Basic Terms and Terminology Relating to Evaluating the Author's Point of View in a Given Text

  • The purpose of the text: The primary intention of the text and what the text hopes to achieve.
  • The author's point of view: The author's point of view in a text is the author's personal opinion, personal beliefs, personal perspective and the author's personal point of view.

The Author's Point of View

In contrast to the purpose of the text, the author's point of view in a text is the author's personal opinion, personal beliefs, personal perspective and the author's personal point of view. Although the purpose of a text and the author's presentation of their point of view are aligned with and consistent with each other, the author's point of view and the author's purpose for composing the text are two different things.

In addition to the fact that the author's point of view and the author's purpose for writing the text are different, the purpose is often easier and simpler to identify than the author's point of view. The purpose of the text is often explicit, it is typically identified relatively easier than the author's point of view which is implicit and spread throughout the text itself.

The author's purpose in terms of the text can often be found in the first and last paragraph of an essay, the preface or introduction to a book, and in the introduction and/or the conclusion or summary of a piece of writing. Additionally, there may be, unlike the author's point of view, signals and signal words that alert the reader about the explicit purpose of the text. For example, you may see a signal phrase such as, "The purpose of this book or article is to inform you about..", or "In summary, you have learned about the pros and cons of…" which implicitly states the texts' purpose of to inform the readers about the pros and cons of a specific action or approach to a specific problem issue or concern.

On the other hand, the author's point of view can include several points of view, unlike a singular primary purpose of the text; the author's point of view is often interspersed in the text and spread out throughout the text which is in contrast to the purpose of the text which is singular and most often concentrated and limited to the first and last paragraph of an essay, the preface or introduction to a book, and in the introduction and/or the conclusion or summary of a piece of writing.

Additionally, the author's point of view can result from unconscious and conscious bias and preferences. For example, an author who is composing a persuasive or argumentative text uses their consciously known and recognized personal bias and opinions in their types of texts; but a person who, for example, is asked to compose an expository text, a cause and effect text or a problem solution text for a newspaper that is intended to be factual and without any personal beliefs or opinions, the author will have to be very careful to prevent unconscious and unintended biases from entering into their text. Editors often read and proof read these factual texts to insure that no conscious or unconscious biases of opinions have inadvertently or intentional crept into them.

At times, there are articles that are written and speeches that are given by a person who has a known bias as the result of working for a particular company. For example, if a member of a pharmaceutical company is asked to give a speech or write an article about a particular disease and its signs and symptoms, and the company that is being represented by the particular author or speaker, the author or speaker is required to disclose the fact that they are employed by this company so that the readers of the text and those in the audience during their speech can critically evaluate the content that is presented in order to weed out any biases than can, or does, interfere with the factual, and unbiased, content of the text or speech.

In summary, a critical reader should be able to know about the background of the author, the reputation of the organization or company that is publishing the text, the credibility of the citations within the text and the clue words in a text to identify the authors' points of view and also separate subjective and personal points of view from objective, impersonal facts.

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