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Politics and Governance

TMU Libraries provide access to a many great resources to help you with your research and assignments. Use this guide to get started!

Evaluating sources using SIFT

What are popular sources:

Non-scholarly sources can contain a wealth of well-researched information for your topic, but their intended audience and their review process is different than scholarly sources.

Here are some definitions:

Popular Sources:

  • include magazines, trade journals, newspapers, books, websites, Youtube etc.,.

  • written or produced for a general audience and are informal in tone and scope

  • rarely cite other sources

  • Magazines, newspapers and books have an editor review the work but are not peer reviewed

  • tend to be short (200-500 words)


Evaluating What You Find: (don't fall for a hoax website or misinformation)

Newspapers of Record (Definition)

Resources like the Globe and Mail or the CBC are popular and considered trustworthy institutions that abide by journalistic standards and practices. You can do a quick google search to find a newspaper or media outlet's standards and code of ethics.

Resources like newspapers and magazines are available through the library's website (See box called "Library's Newspaper Collection"). As a student you get free access to newspapers from all over Canada and the world. 


Some popular sources might be less trustworthy and have an agenda or bias. For example, they might have strong political agendas or have an anti-vaccine stance. Some might be a hoax or a satirical website that appears to look like legitimate news. 

We recommend you use the SIFT Method when evaluating a website or a newspaper you are not familiar with. 

*Even when reading an article in a newspaper like the Globe and Mail, check out the author's bio that is usually at the bottom or top of the piece. Sometimes they are paid advertisements or the author is a guest-author and might be representing their own agenda and not the newspapers. Again, this will be noted by the author in either the top or bottom of the article.   


Mike Caulfield


1. Stop and evaluate your source!

2. Google the author, or the publication - what are other sources/websites saying about this author or publication.

3. Is there another source covering the same topic that has an established reputation for following research or journalistic ethics? Like a scholarly article from the library's database? 

4. Copy a quote or a claim and paste it into google. Are other sources saying the same thing? You might even find the original source.    


More guides for evaluating online sources and spotting misinformation: 

How can I spot misinformation about Covid-19? (UofT Libraries)  

Evaluating Online Resources (Rowan University Library)