Rhetorically speaking, purpose is about making decisions as a writer about why you’re writing and what you want your audience to take from your work.
Here are a few tips when it comes to thinking about purpose.
You must be able to move beyond the idea that you’re writing your research paper only because your professor is making you. While that may be true on some level, you must decide on a purpose based on what topic you’re researching and what you want to say about that topic.
You must decide for yourself, within the requirements of your assignment, why you’re engaging in the research process and writing a paper. Only when you do this will your writing be engaging for your audience.
Your assignment or project instructions affect purpose. If your professor gives you a formal writing assignment sheet for your research paper, it’s especially important to read very carefully through your professor’s expectations. If your professor doesn’t provide a formal assignment sheet, be prepared to ask questions about the purpose of the assignment.