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Evaluating Online Sources: 3. Find

SIFT Step 3: Find Better Coverage

If the quality of your source is low or questionable, it's time to find better coverage

This involves searching for other, more reliable sources whenever you need to verify a claim or information.

The first video [1:34] introduces the concept of finding better coverage, while the second video [4:28] explains this process in more detail:

Acknowledgements

Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course at http://lessons.checkplease.cc. The text and media is (for the most part) CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. The authors ask that people copying this course leave this note intact, so that students and instructors can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. 

The SIFT LibGuide at https://guides.lib.wayne.edu/sift (Wayne State University Library System), and the OER book Introduction to College Research (Butler, et al.) were also adapted in the creation of this guide.

How to Find Better Coverage (Example)

One common story that we see on social media is that a celebrity has just died. If we care about the person, we will often comment on the story or share it with others -- but, before you do this, you will want to verify that it is not a hoax.

Here's an example of a news story, claiming that the actor Keanu Reeves has died (spoiler alert: he hasn't):

With articles like this, that come from unfamiliar sources, it is vital to find better coverage. When a celebrity dies, or with any major news, the story is covered by multiple sources and easy to verify. Simply perform a Google search (just type in the main subject--in this example: Keanu Reeves) to see if any other reliable news organizations are reporting the same information. If you can't find better coverage, chances are that the story is not true.  

 

Search Strategy: Click Restraint

When performing a Google search, the first results are not always the best! In fact, paid content (such as advertisements) or biased sites are often promoted to the top of your search results.

Therefore, we need to practice "click restraint." This involves not just clicking on the first story we see, but rather, going through layers of results to find the story that is most relevant to your search, and comes from a reliable source. 

The video below [2:20] discusses "click restraint" in greater detail: