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Getting Started IS 101 and beyond:

Research tips for introduction AND review.

SIFT: Actions for Evaluation

Introduction to SIFT + PATS

STOP then choose ONE of the next actions (you do not do all 3!)


Choose to investigate a source when you find something you think you'll want to read and cite.

  1. Add Wikipedia to the base url or author's name and search it.
  2. Check the Wikipedia page for quick credibility markers (that's where you can apply PATS).
  3. If there is no Wikipedia page, find something similar--preferably outside the original source.


Choose to find better, more trusted coverage when you come across a claim you'd like to use but want to cite a better source.

  1. Google the key terms. Use Google News if it's a news-worthy item; use Google Scholar if would be covered in a researched study.
  2. Snopes is okay to check for fake news, but always double-check citations.
  3. If it is an image, you can easily reverse-image search if you are in Chrome.


Choose to trace claims to their origin when you need to find who said it first.

  1. Google the key terms if your first source has no mention of the origin OR Google the actual terms if the source does mention the origin OR Follow any hyperlinked sources if they exist.
  2. Once you determine you are at the original source, use PATS to decide if the source is right for you.


SAMPLE SIFT + PATS workbook entry (using a source from the tutorial):

Title of Source (Website, Journal, etc):
  • TikTok video about plastic in the ocean
After you Stopped, which action(s) did you perform?
  • Traced the Claim to the Original Source; then I Investigated that Source
Briefly describe what you found:
  • The claim that plastic will outweigh ocean life by 2050 comes from a PDF report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum called The New Plastics Economy. It is mostly about how we can try to be more renewable with our resources to eliminate plastic waste.
If the source is reliable enough to use, what aspects from the PATS table apply to you and why?
  • I decided to apply the credentials and intention from PATS. Neither Ellen MacArthur or the WEF are scientists. Ellen MacArthur does have lived expertise as an ocean sailor and work experience working for years now to make a more renewable world. The WEF attracts a lot of successful and famous personalities due to its annual meeting in Davos to discuss global issues. While this means it can have a big impact, its intentions could be skewed by the wealth and power of the attendees. I will find better coverage of the tragedy of plastic waste in the ocean so I don't have to cite this.

As you SIFT, check PATS

PATS is four simple words that contain multitudes. Instead of being overwhelmed and using PATS to its fullest on every source, use SIFT to identify reliable sources, then choose the items from the PATS tables that apply to your sources and help explain why a source is or isn't right for you.

PATS with Characteristics

PATS with Questions

PATS Detailed

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