Integrating sources

There are three main ways you have to extract info from that article to use in your own essay: summary, paraphrase, or quotation (click on Next resource at the bottom right of page a couple of times to get additional info).

  • Summary. Use summary to give an overview, to provide background or the general outlines of something you do not need in excruciating detail. Remember to change the wording and phrasing significantly to avoid any charges of plagiarism.
  • Paraphrase. This is used when there’s a short section of info (maybe just a fact or statistic) that you need at a detail level comparable to that of your source but you do not need, or there is no good reason to use, the exact words of your source. In this case, put the info from the source into your own words, again making sure that you’re not too close to the original wording. One of the best ways to do this is to read and digest the material, then write in your own words without looking at the source. (The temptation to copy is powerful for all of us because it’s the fastest way to transfer that info, so you must consciously resist that temptation by trying to make it impossible.)
  • Quotation. In many ways this is the simplest option, seeming to involve just care in copying. However, it’s important to be selective in what you choose to quote. Think about why this needs to be quoted: is it complex material you feel ill-equipped to put in your own words? a particularly important summary statement that has more authority coming from its direct source? a cleverly worded turn of phrase you’d like to share with your readers? If the information can be just as effectively paraphrased, choose paraphrase! See this page from the Purdue OWL for more specific info on MLA formatting of quotations and this one for more general info about using quotation marks. One thing to watch out for in using quotation is to avoid dropped-in quotations by making sure to introduce the quote with some sort of signal phrase or otherwise to weave it into the syntax of your own sentence (see here for more information).

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