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Evaluating Sources

A guide describing various ways to evaluate sources to ensure they are credible and reliable.



SIFT Infographic by Mike Caufield is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Stop: Before you read a source, share it, cite, or do anything, STOP and ask "What do I know about this source and what is its reputation?" 

  • If you can't answer this question, move on to the next steps.
  • You may also want to consider what is your purpose to determine how much time and energy you wish to invest.
  • If you want to read or share an interesting story, knowing if the site or author is reputable is probably sufficient. If it's for research, you will want to dig deeper. 

Investigate the source: Take a few minutes to investigate what the source is, who the author is, and if the author is considered an expert in the subject. Doing this helps you to determine if the source is worth spending your time on and if it is significant and trustworthy.

Find better coverage: Often something catches your eye because you are interested in the topic. The specific source is less important than in learning more about the topic and whether the initial information you saw was true or false.  So, take the time to find the best source you can on the topic to see what the facts are.

Trace claims, quotes, and media: Credible sources contain citations that help you do this. But even citations often need to be checked as claims and quotes can be taken out of context. Going to the original source and reading or watching it in its entirety is also a good choice.