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HSCI 3515 - Henderson (Online) - Spring 2024

Assessing Information

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources Page Walkthrough

This video will walk you through how to use this page.


Evaluating what you find is an important part of your research. You need to be able to assess what you read for quality, accuracy, and be able to notice any biases. You cannot go wrong with asking, "Who?", "What?", "Where?", "Why?",  and "When?" when reading. Context is important as well, and you can take a look at the slide show at the end to see different ways to approach information in varying contexts.

Generally, you will be safe using peer-reviewed articles that you can find in GALILEO. A peer-reviewed article is an article written by an expert in a field, reviewed by other experts in the field. Peer-reviewed articles often contain original research or review and discuss original research. These are articles written by researchers for other researchers, so you can generally spot these articles by the level jargon that they use. For a closer look, take a look at Anatomy of a Scholarly Article from NCSU Libraries.  If you hear the words "evidence-based" from your instructors, peer-reviewed articles should be a part of your research strategy.

How do you find peer-reviewed articles?

  1. Use GALILEO or a Subject Database, and look for a check box that says "peer-review" or "academic articles." You can visit GALILEO: Articles & Databases or ask your librarians if you need help navigating GALILEO.
  2. Know that most credible news stories or blogs or, with extreme caution, social media may informally cite or you link you out to the peer-reviewed sources they are discussing. If you hit a pay wall, ask your librarians for help tracking down the article. For example, this article from Stat+ links you out to the peer-reviewed article and gives you enough clues to Google it. Always try to get directly to the source.
Evidence Based Pyramid
This is a screenshot of a Stat News article which includes the 'Study described in a new paper published in Nature Medicine...& Nature Medicine has a hyperlink to the paper and the sentence is circled with the following comment "This article from Stat+ links you out to the peer-reviewed article."

How do you find peer-reviewed articles by study design?

  1. Use the advanced search to filter by study designs in subject databases like CINAHL, MEDLINE, and ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health.
  2. If you Google, use the study design in your search "Randomized Controlled Trials" or "Case Studies."
  3. TRIP Medical Database neatly sorts results by study design. 


Different Ways of Evaluating Sources

Image of CRAAP


When was the information published or Posted?
Has the information been revised or updated?
Is the current or out-of-date for your topic?
Are the links functional?

Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
Who is the intended audience?
is the information at an appropriate level?
Have you looked at a variety of sources before choosing this ones?
Would be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
What are the author's qualifications to write on this topic?
Is there contact information, such as publisher or e-mail address?
Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Where does the information come from?
Is the information supported by evidence?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Can you verify any of the information in another sources?
Does the language or tone seem biased and free of choice?

What is the purpose of the information?
Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
Is the information fact? Opinion? Propaganda?
Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?


Breaking News Consumer's Handbook

  1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong.
  2. Don't trust anonymous sources.
  3. Don't trust news stories that cite another news outlet as the source for information.
  4. There's almost never a second shooter.
  5. Pay attention the language the media uses.
  6. "We are getting reports"...could mean anything.
    "We are seeking information"...means they don't have it.
    "[News outlet] has learned"... means it has a scoop or is going out on limbs.
  7. Look for news outlets close to the incident.
  8. Compare multiple source.
  9. Big news brings out fakers. And photoshoppers.
  10. Beware reflexive tweeting. Some of this is on you.

On the Media. (2014, August 1). The breaking news handbook: Active shooter edition.

Evidence Based Medicine Pyramid

Appraising scientific evidence: qualitative versus quantitative research

Medical knowledge is derived from a combination of qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research refers to the use of non-numerical observations to answer "Why?" questions, while quantitative methods use data that can be counted or converted into numerical form to address "How?" questions. As summarized in Table 5.2, each approach serves a different purpose, so most researchers view the two as complementary and accept a "mixed methods" approach.

Table 5.2: Comparison of qualitative and quantitative research methods

Qualitative research

Quantitative research

Generates hypotheses

Tests hypotheses

Is generally inductive (works from the particular instance to the general conclusion)

Is generally deductive (works from the general theory to the particular explanation)

Focuses on studying the range of ideas; sampling approach provides representative coverage of ideas or concepts

Focuses on studying the range of people; sampling provides representative coverage of people in the population

Answers "why?" and "what does it mean?" questions

Answers "what?", "how much?" and "how many?" questions

Captures rich, contextual, and detailed information from a small number of participants

Provides numeric estimates of frequency, severity, and associations from a large number of participants

Example of a study question: What is the experience of being treated for breast cancer?

Example of a study question: Does treatment for breast cancer reduce mortality and improve quality of life?



”Appraising Scientific Evidence:  qualitative versus quantitative research.” AFMC Primer on Population Health, The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada Public Health Educators’ Network, (Accessed September 17, 2015). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA



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