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ENGL Library Research Guide

Evaluation Information (SIFT)

Determining if resources are credible is challenging. Use the SIFT method to help you analyze information, especially various kinds of online content: social media posts, memes, statistics, videos, images, news articles, scholarly articles, etc.


The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield, a digital literacy expert at Washington State University. All SIFT information on this page is adapted from his materials with a CC BY 4.0 license. 


Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact, so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

As the authors of the original version have not reviewed any other copy's modifications, the text of any site not arrived at through the above link should not be sourced to the original authors.

Step 1 - STOP!

Before you read the article or share your video, stop!

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I know this information source? Do I know it's reputation?
  • What kind of content is this?
  • Who wrote or created it?
  • When was it published?
  • Who published it?


  • This is where you start to answer the questions such as: What kind of content is this? Is it a blog post, article, or statistics? Who wrote it? Who published it? 
  • Investigating the source does not require you to do in-depth research and analysis. It is a quick check into the expertise and agenda of the online content in question.  
  • Use Google or Wikipedia to investigate a news organization or other resource. Please note, you are not using Wikipedia for information to cite on a research paper. You are simply using Wikipedia as a tool to check the credibility and trustworthiness of the content in question. 

Two questions to keep in mind after you "Just add Wikipedia"

  1. Is the site or organization I am researching what I thought it was?
  2. If not, does it make it more or less trustworthy?


Sometimes, after you investigate the source, you'll find that the source is sufficient for your needs. However, this is not always the case. Maybe the quality of the source is low or it doesn’t adequately answer the questions you have.  

This is when you would want to find better coverage.

Below is a video (4:28) explaining this process in more detail.


Search Strategy: Click Restraint - Fact-checkers scan multiple results to try and find the particular result that combines trustworthiness with relevance before they click, often visiting the subsequent pages of search results.

The video below (2:20) released by Stanford History Education Group shows how to find better information online.


A lot of things you encounter online have been stripped of context. This could be due to inaccurate or misleading re-reporting, edited sound and video, images being shared with inaccurate captions, etc.

  • Click through to follow links to claims
  • Open up the original reporting sources listed in a bibliography if present
  • Look at the original context. Was the claim, quote, or media fairly represented?

Below is a video (1:34) on finding the original source. 


Search Strategy: Finding the History of Images

Here is a video (4:14) on finding original images and verifying caption claims. 

Fact Checking Websites


"The oldest and largest fact-checking site, widely regarded by journalists and readers as an invaluable research companion."


Fact-checking journalism site. "Our core principles are independence, transparency, fairness, thorough reporting and clear writing."

“We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.”


"Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy."