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English Composition: Evaluating Sources

Is it credible?

Research requires critical thinking in order to determine if the sources you are using for your assignment are credible and meet academic research standards. When you are judging whether a source is credible, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who wrote the source, and what authority or credentials do they have?
  • When was the source published?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Does it reference other sources?
  • Was there any peer-review?

For more tips on evaluating sources, check out these Quick How Tos:

SIFT Method

The SIFT method is a great way to evaluate web content, such as websites and blogs and even social media posts. It involves verifying what you are reading as you are reading it. The SIFT method covers four actions:

  • Stop
  • Investigate
  • Find better coverage
  • Trace the original content


The first move if the most simple - stop. Check in with yourself. Does the headline or title provoke an emotional reaction? Do you recognize the website or organization putting out the information? Do you know their reputation? If you're unsure of the source's credibility, move on to the next step.


Investigate the information source by reading about it elsewhere. This might involve looking up the author or organization on another information source, such as Wikipedia, to verify its reputation and trustworthiness.

Find better coverage

If the source you are investigating makes a claim, find another trusted source that corroborates that information. Look for reputable news sources on Google News or U.S. Newsstream. If no recognizable and reliable news sources have reported the original claim, you should be skeptical.

Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context

If available, follow links or citations to the original reporting source. Over time, information can be distorted or taken out of its original context, so it's important to verify claims by looking into the original source.