Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Short Stories

Your instructor will give you written parameters of the research assignment. Make sure that you read them thoroughly to understand what you need to accomplish. The instructions should include:

  1. The length of the assignment,
  2. The minimum number of required sources that you will list (in alphabetical order) on your Works Cited page,
  3. The timeframe for the assignment, with a list of due dates, and
  4. Other directions or a list of acceptable topics.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the most important terms about or describe aspects or elements on your topic of research. 


To illustrate this, let's think of the use of power in Zora Neale Hurston's short story "Sweat."


In order to determine keywords, ask yourself questions about the concept, like:

  • How was power represented in the story?
  • Which characters used or had power in the story?
  • What conflict and or implications came from such power?
  • What are the symbolic instruments used to illustrate the power structure?
  • How does the story's use of power illustrate larger social issues?

BEAM Model

Think about the type of information that you need to understand the topic and complete the needed task. The BEAM model was originally proposed by Joseph Bizup in 2008. He suggested that there are four main groups of information that we use in research papers. Below, we break-down Bizup's four elements:


BACKGROUND  General information that is accepted as facts. It helps us understand the topic. We consider this type of information as reliable and authoritative. Encyclopedias and dictionaries are great places to start! They are great places for a grounded understanding of the author, the story, and the timeframe in from which they came.
  EXHIBIT   Information to analyze and interpret. These are examples that support or provide claims. The primary text (the short story) and literary analyzes from peer-reviewed journals will offer you various ideas.
  ARGUMENT The content that one engages in a conversation or argument. How and why do you support, dispute, refine, or extend the ideas? Like the exhibit, you will get your ideas from the primary source and have supporting texts from scholarly articles.
  METHOD The way in which one analyzes the issue. Perhaps there is a set language, a procedure, or a model/perspective that one uses to structure the paper. This might not be a source of information that you cite, like the MLA Style for formatting your paper and citing the sources used.



Bizup, Joesph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2008, pp. 72-86. JSTOR,

Gather Background Information

Are you an expert? Do you know everything there is to know about your topic? Probably not. 

Finding background information at the beginning of your research is important to help familiarize yourself with the topic. It will allow you to identify a way to approach the topic or question(s) that you may seek to explore or answer in the course of your research and in your paper. Information that may give you more context include:

  • Broad overview of the story
  • Definitions of the literary elements
  • Introduction to key issues related to the story
  • Biography of the author
  • Major dates and events connected to the author and/or time frame in which the story was written
  • Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches
  • Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

Here are some great places to start:

Analyze and Evaluate

Refine Your Search

Boolean Searching

Research Databases

The internet is a great source for all kinds of information. You will be expected to use credible sources to support research papers, discussions and other projects in your online classes. While there are many newspapers, virtual archives, and even open source research journals available freely on the Web, always check with your instructor to determine what sources they consider acceptable. LSCS-Libraries, like most academic and many public libraries, subscribe to databases that index and, in most cases, provide the full-text of published books, articles from newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals, and even videos that will support your assignments, as well as update and extend your knowledge of the subjects you study in the classroom.

LSC-Kingwood Library | Ask Us: | Reference: 281.312.1693 | Circulation: 281.312.1691 | LIB 100, 20000 Kingwood Drive, Kingwood, TX 77339