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EN 106 Reading, Thinking, and Writing II

Why integrate sources into your work?

So, you know how to find your sources. You know how to evaluate and choose your sources. But, now what do you do with them?  And why do you need to integrate them into your paper?  It is essential to use sources in your paper for several reasons:

  • You are building credibility with your reader. Just as you looked in your sources for credible information used by the authors, your reader will do the same for your work.
  • You are showing that you are a good researcher. You have taken the time and effort to find good sources to back up what you are saying.
  • You are able to back up your argument or statements with facts and statistics.
  • You are able to provide an educated overview or different sides of your topic.

All of the above creates authority for you as the researcher and writer.

Below, you will find information on ways to incorporate your sources into your paper. Regardless of which methods you use-- if you are using information from another source you must provide an appropriate citation.

When in doubt, CITE IT.

Direct Quoting

A direct quotation is taking someone else's exact words, ideas, or thoughts and putting them into your paper. You must put quotation marks ("...") around these to indicate that you have taken an exact quote. Indicate a page number of where this quote came from.

You will want to use direct quotes sparingly. If you use several direct quotes throughout your paper, you are only showing what other people have said on the subject. Your reader wants to know what you think-- remember you are building credibility.

There are instances where you may want to use direct quotes:

  • When the author is using specific phrasing or key terms that you are introducing in your work.
  • When you are making a bold claim or statement where the reader needs to hear directly from the source to believe it.
  • When you simple cannot put into your own words what the author is saying-- they have already said it perfectly.

What if you have a longer quote?  This is called block quoting.

In APA 7th edition:

  • Any quotes that are longer than 40 words should be in block quotes.
  • The entire block quote starts on its own line and indented in 1/2 an inch.
  • You should maintain double-spacing throughout the block quote.
  • Do not put quotation marks around it.
  • End with the page number in parentheses. (p. 15)  If there is no page number, you can use a paragraph number (para. 4-5).

In MLA 8th edition:

  • Any quotes that are longer than 4 lines long should be placed in a separate block of text.
  • The entire block quote starts on its own line and indented in 1/2 an inch.
  • Do not put quotation marks around it.
  • End with a parenthetical citation. (Jones 84)
  • When citing poems or verse, maintain the original formatting as closely as possible.

For more information, check out Purdue OWL's citation guides.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is restating information from another source, using your own voice and words. Make it clear who said what and cite the paraphrased information.

APA examples:

  • According to Kosner et al. (2018)...
  • The purpose of this study design is to... (Jones, 2016)

MLA Examples:

  • In their essay, Smith argues... (15)
  • Although some experts believe... (Smith 25)

If you cannot restate the ideas or information in your own words and must copy it directly, make sure to put quotation marks ("...") around the information you are using (see the Direct Quoting box).

Summarizing

Summarizing pertains to taking the main ideas and information from a resource and conveying them in your own words. This is similar to paraphrasing, except you are referring to the piece as a whole, rather than one statement. 

Summarizing is not giving a play-by-play of the entire source, but only pointing out the key points of the piece.

Please note: It is still required that you credit this source as a whole!

Transition Words

Transition words can help your reader recognize when you are about to refer to another's work or ideas. Some examples:

  • Argues
  • Compares
  • Defines
  • Observes
  • Acknowledges
  • Recognizes
  • Indicates
  • According to
  • Identifies
  • Disputes
  • Analyzes
  • Criticizes
  • Defends
  • Explains
  • States
  • Believes
  • Asserts

Common Knowledge

You do not need to cite information that comes from common knowledge. These are items that are known by most people and you can find in many different sources.

For instance:

"The sky is blue."

"The Earth orbits around the Sun."

"Social media use can be addicting."

"Fast food is bad for your health."

However, you will also want to keep in mind who your audience is. If you are writing a paper on depression in college students, "Depression affects many individuals" would be a common knowledge statement that would not need to be cited. However, if you got more technical about how depression affects the brain, "Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain," may need to have a cited source, especially if your audience is not familiar with psychology and disorders.

Remember, however: When it doubt, just cite it!