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ENG 111: College Composition I (Purugganan-AL)

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Evaluating Sources for Credibility

This page highlights four steps, SIFT, to use to determine a sources's credibility:

Infographic showing the steps of SIFT: Stop, investigate the source, find trusted coverage, trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.

Stop

Ask yourself whether you know and trust the website or source of the information.  If you don't, move on to the next steps to get a sense of what you're looking at.  Don't read or share the article or website until you know what it is.

Investigate the Source

Know what you are reading before you read it.  Look into who the author/organization is.  Look outside of the original source's website. 
Google around: What have others said about the source (or the people affiliated with the source)? 

  • Is it consistent with what the source says about itself?  
  • What does Wikipedia say about the person or organization?
  • Does the author or organization have a specific agenda?

When you Google, put quotation marks around the name of the organization you're searching for to ensure it's searched as a phrase (e.g., "American Heart Association").  Some unreliable sources name themselves in a way that is very similar to reputable sources, so the quotation marks will help ensure you find results with the exact name of the organization you want.

Find Trusted Coverage

Look for trusted sources that discuss the topic to see if the information is being presented accurately or if it is even being covered in other places at all.  Do a Google search on the topic or main claim of the article, and look for information from reliable, trusted sources.  Look for articles from a trusted news source or fact checking website.  Use reverse image searching to find source for images.

Tip: When searching for images to find trusted coverage or look for original context, use the Google Chrome browser.  Google Chrome has a built in Google image search function.  Right click on the image you want to search and you will see "Search Google for Image" in the menu that appears.

For trusted news sources, start with this collection of newspapers:

Here are a couple fact-checking sites:

Trace Claims, Quotes and Media to the Original Context

Trace claims, quotes, and media (videos and images) back to the source in so you can see the information in the original context and get a better idea if the source you found is accurately presenting the information.  Look to see where the information came from.  Does the article mention where they got the information?  If so, go to the source and look at it.  Continue until you find the original source.

SIFT content adapted from Notion: Introducing SIFT: https://www.notion.so/Introducing-SIFT-04db7879dd7a4efaa76bfb2397d11ffd
The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC BY, and free for reuse and revision.