From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, September 23, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Evaluating Internet resource articles

Many of us are facilitating research and evidence-based practice among our clinical and professional development colleagues. We often ask them to conduct literature reviews, but sometimes forget to explain how to evaluate the credibility of articles they find on the Internet.

Here are some questions our colleagues who are new to literature review should ask when evaluating the credibility of research literature found on the Internet:

  • Who is the author(s) of the article? Are author(s)' credentials listed? Is contact information for the author(s) provided?
  • Are references listed for the article? Are these references up-to-date and written by credible authors?
  • Are the author(s)' conclusions justified by other research findings?
  • Who is responsible for the maintenance of the Internet site? Is the author(s) involved in the maintenance? How often is the site updated and by whom?
  • Is the site free of commercial advertising? If advertising is present is there an indication that there might be a conflict of interest or bias in favor of the advertisers?
  • What is the URL of the document? Does it reside on the Web server of an organization or individual who may have biased points of view?
  • What is the main purpose of the site? Is its emphasis technical, scholarly, commercial, or social?
  • Is the research design sound? Are research tools reliable and valid? Have additional research indications been identified?

Avillion, A. E. (2011). The Survival of Staff Development: Measure Outcomes and Demonstrate Value to Establish an Indispensable Department. Danvers, MA: HCPro.

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