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Tips for Integrating Sources

Adapted from Duquesne University Writing Center

Follow three steps.

1. Introduce

2. Provide and cite

3. Analyze

For example:

Derek Ross compares the development of Monopoly through multiple iterations from multiple designers to the development of a Wikipedia article. He writes, “Monopoly was like a wikipedia [sic] article. Magie made the first few versions, then other people tweaked it over 30 years. So the name and the design both changed as time went by. It’s still basically the same game though. Very much like a Wikipedia article really” (n. pag.). Though other texts may not be “basically the same” after such revision, Ross’s comments show that attention to the workings of Wikipedia can help authors understand the iterative nature of other texts.

The tips below address each of these steps.

1. Introduce

Use signal phrases.

  • Signal explicitly when you are bringing in another source by using a signal phrase, that is, source author + verb (e.g., Smith contends).

  • Choose verbs that reflect what an author is doing. Be precise.

Do not overuse “says.” Consider these options:































2. Provide titles and credentials of authors.

  • Enhance your ethos by making clear why sources are credible.
  • Provide information geared to your audience’s needs and background knowledge.

For example

  • Professor of Library and Information Science William J. Cox
  • Albert Joseph, Vera Heinz Professor of Sociology,
  • Donna Loan Smith, women's studies scholar,
  • Experienced arbiter Elizabeth Johnson
  • Popular attorney Richard E. Baldwin
  • Renowned Pittsburgh symphony cellist James Greer

Beware of sources with no authors.

  • Lack of authorship attribution is frequently associated with lack of credibility.
  • Information is harder to verify when its source is unclear.
  • Attend to authorship of all sources, not just Internet sources.
  • Explicitly address why you choose to use anonymous sources

(e.g., "Despite a lack of explicit authorship, this article successfully explains...").


3. Provide and Cite

Know your integration options.
You can integrate sources in three ways:

1. Summarize: condense the main idea of the source into your own words

2. Paraphrase: capture the precise meaning of a small section of a source in your own words

3. Quote: copy the exact words of a source


Know when and how to paraphrase, summarize, and quote.
See the “Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Quoting” handout available at the Writing Center and on for more information on these options.


Paraphrase x 3.
Paraphrase a passage three times:

1. Paraphrase the passage.

2. Paraphrase your paraphrase.

3. Then paraphrase the second paraphrase. (Rosenwasser and Stephen 33-35)


Return to the original source to check accuracy only after you have completed all three paraphrases. This approach helps you get a paraphrase into your own words, thereby avoiding plagiarism and assisting you in learning the material.

For example

Original: “Shame to him whose cruel striking / Kills for faults of his own liking!” (Shakespeare 4.1.237- 238)

Paraphrase 1: Disgrace on him who punishes others for the very faults he himself commits.
Paraphrase 2: He who reprimands others for the same mistakes he makes should be ashamed.
Paraphrase 3: One who engages in the same behavior for which he chastizes others is dishonorable.


4. Analyze

  • Don’t let sources speak for themselves.
  • Analyze each summary, paraphrase, and quote you include.
  • Be explicit about what you want readers to notice (e.g., “Johnson’s argument illustrates . . .,” “This quote shows . . .,” “Here Smith demonstrates . . .”).
  • Do not just string together material from outside sources.
  • Use verbs that show that you are analyzing. Consider these options:











5. Put sources in to conversation.

  • Use sources together to help support and develop *your* points.
  • Avoid using only one source per paragraph.
  • Consider how sources respond to, confirm, agree with, oppose, elaborate on, and/or challenge one another and you.

For example

Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3

King attributes his success to a writing practice Murray discourages. Murray seems intent on having a student find and use his own words and ideas, rather than adopting theories and styles of previous pieces. He understands that students have all learned language from prior occurrences, but feels they can write their own pieces, using their own language, without imitating things they have previous read (6). King would disagree with this idea and lean more towards Covino’s belief that drawing from history, as opposed to merely incorporating personal beliefs, is an important aspect and should not simply be swept under the rug (36). King admits that when he was younger, the fiction stories he read had a huge impact on his writing style. He continues by stating that as he grew older, he developed his own style, but can still sometimes see influences pop up in his writing (130-131). Had he never read so many horror or fiction stories, attempted to imitate and usually surpass their quality, he probably never would have tried to write his own. King owes much of his success to an idea (borrowing other styles and subjects), which Murray feels should be avoided.

6. Attend to the language of sources.

  • Note the vocabulary, metaphors, images, descriptions, etc. authors use and the impact of these choices.
  • Focus on *how* authors present their ideas as well as what they say.

A final note

Notice how authors in your discipline integrate outside sources. Different disciplines can have different conventions. See what other authors do and emulate that in your own writing.


Works Cited

Covino, William A. “Rhetorical Pedagogy.” A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. Ed. Gary Tate, Amy

Rupiper, and Kurt Schick. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. 36-53.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2002.

Murray, Donald M. “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader.

Ed. Victor Vitanza. 2nd ed. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2003. 3-6.

Rosenwasser, David, and Jill Stephen. Writing Analytically. 5th ed. Boston: Thomson, 2009.

Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure. Ed. Grace Ioppolo. New York: Norton, 2010.

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