Integrating Sources

A hallmark of academic writing is engaging with other thinkers in your field or discipline. After reading and analyzing scholarly sources, you’ll integrate others’ ideas into your writing.

There are several ways to effectively use sources:


Integrates a source’s exact words into your own writing. A quotation is often a short segment of a source’s text and must use quotation marks. We choose to quote when a passage or phrase is so effective—so vivid, clear, unique, authoritative—that it works best in its original form. It may also be that the passage is from a famous source, or the original phrasing is essential to your own analysis or argument.


Restates a passage into your own words. A paraphrase is usually similar in length to the original but must be sufficiently different to be your version of the source’s idea(s). The purpose is to think critically about what you have read and present it to your audience in a way that is easy to understand within the context of your own text.


Significantly condenses information to present a source’s key ideas, particularly those that are relevant to your own argument. You summarize when your readers need a broad overview of a source’s ideas or evidence but do not need to know the in-depth specifics of any single point or example. You may also be demonstrating that you have read and thought critically about how the source influences or contextualizes your own work.

Not sure what to do with your sources? According to They Say, I Say, writing well in academia involves “not only expressing your ideas (‘I say’) but [also] presenting those ideas as a response to some other person or group (‘they say’)” (Graff & Birkenstein, 2010, p. 3). Check out these starting points for incorporating sources in relation to your argument, supporting evidence, and opposing evidence.

Don’t forget: You’ll include a citation in any instance you’re drawing on sources in your writing, whether through quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Visit the Purdue OWL for more information.

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