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ENG 1013: Composition 1

This ENG 1013 subject guide provides sources for research papers: where to find information, how to evaluate information, and how to cite information.


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Greg Tolle
Texas Woman's University Libraries
Blagg-Huey Library
P.O. Box 425528
Denton, Texas 76204
Phone/Text/Fax: 940-898-3754


Evaluating Online Sources

It's important to develop evaluation skills to assist you in identifying quality information. Listed here are two ways to evaluate sources, Click Restraint and the SIFT method. The Click Restraint video describes how to select sources based on their title and description. SIFT stands for Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace. The SIFT method provides evaluation tools to help determine if a site is credible before you select it.

Click Restraint

Video: How to Find Better Information Online: Click Restraint

This short video from the Stanford History Education Group illustrates the importance of click restraint and why you shouldn't assume that the first search results are necessarily the most reliable or relevant.

When you practice click restraint, you don't immediately click on the first search results. Instead, you scan a search results page, looking at things like the title and description before deciding on what sources to read.

Evaluate sources with SIFT - Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace

SIFT is a helpful acronym for initially evaluating source credibility. SIFT (from Mike Caulfield) stands for:

  • STOP. Pause and 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 four moves (below) to learn more. If you start getting too overwhelmed during the other moves, pause and remember your original purpose.

  • INVESTIGATE the source.
    Take a minute to identify where this information comes from and to consider the creator's expertise and agenda. Is this source worth your time? Look at what others have said about the source to help with you these questions. (See the "Four Moves" below for more on investigating sources.)
    (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.)

  • FIND trusted coverage.
    Sometimes it's less important to know about the source and more important to assess their claim. Look for credible sources; compare information across sources and determine whether there appears to be a consensus.
    Again, use the Four Moves below.

  • TRACE claims, quotes, and media back to the original context.
    Sometimes online information has been removed from its original context (for example, a news story is reported on in another online publication or an image is shared on Twitter). If needed trace the information back to the original source in order to recontextualize it. 

Modified from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Later, when you determine that the site is worth your time, you can analyze the source's content more carefully.