Sources and the F.E.A.T. of Research Writing
Research writing is geared to make clear multiple lines of argument, including multiple types of sources across disciplines.
What is F.E.A.T.?
F.E.A.T. is a system of categorizing types of sources.
F. Fact Source
A Fact source deals with the presentation of “facts.” “Facts,” in this sense, can be statistics, historical information, or assumptions that the author of a work treats as true – whether as evidence or as the object of their discussion.
E. Exhibit Source
What is commonly known as a “primary” source, an Exhibit is your focal object or text. An Exhibit can be a film, a work of literature, a historical document, an object, a painting, or anything you choose as the focus of your argument or thesis.
A. Argument Source
An Argument source presents an argument or thesis about an Exhibit. Usually, an Argument will be an article about a text, a historical event, an object, a film, or a social movement. Argument sources make claims about their chosen topic that are not necessarily obviously true – they provide an interpretation.
T. Theory Source
A Theory source offers a general philosophical, historical, literary, or social theory. It might focus on behavior patters, psychology, genre, or philosophy. Very often, a Theory source will provide terms specific to its model. A Theory source often provides a research writer with a useful pattern or concept through which to view Fact or Exhibit sources.
To summarize: as a research writer, you will rely on Fact sources, interpret/analyze Exhibits, engage/argue with Arguments, and follow/invoke Theory sources.
Fact Source: John Julius Norwich’s Shakespeare’s Kings
Exhibit Source: William Shakespeare’s Richard III
Argument Source: Waldo McNeir’s “The Masks of Richard III”
Theory Source: James I’s Basilikon Doron
F.E.A.T. System courtesy Prof. Joseph Bizup, Boston University Writing Program