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ENGL1160/4 Composition II Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

Evaluating with the SIFT Method

Evaluating Information with the SIFT Method (The Four Moves)

The SIFT Method, created by Mike Caulfield, is a way to determine if resources are credible.  There is so much information available to us at our fingertips, especially with social media and websites. Establishing the credibility of information can be challenging, but the SIFT method was created to help analyze information that you come across, especially news or other online media. Below is an explanation of each step as well as videos created by Caulfield that explain each strategy.  

Do the Worksheet

Practice the SIFT Method

Practice SIFTing while you learn the method by completing this worksheet.

SIFT Method

S: Stop!

Before you share the article, the video, or react strongly to a headline, pause and ask yourself: 

  • Are you familiar with the website or information source where you're currently reading this information?  

  • What do you know about the reputation of the website or the truthfulness of the claim being made?

If you're not familiar with the website or the claim being made, then continue with the SIFT method to figure out if the source and/or the claim/headline/report is trustworthy and factual.

  • Don't read or share media until you know what it is!

  • Throughout this process check your emotions and feelings of bias. If you get overwhelmed take a second to remember your original purpose. Try not to get side-tracked -- it's easy to fall down rabbit holes sometimes!

Move on to the next step... 

I: Investigate the Source

You want to know what you're reading before you read it. 

  • Investigate the expertise and agenda of the source to determine its importance and truthfulness. 

  • Use Wikipedia. You can add the word "wikipedia" to the base of the url or the author's name in a Google search. For example, if I wanted to figure out more information about an online news source I could type "npr.org wikipedia" in the search bar to find out more information about the source outside of the source (moving beyond the "About Us" section on the website). 

  • On social media platforms like Twitter you can use what's called the hovering technique (see the link below) to find out more about the person or organization behind the tweet.

Move on to the next step... 

F: Find the Original Source/Context

What's the original context? 

  • By finding the original source of reporting or the photo in question you can get a more complete picture of the issue or a research finding that is more accurate. Your aim here is to get to the the point where the people doing the writing are the people verifying the facts (the original reporting source).  

    • When reading online sources, pay attention to who they quote as a source and see if you can find more information. 

    • If there are links in the source that point towards original studies or reporting, click on those to follow the chain to the original source.   

    • If there is a bibliography, open up the original reporting sources listed.  

    • Google key terms or phrases if the source has no mention of the origin.  

  • After you've found the original claim, quote, finding, or news story, ask yourself if it was fairly and accurately represented in the media that you first came across. 

Move on to the next step... 

T: Trace Claims and Fact Check

If your original source is questionable, trace claims, fact check, and determine accuracy of claims.

  • What other coverage is available on the same topic? Most big news stories that are true get covered by multiple major news outlets. Google phrases to see who else covered the same story.

  • Keep track of trusted news sources and build up your own library of trusted sources.

  • Use fact checking sites like SnopesPolitifact, and FactCheck.org to investigate claims being made. Those links are below!

  • For images, you can do a reverse image search. Watch the video to see how it's done!

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield.
All SIFT information on this page was adapted from his materials by librarians at LSU Libraries with a CC BY 4.0 license.