Welcome to Day 1 of the Source Evaluation Series! I created this series specifically for new and mid-level data hunters conducting personal or academic research. This series will run every Monday for the next 8 weeks, followed by a FAQ post on week 9.
It is becoming increasingly common to utilize web-based resources. This is particularly true for health-related topics. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of websites and blogs devoted to the truth, or at least the truth as they see it. With the sheer volume of information at our fingertips, it is essential to understand how to evaluate sources for reliability. “Researchers need to develop critical thinking skills in evaluating information, whether it comes from pre-filtered library materials or unfiltered Web sources” (User Education Services, 2013). In order to evaluate a website for use in research, The National Library of Medicine (2012) suggests nine questions to ask in order to evaluate a website’s accuracy and reveal any potentially hidden biases.
• “Who runs the site?;
• “Why have they created the site?;
• “What do they want from you?;
• “Who is paying for the site? Does the site’s information favor the sponsor?;
• “Is the information reviewed by experts?;
• “Where did the information come from?;
• “Does the site make unbelievable claims?;
• “Is it up-to-date?;
• “Do “they” want your personal information? What will “they” do with it?” (slides 4-5).
Over the next several weeks, we will be examining the website of the American Lung Association (ALA) to gain a better understanding of how one would put these nine questions into practice. If you have questions about the series or a particular website, please comment below or send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
References & Additional Reading (For the Entire Series):
American Lung Association. (2005, December 3). Ethics Policy. Retrieved from American Lung Association: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/23458/National_HQ_Ethics_Policy_2_11-02-05.pdf
American Lung Association. (2012). American Lung Association 2012 Annual Report. Washington, D.C.: American Lung Association.
American Lung Association. (2015a). Our History. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/about-us/our-history/
American Lung Association. (2015b). Our Impact. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/about-us/our-impact/
American Lung Association. (2015c). Our Leadership. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/about-us/board/our-leadership.html
American Lung Association. (2015d). Our Mission and Goals. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/about-us/our-mission.html
American Lung Association. (2015f). Review and Funding Process. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/finding-cures/grant-opportunities/review-and-funding-process.html
American Lung Association. (n.d.). Influenza Fact Sheet. Retrieved from American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/in-depth-resources/influenza-fact-sheet.html
Eli Lilly and Company. (2015). Lilly Oncology. Retrieved from Lilly: http://www.lilly.com/about/global-business-areas/Pages/oncology.aspx
ProPublica, Inc. (2015). American Lung Association. Retrieved from ProPublica: http://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131632524
The National Library of Medicine. (2012, April 19). Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine [Tutorial slides]. Retrieved from MedLine Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/webeval/webeval_start.html#
User Education Services. (2013, July 31). Evaluating Websites. Retrieved from University of Maryland: http://www.lib.umd.edu/ues/guides/evaluating-web