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Incorporating Sources Into Essays On Education

In technical writing, integrating source material is a process of selection, extraction, and recontextualizing. Technical writing rarely relies on direct quotations, because the author’s exact wording is usually not as relevant as the data or information reported. Suppose you are writing a technical paper on mine safety, for example, and you encounter this material:

Since 1870, 121,000 mining deaths have occurred; 1.7 million lost-time injuries have been recorded since 1930. Historically, all of this has contributed to the public’s negative perception of mining safety and even helped to fuel the NIMBY mentality.

It is highly unlikely that you would quote these sentences directly, especially because some of the material is data and some is interpretation. The exact wording does not matter, but some of the material does, so your job is to extract only the relevant information, use it, and cite the source.

Similarly, there is no good reason to quote this sentence directly:

Acid mine drainage has been and continues to be a major problem generated by the mining of coal in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the world.

In this instance, the information is so general that it need not even be cited, but neither should the sentence itself just be plucked out and plopped into your paper. Ideally, the information from the above sentence would simply end up as part of a sentence of your own creation such as this one:

This paper explores the three chief reasons why acid mine drainage continues to be a major environmental problem in Pennsylvania.

In this example, note how the relevant information is extracted from the source, without the need for citation, and note how the writer creates new context for the information.

CWI Writing Center: APA Source Integration

Paraphrases, summaries, and direct quotations are used to integrate ideas from other writers. ALWAYS properly cite sources within the text and on the References page to AVOID PLAGIARISM. Please see the Quote Sandwich handout for further information.

Paraphrasing is putting others’ ideas into your own words and doesn’t require quotation marks. Finding synonyms for the words is plagiarism if the sentences are still too similar.

For example: the colors below indicate the pieces of each sentence that match. Even though the words are different, more has to be done than changing the words. The words have to be expressed in a new way.

Note: Make sure you cite your paraphrase properly by using a signal phrase, for example “The source suggests,” and an in-text citation or it will still be plagiarism. Please see our Plagiarism and in-text citation handouts for more details.

Summarizing is taking a large amount of information from one source and writing the main ideas in your own words. What you use has to represent the information from the source as the source intended.

Directly Quoting is copying the source’s exact words and punctuation. Include quotation marks around a direct quote:

Note:  Do NOT change the meaning of the quote to fit your point. Make sure to keep the author’s original meaning when you are using his or her words or ideas.

For more information, Contact the Writing Center.

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