Purpose, as used by Librarians or Information Theorists (as opposed to the way Rhetoricians reference Purpose) concerns questioning

  • What can you determine about the source’s purpose? Does it have political, ideological, cultural, or other biases that may slant the information?

Purpose is one of the five critical reading concerns proposed by Sarah Blakeslee (2004): Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.


See Also: Purpose (Rhetoric)

When gathering information to use as evidence in your research project, you need to pay careful attention to the purpose of the source. Ask yourself if the purpose of the information is to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade.

Purpose: Critical Reading Questions

  • What purpose guides the author? to teach, persuade, sell, or entertain?
  • Does this resource add knowledge to the universal information on the topic?
  • Is the information verifiable fact, or is it opinion/propaganda, lacking credible cited references?
  • Is this information presented with an agenda? Do you think it is biased? Is it trying to make you feel a certain way?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • If there is a clear opinion presented, is that opinion acknowledged?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • When dealing with websites: what is the site’s url extension? This can sometimes (but not always!) give you insight into a website’s purpose. (see Understanding URLs).