PGT Independent Prescribing — Finding and evaluating sources

R22–0924, PHAR61001

Library for Educators
5 min readSep 26, 2022



This resource will help you to find, evaluate and utilise high quality information. It will build upon what you have already learned in the evidence-based medicine workshop and introduce you to the Library’s My Learning Essentials resources.

We will use this example topic throughout to provide context:

“Are e-cigarettes safer and more effective than other forms of nicotine replacement therapy?”

This resource will cover:

  1. Searching for information
  2. Evaluating your sources
  3. Referencing in your writing

Searching for information

Please embed

Evaluating your sources

Please embed

Referencing in your writing

Please embed

Help and support

Please embed standard help and support




Slide 1: Introduce trainers

This session will be a mixture of presentation, activities and demonstrations. It has been designed based on the work you have already done on evidence-based medicine. Additional materials that complement this session have been embedded in your Blackboard area.

Slide 2: Outline agenda for the session

Slide 3: We will be using this question as an example throughout the session:

“Are e-cigarettes safer and more effective than other forms of nicotine replacement therapy?”

This should be familiar to you from your evidence-based medicine session.

Slide 4: Spending a little extra time considering your plan of action will save you a lot of time (and effort) in the long run. Ask yourself — what information am I looking for? That might be a journal article or an NHS report. Once we know what we want, we can think about the best place to find it.

Slide 5: First, we are going to consider WHAT to look for

Slide 6: Activity: Identifying key terms

Ask participants to say over microphone or type in chat what they think are the key terms

Slide 7: “E-cigarettes”, “safer”, “effective” and “nicotine-replacement therapy” are all key terms in this example

Slide 8: Activity: Expanding key terms

Ask participants to use Jamboard to add synonyms and related concepts for each of the key terms.

By taking a little time to consider what other words might be used for the key terms, we can ensure that we don’t miss anything out when searching.

Slide 9: These are examples of the keywords for the articles you have previously looked at on this topic. Even when looking at the same topic, you can see how different writers have used different terms e.g. “vaping” “alternatives”. Also, note the different types of study and how this might shape the keywords used. A cohort study is narrow in focus so may use more specific language. A review article might use broader terms or lay language.

Slide 10: We combine terms which are related to the same concept using OR. We combine terms which are related to different concepts using AND. You’ll see this in action in the demonstration later on.

Slide 11: Once you have identified the types of information that are useful to your project you can start thinking about where to look for them.

Slide 12: Library Search is the Library’s main search tool. It’s particularly useful for finding books and journal articles. It’s a good place to start and returns results from all subject areas.

Google Scholar is great for ease of use and when you want to quickly explore what has been written about a particular subject. It’s less useful when you want to focus your search as there are few options to refine your search.

You can find a curated selection of subject specific databases on your subject guide: When you use a subject database you know that your results will be from that subject’s perspective, which can help improve the relevancy of your results.

Google’s Advanced Search option is not well advertised but is great for finding things such as organisational reports. You can search a particular domain (eg, and for particular file types (such as PDF). You can find the options here:

Slide 13: Screenshare to demonstrate Library Search, Google Scholar, subject databases and Google Advanced Search

Slide 14: Now that we have our sources we need to evaluate them to decide which ones are going to be the most useful to us in our writing.

Information sources can be divided into two types — scholarly and popular.

Slide 15: Outline the characteristics of scholarly sources and ask participants if they can see any disadvantages of using these. The peer-review process means it can take a long time for these sources to be published possibly making them less up-to-date than other types of information.

Slide 16: Outline the characteristics of popular sources and ask participants if they can see any disadvantages of using these. Although popular sources do not go through the rigorous peer-review process they can still be useful. You might not form the basis of an argument on a newspaper article, but you might cite a newspaper article to demonstrate that an idea is being discussed in the mainstream.

Slide 17: These questions will help you decide whether a source is appropriate and useful for you.

Slide 18: Activity: Knowing your audience

Ask participants to share their thoughts on these questions over the mic or through the chat. This should elicit responses about their audience for this question being their patients. They may want to use information focused on patient experience, looking at a range of cohort studies and review articles as well as looking to NHS resources (as demonstrated in Google Advanced Search demo). Popular sources may be useful for patients to be able to read themselves. Quantitative data is important but qualitative data on patient experience is also useful and compelling.

Slide 19: To round off this session, we are going to return to thinking about using sources for academic writing and how to successfully integrate these. The three main ways of citing other works are direct quotation, paraphrase and summary

Slide 20: Quotations should be used sparingly and it is important for your voice — your analysis of the evidence and subsequent conclusions you draw — to come through in your writing. Paraphrasing is generally similar in length to the original piece whereas a summary will be much shorter and may be drawing together multiple sources.

Slide 21: Ask participants to guess which segment is which type of citation and discuss how they came to these conclusions.

Slide 22: Highlight that further material is embedded in Blackboard

Slide 23: End of session



Library for Educators

Sharing resources for educators, from The University of Manchester Library