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Evaluating Sources

Assess sources for relevancy and reliability

Using Your Sources

What am I going to do with my sources?  BEAM asks you to consider the function of the source.

Credit: Portland State University Library
Run Time: 3:25

BEAM Model (Joseph Bizup)

Source Function Explanation Examples of Types of Sources Where you might use it in your paper
B: Background Factual and noncontroversial information, providing context Encyclopedia articles, overviews in books, statistics, historical facts Introduction
E: Exhibit/ Evidence Data, observations, objects, artifacts, documents that can be analyzed Text of a novel, field observations, focus group transcriptions, questionnaire data, results of an experiment, interview data (primary sources) Body/Results
A: Argument Critical views from other scholars and commentators; part of the academic conversation Scholarly articles, books, critical reviews (e.g. literacy criticism), editorials Body, sometimes in Introduction or in Literature Review
M: Method Reference to methods or theories used, usually explicit though may be implicit; approach or research methodology used Part of books or articles with reference to theorists (e.g. Foucault, Derrida) or theory (e.g. feminism, post-colonialism, new historicism etc.); information on a research methodology Methods or referenced in Introduction or Body

A source may serve more than one function. For instance, a journal article could provide you with background information, exhibits, argument, and method. However, some sources are focused on a single function. For example, an encyclopedia entry is likely to only serve as background information.

Citation: Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008): 72-86.

Credit: This page adapted from "Source Functions: Background, Exhibits, Argument, Method (BEAM)" from the University of California Merced Library.