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SIFT - A Method for Evaluating Online Information: I- Investigate the Source

The second move takes some time.


Investigate the Source

It's not always clear where online information comes from or if it can be trusted. Identify the source and check out its reputation. 



Investigating the source does not require you to do in-depth research and analysis. Rather, this step is a quick check into the expertise and agenda of the online content in question. Taking sixty seconds to figure this out BEFORE reading will help you decide if it is even worth your time.

Here is a video (3:47) on the use of lateral reading to quickly investigate the source.

Search Strategy: The Wikipedia Trick

Please note, you are not using Wikipedia for information to cite on a research paper. You are simply using Wikipedia as a tool to check the credibility and reliability of the information from a source. A news source might be biased, but we don't care so much about that at this point--we just want to know their agenda (their intentions).

Here is a video (1:23) demonstrating how to use Wikipedia to verify a source.


Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from the Wayne State University Library SIFT LibGuide which can be found at and Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at 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.