Access the course textbook through the library:
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Primary sources vs Secondary sources: -Primary sources in the sciences means the authors analyzed their own data in their study, rather than summarizing someone else's data.
Examples of primary sources: Randomized Controlled Trial, Cohort, Case Control, Conference Proceedings. Articles often have "structured abstracts," listing Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusions. Check the Methods section to see if the authors gathered the data themselves or if they just looked at other studies.
-Secondary sources in the sciences means the authors are summarizing other researchers' findings.
Examples of secondary sources: Book chapter, Government report (unless specified that they gathered the data), Literature Review, Systematic review, Meta-analysis. Many websites are also secondary sources, compiling information from multiple sources. If an article, check the Methods section to see if they simply searched for or summarized data from other research.
Quantitative Data: When looking at the research you find, look to see if the researchers had measurable research outcomes capturing numbers, or quantitative data. Look in the results section to view this data.
Evaluate the Quality of Evidence:
Not all research uses valid methods. Not all evidence is of the same quality. You will need to determine the quality of the study and how best to interpret the results. Below are some resources to help you evaluate the evidence you find.
First, you will need to identify the study design for the article:
Next, use a critical appraisal worksheet to guide you. These worksheets have questions for particular study designs to help you evaluate the quality of the study. The following sites provide critical appraisal worksheets. Simply select the type of worksheet that fits the study design for the article you are reading and use the questions on the worksheet to help you think through the study:
Learn more about Evidence-Based Public Health and how you can used evidence to help in make decisions in your future career with this tutorial: Evidence-Based Public Health Tutorial