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Introduction to Research

How to turn your topic into a search, search through library resources and the web, evaluate what you found, improve your writing and citation, and get help from a librarian.

How Will You Use Your Source?

Besides just asking if your source is credible, you need to think how it fits into the argument you are making in your research. Credible information that you don't know how to use is not helpful! 

A great tool for evaluating how to use a source is the BEAM method.

Check out this graphic on Analyzing Rhetorical Use of Sources: The BEAM Model from Indiana University Libraries!

BEAM Method

Beam Method overview. Text alternative below

BEAM Method - Text Alternative

The BEAM method helps you figure out how to use sources in your argument. Find your sources and evaluate them, organizing them by BEAM categories. One source can fit into multiple categories.


  • Sources used to provide context; facts
  • A few examples: statistics, encyclopedia articles, biographies
  • Ask yourself: Does it give generally accepted facts or foundational concepts for my argument?

Evidence / Exhibit

  • Documents, data, images, text you analyze; use as evidence within your argument
  • A few examples: original research, contemporary reviews
  • Ask yourself: Is it evidence I can use to support arguments in my paper?


  • Critical views and relevant scholarship; create the conversation that you're adding to 
  • Example: scholarly/peer-reviewed articles
  • Ask yourself: Does it provide an argument about my topic that my research can be in conversation with?


  • References to critical theories or methods you're using
  • A few examples: citations of scholars using particular research methodologies, specific philosophies or ideologies, -isms
  • Ask yourself: Is it about my method or approach to doing research?

MLA citation: Bizup, Joseph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008). 72-85.