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Biology 455: Evolution of Infectious Diseases

This guide supports the research for Dr. Rio's Evolution of Infectious Diseases class.


Clinical Infectious Diseases

Website Evaluation

There's a few basic ways to identify if a website, or other source is credible.

Author - Does the page list an author, can you verify they are a real person, do they have contact information, or links to other works of theirs? While some "bad" sources still have authors that stand by them, no author or a fake one is a big red flag.

Date - Check if the information or page has any date information attached to it. Time is an important factor in relevance, as even good sources can be outdated.

Sources - A good source cites their own sources. You should be able to easily tell where the information is coming from, and ideally, link to it directly.

Domain - A .gov or .edu is a good indication of a good source. Where as a .com or .org can potentially be anyone or anything. Be on the lookout for fake URLs too, something like "" is instantly suspect.

Style and Design - Does the site have spelling or grammatical errors? Is the design bad or confusing? Credible sites want to be accessible and readable, but sketchy ones sometimes won't take the time to even look presentable.

Advertisements - While every site has to pay hosting costs, pay attention to the ads they might use. These can demonstrate bias, or reveal potential ties that might render a source less than trustworthy. For example, ads for other academic journals or specific schools aren't unusual, but ads for consumer products are questionable.

In general though, use library databases! They are credible, accessible, full of good information and often contain other tools to help you find more sources and cite the ones you did find.



  1. A scientist submits an article to a journal for publishing.

  2. The journals assigns 2-3 specialists in the field to review the article. These peer-reviews examine the article to make sure it is worth publishing based on.

    • Was the experiment designed and conducted well

    • Was the data analyzed correctly

    • Were the conclusions reached justified by the data

    • Is the article important and innovative

  3. The reviewers decide whether the articles should be published, not published or resubmitted after revisions.

  4. If the article is published it is considered peer-reviewed.

High Impact Infectious Disease Journals

Original Research Article

Original Research Article

  • Can also be referred to as primary research article.

  • Author usually works for an academic or research institution and submits paper to the publisher.

  • Articles go through peer-review.

  • Formal written record of the scientific process that report on scientist's work.

  • Discusses methods of research, including how the experiment was run.

  • Offers analysis of the results.

  • Cites relevant papers that relate to the research

Review Articles

Review Article

  • Articles go through peer-review.

  • Author usually works for an academic or research institution and submits paper to the publisher.

  • Does not perform original research.

  • Reports on the current state of research in a particular field.

  • Cites appropriate literature that connects various research in the field.

  • Synthesizes and summarizes the work of a particular field or sub-field. Therefore, does not report any new results.

  • Good for finding background information on a particular field or sub-field and often have a useful and dense works cited page.

News Articles

Popular Journal Articles

  • Articles do not go through peer-review.

  • Author is hired by the publisher.

  • Does not perform original research.

  • May refer to other articles and research but does not necessarily have to cite those articles.

  • Good for finding key studies, experts, trends, and getting background information on a field.