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Writing with Sources

Read & Take Notes

Reading for your writing is different than reading for class. Your goal is to identify how the work relates to your research question or argument as well as how it relates to the other sources you found on the topic. 

Synthesizing Sources

Synthesis: combing the ideas of more than one source with your own ideas and analysis in writing.


Synthesis Matrix (EXCEL)
Synthesis Matrix (WORD)

An example of how to synthesize sources on a topic

Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize

When should you quote, paraphrase, or summarize? In general, quote sparingly in most assignments.

“While paraphrase and summary are effective ways to introduce your reader to someone’s ideas, quoting directly from a text allows you to introduce your reader to the way those ideas are expressed by showing such details as language, syntax, and cadence.” –Harvard Guide to Using Sources

Have a Conversation

Your paper should read like a conversation between different experts on a topic (including you).

  • Show your respect for other authors by accurately and clearly citing, quoting, and representing their writing.
  • Expand on their ideas, don’t just summarize them, like you would in a conversation.
  • Consider how each author relates to other experts on the same topic. 

Accidental Plagiarism

  • At the top of your notes, list your source (the book or article) information clearly.
  • Put quotations or paraphrases in a different color, or a separate document.
  • Avoid reading or discussing a classmate’s writing, and don’t forget to cite ideas from class discussions or lectures.ย 

Watch a video: 4 Ways to Check for Plagiarism

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