Synthesizing Sources | Examples & Synthesis Matrix

Synthesizing sources involves combining the work of other scholars to provide new insights. It’s a way of integrating sources that helps situate your work in relation to existing research.

Synthesizing sources involves more than just summarizing. You must emphasize how each source contributes to current debates, highlighting points of (dis)agreement and putting the sources in conversation with each other.

You might synthesize sources in your literature review to give an overview of the field or throughout your paper when you want to position your work in relation to existing research.

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How to Find Sources | Scholarly Articles, Books, Etc.

It’s important to know how to find relevant sources when writing a paper, literature review, or systematic review.

The types of sources you need will depend on the stage you are at in the research process, but all sources that you use should be credible, up to date, and relevant to your research topic.

There are three main places to look for sources to use in your research:

  • Research databases
  • Your institution’s library
  • Other online resources

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Evaluating Sources | Methods & Examples

The sources you use are an important component of your research. It’s important to evaluate the sources you’re considering using, in order to:

  • Ensure that they’re credible
  • Determine whether they’re relevant to your topic
  • Assess the quality of their arguments

You should have a clear idea of your own research question or topic and think critically when evaluating sources.

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What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment.

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources.

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

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Types of Sources | Examples & Tips

Throughout the research process, you’ll likely use various types of sources. The source types commonly used in academic writing include:

  • Academic journals
  • Books
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • Encyclopedias

The type of source you look for will depend on the stage you are at in the writing process. For preliminary research like definitions and broad overviews, you might consult an encyclopedia or a website. For original insights or an in-depth analysis of your topic, you might consult scholarly books and journal articles.

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Tertiary Sources | Explained with Examples

A tertiary source, also called a reference work, is a source that gives an overview of information gathered from primary and secondary sources but does not provide original interpretations or analysis. Examples include:

  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Databases
  • Bibliographies

These sources compile information from a wide variety of sources. They may also list, summarize, and index sources that provide original data or direct evidence (primary sources) and sources that describe or interpret this evidence (secondary sources).

Tertiary sources are useful for finding background information on your research topic, like key terms or the names of important scholars. But they are usually not cited directly in academic writing.

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Information Literacy | Definition, Guide & Examples

Information literacy refers to the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources effectively. The term covers a broad range of skills, including the ability to:

The term is often used interchangeably with digital literacy, but digital literacy may refer to a broader range of skills, including creating and sharing digital content. Information literacy is more closely focused on the skills that make you a competent researcher.

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Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples

A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing. It contains information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) if relevant.

Parenthetical citations are used in many citation styles, including MLA, APA, and Chicago.

Parenthetical citations should be placed at the end of the sentence or clause that contains the cited material, and they must always correspond to a full entry in your reference list.

Example: MLA parenthetical citation
Oscar Wilde believed that “the only question about a work of art was whether it was well or badly written” (Kiberd 120).

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