SIFT is a series of steps to take when evaluating the reliability of web sites and their claims. It is based on an approach used by professional fact-checkers, and was developed by Mike Caulfield from Washington State University.
Each letter in SIFT stands for one of the steps:
When you see a web site that you are considering using or sharing, stop and ask yourself:
Don't use the source until you have found out more about its content, its creator, and its publisher.
Watch the video below, which highlights the importance of verifying your sources, and then proceed to the next step (Investigate).
The quality of your research is determined by the sources you use. Investigate a source by leaving that web page and looking for information about the source elsewhere. Check several different places before deciding if the source is reliable.
Watch the short video [2:44] below to learn about some of the best ways to investigate a source. Proceed to the next step: Find Better Coverage.
Oftentimes the source of information you come across is not important, even if the claim itself is. What that means is, we can try and find the information we're looking at in other sources. This helps to both verify whether the information is true and to find a better, or more trusted, source of coverage.
"Trusted coverage" can mean:
As you work through SIFT more, you can build up a list of trusted sources that can become your "go-to," saving you even more time in searching.
Many times the information we encounter is stripped of its context, which can distort its meaning. It's important to trace claims, quotes, and media back to their original source so that you can understand the context and ensure the information is being presented accurately.
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:
Site or domain:
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:
|TLD||Category||A site with this TLD can be registered by...|
|.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|
|.va||Country Code||officials of the Vatican|
|.za||Country Code||mainly South African citizens and businesses, but no policy excludes others from registering|