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Michigan State University

Pharmacology and Toxicology Online Masters Program: Using the MSU Libraries: Other Online Information

Evaluating Online Information

Use websites from reliable sources to supplement information you get from books, electronic texts, and journal articles. 

When you use websites, you need to be careful about quality and source, something that isn't usually a problem when you are using respected medical textbooks or journal articles you find through PubMed.  Ask these questions to help you determine whether a website is worth using for your paper:

  1. Author:  Who is the author of the site?  This can be a person (credentials are needed) or an agency (such as the National Cancer Institute).  You'll want the information to be coming from a credible source . 
  2. Date:  When was the information you want to cite written or last updated?  You want this to be fairly recent. 
  3. References:  Does the site reference the scientific literature or other reliable sources?  Information presented without citation of the literature is not scholarly.  You want to cite as many scholarly sources as possible and minimize the information you get from non-scholarly sources.
  4. Audience:  Who is the audience of the site?  If the audience is a patient, layperson, or lower-level student, the information may be too simplistic.
  5. Funding:  What is the funding source of the site?  Advertising should be clearly distinguishable from content.  Look for evidence of bias. This is more of a problem for sites that present health information.  

If you do a Google search about your topic and some results come back from Google Books, you'll find that you often aren't able to read all of the pages of the book online.  Get the title of the book and look it up in our Library Catalog to see if we own it and if you can get it from the MSU Libraries instead. 

Government Pharmacology/Toxicology Websites

Because governments regulate the use of chemicals and drugs, they often produce and curate a lot of data about individual substances. The websites below are run by the governments of the European Union, Canada, and the United States. Here you can find information about substances and how each government regulates them. 

Drug Information Portal: This website belongs to the US government. Here you can find basic information about most drugs, including generic and proprietary names for them, what they are used for, and their chemical structure. Each record also contains links to research and other information about the drug. 

Rx Class: Also from the US government, Rx Class is similar to the Drug Information Portal, but it allows you to browse drugs by various categories (disease, chemical structure, etc). 

European Chemical Agency: This website contains similar information to ToxNet, but for the EU. You can find information on individual chemicals and how they are regulated (the information can be a good contrast to ToxNet and other US websites, because the EU tends to regulate chemicals more stringently). 

Food and Drug Administration: The FDA website is a good source of information on drug approvals and recalls in the United States. The Drug Approvals and Databases page, particularly, has some useful links. 

Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA website contains information on US regulations and EPA enforcement actions. 

Government of Canada: Health risks and safetyFrom this page you can link to information on the regulation of chemicals and consumer products in Canada. 

Government of Canada: Drug DatabaseSimilar to the Drug Information Portal, but also contains information on drugs' approved uses and availability in Canada. 

Pharm/Tox Librarian

Chana Kraus-Friedberg's picture
Chana Kraus-Friedberg
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 48824
Michigan State University