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Orthopaedic Surgery Resources: Appraise the Evidence

Library resources for orthopaedic surgery

The ABC's of appraising websites

The ABC's of evaluating websites

There is no quality control or peer review on the Internet. Therefore, it is important that Internet users are able to critically appraise the quality of the information they come across. Here are some criteria to consider applying to websites. 

  • Authority – can you identify who wrote the information, and is that person or organization a reputable resource? 

  • Accuracy – is the information reproducible or cited by other sources?

  • Bias – are there conflicts of interest, i.e. is the company selling a product or do the website organizers have a specific agenda? Are the goals or aims of the website clearly stated?

  • Currency – when was the webpage last updated? Are the links up-to-date?

  • Comprehension – is the information written at an appropriate level for its audience? How does the information compare with other sources on this topic?

Adapted from: Kapoun, Jim. "Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction." C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523.

The ABC's of appraising textbooks

Although textbooks may go through a peer review and editing process, it is still important for you to take a critical look at the information you find in a textbook. Here are some criteria to consider applying to websites.

  • Authority – what are the qualifications of the authors and/or editors?

  • Accuracy – is the information reproducible or cited by other sources? Are references cited throughout the book?

  • Bias – does the author or editor have a conflict of interest?

  • Currency – when was the book published? Are there newer editions? Is the information out of date for your purposes? 

  • Comprehension – is the information written at an appropriate level for its audience? How does the information compare with other sources on this topic? Is the textbook well organized and easy to follow?

The ABC's of appraising articles

In the age of open-access publishing, it is easier than ever to have a journal article published. It isn't always clear if the article went through the peer review process, so it is important for you to take a critical look at the information you find in an article. Here are some criteria to consider applying to articles.

  • Authority – what are the qualifications of the authors? Was the article published in a reputable journal? 

  • Accuracy – is the information reproducible or cited by other sources? Are references cited throughout the article?

  • Bias – does the author have a conflict of interest? PubMed now includes conflict of interest statements when this information is supplied by the publisher. 

  • Currency – when was the article published? Is the information out of date for your purposes? 

  • Comprehension – is the information written at an appropriate level for its audience? How does the information compare with other sources on this topic? Is the article relevant to your research?

Appraising scholarly articles

The worksheets on this page were created by Duke University and adapted from Duke University and McMaster Evidence-based Practice Workshops and Users' Guide to the Medical Literature 3rd Ed. 

For more information about appraising articles, see Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives guide to Evidence-Based Practice: Appraise

Therapy

Suggested best studies: randomized controlled trials > cohort studies > observational studies

Diagnosis

Suggested best studies: prospective, blind comparison to gold standard

Prognosis

Suggested best studies: cohort study > case control > case series

Harm/Etiology

Suggested best studies: RCT > cohort > case control > case series

Systematic Reviews

Practice Guidelines

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