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Current Issues

Purpose of Information

Scholarly research typically involves information published in academic, or scholarly journals. These journals are published by professional organizations or by academic institutions. They are written by experts. They tend to be long articles with graphs, charts, tables, and a long list of references. Scholarly articles are not easily accessible from the web. Many publishers charge $20+ for one article. Because of the cost, the best way to access this information is through the library's databases. 

Reliable sources may come from a variety of publication styles. Watch the video below to learn how to assess a piece of information for it's credibility.

Use CAPOW as a starting point to evaluate the sources of information that you find.




  • What is the publication date or last date updated?
  • Is the content timely, useful, and valid for your information need?




  • Who wrote the content?
  • What makes that individual author or organization qualified to write it? What other information about the author is included?
  • Who sponsored the content?




  • Is the purpose of the content to inform, to entertain, or to promote a product or service? 
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the information seem credible? If so, can you check the information against another resource (i.e. book, journal article, newspaper, etc.) for credibility?




  • Is content biased?
  • Are opinions balanced or does the author have an agenda?
  • How does the bias influence the information?


Writing Style


  • Does the information contain a bibliography, references, or a comprehensive list of sources supporting its theme, topic, or agenda?
  • Is content presented at an appropriate level for an academic research paper?
  • Does the supporting information fit your research need?
  • Is the work complete, or is it a summary of other work?

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  The 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 which they came.
  EXHIBIT   Information to analyze and interpret. These are examples that support or provide claims. The primary texts like scientific research published in 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,

Internet search engines, such as Google, can give you access to a LOT of information. We all have a tendency to gravitate toward this kind of search because it is familiar and easy. You type in whatever you want to know and millions of sites are immediately available.

For example, if you were writing a paper on how "technology is destroying society," all you would have to do in Google is type that phrase in to the search box.

The main problem with accessing information this way is that there are usually too many results to easily handle; 13 million is a lot!  More often than not, many of the sites listed in your results are irrelevant or they are not suitable work for your assignment; an academic paper. 

You have to effectively evaluate the sources of the information retrieved. -There is a good chance that DollarVersity isn't a credible source.

While Internet Browsing may be acceptable for some assignments, Scholarly Research is the standard and necessary type of resources for academic work. 

Google Web Search


Another thing to keep in mind is that there are algorithms working in the background that alter the search results on the web based on your previous search history. Learn more about this below.

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