Check Your Sources. Use the SIFT Method!

Mike Caulfield, Washington State University digital literacy expert, has helpfully condensed key fact-checking strategies into a short list of four moves, or things to do to quickly make a decision about whether or not a source is worthy of your attention. It is referred to as the “SIFT” method:

SIFT = stop, investigate, find (other sources), trace claims back to original reporting

Learn More about the SIFT Method

The 'Introduction to College Research' textbook has a great page about the SIFT method. Click the link below to go to the page and read more details about this method. 

Check Your Sources: Use the CRAP Method!

Evaluate ALL Your Sources

Do they pass the CRAP Test?
If not, find better sources!
  • How recent is the information? If a website, how recently has it been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Does the information about your topic change rapidly or frequently?
  • Is older, historical information important for your topic?
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Does the source provide enough depth to be useful for what you need?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too easy or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this one?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research project?
Authority / Accuracy
  • Does the author/creator have academic or experiential knowledge?
  • Does the person being interviewed have academic or first-hand (primary) knowledge?
  • Is the information supported by evidence? Can you verify this information?
  • Does the source cite outside information?
  • Is the information reviewed or refereed?
  • Is the publisher/website well-known and credible? Does the URL reveal anything? (.com, .org, .net)
  • Are there obvious errors or typos?
Purpose / Point of View​
  • What is the purpose of the source – To inform? Persuade? Sell something? 
  • Does the author/organization/website have a known bias?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is it balanced?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Are there advertisements?

Let's Practice! - College Students, Grades, and Stress

Someone wants to write about how pressure to get good grades affects college students' mental health...especially their stress levels. What do you think of these articles they found?