Using and Citing SourcesAdapted from Reading Rhetorically by John C. Bean, et al. and A Short Guide to College Writing by Barnet, Silvan, et al. S
Controlling InformationS The ideal use of an outside source is to control the way you wish to develop your ideas. Your sources should help you support and clarify your own ideas.S You should not allow your sources to control you. Do not rely on your sources to explain your ideas, that’s your job. Similarly, do not just dump sources into a text and hope your reader understands their role in your essay. You need to choose and place your sources carefully.
Five Purposes for Using SourcesS Your use of a source should have one of the purposes below: S To use information that provides a useful background or a context for understanding your research question S To use information that answers a relevant question S To use information as evidence to support a claim or idea S To use information from an influential or relevant author S To use information to complicate a writer’s question
Three Ways of Using SourcesS There are three main ways we uses sources in an academic essay: S Summary S Paraphrase S Direct Quote
SummaryS Summary – a condensed version of the author’s ideas and works in your own words. You can summarize either an entire text or a portion that is directly related to your point. Bean et al. list the following reasons to use summary. S “When the source directly supports your thesis, or alternatively, when the source offers a position you wish to argue against or analyze” (124). S “When the source offers important background information of your ideas” (ibid) S “When you need to provide teachers with an overview of a source’s whole argument before analyzing particular ideas from it” (ibid)
ParaphraseS Paraphrase – similar to a summary, a paraphrase is restating the author’s ideas in your own words. The difference is that in a paraphrase you are concentrating on one particular passage rather than a whole work, section, or paragraph. A couple reasons to use paraphrase are: S “When you want to emphasize especially significant ideas by retaining all of the points or details of the original” (Bean et.al. 126). S “When you want to clarify ideas that are complex or language that is dense, technical, or hard to understand” (ibid).
Direct QuoteS Quotation – directly inserting the exact words of the author in your essay. It is crucial that you start and end a quotation with quotation marks. Failure to do so could be construed as plagiarism. It is also wise that you use direct quotation sparingly otherwise, as Bean et al. show, “over reliance on direct quotations weakens your authority and suggests that you have no ideas of your own to contribute…” (127). It is also important to remember that you do not need to quote an entire sentence or passage. Instead use short quotations in your own sentences. Some reasons to use quotes are: S “When the language of the source is vivid, distinctive or memorable” (128). S “When the quotation directly supports a key point in your essay” (ibid). S “When the person quoted is such a well-known authority on the manner that even a few well chosen words carry considerable weight” (ibid).
CitationS Citation is the act of acknowledging where outside ideas, facts, or words come from. Citing your sources shows the research you have performed and who has helped to support your ideas. Citation happens in two places: S In-text citations: using signal phrases, which name the author or work, and parenthetical citations, which give reference information like page numbers S Smith says “Dogs hate cats” (23). S Reference Pages (Bibliographies or Works Cited): pages at the end of essays which list all the sources used in the essay.
PlagiarismS Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s thoughts, ideas, or words without clearly identifying that they are from an outside source (Barnett, Silvan, et.al. 205).S Plagiarism essentially is trying to “pass off someone else’s work as your own” (205).S Plagiarism can be both intentional and unintentional, which means that just “forgetting” to cite a source is considered plagiarism.