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ENGL 057 - Critical Connections in Reading and Writing - Thaker

Class Research Guide

SIFT Method by Mike Caufield

SIFT Information Evaluation | Piktochart Visual Editor

SIFT Information Evaluation Habits (image text)

Below are simple habits to practice when looking at information...

  • Stop
    • Do you know the website?
    • What is its reputation?
    • What is your purpose?
    • How do you feel?
    • Consider cognitive biases.
  • Investigate the Source
    • What exactly is the source?
    • What can you find out about the website? 
    • What about the author?
    • Is it worth your time?
    • Stuck? Try steps under [W]ebsite & [A]uthor
  • Find other coverage
    • Is other coverage similar?
    • Can you find a better source?
    • One more trusted?
    • More in-depth?
    • What do expert sources agree on with coverage?
    • Stuck? Try steps under [A]rticle
  • Trace claims, quotes, media to the original context
    • Can you find the original source? 
    • What is the original context?
    • Has it been accurately presented?
    • Stuck? Try steps under [C]laim

Graphic created by Suzanne Sannwald based on Mike Caufield's work on SIFT (

Sample Websites

Evaluate websites using the SIFT Method: Stop Take a close look at the website, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, Trace claims, quotes, & media original sources.

Types of Top Level Domains and their Uses

As a starting point for evaluating websites, one might use the part of the web address immediately after the "dot" (for example, .com) to try to determine the reliability of the information. This part of the address (or URL) is called a "top-level domain" that someone asks to have when creating their website. The websites you most frequently visit have top-level domains, or TLDs, that likely fall into one of the following categories:

  • Country Codes - two letter representation for a country, individual countries determine who may receive a website within their country code
  • Unrestricted - three or more letter, no requirements necessary for a website ending with these TLDs
  • Sponsored - three or more letters, a Sponsoring organization determines what requirements must be met and regulates whether they are met before allowing that website to exist.
This table provides some common top-level domains, the category they fall into, and their typical usage
TLD Category A site with this TLD can be registered by...
.com Unrestricted Anyone
.edu Sponsored An accredited US-based college or university approved by EDUCAUSE
.gov Sponsored federal, state, or local governments within the US approved by an independent government agency
.net Unrestricted Anyone
.org Unrestricted Anyone
.va Country Code officials of the Vatican
.za Country Code mainly South African citizens and businesses, but no policy excludes others from registering

Google Advanced Search & Tips

Google Advanced

Google’s Advanced Search provides easy access to more relevant results.

Add .edu, .org. or. Gov into the “site or domain” box to target more reliable websites.

Find pages with…

All these words:

This exact word or Phrase:


Any of these words:

None of these words:             

Then narrow your results by….



Last update:

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