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SEM 105, McDaniel, Boyce: Evaluating Resources

When conducting research, each source of information must be reviewed with care to ensure that the information you use reflects the quality, authority, perspective, and balance that best supports the topic you have selected. Use the criteria here to assess the quality of information taken from a source, but keep in mind that the relevance of these criteria are completely dependent upon the specific chosen topic and focus.


SIFT Method for Evaluating Sources

One technique that students can use to assess the quality and reliability of a source is known as the SIFT method. SIFT is a set of moves that can be applied to any information source to help ensure it is valid. These steps are:

Investigate the Source
Find better coverage
Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context





  • Make sure the information you are about to use or share is trustworthy and accurate!






  • Do a little background research on the source before jumping into the information
  • Who is the author?
  • Do they have authority/expertise in the subject?
  • Does the author/site have an agenda?





  • Explore other trusted sources to verify information you are unsure of
  • Use keywords, names, and other relevant information from the first source to search in trusted sources





  • Many things you find on the internet have been stripped of context.
  • Finding the original source can help establish a more complete and accurate picture.
  • Library databases are an excellent resource for this step.

Adapted from Caulfield, Mike. (2019, June 19). SIFT (The Four Moves). Hapgood. CC-BY. For more in-depth practice using the SIFT method, check out this free self-paced course provided by Caulfield, Check, Please! Starter Course


Media Bias Chart

This chart shows where many media outlets fall within the spectrum of liberal/conservative.  It also places the media outlet on the spectrum for Value and Reliability. Sources for informational assignments should fall in the area of the chart ringed in green to avoid using a source that is less reliable or weighs heavily on opinion.  Click on the image below to make it bigger.  You can also access an interactive version of this chart.

Katie Wirt

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Katie Wirt
Boyce Campus, N410
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