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How to Use Sources in Your Writing

Published by on 2017-11-24 08:57:28

While you are studying, you are supposed to write lots of papers. Every essay, thesis, or research paper completed by a student is always supported with citations from previously published works. Its time to find out how to choose and use them properly.

What are Sources?

A source is a material you consult to have enough information to answer the question(s) of your writing. A source can be a book, journal, or other printed documents, an online newsletter or a blog, a speech, or even a TV program. There are two kinds of sources among them: primary and secondary. A primary source is a place where the information appears originally. A secondary source represents information taken from a primary source. It is no wonder that it is preferred to use primary sources whenever possible.

Where to Find Sources?

Research is the most important stage of essay writing. But how to find credible sources to base your arguments on? Here is our list of approved ways to get good works for referencing:

  • ask your teacher or a librarian: these people help students like you every day and will give you a right direction;
  • read academic journals on the topic related to the subject of your paper: Google Scholar or Microsoft Academic Search will help you find a relevant article;
  • use Google Books service to explore the most powerful source of information.

How to Put a Quote in an Essay

There are three ways to introduce a source: to quote, rewrite, or summarize. Do not overuse each of them to keep your essay A-deserving and at a manageable length.

The best cases to use the direct quote:

  • The piece of text you refer to is an object of your analysis.
  • The author possesses great authority.
  • You cannot make a paraphrasing more concise than the direct quote.
  • The wording of the phrase is very powerful.
Quotation sample

Paraphrasing is widely used when:

  • The meaning is more important than the language it is expressed with.
  • You need to add some specific details for better understanding of your arguments.
  • The wording of the original text is too complicated and you want to simplify it.
Paraphrasing sample

Summarizing is appropriate if:

  • The meaning of the source phrase can be shortened to several words.
  • You want to omit unrelated information while highlighting certain points.
  • The broad authors message can be simplified.
Summary sample

Balance Your Essay

Remember, a good piece of academic writing cannot comprise citation only. You are supposed to support your opinion with words said by someone else, not the other way around.

Keep your writing balanced: there should be more your own thoughts than references. Highlight citations with a green or yellow color to see how many words you have borrowed. If a half of your essay is highlighted, add analysis or delete insignificant information from your sources to extend the original text created by you.

Do not forget to include all the sources you use in your work to the bibliography or a list of references in order to not be charged with plagiarism. Consult a proper referencing style guide to make it according all the requirements.