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FYS: Stranger Things (Etzler)

This is a course guide for the First Year Seminar "Stranger Things" taught by Dr. Etzler

What is SIFT?

Infographic: SIFT (Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace)

  • How do you know if the information you've found is reputable? 

  • How do you know if it is right for your project?

  • How can you determine whether to trust the article, journal, website, video, or other source?

One quick and easy way is to follow these four steps as you explore online:



When you first get to an information source STOP and ask yourself:

Do you know that website? Do you know its reputation?

If not, use the other steps to figure out what you're looking at.

If you find yourself going off on tangents and getting overwhelmed, STOP and remember what your purpose was.  Are you looking for a quick and shallow overview of a topic or are you trying to chase down each individual claim in a source? Both can have value in different contexts. Use this moment to refocus on your original task.


INVESTIGATE the source

Figuring out the expertise of the person/group making the argument and determining the agenda behind that argument is the key to understanding what a source is trying to convey and why they are making the arguments they are making. 

Take a minute to find out where the creator is coming from to decide if the information they are providing is worth your time.


FIND better coverage

Sometimes you need to know if a claim is true or false.  To do this you may need to ignore the source and find trusted research and analysis to independently verify the claims being made. This could be as easy as checking a library database or reference source to verify, or doing a Google News check to see what the consensus of the community is on the topic.


TRACE claims, quotes, and media back to their original context

A lot of the information you will find contains evidence that is out of its original context.  Sometimes summarizing or clipping videos and quotes is done with accurate representation, but perhaps it has created a misleading argument.  Tracing information back to its original source will let you recontextualize the material to establish if the source you found was accurate.

SIFT Quick Tutorial Videos from Mike Caulfield


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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