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Nutrition & Dietetics - Graduate Students

A guide to tools and resources on the topic of Nutrition.

Critically appraise the literature

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: 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 citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified 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?
  • examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: 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 typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Critical Appraisal - In-depth

  • Is the study relevant?
  • Does the study add anything new?
  • What type of research question is being asked?
  • Was the study design appropriate for the research question?
  • Did the study methods address the most important potential sources of bias?
  • Was the study performed according to the original protocol?
  • Does the study test a stated hypothesis?
  • Were the statistical analyses performed correctly?
  • Do the data justify the conclusions?
  • Are there any conflicts of interest?
 

¹Young JM, Solomon MJ. How to critically appraise an article. Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;6(2):82-91. Available from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/706399_1