For any research project, you want to use a variety in types of sources as well as points of view. Some assignments will have certain requirements for the sources, in terms of genre of source (academic, popular), format (blog, print) and publication dates. To research a question in depth, the answer to the question of “how many and what type of sources do I need” is all of them. You need a variety of sources, both in type and point of view, in order to fully (or even partially) explore a research question.
Your professor may require certain types of sources, so it’s important to understand the differences between types of sources, such as a peer-reviewed article versus a popular one. It may also be helpful to think about at what stage of the research project a source may be useful. Reference sources, such as encyclopedias, are useful when reading for background information, but you’ll want to read more specialized sources and arguments when exploring your research question.
More important than identifying the type of source, however, is how you use them. Any type of source might be appropriate for a research project, depending on how you use it.
In discussing the usefulness of different types of sources, we will use the BEAM method, developed by Joseph Bizup. BEAM stands for: Background, Exhibit, Argument, Method.
Citation: Joseph Bizup. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review, no. 1, 2008, p. 72. JSTOR, doi:10.1080/07350190701738858.
The text on this page is from the Research Toolkit by Wendy Hayden and Stephanie Margolin, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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