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How to research: Evaluating Resources

Help finding and evaluating resources.
Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

SIFT test

SIFT - The four moveschecklist with ticks

Determining if resources are credible or reliable can be a challenge. Whatever the source, it could be a book, a journal article, a website, a newspaper article, the SIFT Test can help you evaluate the source to determine if the information you have found is of good quality.

S: Stop
I: Investigate the source
F: Find better coverage
T: Trace information back to the source

This is a quick and simple approach that can be applied to all sorts of sources 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

Remember, you can always ask your Librarian for help with evaluating information.

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield. All SIFT information on this page is adapted from his materials with a CC BY 4.0 license.

Move 1 - Stop 

The first move is the simplest. 
When you find information before you start to read it — STOP and ask yourself whether you know and trust the website or the source of the information.

If you don't, use the other moves to get a sense of what you're looking at.

  • Don't read it or share it until you know what it is.
  • Do you know the website or source of information?
  • Check your bearings and consider what you want to know and your purpose.
  • Usually, a quick check is enough to establish whether you trust the source and it is suitable for your purpose. Sometimes you'll want a deep investigation to verify all claims made and check all the sources.
  • Make sure you approach the problem in the right amount of depth for your purpose.

Move 2 - Investigate the Source

Investigating the source means knowing what you’re reading before you read it. This doesn't mean you have to do an in-depth investigation into every source before you engage with it.
Taking sixty seconds to figure out where the information comes from will help you decide if it is worth reading it in full.

This initial step can also help you better understand its significance and trustworthiness.

  • Know the expertise and agenda of your source so you can interpret it. 
  • Consider what other sites say about your source. Search for information about the website you are looking at, the person giving an opinion or the organisation providing the information. A fact-checking site may help.
  • Read carefully and consider while you click.  


Move 3 - Find trusted coverage

Sometimes you don't care about the particular article that reaches you. You care about the claim the article is making.
You want to know if it is true or false. You want to know if it represents a consensus viewpoint, or if it is the subject of much disagreement.

  • Find trusted reporting or analysis, look for the best information on a topic, or scan multiple sources to see what consensus is.
  • Find something more in-depth and read about more viewpoints.
  • Look beyond the first few results, use Ctrl + F to search within a page to reach relevant sections quickly, and remember to stop and investigate the source of all the sites you find in your search. Even if you don't agree with the consensus, it will help you investigate further.



Move 4  - Trace

  • Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context

  • What was clipped out of a story/photo/video and what happened before or after?

  • When you read the research paper mentioned in a news story, was it accurately reported?

  • Find the original source to see the context, so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented.