We currently live in the Information Age. All aspects of our lives are defined by the rapid exchange of information and data. But what exactly is "information?" As provided in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "information" is a broad term that includes "data, code or text that is stored, sent, retrieved or manipulated," and the Cambridge Dictionary adds that "information" includes "facts about a situation, person, event, etc." Information can range from knowing a family member's birthdate to international databases that store epidemiological data. Information is everywhere.
But not all information is good, true, or accurate.
Some information sources are true, some information sources provide false information, and other information sources are simply meant to entertain, rather than to be taken seriously.
Source evaluation is a skill that can help you to spot reliable sources and to avoid using untruthful or intentionally misleading materials.
There are many factors to consider when evaluating an information source, and sometimes the questions used in source evaluation can come into conflict with one another. The CAAMP-PADL Method is designed to help you evaluate a resource from multiple angles. This guide will walk you through the source evaluation process.
This guide provides two options for engaging with CAAMP-PADL: Either you can use the "CAAMP-PADL at a Glance" tab to receive a general overview of source evaluation, or you can use each of the individual tabs to take a deep dive into that specific component.
CAAMP-PADL was designed with STEM students in mind. Every discipline has their own set of information needs; thus, each discipline should have its own preferred source evaluation methods. The main categories that CAAMP-PADL focuses on are:
C - Currency
A - Authority and/or Author
M- Material Type
L- Lateral Reading
This might be a long list, but the benefit of using CAAMP-PADL is that you can prioritize which parts are most helpful to you. While all of the components should be reviewed when evaluating a source, you have the freedom to weigh each category based on the project that you are completing.
For example, if you are completing a project on the most highly cited biochemists of the 20th century, you would focus on authority/ author, and you would focus less on information currency.
Think of CAAMP-PADL as a constellation of supportive questions when evaluating a source. CAAMP-PADL encourages you to look at information holistically and to take your specific project into account.
The CAAMP-PADL method and this guide are both created by Kathryn Eckler. Unless otherwise noted, all graphics in the guide were created by Kathryn Eckler using Canva.
This guide provides a short "At a Glance," or longer form information about source evaluation. Instructors may consider either component as supplemental course reading or for instruction purposes. Students and faculty are welcome to submit their feedback about the guide to Kathryn Eckler.
This guide is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. Published November 2023.