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Source Evaluation Techniques: Other Methods

Lateral Reading


infographic with ACT UP spelled out as below.

A - Author. Who wrote the resource? Who are they? Background information matters.

C - Currency. When was this resource written? When was it published? Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic?

T - Truth. How accurate is this information? Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Are there typos and spelling mistakes?

U - Unbiased. Is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view? Resources unless otherwise stated should be impartial.

P - Privilege. Check the privilege of the author(s). Are they the only folks who might write or publish on this topic? Who is missing in this conversation? Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you found. How are they described? What are the inherent biases?


  1. Dawn Stahura, “ACT UP: Evaluating Sources,” accessed March 22, 2018,


Civic Online Reasoning (COR), a peer-reviewed curriculum from the Stanford History Education Group, provides resources to teach students how to evaluate sources as if they were professional fact-checkers. Find free curriculum, activities, videos and more.

COR questions


Background - evaluation - argument - method

  • Background: using a source to provide general information to explain the topic. For example, the use of a Wikipedia page on the Pledge of Allegiance to explain the relevant court cases and changes the Pledge has undergone.
  • Exhibit: using a source as evidence or examples to analyze. For a literature paper, this would be a poem you are analyzing. For a history paper, a historical document you are analyzing. For a sociology paper, it might be the data from a study.
  • Argument: using a source to engage its argument. For example, you might use an editorial from the New York Times on the value of higher education to refute in your own paper.
  • Method: using a source’s way of analyzing an issue to apply to your own issue. For example, you might use a study’s methods, definitions, or conclusions on gentrification in Chicago to apply to your own neighborhood in New York City.

Bizup, J. (2008).  “BEAM: A rhetorical vocabulary for teaching research-based writing.” Rhetoric Review, 27(1), 72-86. Rhetoric Review27(1), 72–86.

Suggested Reading

Roach-Freiman, A. (2021). BEAM Me Up: Teaching Rhetorical Methods for Source Use and Synthesis. Communications in Information Literacy15(2), 227–239.


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