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Ask A Librarian

Emergency Medicine

A guide with helpful resources for Emergency Medicine program's students, faculty, and staff.

Not All Information is Created Equal

This is especially true of information found on the open web, via Google or other search engines. While there is high-quality information to be found, there is also utter crap. As well as everything else in between. Whether for one of your courses or for your personal use, one of the key parts of the research process is evaluating your information, i.e., using your CRAAP detector.

Explanation of the CRAAP model of evaluating resources: Evaluating Resources: Is it CRAAP?; Currency: When was it published or posted? Has it been revised or updated? Does your research require current information or will older sources work as well?; Relevance: Is it entirely about your topic, or just a few sentences? Who is the intended audience - health professionals or consumers?; Authority: Who is the author/creator? Can they be found in the literature? Does their background suggest knowledge of the topic? Examples: .gov (government site) .edu (educational institution) .org (professional organization); Accuracy: Where does the information come from? Is it free of spelling or grammatical errors? Is the information supported by evidence? Can you verify any of the content in another source or from personal knowledge?; Purpose: Why was the information written? Are the intentions made clear? Are they selling me something?

Health-specific Resources on the Web

Starting to research in a new topic or field? Sometimes a web based search is exactly what you need to build a knowledge foundation. Keep a couple things in mind:

  1. Start somewhere you know is credible, such as MedlinePlus (produced by the National Library of Medicine) or Healthfinder (sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services)
  2. Searching Google: take advantage of their advanced search options and tricks. Are you looking for government sites, like the CDC? then search in Google site:.gov (your topic)
  3. Once you've found a site you want to use, use the CRAAP model to help you decide if it is truly credibly, timely, and useful for your needs.