundamental knowledge" ("Mission") is behold doubts. This is because it presents well researched arguments and information on U.S. policy, ethical implications and concerns and current developments in the subject. Contrary, Research!America influences its audience through opinions polls on its activities with details of population used remaining sketchy and inadequately supported. These are of little relevance to academic researching.
The two websites have been well designed to allow for easy navigation from one webpage to another. They have working links which are consistent in respect to title and content, easy-to-follow and both have search tools to allow fast retrieval of information of interest. All in all, the NIH's website is a step ahead in terms of organization of its information for academic research. Looking at the NIH's stem cell information homepage, one meets useful links on "what are stem cells?", "can they cure diseases?", "Are there ethical issues?", and "what is the U.S. policy?" ("Stem Cell Basics"). Furthermore, NIH uses link titles formulated as questions such as "what are adult stem cells?", "What are the different types of stem cells, and where do they come from?", and "where can I get more information?" ("Stem Cell Basics")
In short, the information and links are exceptionally organized and clearly outlines areas that may be of interest to its audience. As such, usage of explicitly stated titles and short sentences makes finding information on a specific topic a simpler task. While Research!America has useful information, it is seemingly hard to extract for a college essay paper writing. Its homepage for instance contains about us, polls and publications, advocacy and action, initiatives, and media which are less relevant for academic resourcing. Lack of explicitly outline links and titles creates difficulties in locating facts besides advocacy related information.
Despite the fact that stem cell research is a highly technical and scientific phenomenon, it is only fair to accord credit to both websites for making the information both readable, comprehensible, and interesting. This has been achieved through minimal use of scientific jargon and use short and concise sentences that are unambiguous and easy to comprehend even to nonprofessionals. However, keen evaluation favors NIH website due to its design that is similar to a written document.
The designer restrained from excessive use of colors and instead adopted the conventional black font and plain style popularly used in books, to facilitate and improve readability. Research!America, on the other hand, looks more of an advert by its persuasive colors and graphics. Simply put, the audience easily gets convinced into "buying" its ideas, opinions and ultimately, its position. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention that such tone and approach best serves its primary purpose of advocacy.
In conclusion, despite the fact that both websites are well designed and provide interesting and valuable information on stem cell research, controversy surrounding it, policies and ethical implications, NIH's website is by far, most suitable for academic research and information sourcing as compared to Research!America's website. While there is no doubt that both websites are designed by well-seasoned professionals, their target audiences, objectives and content varies significantly.
Since advocacy forms the primary purpose of Research!America, the information presented his mainly pro-stem cell research and the reader is denied an opportunity to ponder on the "dark side" and shortcomings. NIH's website however, explores both sides of stem research, reviews, and appraises the current developments in this field giving the reader an opportunity to make an informed conclusion based on facts. In this regard, it is most appropriate for college-level research paper development.