P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Process

Submitted by Ellen Carey on September 15th, 2017
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Short Description: 


I created the SIFT & PICK Fact Checking & Source Evaluation process to improve upon P.R.O.V.E.N. SIFT & PICK better distinguishes between lateral reading to fact check information and vertical reading to select the best sources for specific information needs. It is briefer and better lends itself to teaching concepts such as information creation,  authority/expertise, bias, and scholarly conversation, in the context of source evaluation.

Ellen Carey 4/14/23

P.R.O.V.E.N. was designed to provide students with a source evaluation process that was grounded in both the ACRL Framework and Michael Caulfield's "Four Moves and a Habit" from his ebook, "Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers" (2017). The process included both strategies for fact-checking by examining other sources such as internet fact-checking tools, and strategies for analyzing the source itself by examining its purpose, relevance, objectivity, verifiability, expertise, and newness. The "P.R.O.V.E.N." acronym emphasized the process students could go through to demonstrate credibility based on their particular needs, rather than the state of a particular source (i.e. credible or not). The questions were designed to guide this evaluation process, not to serve as a checklist.

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Learning Outcomes: 

After using the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Process students will be better able to: -Identify strategies for evaluating sources -Consider the purpose of a source -Identify the value of a particular source for their needs, based on its type, content, and age -Examine the objectivity and accuracy of a source and the authority of its authors


Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

At Santa Barbara City College, we are in the process of switching from P.R.O.V.E.N. to the new SIFT & PICK Fact Checking & Source Evaluation process.

In the past, we used P.R.O.V.E.N. as a supplement to instruction on evaluating sources, at the reference desk, in our Library 101 course, or in other courses with research assignments. We used a abbreviated version of P.R.O.V.E.N. on most research guides but are in the process of switching to SIFT & PICK on all guides.

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

P.R.O.V.E.N. was designed to get students thinking beyond a black and white approach to source evaluation (i.e. thinking of a source as either credible or not credible). We found that P.R.O.V.E.N. worked best when we had the opportunity to teach source evaluation as a process of determining the appropriateness and usefulness of a particular source for a particular purpose. SIFT & PICK is designed to support that process more effectively.

Suggested Citation: 
Carey, Ellen. "P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Process." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017.