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Library Research Tutorial: Adapted from Canvas Course

This Research Guide runs through the same information as the Library Tutorial course in Canvas. Use this guide to quickly access that information without needing to log into Canvas, and use it as a refresher for the main points in the Canvas tutorial.

Evaluation Basics

What is SIFT?

Source evaluation can take several forms. Begin by using the SIFT Method:

  • Stop
  • Investigate the source
  • Find trusted coverage
  • Trace to the original 

All sources, peer-reviewed or not, do require evaluation prior to use by a researcher. Yes, even scholarly sources should be evaluated using the following criteria (and perhaps more criteria not listed here).


  • date of publication

    • How recent is the source? Was it written during, before, or after an event occurred? 
      • A 1942 article on WWII will look different from a 2021 article on WWII. Both can be valid for use in different contexts. 
  • author

    • Who are they? What are their qualifications? 
      • A biochemistry student, biochemist, and economist all have different qualifications. We consider their writings regarding chemical compounds differently. 
  • publisher

    • Like the author, what does this publisher tend to produce? Do they have a good reputation? 
      • Especially with academic articles, beware predatory publishers.
  • purpose

    • Why was this article written? 
    • depends on audience
  • audience

    • Who is this article for?
      • An author will write differently to children, teenagers, adults, etc.
      • The qualifications and characteristics of an audience influence the style of writing, as well. 

The above questions can help us determine:

  • bias

    • Everything has bias. Even the most even-keeled, objective in appearance articles contain bias. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of.
  • veracity

    • How true and trustworthy is the source?