Skelton Medical Libraries Mercer University School of Medicine Mercer School of Medicine Medical Libraries Apps Help Mercer School of Medicine Medical Libraries

Critically Evaluating Online Resources

Understanding Information Literacy

Information Literacy is the ability to evaluate what you read and write, to recognize when information is needed and to be able to independently locate, evaluate, and apply the needed information.

In the five step model of Evidence Based Medicine, Information Literacy specifically addresses how to APPRAISE the evidence/resource to examine its worth and reliability.

Assess Ask Acquire Appraise Apply

Assess the patient and the problem to determine the pertinent issues which may include differential diagnosis, treatment decisions, or prognosis


Ask a clear, answerable question to be pursued.


Acquire the evidence from appropriate sources.


Appraise the evidence to further examine its worth and reliability.


Apply the evidence to the patient

Using the TRAAP Test

The TRAAP Test (Timeliness, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose) is an evaluation technique you can use to determine if the website or resource is appropriate for you to use in your research so you don’t get trapped by sources--learn how to evaluate them!. You can apply these criteria to school assignments and personal research. In the health sciences field, doctors and nurses use these same criteria to determine whether or not the information they are looking at to treat a patient is appropriate.

TRAAP Test Worksheet     
PDF    Word

TRAPP test

Click on thumbnail of image for larger, PDF printable view

Timeliness of Information
  • When was it published and/or posted?
  • Has it been revised, updated, superseded?
  • Is it considered current or outdated in its field?
  • Does your topic require current info only?
  • Are the links functional?
Relevance of Topic
  • How well does it relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Is it more useful to you than other results?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is it at an appropriate level of discussion for your needs?
  • Have you considered a variety of sources before deciding?

Authority of Creator
  • Who is responsible for it & is contact info available?
  • Are they qualified to write on the topic?
  • Can their credentials be verified?
  • What are their organizational affiliations & reputation?
  • What does the URL reveal? .com, .edu, .gov, .org
Accuracy of Content
  • Is it supported by evidence?
  • Has it been reviewed or refereed by experts?
  • Can it be verified in other reputable sources?
  • Does the tone seem unbiased and free of emotions?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
Purpose of Existence
  • Is it meant to inform, persuade, or entertain?
  • Do the creators make their intentions clear?
  • Are biases (personal, ideological, institutional, etc) evident?
  • Is the POV based in fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does it use emotional or objective language?
Digging Deeper to Evaluate Online Resources

The websites of many medical resources are designed to attract subscriptions from Medical Students. Their main pages often do not provide the information needed to critically evaluate the resource. Some online resources assume students will be surfing the web and getting anecdotal advice from other students/residents. Other denigrate the curriclum provided by Medical School and/or make claims for services with no evidence behind those claims.

You may need to dig deeper by:

  • Looking beyond the main pages to investigate pages such as FAQs and support pages.
  • Contacting the publisher/vendor for more information.
Popular MUSM Library Online Resources
For an A to Z list of Databases subscribed to by MUSM Libraries, visit

There are publishers/vendors with a long standing track record of providing peer-reviewed information vetted by content experts. Here are some of those popular MUSM library resources.

Contact Us

1633 1st Ave, Columbus, GA 31901

1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, GA 31207

1250 East 66th Street, Savannah, GA 31404

Quick Links

Staff Directory

Resources A to Z


Renew Books/Models

InterLibrary Loan
4-H Facebook NLM GALILEO
© 2023 Mercer University School of Medicine. All rights reserved.