How to Integrate Sources | Explanation & Examples

Integrating sources means incorporating another scholar’s ideas or words into your work. It can be done by:

By integrating sources properly, you can ensure a consistent voice in your writing and ensure your text remains readable and coherent. You can use signal phrases to give credit to outside sources and smoothly introduce material into your academic writing.

Below is an example that uses all three methods of integrating sources, but you can integrate sources using only one method or a combination of them.


Example: Summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting

For Jung, the collective unconscious is expressed through innate, universal images. These are associated with the stages of self-actualization that result in the integration of the conscious and the unconscious. As Jung stated, the “goal of the individuation process is the synthesis of the self” (1969, p. 164).


When you quote, you include the exact words of another author in your research paper, in quotation marks, without changing them.

Quoting can be useful for providing precise definitions. You can also quote material when you want to analyze the author’s language or style, or when it’s difficult to convey the author’s meaning in different words.

Quoted text must be enclosed in quotation marks. You can integrate quotes effectively by introducing them in your own words, providing relevant background information, or explaining why the quote is relevant.

Example: Quote from a source
According to Emile Zola, art should reflect the fact that “there is an absolute determinism for all human phenomena” (1893, p. 18).
Longer quotations are presented as block quotes (as a separate paragraph, indented and without quotation marks).


Paraphrasing means putting another author’s ideas into your own words while retaining the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is useful when you want to show your understanding of the original source. It also helps you to integrate sources smoothly, maintaining a consistent voice throughout your paper and maintaining focus on the material that’s relevant to your argument.

When paraphrasing, be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism. Make sure that your paraphrase is sufficiently different to the original text and is properly cited. You must put the material into your own words, substantially changing the structure or wording of the original text. This is true for all source types.

Example: Original text
“While medicine continues to view the digestive system as being largely independent of the brain, we now know that these two organs are intricately connected with each other, an insight reflected in the concept of a gut-brain axis. Based on this concept, our digestive system is much more delicate, complex, and powerful than we once assumed. Recent studies suggest that in close interactions with its resident microbes, the gut can influence our basic emotions, our pain sensitivity, and our social interactions, and even guide many of our decisions—and not just those about our food preferences and meal sizes” (Mayer, 2016, p. 10).
Example: Paraphrased text
Recent research suggests that the relationship between our gut bacteria and our brain functions is more complicated than previously believed. Rather than functioning autonomously, our digestive system can profoundly influence our sensations, impulses, and decision-making (Mayer, 2016, p. 10).

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Try for free


When you summarize a source, you give an overview of its central arguments or conclusions.

Summaries should be much shorter than the original text. They should be written in your own words and should not quote from the original source.

When summarizing, you don’t analyze the original text—you only describe it.

Example: Summary of a source
In The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, Frank Kermode describes the human impulse to impose an intelligible pattern on one’s relationship to the past, present, and future. Kermode argues that the discomfort arising from human awareness of mortality inspires various apocalyptic fictions that transcend the personal and can be found across a wide range of religious texts and literary works.

Signal phrases

Signal phrases are used to attribute a quote or idea to another author. You can use them when you quote, paraphrase, or summarize primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

Signal phrases:

  • Introduce material from an outside source
  • Provide relevant background information
  • Help to characterize the author’s ideas and your own perspective on them

A signal phrase usually includes the name of the author and an attribute tag such as “has criticized,” followed by the relevant quote or idea.

Example: Signal phrase
Einstein stated that the description “of the position of an object in space is based on the specification of the point on a rigid body (body of reference) with which that event or object coincides” (2001, pp. 5–6).

Signal phrases can be used alongside in-text citations to distinguish your work from the sources you cite. Each citation style has its own format that you must follow. The most common styles are APA in-text citations and MLA in-text citations.

Frequently asked questions about integrating sources

How do I use sources in my writing?

There are three ways you can integrate sources into your writing:

  • Quoting: This means including the exact words of another author in your paper without changing them.
  • Summarizing: This means giving an overview of a source’s key points.
  • Paraphrasing: This means putting another author’s ideas into your own words.

Whenever you reference a source, you must provide a citation in order to avoid plagiarism.

When should I use quotes?

In academic writing, there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize.

How do I paraphrase effectively?

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive, or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

What is a summary?

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words.

How can I summarize a source without plagiarizing?

To avoid plagiarism when summarizing an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Cite the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Ryan, E. (2022, November 03). How to Integrate Sources | Explanation & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from

Is this article helpful?
Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.