If you find yourself including quotations or sources merely to back up your argument or to fulfill an assignment requirement, remember the intended purpose of sources and citation:
Adapted from Yale College Writing Center's "Using Sources" webpage.
Questions to ask:
The BEAM “rhetorical vocabulary” describes four different ways to use sources in a research assignment.
Some sources provide general information or factual evidence about a topic that can be used to provide context.
e.g., encyclopedia article, dictionary definition
These sources contain material that the author analyzes or interprets. Often, these sources are used to provide an example of, or support for, the argument that the author is trying to make.
e.g., literary or artistic works, field observations, scientific specimens, contemporary reviews, historical documents
These sources are used to provide examples of the discussions and conversations going on among scholars within the field. Often, a writer will either support or refute the arguments that other scholars are making, or else discuss how those individual arguments contribute to the broader conversations surrounding the topic.
e.g., scholarly articles, opinion pieces
These sources provide general concepts, theories, or procedures that the writer adopted to carry out his or her research.
e.g., references to theories/methods used by the author (e.g., feminism, New Historicism/ direct observation, mixed methods)
Based on: Bizup, J. (2008). “BEAM: A rhetorical vocabulary for teaching research-based writing.” Rhetoric Review 27, 1: 72–86.