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Liberal Studies


The four moves

There are alternatives to the CRAAP test, but most focus, like CRAAP,, on looking at the information source itself (for example the RADAR framework and the 5Ws method of evaluating information sources . SIFT (The Four Moves) is a method of evaluating information sources that looks at the context of the information and has the advantage of being a four letter acronym rather than a five letter acronym; one less step! Relating SIFTing to your friend Bob and what he's telling you.  Instead of believing Bob because he's been correct in the past, you go and check if what he's saying now is true. 

SIFT= Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace


If you have a strong reaction to the information you see then slow down before you share or use that information.  We tend to react quickly and with little thought to things that evoke strong feelings. By stopping, you give your brain time to process your initial response and you will be able to analyse the information more critically

When you find a source that might be useful, the first thing to do is STOP! Before you continue, there are two things to consider:

  • Do you know anything about the information source?
  • Think about what you are doing in the first place: what do you need sources for?

If you don’t know anything about the source, use the rest of this process to get a sense of what you’re looking at. Don’t use anything from the site until you know more


You don’t have to do any kind of in-depth investigation of a site before you decide to engage with it..Use a search engine or Wikipedia (or both) to find out more about the information source.  If you use Wikipedia, look at the references at the bottom of the page - they might be useful.


Sometimes you don’t care about the particular source that you find; you care about the claim the article is making. You want to know if it is true or false. You want to know if it represents an agreed viewpoint, or do othe sources disagree with the claim..Your best strategy may be to ignore the source that you found, and look for other information sources on the same topic.  Do they say the same  - or similar things - to the source that you found, or do they say something totally different?


A lot of sources might provide information stripped of context, or with omissions.  Consider an advert for a film that includes the line

".. a good night out..."  (Irish Times)

What if the actual quote in the Irish Times was:

"You won't have a good night out if you go see this film!"? 

The quote is accurate, but it has been stripped of its context by omitting what comes before and after it.

Does your information source provide references? Look at the references: do they really agree with the information source? What kind of sites are being referenced? Suppose your source is making a claim about a new medical treatment and cites a research paper.  You should look at the research paper (if you can) to see if it agrees with the source.

SIFTing is better than the CRAAP test, because you're comparing the information on one site with that of other sites.

What would a fact checker do?

Newspaper, magazines, publishers and others employ fact checkers to check the truthfulness of information.  The SIFT process uses some of the same techniques as fact checkers.

When you first come to a web source, do a quick first assessment, much like a fact-checker does. Fact-checkers don't spend too much time on a website; instead they quickly leave that site to see what others have said about the site.

  • Check for previous work:
    has someone -on another website - already fact-checked the claim. Search the Internet for other coverage on the claim. Do you know anything about other sites that cover the claim.
  • Go upstream to the source:
    is this the original source of the information, or is this just republication or reinterpretation of previously published work? If it's not original, go to the source. What does it say? What do others say about that site?
  • Read laterally:
    what are others have saying about the original source and about its claim? Have you looked at the Internet Searching page? You can use the site: and "-"  filters to search for what others sites say about the site you're looking at.  Suppose you're looking at  To see other sites that mention this site, search for

  • Circle back: if you hit a dead end, think about what other search terms or strategies might lead you to the information that you need? 

(Partially adapted from “Four Moves,” in Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Mike Caulfield, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License )