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Assignment 1

In this first exercise you will be introduced to several sources for medical-related information. We will also cover techniques for evaluating information, plus writing bibliographic citations in APA format. It may be helpful for you to read through each section of this assignment before going directly to the different web sites. This way you will know in advance which questions you will be answering.

Note: When you click on a link, your browser should open up a new window. To get back to this assignment page, just close the window by clicking on the X in the upper right corner of the window. You do not want to X out of this assignment page until you have submitted your answers. Otherwise you will lose all your answers.


An encyclopedia will give you background information, overviews and definitions, and any major names associated with your topic. Let's try the Online Encyclopaedia Britannica for information on pharmacokinetics.  If you are accessing the encyclopedia from home, you need a Password.  Your password is the first five numbers of your library card.

After clicking on the underlined link above (or the image on the right) and putting in the password, type into the search box that appears,


Then click on the Go button.

Screencap of Encyclopedia Britannica search box
The result screen will list all the articles that contain our search word. Scan through the list and see if you can find a link for

Absorption, distribution, and elimination
In the box at the right, list the 5 processes involved in pharmacokinetics.

This information is part of a larger article on therapeutics, and provides detailed background information on drug uptake and distribution, chemotherapy, antibiotics, and much more. This is the type of article you can expect from a good encyclopedia.

Books are a good source for in-depth information on specific subjects or people. Let's look for books on the topic of pharmacology by clicking on this link to the Gavilan College Library homepage. Find the icon for the Gavilan Catalog and click on that. (It looks like the stack of books above.)

In the blank box on the next screen, type in your search term, as shown on the right. Leave the "SEARCH FOR" option set for a keyword all fields search.

Click on the Search button. From the resulting list of first 10 books, select one of the most current titles available. Click on the title to get to the complete record for that book. In the boxes below, enter the information asked for. These are the various pieces of information you'll need for a standard format APA citation.

Author of the book:  
Title of the book:  
Year of publication:  
Place of publication:  
Publisher's name:  
There are two more important pieces of information you need to actually find this book: the call number, which tells you where the book is sitting on the shelves, and the status, which tells you if the book is checked out or available. You might have to click the Holdings or Bibliographic buttons to find this information. Enter it below:
Call Number:  

The APA (American Psychological Association) has published formats for writing research papers and citing reference sources. Click on the web site for APA-Style Documentation and read the Basic Rules for APA citation. Click on some of the links to see correct APA formatting for various forms of print and non-print materials. The basic format for a book with one author is:

Kraly, F.S. (2006). Brain science and psychological disorders: Therapy,

psychotropic drugs, and the brain. New York: W.W. Norton.

If your book had more than one author, check for the proper format at the APA site.

Write a citation for the book you found above in the box below, using all those pieces of information you so carefully gathered. APA format requires the title of the book to be italicized. Since you won't be able to do this on the computer, simply start the title with an underline, and at the end, put another underline, like this:

_Gone With the Wind_


You can find just about anything on the Internet. The World Wide Web is one part of the Internet where people and organizations publish information: government agencies, major corporations, universities, nonprofit and social service organizations, small businesses, and individuals. A web site might contain a company's product information, government documents, or an individual's personal opinions. Anyone can publish anything on the web. This means that you shouldn't automatically believe what you see.

When you are interested in exploring a subject, but you don't know any specific sites to start with, you can use a search engine. A search engine is a piece of software that goes out on the web, seeking web sites and cataloging them. Search engines constantly visit sites to create a catalog of web pages and keeps them current. When you type in your search terms, the search engine matches those terms against its catalogs.

Many search engines support the use of Boolean logic. Boolean logic provides a means for combining terms using "and", "not", and "or" between your terms. Keep in mind that when you use words with "and" or "not", you reduce the number of results.

Alltheweb is one search engine that supports the use of Boolean logic. In this next example, we are looking for herbal alternatives to Viagra.

We want to find records that have all three terms,

Viagra and herb and alternative.
In this diagram, our results would be those records falling into the purple intersection of the 3 circles. Every time you add another search term, and another AND, your result list will be smaller. boolean diagram using viagra, herb and alternative
Go to the alltheweb site and type the terms in the search box as shown below. Keep the type of search type to all of the words and search using the boolean operator AND. Try this search again without the AND operator. Which approach gives you the best return? (Alltheweb, Google and many other search engines use the boolean AND by default. ) You will want to skip the sponsored sites that may be listed first. Sponsored sites are included because someone paid for that service.

All The Web Search Engine search box
In the box at the right, list a purported herbal alternative to Viagra:

Remember that if you do not find what you are looking for with one search engine, try another. It is also recommended that you read the help or search tip links at the search engine site, as some search engines do not support all the Boolean operators ("and" "or" "not").


Anyone can publish anything on the Internet. Some questions to ask yourself as you look at information are:

  • Who wrote the information?
  • Who is paying the bill to publish the information?
  • Is there an inherent bias?
  • Do the authors quote research that can be checked or repeated?
  • How recent is the information?

To find out who was supporting a site, we need to understand where Internet information comes from. Major contributors of Internet information can be organized into four large categories:

  • Government sites: including 3 huge federally-funded national libraries
  • Educational institutions: universities, colleges & research institutions
  • Commercial enterprises: everyone trying to sell you something
  • Nonprofit organizations

You can tell which of these four categories is posting the information by looking at the URL, or address of the site. One of the sites from your Viagra search might look like the the following URL (directions to the computer on how to get to the web site you want):

The first part, http://, tells the computer what protocol to use. The second part,, is the domain name and tells the computer what computer system to look for. The next two parts tell the computer to search for a directory called gaht, and within that directory find a second directory called catalog. The last part says to look for and load a particular document entitled TraditionalHerbalMedicineProducts.htm.

URL broken into parts

It's the second part, the domain name, that tells us from which type of institution this document is coming. Fortunately for researchers, each one of the four big contributors uses a different domain name ending:


Because this URL has a domain name ending in .com, we know it's coming from a commercial site, and that they are trying to sell us something.

Hint: In addition to evaluating the web document itself, it's sometimes helpful to look at the site's homepage to learn about the sponsor/author. To do this click on the location bar (URL) once and the bar should be darkened. Click again and you will see your blinking cursor in that bar. Place the cursor directly after the domain name and delete what follows the domain name. So in this instance, you would delete everything after the ".com". Then hit enter and that will take you to the homepage of the site.

Visit the Opting for a Viagra Alternative web site and see if you can find information about the creators of this information. In the box below, write an evaluation based on the five evaluation questions.

  • Who wrote the information?
  • Who is paying the bill to publish the information?
  • Is there an inherent bias?
  • Do the authors quote research that can be checked or repeated?
  • How recent is the information?


In this exercise we covered:
  • Finding encyclopedia articles for background information and short overviews that are associated with your topic

  • Locating library books to provide in-depth information on your topic

  • Writing bibliographic citations using APA format

  • Using a search engine (alltheweb) with Boolean logic connectors (AND, OR, NOT) to find Internet sites dealing with your topic

  • Evaluating the source of your information for credibility and currency


You've almost finished. Now comes the most important part:

Your Name:
Your e-mail address:
How long did you spend on this assignment?

Please type in the image that you see below:

And now you can click on the submit button


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Last updated on 08/24/2009