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Biology Courses & Research: BI 202 - Human Anatomy and Physiology

Best Bets: Primary Research Article Databases

Best databases for finding quality, peer-reviewed sources in your research

Is aJournal Peer-Reviewed

Is the journal you are citing peer-reviewed?

Look up the title of the journal in the Ulrichsweb database. An icon that looks like a referee's jersey next to the name indicates that the journal is peer-reviewed or "refereed".   Icon from Ulrichsweb indicating that a specific journal is peer-reviewed or refereed

Evaluating Sources

CRAAP Method to Evaluate Resources

The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

The importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (Ex: .com, .org, .gov, .net)?

The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

The reason the information exists

  • Doe the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Pyramid of Evidence

Pyramid of evidence

Studies are assigned levels of evidence based on their methodology. The evidence pyramid is an easy way to visualize this hierarchy of evidence.

At the top of the pyramid is filtered evidence including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and critical appraisals.  These studies evaluate and synthesize the literature.  The top of the pyramid represents the strongest evidence.

At the base of the pyramid is unfiltered evidence including randomized controlled trials, cohort studies and case reports. These are individual reports and studies, also known as the primary literature. 

You should seek the highest level of evidence available, but remember that evidence at the top of the pyramid might not exist for your particular clinical question. If that is the case, you'll need to move down the pyramid to find the strongest evidence that addresses your clinical question.

Example Peer-Reviewed Article

In-Class Exercise

Fad or Fact?

For the in-class exercise, read the following articles/websites and answer the following questions:

  1. Is it a fad or a fact?
  2. Does it meet the CRAAP test for quality?
  3. Is it peer-reviewed?
  4. If it is valid research, where do you think it falls on the Levels of Evidence Pyramid?
  5. Is the research sponsored by one or more corporations with a stake in the results?

Coconut Oil's Health Benefits

Below are links to several articles claiming that coconut oil has various benefits.
Review each one in your group, and then fill out your worksheet.

  1. How Coconut Oil can help you lose weight and belly fat
  2. 20 Coconut Oil Benefits for Your Brain, Heart, Joints + More! (read the first claim, "Proven Alzheimer's Disease Treatment")
  3. Effects of oils and solid fats on blood lipids (start by reading the abstract and conclusion)
  4. 20 Benefits of Coconut Oil (read claim #7, It Helps With Memory) [Full text of research below.]
  5. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women (very long article, the abstract should provide enough detail)