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Links to resources for conducting Biology research at Okanagan College, and tips on how to use them. This guide also links to course-specific research strategy guides for some OC Biology courses.


The SIFT Method for Evaluating Sources

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield, a researcher from Stanford University. It allows you to use a critical eye for evaluating online sources and encourages people to use other sources to test the validity of reliability of information.

Stop​ - Before you read something and especially before you share something, ask yourself, Do you recognize the source?​ What kind of emotions is this resource bringing up for me? 

Investigate the source​ - Consider the source’s expertise, motivation, and privilege. Expertise may mean different things depending on the topic and the context. In some cases, it means educational credentials, professional experience, etc. In other cases, personal experience with a topic is more valuable ​Consider the source’s expertise, motivation, and privilege. Why is the author sharing this information?​ Is it for financial gain?​ To advance their career?​ To inform the public?​ To entertain the public?​ Who benefits the most from this information being shared?​ Whose voices are being amplified in this resource?​ “Nothing about us without us”: If the topic is about a particular community, is it written by someone with lived experience in that community?​ Consider your own privilege and biases, too: ​How many sources by women, IBPOC, and other marginalized ​groups are you reading?​ 

Find better coverage​ - What other coverage is available on the same topic?​ Most big news stories that are true get covered by multiple major news outlets.​ Keep track of trusted news sources and build up your own library of trusted sources.​ Use fact-checking sites like to investigate claims being made. For images, you can do a reverse image search

Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context - Going to the original source allows for a more complete and accurate picture of the issue.​ Your goal is to find the first person that reported on the topic and, ideally, witnessed the topic themselves. ​When reading online sources, pay attention to who they quote as a source and see if you can find more information. ​If there are hyperlinks in the source that point toward original studies, click on those to follow the chain to the original source. ​If there is a bibliography, open up the original reporting sources listed.  ​Google key terms (or the actual terms) if the source has no mention of the origin​. After you've found the original claim, quote, finding, or news story, ask yourself if it was fairly and accurately represented in the media that you initially came across. ​

Lateral Reading Infographic Guide

Lateral Reading

UofL Research Assistance & Instruction. (June 26, 2020). Lateral reading.

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