While fake news is a real concern, it is not a new problem; nor is it just a problem with news (fake research or bad science can be just as dangerous). It has always been important to evaluate the source of information - is it accurate? is it biased? is it trustworthy?
Questions in the CRAAP test were designed to use with websites, but they work just as well to prompt us to think critically about any source of information.
Put your mouse over the tab that says Evaluating Sources.
You will see a drop down menu. Click on a topic to learn more.
Another way to express the same questions is CRAAP:
but this leaves out objectivity / bias -- and those are very important questions to ask!
Is it Verified?
Is it New?
When it comes to scholarly, scientific, or technical information, you might not have the background to be able to judge accuracy just by your own knowledge of the topic. That's where peer review becomes important.
Peer review is the practice of having a panel of experts, perhaps fellow researchers in the same field, evaluate articles before they are published. Authors often ask friends and colleagues to read over and comment informally as they write; but peer review is different. Peer review is done for the journal's editors, and reviewers are (ideally) not people who already know the author. The peer reviewers check whether any scientific experiments were conducted using proper scientific methods, whether any statistical analysis was accurate, and if conclusions are valid. Also ideally, reviews are objective and not based on personal opinion.
While it's possible to "game" the peer review system, in general if an article was peer reviewed, you can trust that it is accurate.
Be warned: not all academic or scholarly journals are peer reviewed. If it was, often the article will list "peer reviewed" on the first or last page.