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Medicine: Evaluating Information

Understanding health research

Understanding Health Research: A Tool for Making Sense of Health Studies 

This site from UK helps you interpert and evaluate a published health research paper.

The Review a Study module guides you through a series of questions about a piece of research you have found, and helps you to evaluate the quality of the research.

The Useful Information Page will help you understand the some of different terminology and concepts used in health research.

Evidence Based Practice Learning Modules from NSW Health

These Learning Modules have been developed to support NSW Health clinicians gain skills to integrate the best available evidence into practice. Each Learning Module covers a different aspects of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP).

Find Peer reviewed articles

Articles published in peer reviewed or refereed journals have been through a formal approval process. This process is intended to ensure that the article is:

  • accurate
  • well-researched
  • contributing to the body of knowledge in the field

To find peer reviewed articles:

  • Select to show only peer reviewed journals in Primo Search
  • Limit to peer reviewed or scholarly journals in journal databases

However, as these options are just an indication of peer review status the definitive way to find out if your article has been peer reviewed is to use Ulrichsweb Global Periodicals Directory.

How to evaluate a review paper

Review papers summarise and evaluate the current knowledge on a selected topic. The three most common types of review articles are: Narrative reviews; systematic reviews or meta-analysis. The article below can help you read and evaluate a review article.

Callcut, R. A., & Branson, R. D. (2009). How to read a review paper. Respiratory Care, 54(10), 1379-1385. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rzh&AN=105328053&site=ehost-live.  

The different types of academic articles

Original or Primary Research Article

These articles are reports of original research. They include hypothesis, a short literature review, methods, results, interpretation of findings, and a discussion of possible implications. 

Review Article

Review articles provide a summary and an evaluation of research on a topic. The review will also identify gaps in knowledge, which will help identify further research that needs to be done. 

Case Study

A case study is a research method that involves an in-depth, detailed examination of an organisation, event, action, or person over a defined period of time.

Clinical Trial

Clinical trials are research investigations in which people volunteer to test new treatments, interventions or tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage various diseases or medical conditions. 

Methodologies or Methods

These articles present an experimental method, test or procedure. 

Perspective, opinion, and commentary

These scholarly articles express a personal opinion or a new perspective about existing research on a particular topic. 

Evaluate internet resources

The website domain provides you a hint as to the reliability of the website at which you are looking.

.edu (educational institution)

.gov (government)

These are more likely to be reliable and unbiased.

.org (non-profit organisation)

.asn (non-commercial organisation)

Sometimes these organisations may show a bias toward one side of a topic.

.com (commercial site)

.net (network)

Critically evaluate these sites as they may be unreliable.