Skip to Main Content

Writing 10 (Sandoval)

College Reading & Composition

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

NCSU Libraries (3:14)


It is also 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 For a history paper, a historical document you are analyzing.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.

Adapted from Hunter College Libraries, CUNY, "How to Use a Source: The BEAM Method."