Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Master of Biomedical Sciences Program Resources: Evaluating Resources

Finding Information on the Internet

Currency: the timeliness of the information

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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    •  .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • 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 source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • 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?

Information on the Visible Net, or Free Web, can be easily found with a search engine, such as Google. Types of information on the Visible Net:

  • Shopping
  • Fast facts
  • Background information
  • Communication
  • News

Information on the Invisible Net, or Deep Web, cannot be found, or is difficult to find, with a search engine. Types of information on the Invisible Net:

  • Academic resources
  • Professional resources
  • Searchable databases
  • Scholarly research articles
  • Data

Quick Videos

Type of Articles

What’s a “Review Article?”

Not to be confused with a “peer reviewed journal,” Review articles are an attempt by one or more writers to sum up the current state of the research on a particular topic. Ideally, the writer searches for everything relevant to the topic, and then sorts it all out into a coherent view of the “state of the art” as it now stands. Review Articles will teach you about::

  • the main people working in a field
  • recent major advances and discoveries
  • significant gaps in the research
  • current debates
  • ideas of where research might go next

Review Articles are virtual gold mines if you want to find out what the key articles are for a given topic. If you read and thoroughly digest a good review article, you should be able to “talk the talk” about a given topic. Unlike research articles, review articles are good places to get a basic idea about a topic.

How to find Review Articles...

In most databases, such as PubMed and CINAHL, you can limit your search to include only review articles.  Conduct your search and then limit to review articles.

Credit: UT Life Science Library

What’s a “research article”?

When scientists and other scholars want to make the results of their work public, they usually begin by publishing them in a scholarly journal with a title like New England Journal of Medicine, or Journal of Cell Biology.

What is and isn’t in a research article?

Research articles will usually contain:

  • a summary or “abstract”
  • a description of an original study or studies
  • the results they got
  • the significance of the results.

Research articles are not good places to find:

  • basic summaries
  • general introductions to a topic

They are the best way to access:

  • the most recent, “cutting edge” research
  • authoritative information about older research

Examples:

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Systematic Reviews
  • Cohort Studies

Scholarly Journal Characteristics:

  • Peer-reviewed
  • Academic/clinical topics
  • Written by scholars
  • Fairly current
  • Includes a bibliography
  • Few or no advertisements

 

Magazine Characteristics:

  • Not peer-reviewed
  • Articles are about news and current events
  • Written by journalists
  • Very current
  • Usually does not include a bibliography
  • Many advertisements, often full-page