The most common way that college students are taught to evaluate sources is using a "checklist" method, perhaps best illustrated by the C.R.A.A.P. Test. C.R.A.A.P. Stands for:
- Currency: The timeliness of the information
- Relevance: Whether the information fits your needs
- Authority: Whether the author/source of the information
- Accuracy: The reliability and correctness of the information
- Purpose: The reason the information exists
There are many useful elements of checklist methods, but alone they are not sufficient for evaluating sources. Newer methods, like the SIFT Method illustrated on the right, have added several important steps to the evaluation process:
- Stop and examine personal psychological biases. This asks the reader to be mindfully aware of cognitive biases and emotional reactions when reading. And example of a cognitive bias would be conformation bias, which is the mind's tendency to interpret new information as confirmation of a previously held belief.
- Investigate the source, using many of the techniques outlined in the C.R.A.A.P Test method above.
- Find Other Coverage, also known as "reading laterally," means reading across several different sources. These sources should represent more than one perspective on the topic.
- Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media back to their original sources to confirm the accuracy of the information and the accuracy of the author's interpretation of the information.