POLI SCI xxx: UCDC Research Seminar

B.E.A.M.

What sort of articles and data do you need to find for your paper?  Scholarly, for sure, but there are many others:

  • news
  • laws and statutes
  • statistics
  • interviews
  • 'primary sources'

It's helpful when doing your research to think about how you will use what you find.  The acronym BEAM helps you make sure you find materials that will do the job you need in your paper. Research papers need materials in all four categories.  

B = Background information.    Do you know the seminal works, major scholars and theories in your topical area?  What about the actual definitions of the disciplinary jargon you're using?  Scholarly encyclopedias are the best source of background information: look in Oskicat under your discipline, with the word encyclopedias, [sociology encyclopedias]. Could also use Wikipedia, a textbook, a newspaper, or any source that fills you in on your big topic. 

E = Evidence   Often called primary sources, evidence is the stuff you are studying in your research.  Evidence could be news coverage, laws, court cases, personal interviews, statistics or data... whatever helps you prove your thesis.

A = Analysis  Here are the secondary sources-- analysis is usually written by faculty scholars or technical experts, who are themselves analyzing evidence that they may include or cite.  As a student writing a paper, you are doing analysis, so it's important to refer to the work of others studying the same topic

M = Methodology  This means the methods and questions you will use to analyze your evidence.  Each discipline has its own favorite ways of asking questions and its own ideas about what sort of information can serve as evidence.  You must know which methods are suitable to the disciplines you are working within.  To find methodology, search for books by using the name of the discipline and the word methodology.  E.g. Sociology method*.

[Bizup, Joseph.  "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review Vol. 27, Iss. 1, 2008]

Last Update: January 31, 2014 13:04