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CSC 3011: Living in a Digital World

Evaluating a Source Using SIFT

SIFT Infographic with 4 moves for researchers

SIFT is a set of four 'moves' you can use when evaluating a source.

Stop - 

  • First, what do you know about this source?  What is the reputation of the claim and the website (or journal, or book).  If you don't know, use the other moves to get a sense of what you are looking at.
  • Second, think about how much fact-checking you need to do for your purpose. If you want to know if something is reliable to repost on social media, this might be a quick check, but if you are doing scholarly research you would want to do more research before using or sharing

Investigate the source - 

  • This does not need to be a full scale investigation, but take a little time to recognize what media type it is and a little about the source before deciding to read, share, or use as a source.

Find Better Coverage - 

  • Often the same information will be available from multiple sources. While this doesn't always prove that this information is correct or that you must agree with the claim, it does help to a give context and history for the claim.

Trace claims, quotes, and media back to original media -

  • Secondary sources are often stripped of their original context, going back to the primary source, or even a fuller secondary source can help. For example, is the claim broadly accepted or contested? 
  • Sometimes you will find that the initial source is outright wrong or mis-leading, but most often you will simply find additional helpful context


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To learn about SIFT in more detail, check out the SIFT three hour online minicourse.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Evaluate Sources like a Fact Checker

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Michael A. Caulfield