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Identity Literacy: An Introduction to Cultural Competence in a Diverse World

Engaging with Primary Sources

SOAPS your Source!

Speaker: Who created this source? What do you know about them?

Occasion: What time and place is this source from? What is the historical context?

Audience: To whom is this information directed? One person or group of people? 

Purpose: Why was it written? What did the author have in mind?

Subject: What is the topic? What information is the document conveying?

Identity and Evaluating Sources

During the research process you will need to evaluate the extent to which the author's perspective or the format in which the information is presented plays a role in quality, relevance, authority, and reliability of a source. 

You will also need to evaluate the breadth and depth of the sources you have found in your research. Important questions to ask could include (1):

  • Author
    • Who is the author (or creator) of this source?
    • What other works has this person/creator produced?
    • What can you find out about this person(s)/organization? (Keep in mind that an author's/creator's expertise on a given subject may be derived from education, position in society, experience, or other factors.)
  • Purpose
    • For what purpose was this information created and who is the intended audience?
  • Methods
    • What methods were used to produce the information in this source and when was it produced?
    • If the information discusses specific communities, does the author(s) of the study/article/report respectfully engage with first-person experiences and views of members of that community?
  • Conversation/ Source Diversity
    • Does this author/source seem to be “in conversation” with other works?
    • In what way might other conversations impact the information in this source?
  • Perspectives and Power
    • What perspectives or which voices might be missing from this source? Why might these have been excluded?
  • Reflection
    • Am I researching a topic that crosses "identity lines" or researching a community with whom I do not identify? If so, do the sources represent diverse, divergent view points?
    • What role did my identity play in evaluating and selecting these sources?

(1) Gjerde, Ryan. "Immigration - CIL Guide." Luther College Library. 24 Apr. 2016, Accessed 11 Aug. 2017.

(2) Source: Wilkinson, Lane. "Information Literacy and Personal Identity." Sense and Reference, 22 June 2017, Accessed 11 Aug. 2017.