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R is for Relevance

You may use this information instead of watching the video.

  • Greetings from your librarians! This module will explain the R in TRAP. R stands for Relevance. When you think about relevance, you think about whether the source is appropriate and important to your topic. Relevance is not only about how a source fits into your assignment but how it fits into your overall topic. When you’re deciding whether a source is relevant, keep this in mind: there is probably no such thing as a source that makes the exact point you are making in your paper or project. Remember, when scholars do their research and then publish it, they are trying to say something new or different.

  • What do you think makes a source relevant at a scholarly level? *
    What do you think makes a source relevant at a scholarly level?
  • 1) Great job!

    You answered the question correctly.

  • 1) Good try!

    While this may mean that the topic is relevant to your assignment, we are asking about relevance to the field of study. What makes something important, in a scholarly way, is that scholars are actively participating in an ongoing discussion about it.

  • If you find someone who has already made your point in a source, then you don’t have a chance to say anything new. If a source covers only part of your thesis, but gives you information you can use to write more about your topic, that’s perfect!

  • When you cannot find hundreds or thousands of results on your topic, that means it is not worth discussing. *
    When you cannot find hundreds or thousands of results on your topic, that means it is not worth discussing.
  • 2) Great job!

    You answered the question correctly.

  • 2) Good try!

    What this may mean is that you’ve discovered a new twist on something scholars have been discussing for years, decades, or centuries!

  • You can ask questions to help determine if your source is appropriately relevant to your topic. For example:

  • Does the source discuss at least part of my topic? Does the source allow me to build on the topic?

    You want to add at least a little something different or new to a topic when you join the scholarly conversation. If you are not saying anything new, then it may not be worth saying again. For your very first assignment, it is ok to add a single new idea.

  • Does the source provide a point I can disprove? This can be one of the strongest ways to help prove your point.

    It is perfectly acceptable in the scholarly world to disagree with an established authority, as long as you have some factual information to back up your point. That is what the scholarly conversation is based upon- experts politely disagreeing.

  • Does my topic change quickly? If so, does this source have the most up-to-date information?

    If a topic changes quickly, keep in mind that brand new information is just that- brand new. Newspapers and other current publications will have new information, but the quality of the information may not be equal to that within a peer reviewed source.

  • Is my topic still important in the field of study? In other words, are people in this field still talking about it?

    If scholars all agree on a topic, or there is no new information to add, there isn't much point in continuing the conversation. Ex: there has been nothing new added to the pro-choice debate in decades. This can be why instructions ban certain topics.

  • Think of it this way:

    When you buy shoes, the timeliness factor affects your decision. Say you find unused, mint condition vintage shoes that fit perfectly, and match your unique style of dress. Does it bother you that they didn’t roll off the assembly line yesterday? No! You still buy them.

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