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Research Guide for Prof. Grassinger (North & Online): Home

Use the research databases listed here to find articles and other information from sources like newspapers, magazines, and reference materials. See the in-class learning objectives.

Find books, articles, videos, and more from a single search box.


Advanced Search

Use these resources during the early stages of a research project to help you identify a topic and start gathering background information.

Want to see even more databases? Check out our A-Z list where you can see all of our databases and sort them by subject area.

Magazines and journals presentation What's the difference? This presentation compares articles from academic journals and magazines.

Evaluating Sources Using SIFT

Ultimately, it's your responsibility to evaluate the quality of any information before using it it a paper, presentation, or another project.

The steps of the SIFT model* described below can be used to help researchers identify key elements to be on the lookout for when assessing a source. Check out the explanations and questions for each section and start using them to evaluate sources such as books, articles, and websites.


Before using or sharing a source (website, article, book, etc.), do a quick evaluation of it to ensure it's legitimate and reliable.
Next steps

Stop and examine a source before you decide to use it or share it.

  • Check out the SIFT steps below to see what actions you can take.
  • Using inaccurate information in a research project could cause complications or lead to a lesser grade.
  • Sharing inaccurate information with others could reflect poorly on you.


Take a few minutes to quickly examine a source's author/publisher before using it to help you avoid inaccurate or misleading information. Google and Wikipedia can be great tools for this step.
Next steps

Investigate the source to to assess its potential quality.

  • Identify the author and find out more about them. Basic internet searching can help you to quickly determine if they have training, education, or experience that would qualify them as an expert.
    • Does the author specialize in the topic they are covering? Do they have a history of being reliable?
    • Do they work for a reputable organization or are they a random, unknown person?
    • If the author appears to be a controversial figure, deeper searching may be required to understand why.
  • Determine the purpose of any organization they are associated with. Again, basic searching online can help you find out if it is a reputable business, university, non-profit, news publisher, government agency, etc.
    • What is their mission?
    • Are they trying to sell products or services?
    • Are they trying to convince you on an issue or encourage an action (e.g., to vote, to donate blood, etc.)
    • Is the organization's goal to inform reader, share news, or present research?
  • Find out where and who published the information to help understand any possible bias or purpose of the source. Was it published in:
    • A recognized academic journal?
    • A legitimate news organization?
    • A website of an issues-oriented organization like the NRA or MADD?

Find better coverage

Most topics are usually well-covered by multiple sources, which means you don't have to rely on the first source that you find. A better quality source is likely available to confirm any claims in any questionable sources you may have encountered.
Next steps

Find additional sources to see what experts on the topic are saying

  • Find information from better quality sources that backup, verify, or refute any information you found.
  • Explore fact-checking sites to verify claims. Consider Snopes, Politifact, and to begin.
  • Search reputable news sources for articles as journalists regularly do fact-checking before publishing.
  • Use a library research database to access higher quality sources that are often hidden behind paywalls elsewhere online.
  • Use a reverse image search tool to verify the legitimacy of images whose origin is unknown or questionable. Tineye and Google's search by image feature are great starters.

Trace claims back to the original source

Information can be distorted or misinterpreted when it is shared outside of its original context. If you encounter quotes, statistics, or other information that is attributed to another source, finding the original source of that information will allow you to verify its accuracy.
Next steps

Locate the original source of any claims, research data, or quotes

  • Look for clues such as names of quoted people or titles of journals where research was published and use them to run searches to track down the original source.
  • Explore search engines to see if a copy of the original source can be found.
  • Search Library publications using tools like our journal finder or specific research databases that contain thousands of publications.
  • Contact a librarian for assistance in finding sources

*Adapted from Caulfield, Mike. "SIFT (The Four Moves)." Hapgood, 19 June 2019. CC-BY. Also see this online mini-course on SIFT by the same author for additional detail and examples.

SIFT slides

Reference librarians are available at each campus library to help you take advantage of the broad array of print and electronic resources available to you through the CCAC Libraries. For example, a librarian can help you:

  • Select and focus a research topic.
  • Devise an effective research strategy.
  • Locate relevant books, articles, and other information sources.
  • Evaluate the quality of resources.
  • Use research tools such as the library catalog and our many periodical databases.
  • Obtain materials not available on-campus.
  • Cite and document resources using a style guide like MLA or APA.
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Community College of Allegheny County
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