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Behavioral Sciences & Health Promotion

Evaluate Your Sources

 Before using any information you should critically evaluate source, especially if it is from a website.  Consider:

  • WHO?
    • Who created this resource?  In what way(s) are they qualified to speak about this topic?  In what way(s) are they potentially biased?
  • WHAT?
    • What is the resource content actually addressing?  Does it balance conflicting points of view?  
  • WHEN?
    • When was the resource created?  Is there a more current resource that could be used?  Was the resource ever updated or maintained?
  • WHERE?
    • Where was this resource published?  Is the publisher reputable? 
    • Where did the author(s) get their information from?  Do they accurately cite their sources?
    • Where does the resource fall under the evidence pyramid? 
    • Where does it fit into the current scholarly conversation about your topic?
  • WHY?
    • Why did the author create the resource?  What purpose does the resource have?  Who is it intended for?
    • Why did you choose this source?  In what way(s) does it match your research question? 

Ask yourself whether the resource you found applies to your clinical question.  To evaluate it, you can use the PICO framework:

P Patient/Problem How would you describe a group of patients similar to yours? What are the most important characteristics of the patient?
I Intervention/Exposure/Prognostic Factor What main intervention are you considering? What do you want to do with this patient?
C Comparison What is the main alternative being considered, if any?
O Outcome What are you trying to accomplish, measure, improve or affect?

Once you've chosen a resource to use in your research, you need to delve into the details of the article in order to figure out whether it's an applicable and reputable source.  The resources listed below can help you with the critical appraisal process.

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