BEAM is a framework for discussing the usefulness of different types resources. Developed by Joseph Bizup as a more functional alternative to the traditional primary/secondary classification, BEAM stands for Background, Exhibit, Argument, and Method.
Bizup describes the need for BEAM this way: "If we want students to adopt a rhetorical perspective toward research-based writing, then we should use language that focuses their attention not on what their sources and other materials are (either by virtue of their genres or relative to some extratextual point of reference) but on what they as writers might do with them. We should adopt terms that allow us to name, describe, and analyze the different ways writers use their materials on the page or, equivalently, the various postures toward their materials that writers adopt" (75).
Background Sources - Materials that provide an overview of a topic, such as core concepts and facts
The BEAM method provides an avenue for instructors to discuss how to find, evaluate and use different types of information in an academic setting. Then, instead of requiring students to cite "three scholarly articles," for example, consider stipulating that they use one (or more) sources in each of the BEAM categories. (Note: Method is sometimes left off, especially in lower-division settings.) In addition, couple this approach with an expectation that all sources be evaluated using the CRAAP Test to ensure credibility.
Bizup, Joseph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2008, 72-86.
Excerpted from Evaluating Sources. Beeghly Library, Heidelberg University, http://libguides.heidelberg.edu/eval/beam.