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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay)
- To give evidence from primary sources
- To accurately present a precise definition or argument
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.
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