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Evaluating Sources

A guide to basic evaluation skills for sources.

Why do you need to evaluate your sources?

We are bombarded with news and information every day. 

  • What skills do you need to evaluate what you find?
  • How do you distinguish the good from the bad, what is biased, misleading, distorted, or outright false? 

This guide provides a variety of resources to help you become a more savvy and critically-informed information consumer.

SIFT Method

SIFT: Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Trusted Coverage, and Trace to the Original

S.I.F.T.-- Fact Checking Like a Pro


Do you know the website or source of information? Check your bearings and consider your purpose. 


Know the expertise and agenda of your source. Look up your source in Wikipedia. Consider what other sites say about your source. Open multiple tabs and explore. 


Look for the best information on a topic, or scan multiple sources to find out what the consensus is. Use Ctrl + F to find specific words. 


Find the original source to see the context, so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented. 

Are your sources credible?

The CRAAP test is one quick way of checking to see if your sources are credible and good to use for your research.



How current is the information?


Is the information related to your needs?


The author's expertise


Is the information correct?


The reason the information exists


The CRAAP test was created by librarian Sarah Blakeslee at California State University, Chico.


When trying to spot bias, ask yourself these questions: 

1. What kind of information is it?

Is it news? Opinion? Ad? Does it appeal to your emotions, or does it make you think?

2. Who and what are the sources cited, and why should you believe them?

Are the sources given? Are the sources associated with a political party or special interest group?

3. What’s the evidence, and how was it vetted?

What’s the evidence, and how was it vetted? Is the source a document? Witness? Or is it hearsay/speculation?

4: Is the main point of the piece proven by the evidence?

Did the sources provided justify the conclusion or main point of the story?

5. What’s missing?

Was there an aspect or point that was not covered or unclear that you are left wondering about?


Based on questions from the American Press Institute.

Learn More about Evaluating Sources