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Evaluating Sources

Internet Sources

Information found online, on websites, blogs, or on social media, needs to be evaluated with caution. Often, information online is found outside of its original context. The SIFT method is a useful evaluation framework to apply to information found on the Internet.


The four moves: Stop; Investigate the source; Find better coverage; Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context.

inforgraphic of SIFT method: Stop; Investigate the Source; Find Better Coverage; Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context.


Before reading a website or post, stop to consider whether you are familiar with the source and what kind of reputation it has. Don't read or share information until you have a good understanding of where it comes from. STOP is also a reminder to pause and focus on the purpose of your research, and to consider how in-depth you should go in your investigation of the source.



It's important to understand what you're reading before you read it. Investigate the experience and background of the writer, the purpose or goals of the publisher, and whether there is any bias or hidden influence, such as industry or political funding behind the source.



If the source you have found is biased or not reliable, look for higher-quality sources on the same topic. Seeking out a variety of sources can  give you many perspectives on the subject from a range of viewpoints.



Often information online is presented as a short clip or quote out of a larger whole. Sometimes, presenting information out of its context may change its original meaning. If you find an interesting piece of information in a shortened form, or shared in a less reputable source, search for the original source of information to confirm its meaning.


The SIFT Method was developed by research scientist Mike Caulfield and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution International Liscence. Learn more at

Additional Questions

The following questions can also be considered:

  • Can you find who wrote or produced the information?
  • When it was last updated?
  • Are there links or citations to where the information comes from?
  • Are there any organizations (news orgs., non-profits, corporations, etc.) affiliated with the source?
  • Is there any bias or conflict of interest to the information being presented? Ex. Wanting to sell you a particular product, service, or ideology

Look beyond the top results in a Google search. Compare results from other search engines, such as Duckduckgo. Google may include different results and prioritize results differently from other search tools.