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ENMD 4500: Medieval Dreams and Visions

Dr. Sara Torres · Fall 2018

Evaluate and select your sources

Once you've done some exploratory searching, you can begin thinking about how to represent the existing scholarly conversation around your topic, and how you will use it to frame your own arguments. The BEAM method provides a framework for thinking about how you can deploy sources in your own scholarship: as Background or basic facts; Exhibits or evidence to be closely interpreted; Arguments that make a particular claim; or Methods that illustrate a critical or theoretical approach.

Choose the most authoritative sources you can find.  By using academic library resources and search tools, you are focusing your research on scholarly sources.

  • Books from academic or university presses can be safely considered scholarly and authoritative. The Medieval Academy of America maintains a list of scholarly publishers in the field.  If you're uncertain about a particular book, ask a librarian for help. 
  • Be sure to use an authoritative primary sources as well; while there are many free electronic versions of Chaucer floating around on the internet, The Riverside Chaucer is the standard scholarly edition.  These standard editions often have useful scholarly introductions and bibliographies as well.
  • When looking for journal articles, select the option to limit your search to "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" journals, when available.  Peer-reviewed articles, like books from academic presses, undergo a rigorous review by other experts in the field before they are approved for publication.  This is the highest standard for published scholarship. Relevant journals where UVA faculty frequently publish include:
    • Chaucer Review
    • Exemplaria
    • Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
    • Medium Aevum
    • New Medieval Literatures
    • Review of English Studies
    • Speculum
    • Studies in the Age of Chaucer
  • Whenever possible, avoid relying on second- or third-hand information. If you're reading an article that cites an important piece of scholarship on your topic, see if you can track that piece down, rather than relying on someone else's summary of it.