In class you've learned about using credible evidence to support your argument. Do you have an opinion (or thesis) about a topic? Great! You can believe something is true, but you won't convince your readers to believe it too, unless you can back up your opinion with facts. As you read or skim through the articles and books that you find, make sure you know whether the information you find is credible. Use the acronym SIFT to remember the process:
STOP. Before you read more than a few sentences of an article, a book, or even a social media post: take a moment and find out if you know where the information comes from. Decide whether this source will be worth your time.
INVESTIGATE the source. Figure out the expertise and the agenda of the source you're looking at. Is the author an expert on the topic? Does the publisher work for a company that wants you to buy its product? Decide whether you can trust the source.
FIND trusted coverage. Find another source that makes a similar claim. It's best if you can find multiple sources. One person can make any claim they want to make; if multiple media outlets, multiple universities, or multiple experts agree on a claim, it's more likely to work as credible evidence for your argument.
TRACE to the original context. Social media has made it easy for anyone to make a claim and include "evidence" in the form of a video or screenshot. If you want to include this type of evidence to bolster your argument, you need to view it in its original context first. For example, if you see a video posted online of footage from fighting in Ukraine--even on a reputable news site--and want to use it in a research paper (or even just share it online with friends), find the original source of the video first. Is it from 2022... 2014... or another time entirely? Ask your librarian for help if you're not sure how to start.
Image source: SIFT: The Four Moves by Mike Caulfield.