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cycle of researching information

 CORI: cycle of researching information

Evaluate Information: Misinformation

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you will be able to:
Identify different types of unreliable information
Recognize misinformation
 Describe the process of lateral reading to evaluate a digital source and explain its importance

Evaluating information: Misinformation

Tips for Viewing and Using the Tutorials

How to view the tutorials

Click each item's “Access” button to open and view it in a new window. If you are off-campus, you will be taken to the CCAC login page to sign in.

Access tutorial button

How to navigate the tutorials

Tutorials will have navigation links across the top that you will use to advance through the pages. They will look similar to this:

After completing the tutorial, close the browser tab or window to return back to this page.

Access Video Tutorial: Understanding Misinformation

Access Tutorial: Evaluaring Digital Sources Using Lateral Reading

Access Tutorial: News Reporting vs Opinion Pieces in Journalism

How to Spot Fake News

Evaluate Sources Using the SIFT Method

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

We will explore each of these in more detail below.

The first move is the simplest. STOP! Before you read, watch, quote, or share a source that you've found, do a little investigating on where it was posted. Make sure the information you are about to use is trustworthy and accurate. Using factually incorrect information on a research project will likely diminish the overall quality of your work. Sharing false information with colleagues, friends, or family can reflect poorly on you. If you are unsure about the quality of a piece of information, apply the other three moves of the SIFT method to do a deeper evaluation.

The key to this step is to know what you're reading before you read it.

Do a little background research on the source before spending too much time with the information. If you're reading a piece on economics by a Nobel prize-winning economist, you should know that before you read it. Conversely, if you're watching a video on the many benefits of milk consumption that was produced by the dairy industry, you probably want to know that as well.

This doesn't mean the Nobel economist will always be right and that the dairy industry can't ever be trusted. But knowing the expertise and agenda of the source is crucial to your interpretation of what they say. Taking time to figure out where it is from before reading will help you decide if it is worth your time, and if it is, help you to better understand its significance and trustworthiness.

In those instances where you find a piece of information but don't know or fully trust the source, it can be helpful to explore other trusted sources to verify that information. Most topics are likely to be covered by multiple publications that are available online or in library research collections. You can select keywords, names, and other relevant information from the first source and then search for those in the other resource collections. This technique will help you verify the information and locate it from a trustworthy source.

A lot of things you find on the internet have been stripped of context. Maybe a claim is made about a new medical treatment supposedly based on a research paper — but you're not certain if the paper supports it. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. Usually, the original reporting, research, or photo is available on the web.

By going to the original reporting or research source (or finding a high quality secondary source that did the hard work of verification) you can get a story that is more complete, or a research finding that is more accurate.

To do this, you can explore additional news sources or library research databases in an attempt to locate original research articles. Libraries typically subscribe to research collections that can help you get free access to the high quality publications that typically publish those types of research findings. Libraries provide excellent research assistance that can help you navigate these sources.

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

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