Sample “OPVL” Paragraph
The origin of this source is a journal that was written by _________ in ________in _______. Its
purpose was to _________________ so ___________________. A value of this is that it gives
the perspective of __________________________. However, a limitation
is that ______________________, making ___________________________.
Just try to structure your source analysis with these points in a logical sequence; each one
should build on top of previous points.
· Bias does not make a source worthless.
· Try to give a balanced discussion of value and limitations (don’t spend a page on
value and a sentence on limitations).
· In regards to origin, make sure you research the who or what organization is responsible for
· Do not disregard a source because it is “merely” propaganda or advertising.
· Try to develop a purpose which relates to the origins of the source.
· Keep in mind different historical interpretations of the source.
· Is the source primary, secondary, etc? A historical artifact and an encyclopedia
article are very different.
O- ORIGIN: Origin is where the source comes from: author/artist, date it was written/finished,
which country the author/artist was born in, where the source was actually produced, in which
media (newspaper, book, letter,etc) it is presented. Where did the source come from?
Who did it come from? When did it come from?
P- PURPOSE: Purpose is where you have to put yourself in the author/artist's shoes. What do
you think they were trying to communicate to readers? What ideas/feelings were they trying to
express/evoke? (The purposeis especially important when it comes to pieces of propaganda
as sources), What are the ramifications of the origins? In terms of the historical context
of the source, what does it mean?
V- VALUE: Value is how valuable this source is. Basically it's linked to the amount of bias in the
source: the more bias = the less valuable (usually). Primary sources are obviously more valuable
than secondary/tertiary ones. Oh and obviously if you're doing something on
Hitler's feelings towards Jews, a diary entry from him would be more valuable than a
historian's account of how he felt. With the origin and purpose in mind, what value does this
source have? (Bias does not make a source worthless!!!) What does it show about
the society? What does it show about the type of thinking at that time?
L- LIMITATION: Limitations is also linked to bias, each source will be at least a little biased
and thus they are limited by that. If the source has been translated from the original (eg.
Hitler's diary entry was translated into English by a historian and you're using the
historian's book as a source) then the language difference will be another source of
inaccuracy and a limitation. Despite the value, what pitfalls in the origin
and purpose cause this source to not be valuable? Is it damaged? Was it mistranslated?
Was it “corrupted” since it was altered for a specific audience only?