When you look at an information source --- no matter whether it's an article or an entertainment news story on ET --- you should always be evaluating its content. An easy way to do this is to run it through the "CRAAP" test. The CRAAP test is a list of evaluation criteria (explained below) that can help you make sure you are finding good information and using good sources.
- Do I need current or historical information? Is this the most updated source I can find? Or is this source from the proper time frame to serve as a historical resource?
- Has this information been revised or changed since it was published?
- Bottom line: Does this offer appropriately current or historical informaiton?
- Does this information help me accomplish the purpose of my paper/work?
- Does this easily related to my topic?
- Does this information strengthen my arguments or statements?
- Bottom line: Is this a source that adds value to my work? Is it worth including?
- Who is the author? What expertise do they have -- knowledge, education, experience?
- Who is the publisher? Why have they made this information available?
- Does the author or publisher have any motivation or bias for their work?
- Bottom line: Can you trust this author to know what they're talking about? Is this person the best source that you can find on this topic?
- Is this information correct? Reliable?
- Can this information be verified in other sources?
- What methods did they use to collect this information/data? How did they draw their conclusions?
- Do they list their sources? Are these sources academic/scholarly/credible?
- Bottom line: Can you trust that this information is true?
- Why was this written? Why does this information exist? Why was it made public?
- What was the writer's purpose? The publisher's purpose?
- Are there any hints of bias? Is the author up-front about this bias?
- Is this information trying to pursuade you or influence you?
- Bottom line: Understanding the purpose of the source can ensure that you do not fall prey to biased or one-sided information.