SIFT Evaluation Tool
Use the technique of Lateral Reading to Validate Claims and Sources
(click on image to enlarge)
This work is licensed under a creative commons attribution license.
Step 1: Stop
Ask yourself whether you know and trust the author, publisher, publication, or website.
- If you don’t, use the other fact-checking moves that follow, to get a better sense of what you’re looking at.
- In other words, don’t read, share, or use the source in your research until you know what it is, and you can verify it is reliable.
Step 2: Investigate the Source
When investigating a source, fact-checkers read “laterally” across many websites, rather than digging deep (reading “vertically”) into the one source they are evaluating.
- Leave that source and see what others have said about the source.
- Piece together different bits of information from across the web to get a better picture of the source you’re investigating.
Step 3: If needed, find better or more appropriate coverage.
What if the source you find is low-quality, or you can’t determine if it is reliable or not?
- 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.
- Your best strategy in this case might actually be to find a better source altogether, to look for other coverage that includes trusted reporting or analysis on that same claim.
Step 4: Track the source back to the original.
What if you feel uncertain about the "full story" of a fact or claim, or you suspect someone might want to mislead you (as when controversial issues are presented)?
- Trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in its original context and get a sense of whether the version you saw was accurately presented.
Modified from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Graphic created by Suzanne Sannwald based on Mike Caulfield's work on SIFT. Creative Commons Attribution License.