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ENGL 111&112

Updated spring 2022.

SIFT: Evaluating by Moving Away From A Source

Because bad sources can mimic good ones, it's important to use multiple methods to evaluate your sources. Ask a librarian for help. One way is to move away from your initial source, often by Googling elements of the source. This is the SIFT method, or 4 Moves. 

Stop

Investigate the source

Find other, different, or better sources

Trace back to the original source to understand the original context

CRAAP: Evaluate Within a Source

Another more well-known way to evaluate your sources is to look towards a source and analyze the source itself. Librarians often call this the CRAAP Test. 

Currency: Information timeliness

Relevance: Importance of information for your project needs

Authority: Who created this source and why

Accuracy: Reliable, credible, and true

Purpose: Reason for existence 

Ask yourself these questions as you read a document. 

Currency:

  • When was the information created or published? 
  • What was the historical context at the time of creation? 
  • Is the information current or out-of-date?
  • Is there any new or updated information on your topic?

Relevance:

  • Does this source matter to you?
  • Does it help answer your question?
  • Is the information an appropriate level for your topic and research understanding?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources, using multiple databases, multiple keyword search, and skimming through several pages of results?

Authority:

  • Who is the author, creator, publisher, or organization? 
  • What are their credentials, qualifications, and reputation?
  • What is the source of funding? Does this funding affect the results in any way?
  • Is an author and date listed?
  • Would your professor think this is a good source? Would you be comfortable using this source as evidence in your paper?

Accuracy:

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Does the author provide evidence? 
  • Have you reviewed the evidence and citations to make sure the creator interpreted their sources correctly? 
  • Can you verify the claims somewhere else?
  • Do you see any bias?
  • Do you see any statistics, graphs, or numbers that are misleading or lack context?
  • Do you see any images or videos that are misleading lack context?

Purpose:

  • Why does this source exist in the world? To inform? To persuade? To teach? To sell?
  • Do the creators make their intentions, thesis, and purpose clear?
  • What kind of information is it? Does it pretend to be something it's not?