How to Integrate Sources in an Essay

How to Integrate Sources in an Essay
Papers Use Citations by Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

Smoothly integrating sources into one's essay is a skill that any student can master. There are several ways to do it so readers don't get tired of one's paper.


To quote or not to quote? That is often the question when a student is writing a paper that involves research. There are times when it is best to directly quote one's source. So why would a student not want to quote all his sources?
Well, if a student's paper uses too many quotations, readers feel like they haven't read a cohesive paper. It feels disjointed and the writer's voice is overpowered by all the other voices he's incorporated. It's best to quote sparingly. But using direct quotations is a time-honored tradition, so students shouldn't feel that they can never quote a source.
When to Use a Direct Quotation in an Essay
Sometimes a writer will come across a quote that is either so astonishing or written so well that she would prefer to incorporate the quote as it was written, rather than rephrase it in her own words.
There are actually several ways to directly quote sources:
• The partial quote involves quoting a phrase or one or two words. For example, a student might choose to quote a small phrase from Shakespeare, "All that glisters is not gold," before launching into her research essay about pyrite ("fool's gold").
• A short quote is also a great way to incorporate information into one's essay. Sometimes a sentence or two from the original author is more concise and clear than anything a student could do with the ideas he's quoting. Short quotes should be fewer than four lines of text in one's essay.
• A long quote is sometimes used by writers who feel that it must be incorporated in their essay. Long quotes are five or more lines of text in one's essay, and the quote must be indented one inch further than the rest of the text. It is also not placed in quotation marks, as it is understood to be a quote.
When a student prefers to use a direct quote rather than paraphrase the information, he should also interpret that information for his reader. In other words, he needs to explain to his readers why the information is important and what it means if it is not readily apparent within his essay.
How and When to Paraphrase or Summarize an Indirect Quotation
Most times, indirect quotations are a better way of integrating sources into one's essay. Why? Well, first of all, it doesn't disrupt the "flow" of one's paper. The reader gets used to the tone or "voice" of the writer, and having another voice join the conversation can feel jarring at times. If, however, a writer puts his source information into his own words, his paper will often seem to flow better.
Another reason to indirectly quote a source is so that readers begin to trust the writer's voice as authoritative. Even though the writer is using information from another source, readers will trust the writer if he uses another writer's information well, without manipulating it, but rather using it to support what he is saying.
Paraphrasing is simply taking source material and putting it into one's own words. Paraphrases usually take as much space on the page as the original author's words. However, writers should be careful that they are not just changing a word or two. A paraphrase - in order to not be considered plagiarism - must be the student's own words, even though he is indirectly quoting another author.
A summary is similar to a paraphrase in that it is an indirect quotation in the student's own words. However, unlike a paraphrase, summarizing also condenses the information. For example, a student may summarize a ten-page article in one short paragraph.
Why Even Bother to Use Sources Anyway?
It's sometimes a great idea to integrate sources. If a writer isn't considered an authority on her subject, using other sources will back up what she has to say. It will make the information she presents more credible to her readers. Other times a student will know what she has to say but not have sufficient statistics; again, it's important to cite a source. There are a variety of ways to integrate these sources (through direct or indirect quotations), and it's up to the writer how she wants to do it.


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