Nutrition

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Evaluating Nutrition Information

When you find a new source of information (such as an online article, a news story, a scholarly journal article, or a book), ask yourself the following questions about the source: 

Who?

Who is the author, editor, or creator? Is the author qualified to write about this topic?

What?

What type of document is it? For example, is it a newspaper article? A blog? A government website? A scholarly article? A book?

What is it about?

When?

When was this source published? Is the information up-to-date? 

Where?

Where did you find the source? A library database? A website?

For websites, what is the URL ending? For example, .com? .gov? .org? .edu?

Why?

What was the goal of the author or publisher? Is there bias?

How?

How did the author gather data and information? Did the author include citations? Did the author derive reasonable conclusions from the research?

The answers to these questions will help you to answer the big picture questions about the source:

  • Credibility: Is the source reliable?  
  • Relevance: Does the source suit your research needs? 

Find the Original Information Source

News outlets often report on new scientific studies, but these reports may be sensationalized or may omit important details. When you find a news story about a new study, try to find the original article for that study. This can be tricky, because news stories won't usually include the name of the original study, but they will often include information such as the name of the author or the name of the journal where the original study was published. Using these clues, we can search in library resources (such as Summon or GoogleScholar) to look for the original study. 

PICO

PICO is an acronym that medical researchers use to formulate research questions and to evaluate research studies. 

 

P = Population or Problem     

The population or participants in the study. Who are the relevant patients? 

I = Intervention    

Includes therapies, treatments, procedures, tests, management strategies. 

C = Comparison or Control

Is there a control or alternative management strategy, test, or exposure?

O = Outcome   

What are you trying to achieve or improve? What are the patient-relevant consequences of the intervention?