Skip to Main Content

CMP 200 - Krieg

Designed for Dr. Krieg's research project assignment for his CMP 200 class

Using SIFT

The SIFT Method

The SIFT method is an evaluation strategy developed by digital literacy expert, Mike Caulfield, to help determine whether online content can be trusted for credible or reliable sources of information. All SIFT information on this page is adapted from his materials with a CC BY 4.0 license.

Determining if resources are credible is challenging. Use the SIFT method to help you analyze information, especially news or other online media.

S - Stop

Before you use or share something your find online:  STOP.  

  • Do not even read, listen, or view the content before INVESTIGATING the source.
  • Be aware of your emotional response to the headline or information in the article. Headlines are often meant to get your attention, or even upset you in order to get clicks.  Ecommerce is looking for what creates a strong emotional response.

Before sharing, consider:

  • What you already know about the topic. ​How does this new information line up with what you already believe is the truth?
  • What do you know about the source. Do you know it's reputation?
  • Move on to the next step and finish the process before sharing or using the source.

I - Investigate the Source

Who are the author and source publishing the information?

Are they considered experts in the area, and by whom?

  • What can you find about the author/website creators? ​
  • What is their mission? Do they have vested political or social  interests? ​Would their opinion or judgement be biased?
  • Use lateral reading. You can check out the 'About Us' section on the organization's website, but what is essentially not reliable about that?
  • See what other, trusted sources say about the source.​ You can use Google or Wikipedia to investigate the source (YouTube Video below)
  • Hovering is another technique to learn more about who is sharing information, especially on social media platforms such as Twitter.


The Standford Experiment

F - Find Better Coverage

The next step is to Find Better Coverage or other sources that may or may not support the original claim.

  • Again, use lateral reading to see if you can find other sources corroborating the same information or disputing it.​
  • What coverage is available on the topic? 
  • Keep track of trusted news sources.
  • Many times, fact checkers have already looked into the claims. These fact-checkers are often nonpartisan, nonprofit websites that try to increase public knowledge and understanding by fact checking claims to see if they are based on fact or if they are biased/not supported by evidence.
  3. Washington Post Fact Checker​
  4.  PolitiFact

T - Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to their Original Context

The final step is to Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to their Original Context.

When an article references a quote from an expert, or results of a research study, it is good practice to attempt to locate the original source of the information.​

Click through the links to follow the claims to the original source of information.

Open up the original reporting sources listed in a bibliography. A reputable source will list its sources -- make sure the sources do not have a hidden agenda or bias with the same critical eye that you are using to evaluate the original article.

  • Does the information in the quote support the original claims in the research?
  • Is information being cherry-picked to support an agenda or a bias?​
  • Is information being taken out of context?​

Remember, headlines, blog posts, or tweets may sensationalize facts to get more attention or clicks. ​Re-reporting Does the author of your article omit, misinterpret, or select certain facts to support biased claims.Make sure to read the claims in the original context in which they were presented.

When in doubt, contact an expert – like a librarian!