Last Updated: Oct 24, 2023 Views: 78


Consider the context of your research and what you know about the source along the reputation of the source. This step is a reminder to critically consider the information we engage with.  

  • Can you trust the information being presented is accurate? 
  • Does the source of the information have a reliable reputation?

The SIFT method is about checking to make sure you can reliably use the information you find.


When we investigate the source, we're focusing on how likely it is that the creator or publisher of the information would present accurate, reliable information. We can approach this with our own research of the source and by looking for information about the creator or publisher from other sources.

Ask questions like:

  • Who wrote it? Who published it? 
  • When was it published?
  • Is it peer-reviewed/ under editorial oversight? 

Using Wikipedia to Investigate:

Wikipedia is likely to contain information about groups or publishers that is helpful to source evaluators.

To find an associated Wikipedia page (if there is one) use the + Wikipedia technique.   

Look at the address bar, to use + wikipedia, remove everything after the domain extension in your address bar. Then, type: + wikipedia and press enter to perform a web search.

Example +Wikipedia

There should be a space between the end of the address and +.

Look for the result related to the publisher of the source that is a Wikipedia article. 

Skim the Wikipedia page for:

  • controversies
  • designation as a hate group
  • mentions of misinformation
  • warnings 


When we find other evidence, we set aside the source we're evaluating. Instead, we consider and confirm the details it reports. It is possible for a generally unsuitable publisher to share correct information. When finding supporting evidence might be helpful, we ask:

  • Can you find this claim repeated elsewhere?
  • Is this claim a consensus, or an outlier?

How you go about finding supporting evidence will depend on the kind of source you're considering. If the original source looks like a news article on the free web, it makes sense to use your search engine of choice. If you're skeptical of the findings of a scholarly article, it makes sense to do additional searches in library databases.


Finally, we can trace the claims a source makes. This is particularly helpful when a source mentions where the claim they’re making comes from.  When you trace claims, ask questions like:

  • Is there another resource that the original source relies on for most of its information?
  • Was the claim, quote, or media represented fairly?
  • What does the original source say?
    • Is it the same thing?
    • Does it contradict what is in your source? Expand on it?
    • Was the claim, quote, or media fairly represented?

Whenever you have the option to look at the original, investigate that original source. Some sources will include a formal citation for this kind of reference, a link, or only a textual clue.

Useful Sites

Useful sites for tracing claims that may not have an original source listed, or for tracing claims of an original source. 

Some of these sites include:

More Information

The SIFT information presented has been adapted from materials by Mike Caulfield with a CC BY 4.0 This link opens in a new window license.


Last Updated: October 24, 2023

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