If you want to go even deeper, there many evidence-based practice checklists out there to help evaluate the clinical literature.
Relevance - The usefulness of the information for your needs
Authority - The source of the information
Accuracy - The correctness and reliability of the information
Purpose - The reason for the information
*Modified version of CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.
First, make sure you are looking at the most detailed version of the citation/ abstract that is available to you.
Then mine for specifics:
Author. Can you determine the author’s affiliation or credentials? Is the author from a university or research organization?
Publication date. When was this published? Is currency important for your topic?
Length. How long is the article? 2-3 pages does not provide in-depth coverage and is not likely to be a peer-reviewed, research article.
Abstract. Is there an abstract? Reading an abstract takes much less time than skimming the whole article – use it to help decide if this article will be useful!
Peer-review. Is the article from a peer-reviewed (sometimes called “refereed”) journal?
Sample article record from one of the library databases:
In this case, the authors are listed, but this citation does not include author affiliations (other databases would include this).
The article was published in June 2007; and the article is 6 pages long. Since this article is about the History of Headaches, currency may not be as important as if you were looking for current treatments of headaches.
This particular database lists this journal as being peer-reviewed. To ensure that the journal is peer-reviewed, you can read more about it on the journal publisher’s website.
This citation includes MEDLINE info such as a PMID and NLM UID. The National Library of Medicine has a stringent inclusion/exclusion policy for which journals get indexed in Medline, and which ones don't make the cut in the field of Medicine. It's a sign of quality to see a PMID, but it doesn't mean it's peer-reviewed.