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Health Information Technology: Evaluating sources

Provides starting points for research in TCC's HIT Program

Evaluating sources

evaluationNot all resources are created equal! There are a number of criteria to consider when determining whether or not a source is reliable (able to be trusted) and appropriate for your academic work.

1. Authorship

  • Who is the author?
  • What makes the author an expert in the field he or she is writing about? What are his or her qualifications? Does he or she have education or work experience in the field? Has he or she published anything else about the subject? (HINT: Google the name of the author to find this information).
  • If there isn't an author listed, is the information authored by a government, corporate, or non-profit agency?  Is the agency or organization recognized in the field in which you are studying, and is it suitable to address your topic?

2. Point of View or Bias

  • Does the source promote one point of view or one agenda?
  • Is the information provided as fact or opinion?
  • If the information is found online, does the Web site have advertisements? If so, are the ads part of or separate from the rest of the site?

3. Currency

  • Does your topic require current information?
  • Does the source include a date of publication or a "last updated" date?

4. References to Other Sources

  • Does the source include a bibliography or links to other web sites?
  • What types of sources are cited (primary/secondary, popular/scholarly, current/historical, etc.)

5. Relevance to Topic and Assignment

  • Is the information you found related to and useful for your topic and assignment?
  • Is the source the appropriate type for your needs?  For example, do you need a book or a scholarly journal article? Do you need primary or secondary sources of information?
  • Is the information too broad or too specific?

Image source:  "Evaluation" by NY is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Evaluating sources video tutorial

Watch the video below. To see it in a larger window, click on the link below.

Fake news

The following guide provides resources and tips for how to evaluate news sources -- in other words, how to tell the fake news from the real news.

Search tip for finding more reliable websites: domain limiting

Government websites (at both the federal and state level) can provide statistics and reliable information about some topics. 

Limit your search to only government websites by using "site:.gov" as part of your search string. Here's is an example of what you would type into a Google search bar:

yoga well-being site:.gov​  (note that there is no space before or after the colon)

Google search for yoga well-being site:.gov

Some universities have research centers, and make their research available online. Here is a sample Google search to narrow down to educational websites:

yoga well-being site:.edu​

Google search for yoga well-being site:.edu

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