CMST 220 Public Speaking (Denton)

This guide will help you find evidence for an informative speech or a persuasive speech on a selected social issue for Kelsey Denton's CMST &220.

Once you've started to find some research sources, you'll want to choose the information that best fits your needs! Keep in mind that you want the information to be relevant to your topic, but also to be credible so your audience will find the information convincing and worth their time.

  • Not sure is a source counts as academic? Check out the "What is an 'academic' or 'scholarly' source?" below.
  • Need to check a website or online claimTry the SIFT assessment.
  • Want even more help with evaluating? Check out "How do I evaluate using the CRAP test?"

Source: "Research 101: Credibility is Contextual" by Anna Eisen, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn about how credibility depends on many factors including the author, audience and purpose.

SIFT icons

  • Stop. Think critically. Avoid looking only for information that confirms your own view. Have an open mind to consider new or controversial topics and seek to understand.
  • Investigate. Find out who the author is, why they wrote it, etc.
  • Find better coverage. Read laterally. Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source.
  • Trace claims. Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original source.


STOP reminds you of two things:

First, when you first hit a page or post and start to read it — STOP.  

  • Ask yourself whether you know the website or source of the information, and what the reputation of both the claim and the website is. If you don’t have that information, use the other moves to get a sense of what you’re looking at.
  • Don’t read it or share media until you know what it is.

Second, after you begin to fact-check, it can be easy to want to "keep going" or get lost clicking on result after result. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, STOP and take a second to remember your goal.

  • If you just want to repost, read an interesting story, or get a high-level explanation of a concept, it’s probably good enough to find out whether the publication is reputable (Investigate the source, then stop).
  • If you are doing deep research of your own, you may want to chase down individual claims and verify them (Do all four SIFT moves.).

Investigate the source

The idea here is that you want to know what you’re reading before you read it.

Now, you don’t have to do a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation into a source before you use it. But if you’re reading an article on economics by a Nobel prize-winning economist, you should know that. On the other side, if you’re watching a video on the benefits of milk that was created by the dairy industry, you want to know that as well.

Knowing the expertise and likely bias of the source is crucial to your interpretation of what they say. 

How to investigate the source (2:45):

Find better coverage

When you don't care about a source -- or already suspect bias -- your best bet is to go out and find the best source you can on the topic, or look for consensus, to check the claims the original source is making.

How to find better coverage (4:10):

Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context

Much of what we find on the internet has been stripped of context, and we're not sure if we're receiving all the details. In these cases, you can trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in it’s original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented.

How to identify a claim from elsewhere and how to trace it (1:34):

Adapted from "SIFT (The Four Moves)" by Mike Caulfield, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Maybe it was easy to find, but is it good? 

Assess: Does this information belong in my academic project or is it .... CRAP?


  • How recent is the information?
  • If a website, how recently has it been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic? (Is this a  field with rapidly changing information?)


  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is  it balanced?
  • Does the creator provide citations or sources?
  • Can you verify the info elsewhere?

Authority / Accuracy

  • Can you find the credentials of the author or  creator of the information?
  • If a website, is a known, objective organization responsible for the information (example: .gov, .org, .edu domains)?
  • Are there obvious errors or typos?

Purpose / Point of View

  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Are there advertisements?
  • Is the creator/author trying to:
  • Sell you  something?
  • Inform you?
  • Entertain?
  • Persuade?  
  • What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this  information? Can you determine if the publisher  has a political, religious, or other ideology to  promote?

Source: "Using the C.R.A.P. Test to Evaluate Websites" by Portland State University Library, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

This video explains the C.R.A.P. test and then uses it to evaluate three websites on the topic of performance enhancing drugs in sports.

What is an 'academic' or 'scholarly' source?

Source: "How to Identify Academic Sources" by Dan Reade, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to determine if a source is academic and how while all academic sources can be credible, not all credible sources are academic.