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Phoenix: Electronic Resources

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Medical Apps : Current News from the National Library of Medicine

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Health information on the open web not from the government

Health information on the open web is financed by advertising, third-party contributions and sponsorships and usually comes with the following disclaimer:

The content, products and services offered herein are here to educate consumers on health care and medical issues that may affect their daily lives. Nothing in the content, products or services should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Examples include: Mayo Clinic Health ; WebMD ; Family Doctor ; Healthline ; Every Day Health


A database is a collection of information that is organized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated.  While in school you will be able to search thousands of academic resources in an academic database.

Examples include: ProQuest ; Ebsco ; Cocharne Library ; InfoTrac ; PubMed

Reports and Grey Literature

Examples include: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) ; Clinical Trials.Gov ; research not published in a scholarly journal

“The inclusion of unpublished and grey literature is essential for minimizing the potential effects of publication bias. It is well known that published studies can not be assumed to be an accurate representation of the whole evidence base, as studies that show statistically significant, ‘positive’ results are more likely to be published than those that do not. Consequently, if systematic reviews are limited to published studies, they risk excluding vital evidence and yielding inaccurate results, which are likely to be biased to positive results. Previous research has indicated that meta‐analyses that exclude grey literature can lead to exaggerated estimates of intervention effects.” From Blackhall, K. & Ker, K. Finding studies for inclusion in systematic reviews of interventions for injury prevention the importance of grey and unpublished literature. Injury Prevention. 2007 Oct; 13(5): 359


Government supported agencies and research

The Knowledge Center at the Office of Minority Health Resource Center is the nation’s largest dedicated repository of health disparities information

Library collection of over 50,000 records currently includes:

• 10,000 Books, documents and audiovisuals

• 38,000 Indexed journal articles

• 2,500 National & community organization records

•Consumer brochures in 40 different languages

•Resources historically used by scholars, writers, students, filmmakers, federal staff, grantees, members of Congress, healthcare professionals, and private citizens

5 Rules for Website Evaluation

1.       Who is/are the author(s)?

A credible source is either written by the author(s) with a degree or other credentials or can be written by an organization.  If no author or organization is named, the source will not be viewed as credible.

2.       Does the source provide references?

Credible authors will cite their sources for accuracy of and support for what they have written.  Citing other reliable sources is a sign of credibility.  This is also a good way to find more sources for your own research.

3.       How recent is the source?

Seeking recent sources depends on your topic.  While sources on past wars may be decades old and still contain accurate information, sources on information technologies, or other areas that are experiencing rapid changes, need to be much more current.

4.       What is the author’s purpose?

When deciding which sources to use, you should take the purpose or point of view of the author into consideration.  Is the author presenting a neutral, unbiased view of a topic or is the author supporting one side of a topic?  You need to be careful that your sources do not limit your coverage of a topic to one side of a debate.

5.       Who is your intended audience?

If you are writing for professional or academic audience, peer-reviewed journals are seen as one of the most credible sources of information.


Be careful when evaluating Internet sources!

Never use a website where an author cannot be determined, unless the site is associated with a reputable institution such as a respected university, a credible media outlet (e.g. CBS & CNN), government program or department, or well-known non-governmental organizations.  Beware of using sites like Wikipedia, which are collaboratively developed by users who can add or change content.  The validity of information on such sites may not meet the standards for academic research.

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