Research is connected to your writing. Relevant sources will address your questions and fit your purpose. BEAM is an acronym intended to help students think about the various ways we might use sources when writing a researched argument. Joseph Bizup, an English professor at Boston University, outlined the framework in a 2008 article. The idea has since been refined and adapted by many others.
You might be wondering why a SPAN 402 student would consult subject encyclopedias. The quick answer is that they can be excellent resources for identifying primary and secondary sources. Additionally, it can't hurt to make sure you have a good sense of how your research question fits in with other scholarly research that has been done--and the bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia articles are an efficient way to make sure you know who the scholars are who've been working on this topic.
Remember that tertiary sources are intended to fill in gaps in your knowledge or jumpstart your research; they should not be cited as scholarly secondary sources for your project.
Subject encyclopedias at Collins Library may be in print format, or, when available, in electronic format. Print subject encyclopedias are located in call number order in the reference section on the first floor of the library. Online subject encyclopedias are bundled together into packages (see the list below). Online resources have the advantage of being continually updated.