Integrating sources into your research paper
It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Make sure that your sources are cited properly. Backing up your points with evidence from experts provides support for your argument or thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic.
This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper. You must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.
All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger.
What is the best way to incorporate sources into your research paper?
The three ways to present sources in support of your central argument are:
- Quotation - when you use the exact words from the source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from.
- “It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop….Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).
- Paraphrase - when you state the ideas from another source in your own words. Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from.
- With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).
- Summary - much like a paraphrase, but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary.
- Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).
With paraphrasing, you must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation. More information can be found in this guide to Quoting and Paraphrasing.
When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:
- Introductory phrase to the source material: mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase.
- Source material: a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.
- Analysis of source material: your response, interpretations, or arguments regarding the source material should introduce or follow it. When incorporating source material into your paper, relate your source and analysis back to your original thesis.
For more help with integrating sources into your paper, contact the University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. A.A. Levine Books, 1998.