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Evaluation with SIFT: Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace: What is SIFT?

What is SIFT?

SIFT is an evaluation strategy developed by digital literacy expert Michael Caulfield (Washington State University Vancouver) to help you judge whether or online content can be trusted for credible and reliable information. The SIFT strategy is quick, simple, and can be applied to various kinds of online content: social media posts, memes, statistics, videos, images, news articles, scholarly articles, etc.

SIFT stands for:

STOP

INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE

FIND BETTER COVERAGE

TRACE CLAIMS, QUOTES, AND MEDIA BACK TO THEIR ORIGINAL CONTEXT

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Why SIFT?

SIFT is an additional set of skills to build on “checklist” approaches to evaluating online content.

Some checklist questions you might ask yourself when initially arriving at a webpage:

  • Does this webpage look professional?
  • Are there spelling errors?
  • Is it a .com or a .org?
  • Is there scientific language?
  • Does it use footnotes?

In today’s world, asking yourself these kinds of questions is no longer enough. Why?

  • Anyone can easily design a professional looking webpage and use spellcheck
  • .com or .org does not always reflect the credibility of the content
  • Scientific language does not always reflect expertise or agenda of the content
  • The inclusion of footnotes does not always reflect credibility of the content

SIFT: Evaluating Web Content

This video (4:27) provides a brief overview of SIFT.

Fakeout

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Fakeout is an interactive game to test your evaluation skills on spotting fake news stories. 

Click the link to play Fakeout

Acknowledgement

Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at http://lessons.checkplease.cc. 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.