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Source Functions: Background, Exhibits, Argument, Method (BEAM): Source Functions (BEAM)

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

BEAM model (Joseph Bizup)

Source Function Explanation Examples Common Locations
Background Factual and noncontroversial information, providing context

Encyclopedia articles, overviews in books, statistics, historical facts; see CREDO Reference

Introduction
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 section
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

Method (or Theory) 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 section or referenced in Introduction or Body

A source may serve more than one function.  For instance, a journal article could include background information, exhibits, argument and method.  However, some sources are focused on a single function.  For example, an encyclopedia entry on “Alzheimer's disease” is likely to only serve as background information.

Using Your Sources

Using Your Sources: The BEAM Research Model (3:25), from Portland State University Library

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