Skip to Main Content
UWF Libraries logo
Your opinion counts! Please give us feedback.

COM6930: Capstone Project

This guide is intended to assist you with your research project.

SIFT Method

The SIFT Method is a series of actions one can take in order to determine the validity and reliability of claims and sources on the web. Each letter in “SIFT” corresponds to one of the “Four Moves":


The first move is the simplest. STOP reminds you of two things.

First, when you first hit a page or post and start to read it — STOP. Ask yourself whether you know the website or source of the information, and what the reputation of both the claim and the website is. If you don’t have that information, use the other moves to get a sense of what you’re looking at. Don’t read it or share media until you know what it is.

Second, after you begin to use the other moves it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole, going off on tangents only distantly related to your original task. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed in your fact-checking efforts, STOP and take a second to remember your purpose. If you just want to repost, read an interesting story, or get a high-level explanation of a concept, it’s probably good enough to find out whether the publication is reputable. If you are doing deep research of your own, you may want to chase down individual claims in a newspaper article and independently verify them.

Investigate the Source

Investigating the source means knowing what you’re reading before you read it. Figure out if this source is credible for the claims it is making before you engage with the content. This doesn't mean you have to do a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation into a source before you engage with it. But taking sixty seconds to figure out where information is coming from before reading will help you decide if it is worth your time, and if it is, help you to better understand its significance and trustworthiness.

Find Better Coverage

When the initial source you encounter is low quality and you just care about the claim, your best strategy might be to find a better source altogether. The goal is to find the best source of the information that you need. Think about the possible agenda of sources before accepting them as valid.

In order to find better coverage, you can do a “quick check” on a claim/story. Simply type keywords from the article title into Google and (1) observe any consensus, disagreement or controversy on the story, and (2) determine whether the claim is true or false by trying to find reporting by other sources you can confirm are credibleIf your Google search shows that this story is being covered by multiple outlets, that’s a good sign—after all, most big (true) stories will get covered by multiple, major news outlets.

Trace Claims

Usually, the original reporting, research, or photo is available on the web. By going to the original reporting or research source (or finding a high quality secondary source that did the hard work of verification) you can get a story that is more complete, or a research finding that is more accurate.

Finding original source reporting can help you determine whether an image has been reused or recaptioned to change its meaning or if a video has been edited in a deceitful manner. If it makes a medical claim, is that supported by the original research? The goal is to find the original creator of the information and to understand why they created it.


1st source: Click-Bait -  blog


2nd: NYTimes synopsis of study

3rd source: actual study