B.E.A.M. System for Categorizing and Organizing Sources

Watch this video to learn about the B.E.A.M. system for categorizing and organizing different types of sources you might be using in your research.

B.E.A.M. Table

Use this blank table to organize your sources using the B.E.A.M. System. 


Instructor Ideas

  • To improve student reading: Have students label a reading they are doing for class, using B,E,A, or M whenever the author uses a piece of information.  Ask students to reflect on how the author used the different types of sources throughout the reading, and if labeling the reading in this way made them evaluate the argument differently.
  • To improve writing:
    • Use B.E.A.M. to give structure: Use the BEAM framework to structure a writing assignment.  Rather than asking students to include a minimum number of sources in their papers, ask them to use 4 Background sources, 1 method source, etc.  You could also ask students to turn in various stages of an end-of-term writing project, with each one including different elements of BEAM.
    • Use B.E.A.M. with peer review: Have a peer review session where students have to label drafts of each other’s papers with B.E.A.M. and then devise specific plans for revisions.


B.E.A.M. System based on:

  • Bean, J. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. John Wiley & Sons, 2011, 236-241.
  • Bizup, J. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.”  Rhetoric Review, 2008, 27 (1), 72-86.

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