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Research Introduction

With the challenges presented by the Fall 2020 semester and the increased dependence on the UVA Library's online resources, this guide is intended to walk you through the basics of access to our online databases as well as tips and tricks for honing your


Part of the challenge of finding resources is knowing where you should be looking. And to know where to look, you need to consider what type of information would be the most helpful! 

There's a lot of ways you can define different information types but I really like the framework BEAM that was developed by Joseph Bizup. BEAM is four categories of information and stands for Background, Evidence, Argument, and Method. I've outlined what each one means below and included a selection of databases from the UVA Library collection that fit into each category. It's not exhaustive but it should get you started. 


And if you'd like to read more about BEAM, here's a link to Joseph Bizup's article "BEAM: Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing" from Rhetorical Review (2008). 



You may need general information about a topic for a variety of reasons - you're starting your research, you need to know more about a topic that you don't know a whole lot about right now, or you could be looking for sources to use to lay out the basics for your reader.

Below are a variety of resources that the library offers that could help you get started with background information. 

Evidence (aka Exhibit)


Oftentimes in your research, you want to go to the source and find specific cases or examples of your topic.They're unique because they offer a viewpoint of a specific time period or point in time. Most importantly, these materials don't include evaluation or interpretation. 

These are a variety of materials that include:

  • Diaries
  • Photographs
  • Video footage
  • Plays
  • Novels
  • Clothing
  • Buildings
  • Lab Notes
  • Interviews
  • Dissertations
  • Patents
  • Technical Reports
  • Conference Papers
  • Journal Article reporting a new study
  • Journal Article reporting the methodology and research



These types of information are where you get into what scholars and experts in the field are concerned about and actively discussing. Don't be surprised if you find far more than you'd expect! Scholars are interested in everything so you'll find articles on topics from health care to Beyonce to social robots to comic books.

This is the point where you'll have to consider which discipline of scholars would be interested in answering the questions you have, and look in those related databases. Below is a link to the Subject Guides, and a few general databases to get you started!



Resources for the method will introduce you to ways of analyzing your topic and your overall research. For these resources, you can often look at similar studies or research that is on the same topic that you're interested in to see how other scholars structured their work. Your STS professor is also going to be a great resource for this type of information.