Skip to Main Content

HLHS 101 Medical Terminology - Evansville: How to Start Your Research

A guide to quality medical reference websites, proper citation formatting, and avoiding plagiarism.

Selecting Keywords

Selecting the keywords you will use in doing your search is very important.  Once you begin your search you will think of others and rethink the ones you started with.  However, it is very important that you try and start with the right terminology.  This will reduce your effort and time to complete your research.



  • Plurals of your keyword: ( narcotic → narcotics)
  • Synonyms: (child → youngster, juvenile, kid)
  • Double check your spelling: (Use a dictionary, also look up: alternative spellings)
  • Broader terms: (gene therapy→ genetics)
  • Narrower Terms: (nutrition → vitamins)
  • Variations of the root term: (minimal, minimalist, minimalism)

Medical Research

Now that you have made the decision to become a health professional it is important to learn how to communicate and how to research like one. 

Websites like or are acceptable for general inquiries and the public. At Ivy Tech however, we provide you with access resources professionals use.

There are medical databases with full-text articles like Health and Wellness Resource Center (try this instead of WebMD), MEDLINE, Health Source, Biomedical Reference Collection, or Health Business fullTEXT.

Alternatively, try a basic web search after determining keywords to use, and evaluating websites based on the tips in this guide.

Finally it is of the utmost importance that you know how to properly cite the research you use for two reasons.  First, it allows others to find out where you got your ideas.  Second, it helps you avoid plagiarism (the misuse of other people's ideas or written words).  

Evaluating Websites

When using Internet sources in a research project it is important to take a critical look at the website you are using and to determine if it contains reliable information.  Look for the following when evaluating websites:

Authority- Does the site have an author or sponsoring organization that is qualified and knowledgeable about the topic you are researching? (Wikipedia fails this test because virtually anybody may contribute to an article whether they have knowledge of the subject or not. Also there is no way to validate who writes an article.)

Accuracy- Is the information on the site correct?  You may need to have a second source to fact check against if you are not sure. 

Currency- Is the website up to date?  Look for copyrights or the date the site was last updated to make sure you are not getting old data.

Objectivity- Is the Information on the site biased?  Look for ads, editorial writings, or other indications that the site is meant to sway the audience to a particular point of view.

Coverage- How comprehensive is the site?  Look to see if the the purpose or goals of the site are clearly given.  Make sure they are not promoting a particular product or ideology.