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Evaluate Your Sources Based on Your Information Need
Not everything is best answered with a scholarly journal article. Consider your type of information need when you evaluate sources. Is the information you need best answered by a scholarly journal? Government website? Magazine? News? Book? Use the resources below to help you think more deeply about how you might potentially use a source in your paper.
A Perfect Source? NCSC Libraries
It is helpful to think about how to use a source when evaluating. Using BEAM (background, exhibit, argument, and method) can be helpful in determining a source's usefulness.
B(ackground): Can this source be used to provide general information to explain the topic?
For example, the use of a Wikipedia page on the Pledge of Allegiance can be used to explain court cases related to the Pledge, as well as changes the Pledge has undergone.
E(xhibit): Can this source be used as evidence or examples to analyze?
For a literature paper, this would be a poem you are analyzing. For a history paper, a historical document you are analyzing. For a sociology paper, it might be the data from a study.
A(rgument): Can this source be used to engage its argument?
For example, you might use an editorial from The New York Times on the value of higher education to refute in your own paper.
M(ethod): Can the way this source analyzes an issue apply to your own issue?
For example, you might use a study’s methods, definitions, or conclusions on gentrification in Chicago to apply to neighborhoods in San Francisco.