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CINE 211: What is Media? : Evaluating Sources: BEAM

What is BEAM?

A method for classifying the function of a source in supporting an argument made in a piece of writing. Understanding the source's function can help you determine if a source is reliable in a particular context. For example, when faculty say that only scholarly or peer-reviewed are acceptable for an assignment, they often mean that your argument and method sources must be scholarly, but do not expect that your exhibit sources (e.g. a poem, a historical document, government produced data, the results of an original experiment) will be peer reviewed. 

BEAM Source Types


  • Present facts, establish information
  • This type of information is not contested.
  • Most often found in encyclopedias, handbooks, and textbooks, but can also be found in more complex sources. 


  • Explicate, interpret, analyze
  • The original evidence the argument will examine.
  • Includes primary sources in history, data in the social sciences, results of original scientific experiments in health and natural sciences, and texts or cultural artifacts in literature and media studies.


  • Affirm, dispute, refine, extend
  • Sources that interpret exhibit sources and make arguments about what their evidence demonstrates.
  • These are most often scholarly articles and books, and high quality long form journalism. 


  • Critical lens; key terms; theory; style; perspective; discourse
  • Sources that describe research methods or theoretical frameworks to contextualize which conclusions can be drawn from exhibit sources. 
  • Most often scholarly articles, scholarly books, and research methods manuals.