When researching online, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available and simply use the first few pages that superficially seem official and relevant. However, with these simple tips, you can SIFT through the sources you find to determine which ones really are best, regardless of what PageRank, social media likes, or anyone else says.
SIFT is a helpful acronym for initially evaluating source credibility. SIFT stands for:
Ask yourself if you recognize the information source and if you know anything about the website or the claim's reputation.
If not, use the moves below to learn more.
Is this source worth your time? Don't simply take what the site says about itself at face value. Try Googling the author, organization, or website to see what others are saying about it.
(For example, a company that sells health food products is not the best source for information about health benefits/risks of consuming coconut oil. A research study funded by a pharmaceutical company is also suspect.)
Later, when you determine that the site is worth your time, you can analyze the source's content more carefully.
Why Lateral Reading?
Online Verification Skills - Video 1 (Newswise)
Lateral Reading in Action!
Online Verification Skills - Video 2: Investigate the Source (Newswise)