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HNRS 2000: Critical Analysis & Social Responsibility

A tool to help you through the research process.

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.  

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 claim/ being made?
    • If you don't know, then move on the following steps 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 cognitive bias, and if you get overwhelmed take a second to remember your original purpose and 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 significance and trustworthiness. 
    • Use tools like Wikipedia.  You can add the word "wikipedia" to the base of the url or the author's name in the search bar.  For example if I wanted to figure out more information about an online news source I could type " wikipedia" in the search bar to find out more information about the source outside of the source (moving beyond the "About Us" section). 
    • On social media platforms like Twitter you can use what's called the hovering technique:

Move on to the next step... 

F: Find Better Coverage 

If your original source is questionable, find a better source to determine accuracy of claim.

Move on to the next step... 

T: Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media Back to the Original 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 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 hyperlinks in the source that point towards original studies or reporting go ahead and 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 the actual terms) 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 initially came across. 

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield.

All SIFT information on this page is adapted from his materials with a CC BY 4.0 license.

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