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SSI1-146: The Good Life

Evaluating Sources

Searching for any information on the internet can be an adventure and evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the research process. This page provides tips for evaluating sources for relevance and reliability.

Source Evaluation Activity

Imagine that you are exploring philosophical arguments about happiness. You've come across the following piece:

Lyons, Siobhan. “On Happiness.” Philosophy Now, no. 100, Jan. 2014, pp. 28-31. 


Look over this source and explore the features of the website to determine its usefulness and credibility.

(Note: You do not have to read the entire piece word for word!)

  1. What specific aspects of the article and/or website helped you determine its credibility?
  2. Is this source scholarly? Why or why not? Does this source present a philosophical argument? Why or why not?
  3. What kind of evidence does the author use to support their claim(s)? Are there quotations from other philosophers/scholars?

Lateral Reading

Watch the video on Lateral Reading (3.5 minutes) from University of Louisville Libraries Citizen Literacy Project, and reflect on how the strategies in the video compare to your own evaluation strategies. 


  1. Apply the lateral reading skills you learned in the video to the same article you previously evaluated. (You might start by searching Google for information about the publication or author and then branch out).
  2. Did lateral reading change your perspective on the credibility of this source?
  3. Would you/should you use this source in a research project?
  4. To expand on the basic information contained in this source, are there other terms/names/ideas you would like to research?

The SIFT Method

SIFT is a method of evaluating online information developed by Mike Caulfield of Washington State University Vancouver. This infographic shows the steps of SIFT: Stop, investigate the source, find trusted coverage, trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.

SIFT infographic


Learn more about SIFT: