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BMS162 Research Skills Guide: Information Sources

Types of references

When you come to search for information for study and research, you need to consider the type of resource that you find and choose to use. There are some types of resources that are much more scholarly and reputable than others, and therefore much more highly regarded in your assignments.

Here is a guide to types of references, roughly in order of scholarly quality, with the traffic lights indicating Go, Caution, or Stop! ...

green traffic light1. Peer-reviewed academic journal articles

You can find these via Primo Search or more likely directly from a health-related databases such as CINAHL Plus with Full-Text. See the pages in this guide on Primo Search, and on Databases.You can also find them from reference lists in books and articles. Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory or the journal's website to check that a journal is peer-reviewed.


  • any result from a search in Primo Search or a database where the results are filtered to peer-reviewed articles.

NOTE: Review articles can be especially useful. Add the term review to your search, and search for it in title or subject.

green traffic light    2. Textbooks and reference works published by reputable publishers or universities

You can find these via Primo Search, and they are usually ultimately available in eBook collections. Reputable publishers in the health field include Elsevier, SAGE, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, McGraw-Hill.



amber traffic light: caution3. Government websites, with patient information or definitions of terms

You can find these by a general Internet search. To search for websites from a particular domain, use Google Advanced Search and specify the domain - eg. - in the site or domain box.



amber traffic light: caution4. Charitable patient information and support websites; reputable open source websites; and professional association sites/news/patient information.

You can find these by a general Internet search. To search for websites from a particular domain, use Google Advanced Search and specify the domain - eg. org, or - in the site or domain box.



red traffic light: stop5. Patient information published by health businesses that are profit-driven.



red traffic light: stop 6. So called "health" websites that are advertising-focussed; alternative medicine websites; personal blogs and articles.


In all cases, and especially in the cases of website material, you should remember the CRAP Test:

Currency How up-to-date is the information? When was it published/updated? How important is currency for this topic?
Reliability Can we rely on this? Who is the publisher? Is the source reputable? Are there references and are the references credible?
Authority Is the author/creator named? Who is the author? What are their qualifications and affiliations? Are they experts in the field?
Purpose What is the motive for publishing/presenting this material? What is the "agenda"? Is the author trying to sell, entertain, persuade?

Sources of Information

Evaluating Information - the CRAP Test

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