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Ethical Issues in Biomedical Science, Engineering & Technology: BIOE 0856

This guide is for students in Ethical Issues in Biomedical Science, Engineering & Technology: BIOE 0856

General Evaluative Criteria

How can you identify valuable sources for your research?

Evaluate each source for…


  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous schlolarship?


  • Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group)?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (e.g. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?


  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (author, publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?


  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?


  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, persuade, entertain, sell?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Evaluating URL's

In addition to being aware of all the above evaluation criteria, the URL can give you hints about the nature of a website. 


  • HTTP: probably the most common protocol – or transfer protocol – you’re likely to see.
  • HTTPS: the ‘s’ in https stands for secure, because the protocol has layer of encryption that makes it difficult for others to get your information. When you’re logging into your bank website, Facebook account, or TUPortal, or otherwise entering personal information, the URL should start with https.
  • FTP: the other protocol you should be aware of is FTP – file transfer protocol. This protocol means a file is transferred to your computer. Be wary of “websites” that begin with ftp.

Host or Hostname – On this website, the host or hostname is The host is whatever comes between the protocol and the first slash. It refers to the server the page is hosted on.

The content of the page should seem to match the host. If this page’s host was, for example, you probably wouldn’t want to trust this information.

Top-Level Domain – Here is a list of the most common TLDs and their intended use:

  • .com: mostly used by for-profit organizations, ie
  • .edu: used by colleges or universities, ie
  • .org: mostly used by nonprofit organizations, ie
  • .net: no specified user - .net used to be the TLD that anyone could use for anything and it tends to be used by pretty generic, unauthoritative sites
  • .gov: used by the US government

In addition to these TLDs, there are also country code TLDs that reflect the country the site was created in. Most sites created in the US don’t use their .us code, but most other countries do. The United Kingdom uses .uk, Russia uses .ru, Germany uses .de, South Africa uses .za, China uses .cn,  etc.