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Writers rely on background sources, interpret or analyze exhibits, engage arguments, and follow methods.
Reading with BEAM
Good writing requires careful critical reading. BEAM offers a mechanism for understanding the different ways scholarly writers engage with sources and allows readers to track those changes in the scholarship.
Writing with BEAM
The best academic papers are generally those that analyze specific exhibits in order to further conversations embodied in specific constellations of argument sources.
If you start with an exhibit, look for argument sources to engage; if you start with argument sources, look for exhibits to interpret.
Bizup, J. (2008). BEAM: A rhetorical vocabulary for teaching research-based writing. Rhetoric Review, 27(1), 72–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/07350190701738858
for materials a writer relies on for general information or for factual evidence.
The term background refers to materials whose claims a writer accepts as fact, whether these “facts” are taken as general information or deployed as evidence to support the writer's own assertions. Sometimes this information is treated as "common knowledge" and can be left uncited.
Tertiary sources like encyclopedias, almanacs, dictionaries, directories, guidebooks, textbooks, or even Wikipedia are usually used for background.
for materials whose claims a writer engages.
The term argument refers to a writer affirming, disputing, refining or extending a claim. Arguments can asserted with a writer engages in "conversation" with other sources.
Secondary sources like textbooks, edited works, books and articles that interpret or review research, histories, biographies, literary criticism and interpretation, usually serve as arguments.
for materials a writer analyzes or interprets.
The term exhibit refers to materials a writer offers for explication, analysis or interpretation. A simple example, or concrete instance that illustrates a claim or assertion; can require extensive framing and interpretation.
A good exhibit may be subjected to multiple and possibly conflicting interpretations.
Primary sources like maps, photographs, newspapers, diaries, interviews, artistic works, speeches, letters, memos, autobiographies, and correspondence are usually used as exhibits.
for materials from which a writer takes a governing concept or derives a manner of working.
The term method refers to writing in which an author identifies a concept or manner of working. A method offers a set of key terms, outlines a procedure, or describes a model or perspective.
Writing with BEAM
This will help you begin to organize your paper by ideas, while adding your own analysis alongside your sources. The matrix shows natural connections between source and allows you to visualize the conversation surrounding your topic.
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