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Overview of the TRAP Method for Evaluating Sources

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  • Greetings from your librarians! This module will how to use the TRAP method to evaluate your sources. A source could be a website, a book, or a magazine, journal, or newspaper article. The TRAP method helps you go through a step-by-step process asking questions about a source. These questions help you decide whether a source is legitimate. You’ll consider timeliness, relevance, authority, and purpose.

  • T, R, A, and P just creates an easy way to remember each step in the process. T stands for Timeliness. Asking questions about a source’s timeliness prompts you think about when it was published. R stands for Relevance. Asking questions about a source’s relevance prompts you think about how it fits into your work, and how it fits into its own field. A stands for Authority. Asking questions about a source’s authority prompts you think about who wrote it, and whether that person can be trusted to know what they are talking about. P stands for Purpose. Asking questions about a source’s purpose prompts you think about why it was published.

  • 1) What does TRAP stand for? *
    1) What does TRAP stand for?
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    TRAP stands for Timeliness, Relevance, Authority, & Purpose, or the 'when,' 'what & how,' 'who,' and 'why' of the source's publication.

  • Using the concepts of the TRAP method help you think critically about what you are looking at. They are important in college-level research, especially when you are searching the internet (like when you are searching Google). Thinking critically helps you use better sources, which improves your credibility and gets you better grades.

  • 2) Why should you evaluate your sources? *
    2) Why should you evaluate your sources?
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    When you use good information, it makes your own credibility increase for your reader. Think of anything you feel knowledgeable about. You want everyone you talk to about it to care and to know as much as you do. This is how your instructor's feel about information. They want you to know what good information looks like, and there is no better way to prove that you do than to use it and ignore the 'bad' information out there.

  • You already use this kind of critical thinking in everyday life, like buying a pair of shoes, or deciding whether or not to go on a date. Whether you realize it or not, you are asking yourself many questions when you make these choices.

  • 3) You use critical thinking skills in your everyday life, in all kinds of situations, so you just need to learn how to apply those skills to scholarly research. *
    3) You use critical thinking skills in your everyday life, in all kinds of situations, so you just need to learn how to apply those skills to scholarly research.
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    You do think critically all the time! You may not realize it, but every time you decide anything you are using critical thinking. Think about this: you had to decide whether and what to eat, and you used critical thinking to make that decision. Questions you might have asked yourself include: Am I hungry? What sounds tasty? Is this spoiled, or still ok to eat? What can I afford to eat right now?

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