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ENGL 1006: First-Year Composition - Professor Hall

This is a class guide for ENGL 1006. Instructor: Todd Hall

Establishing Credibility


Web sources, found in search engines like Google, typically strip the context from an original source of information. It can be difficult to establish where the original source of information is from.

SIFT stands for:

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

SIFT helps users establish a strategy of web-techniques that involves assessing the background of a web source, evaluating the claims in a web source and seeking these claims out in other sources to identify the original source.


Pause reading the content of the web source and develop a strategy that establishes your awareness of the web source and your search strategy.

Do you know this web source or the web site already? Were you aware of the source's reputation before reading?

After assessing your knowledge of the web source, reevaluate your original purpose that led you to this source.

Investigate the source

At this point, you will need to know where the content is from before you read the content.

Taking time to evaluate the source's publisher, web site, and affiliated companies can help you determine whether the content is worth your time.

Find better coverage

When it comes to reviewing content, a claim or claims can give you the argument, direction, or goals of the content.

It is at this point you will want to review your source's claims and find alternative, reputable sources that support these claims. These sources can come from established, reputable sources found in your class guide, library databases, or in the library catalog, OneSearch.

Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context

As you are refining your evaluation skills by finding alternative, reputable sources using the claims found in your web source, you are tracing the information to its original source. Original sources whether scientific findings or a quote, reestablish the original context the information your web source may or may not have attributed.

This is a table detailing the differences between scholarly and popular periodicals.
  Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed / Refereed) Popular
Content More specialized, research based - often communicate research findings in a given field. General interest, often reports opinion in a story format; focus on current events and topics of general interest, and include a variety of advertisements for consumer products. 
Author Experts, scholars, and noted professionals. Authors are most often clearly affiliated with an academic or research institution and an address is provided for readers to contact the author at his or her institution or academic department.  Journalists, students, or anonymous, etc. Credentials not usually provided. 
Audience Articles targeted to experts, specialists, or scholars in the same field.  General interest readers. 
Bibliography References/bibliographies are always included.  Articles rarely include references. 
Language Higher level language with a more formal tone. Language used may be specific to a discipline. Broad and simple language, written to be understood by almost anyone. 
Length of article Longer articles, providing in-depth analysis.  Shorter articles, providing broader overviews of topics. 
Layout Articles usually more structured, may include: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography.  Articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure. 
Peer review policy Articles are reviewed for quality and accuracy before publication by peer or experts in the field. Editorial board is composed of scholars in the field.  Editor or editorial board are members of the magazine's staff – not experts in the field. 
Special features Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs.  Illustrations with glossy or color photographs, usually for advertising purposes. 

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