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SIFT-ing to Evaluate Sources

The SIFT strategy is quick, simple, and can be applied to various kinds of online content: social media posts, memes, statistics, videos, images, news articles, scholarly articles, etc.

What is SIFT?

A magnifying glass looking at a website icon, a question mark and a paper iconWhat is the SIFT method?

  • The SIFT strategy is quick, simple, and can be applied to various kinds of online content: social media posts, memes, statistics, videos, images, news articles, scholarly articles, etc.
  • The steps to SIFT were created by by digital literacy expert Michael Caulfield (Washington State University Vancouver) as a way for students to practice the habits needed to verify facts and rediscover the context around information, which can be removed in our digital world. 
  • The steps can be completed in any order, other than STOP being first, and you may not even need all of the steps depending on the information and your questions about it. 

Watch the video below to learn more about how to use this evaluation method! 

Why is it helpful? Why skip the source "checklists"?

Infographic Text: 

Source Evaluation Questions

As information becomes more complex, our evaluation questions must evolve!

Questions that ask if a source is “good” or “bad” – may not tell us the whole story of that source!

Does this webpage look professional? Are there spelling errors?

  • Anyone can easily design a professional looking webpage and use spellcheck

It is a .com or a .org?

  • A .org can be just as misleading as any other site.

Is there scientific language? Are there references?

  • Scientific language & references do not always reflect expertise or agenda of the content.

Is these questions are no longer enough, what do we do when seeing a new source of information? Use the steps described in this guide to develop more holistic evaluation practices!

Creative Commons Acknowledgement

Note: The information on this SIFT guide was adapted from "Check, Please!" (Caulfield) & the adaptation guide from Wayne State University. The canonical version of this course is available at http://lessons.checkplease.cc (Links to an external site). The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

As the authors of the original version have not reviewed any other copy's modifications, the text of any site not arrived at through the above link should not be sourced to the original authors.