Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SIFT: Evaluating Sources Online: What is SIFT?

What is SIFT?

SIFT stands for

STOP
INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE
FIND TRUSTED COVERAGE
TRACE BACK TO THE ORIGINAL

This is a quick and simple approach that can be applied to all sorts of sources, from scholarly articles to social media posts to memes, that will help you judge the quality of the information you're looking at. It gives you things to do, specifically, four moves you should make, whenever you find a piece of information you want to use or share.

SIFT was designed by Mike Caulfield, an expert in digital literacy, and based on research he and others have done in how people consume and think about media. 

Play Fakeout!

undefined

Fakeout is an interactive game to test your evaluation skills on spotting fake news stories. Click the link to play!

Why SIFT?

SIFT is an additional set of skills to use alongside the "checklist" of evaluating sources you might have already learned. 

Here are some questions you might have already been taught to answer when you look at a website: 

  • Is it a .com or .org?
  • Are there spelling errors?
  • Is the language scientific or technical?
  • Does the source look professional?
  • When was the source published?

However, in today's information ecosystem, these questions are not enough to determine whether or not you should use a source because: 

  • .com and .org don't reflect the credibility or authority of the content of a webpage; 
  • spellcheck is easy to use;
  • scientific and technical language isn't an indicator of reliability;
  • anyone can design or purchase a professional-looking website;
  • depending on the topic, the publication date of the information may not matter.

SIFT Intro Video

Here's a brief introduction to the SIFT approach by Mike Caulfield:

Attribution

Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at http://lessons.checkplease.cc. 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.