This is the move where you answer the questions you asked in Move 1: Stop:
Don't worry about doing extensive research into your sources-- this is a quick check of the expertise and agenda of a source's creators, and it should only take around 1-2 minutes.
And yet, spending even a few seconds learning about the expertise and agenda of the source of your information will help you greatly when it comes time to decide whether to use it or not!
By clicking Control and F simultaneously on your keyboard (Command + F for Mac) you can search for specific words or phrases within a document or webpage.
This saves you time during the SIFT process.
Below is a brief video (0:37) on how to carry out Control + F.
These are the questions you should ask yourself when you "just add Wikipedia" to learn about your source.
If you thought a certain source looked trustworthy, like an objective news site, and it turned out to be a place that promoted conspiracy theories, you should be surprised. And then, as a result, you should trust the information from that source less.
If you didn't really know what you were looking at, and you discover that it turns out to be a notable newspaper that's been around for decades, you will probably see the information as more trustworthy.
That said, always consider the topic that you're researching as well, and how these different organizations might be positioned differently to cover it. For instance, if the main events around a given subject are happening in New York City, you probably wouldn't consider a small-town newspaper in Ohio as the source that can best cover that story-- you'd want a source in New York City. However, the Ohio paper might be just the place to find the most reliable information about how COVID-19 is affecting rural Ohio communities, no matter how many awards a New York City source might have.
"Don't use Wikipedia as a source" is a mantra we've probably all heard at one time or another. And it's not entirely bad advice: Wikipedia--like all online sources-- should be approached carefully, particularly when the subject is something controversial or very recent.
That said, Wikipedia can be one of the best places to go to learn about a consensus viewpoint on a topic. A consensus viewpoint is a perspective that most people who know about a subject will agree upon.
Wikipedia has strict rules about where its community can source its facts, and it holds its authors to a neutral point of view. Therefore, Wikipedia often provides the best introduction that you'll find online to most subjects.
One of the best things about Wikipedia is its insistence that all major claims are accurately sourced. You can almost always find a footnote connected to a Wikipedia claim that will point you to that original source-- which you can then find and then potentially use as a source in your own research!
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.
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