Skip to Main Content

INST 2006: Dimensions of Culture & Society

This guide will assist students in INST 2006 with their local ethnography research.

SIFT method for evaluating resources

SIFT is a series of actions you can take to determine the validity and reliability of claims and sources on the web.

The SIFT method, or strategy, is quick and simple and can be applied to various kinds of online content: news articles, scholarly articles, social media posts, videos, images, etc.

Each letter in SIFT corresponds to one of the Four Moves:

A graphic explaining the SIFT Method: The S stands for STOP, the I stands for Investigate the Source, the F stands for find other coverage and the T stands for trace claim quotes and media back to their original context.


Investigate the source

Find better coverage

Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context


Find more details on the Four Moves from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Primary Sources & Secondary Sources Explained

During the course of your research, you might be asked to use primary and secondary sources. 'What is the difference?', you ask.
•PRIMARY SOURCES "you will discover information first hand often by conducting interviews, surveys, or polls." Here you will be expected to collect and sift through "raw data." You will be expected to "study, select, arrange, and speculate on this data" The raw data may be opinions of experts, historical documents, theoretical speculations of a famous sociologist, or material collected from other researchers.


SECONDARY SOURCES here you will make use of secondary sources of information. These are published accounts of primary materials, for example the interpretation of raw data. "While the primary researcher might poll a community for its opinion of the outcome of a recent bond election, the secondary researcher will use the material form the poll to support a particular thesis"

Quick Tips for ASA Style