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P is for Purpose

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  • Greetings from your librarians! This module will explain the P in TRAP. P stands for Purpose. When you think about purpose, you think about the intention of the source and the creator.

  • 1) Why is purpose an important factor when evaluating information? *
    1) Why is purpose an important factor when evaluating information?
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    Everyone has an opinion about things. As we discovered in A is for Authority, some people know more about specific topics than others. Once somebody is an expert, they are less likely to be swayed by their own bias, but it can still happen.

  • When anyone creates, they have a central purpose. They may be interested in simply informing their audience of a new discovery, as near to the truth as possible- like with scientific research. Or, there may be a bias. Bias is an unfair use of information. A biased purpose has used information to push the point to one side or the other of a central truth. It can be intentional or not, and it can be on the part of the author or the publisher.

  • 2) What is bias? *
    2) What is bias?
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    When you are doing research on a topic that you feel passionately about, you have to be careful about your own bias. While you may not agree, you must find other experts in the field who support your opinion before you can build a strong argument.

  • It often uses only some of the information in order to sound like the truth. So, it can also be difficult to see right away, which makes your job a lot harder. This is one of the reasons that peer-review is so important. When many experts agree that information is true, it is less likely to have a bias. When a researcher sends their findings to other experts in that field, the researcher’s work is closely examined. It is up to these other experts to make sure all information is correct before it is published.

  • 3) Why is peer review so important in the conversation of scholarship? *
    3) Why is peer review so important in the conversation of scholarship?
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    Other advantages of peer review include furthering the field of study in an object and positive way, maintaining integrity within the scholarly community, and saving wasted time and money because fewer dead ends are pursued.

  • There are questions that help determine if the purpose of your source is appropriate to your topic. For example:

  • Peer review can be difficult to determine for a source you find on the open web. A lack of peer review does not mean you shouldn't use the source. It just means that you should consider the other three factors of TRAP more carefully to ensure quality.

  • What is the purpose? Is the purpose stated clearly somewhere in an introduction or thesis?

    Read the introduction carefully to determine the author's purpose. For instance, if the thesis is something like “discuss the relationship...” is likely not persuasive. Words like “prove,” “should,” or “if” may suggest a persuasive or argu

  • Or, is there a questionable or maybe a secondary purpose to this source, like to sell you something?

    Look for hidden purposes, as well, like a great informative article that has a link to buy the author’s book somewhere in the middle. This does not necessarily mean the source is not a good one, but be aware of any potential for doubt.

  • Who is the intended audience? Is it written for scholars, or a less formal audience?

    If the intended audience of a great source is the general public, and you're supposed to use only peer reviewed, you may want to search for the original source. Some sources are interpreting a primary source, which would likely have a less biased purpose.

  • Think of it this way:

    When you buy shoes, the purpose factor affects your decision. You would not buy a pair of dress shoes to go hiking, right? No! You would look for shoes that fit your purpose.

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