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CHEM 110 Chemistry & Society

Resources for Chemistry 110 assignments, especially for finding and evaluating chemistry news

SIFT Method

When doing academic research, it's important to evaluate ALL information carefully and critically. Whether it's an article, book, website or a multimedia piece, use the process below to help evaluate any resource you're considering.

SIFT is a set of four moves created by Mike Caulfield, with applied examples. This summary has questions to ask yourself. Many of the questions should prompt you to quickly check other sources, beyond the one you have, to figure out more about the source and the context behind what you are looking at, so you don't waste time, for example, fact-checking a news parody site. Unfortunately, there's even some evidence that checking out the claims first, before knowing about the reliability of a source, can lead from one unreliable source to another. 






  • Is the source or presentation evoking strong emotions in you that might make you more inclined to believe or be skeptical than you would be without the strong emotions? 
  • Are you familiar with this source? 
  • What is this source's reputation? (Use Wikipedia or other methods to find out what kind of source it is if you aren't familiar.) 




  • Who is producing it? 
  • What is their expertise in the subject area or the expertise of the sources they draw from?
  • What are their motives? Are their incentives or reasons for them to be fair or to be biased? 

better coverage


  • Do other sources, maybe with greater expertise or less bias, agree or disagree with the source?
  • Is there a consensus among a variety other sources? 

claims, quotes, and 
media to their original context

  • If original sources are cited or summarized, does this source accurately describe or summarize them?
    • This is easiest to do when the sources are linked directly from the source, but using a search engine to locate the original source also can work. 
  • If audio, images or video are included, where are they credited to? Can you access the audio-visual materials in their in their original context? 
  • Pay attention to dates. For breaking news or a rapidly changing field, even a source that was the best information available at the time may no longer be accurate. 


SIFT - Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context










Infographic of the SIFT method for evaluating sources (by Mike Caulfiend, 2019, CC BY 4.0.

Critically Evaluating Websites

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