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Integrating Sources

Integrating Sources
A Writing Center Workshop

Check out this workshop video:

When asked to write an essay including sources, remember these three points: 
  1. Signal phrases 
  2. Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing 
  3. Citations 

Signal Phrases

These are phrases used to introduce source material to the audience. Using signal phrases is important because it lends credibility to an essay by alerting the audience to the fact that the writer performed research and that the source is reliable.

The textbook Rules for Writers has excellent information on signal phrases. See section 63b for APA or section 58b for MLA.

Example signal phrases:

  • According to researchers McKenzie and Elroy (2012), "..."
  • In the words Steven McFadden, "..."
  • McKenzie and Elroy (2012) state that, "..."
  • In the article "So That Nobody Has to Go to School if They Don't Want To," Roger Sipher argues that...
Use specific verbs in the signal phrase to show the audience how that particular source affects the stance in the essay. For instance, is the source supporting a stance or opposing it? The Ursinus College Writing Center has a list of strong verbs appropriate for using in signal phrases.

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

When integrating source material, one of the above techniques is typically used by academic writers. In fact, certain professors will ask their students to employ one or more of these specific tactics. For instance, a professor may tell students to use one of each method in an essay or to use only one of them. Pay attention to the essay prompt for this information.

This is when the exact words from a source are used. In this case, writers must place quotation marks around any words which they took from another source. This gives credit to the original author(s).

  • Example: Roger Sipher (1977) believes that, "Abolition of archaic attendance laws would produce enormous dividends."
This is when the writer takes an idea from a source and puts it in his or her own words. Usually, paraphrases are approximately the same length as the original source material. For example, a writer may choose to paraphrase one or two sentences from another source. Be particularly careful when paraphrasing to use an original sentence structure. Using the same sentence structure as the original author and plugging in synonyms is known as patchwork plagiarism. This can usually be avoided by not looking at the source material while writing. Simply put the source away and paraphrase the idea based upon notes or memory.

  • Original Text: Private schools have no such problem. They can fail or dismiss students, knowing such students can attend public school. Without compulsory attendance, public schools would be freer to oust students whose academic or personal behavior undermines the educational mission of the institution.
  • Paraphrase: Roger Sipher (1977) believes that "compulsory attendance" only hinders public schools because it prevents the schools from removing students who only attend because they are forced to, not because they want to learn. Public schools would have fewer problems if they adopted similar attendance policies to private schools.
This is when a writer takes the information from a longer source and condenses it. For example, students may be asked to summarize an article, book, or chapter. In daily life, summarizing happens when people describe a movie they've just seen or a book they've just read. When summarizing, a writer only focuses on the main points from the source material.

  • Example: Roger Sipher (1977) believes that when schools force students to obey attendance policies, multiple problems arise.
For more information about quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing, and to see the full article which is used for the examples above, go to the Purdue OWL.

To get an idea of how to structure a body paragraph with source material, here is a recipe for an academic essay: 

Body Paragraph

    1. Topic sentence that clearly reflects main point
    2. Supporting detail
    3. Source material integrated with signal phrase and in-text citation
    4. Your analysis of source material (Explain to the audience how the source material supports your main point. Don’t assume the audience “gets” it or that the source material will speak for itself.)
    5. Concluding sentence that summarizes main point & transitions to next main point


Regardless of whether a writer uses quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing, the sources integrated into an assignment must always be cited. To be safe, any sentence that contains information from a source should include an in-text citation. Additionally, each source used as a reference in the essay must be listed on the Works Cited or Reference page at the end. Please attend one of our workshops or visit our page on citations for additional information on citations.