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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 4c. Incorporate Source Material

A guide to help you through the steps of the research process. This guide is modeled after a guide created by the librarians at Johnson & Wales University.

Books on Using Sources

Quote, Paraphrase or Summarize?

In research papers, you should quote from a source when you:

  • want the reputation of the author to lend authority and credibility to your point.
  • find memorable or historically significant language.
  • don't want the author's meaning to be lost or changed if you paraphrased or summarized.
  • find the author's language so clear and concise you wouldn't be able to effectively make the same point in your own words.

You should summarize or paraphrase when you:

  • can express in fewer words the main points of a source.
  • want the ideas presented in the source, but not the specific language used to express it.

Steps to Quoting

A quote is the reproduction of the words of the original author. To quote, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the quote you'd like to use in your paper.
  2. Record it exactly as it appears in the original source.
    • Use ellipses (...) to mark spots where you have left out words from the original text.
  3. Place quotation marks around the complete text.
  4. Note the source and page number of the quotation in a launch statement or in parentheses.

EXAMPLE

According to Lennie, "[...] I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why" (Steinbeck 14).

Steps to Summarizing

A summary is a brief statement of the main points of a source. To summarize, follow the steps below:

  1. Select a passage of text, article, chapter or entire book that supports your research.
  2. Read the selection until you feel you have a good understanding of its main points.
  3. Write a sentence or two in your own words that captures the main points.
  4. Revise your summary so it reads clearly.
  5. Note the source (and page number, if applicable) of the summary in a launch statement or in parentheses.

Using Sources

This video from Hartness Library discusses incorporating information sources into your research paper.

Steps to Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is the rewording of something written or spoken by someone else. To paraphrase, follow these steps:

  1. Read the original text until you grasp its meaning; then set it aside.
  2. Using your memory, write down the main points or concepts. 
  3. Change the structure of the text by varying the opening, changing the order of sentences, lengthening or shortening sentences, etc.
  4. Replace keywords within the sentences with synonyms or phrases with similar meanings.
  5. Note the source and page number of the paraphrase in a launch statement or in parentheses.

EXAMPLE

Original Text
If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists (Davis 26).

Unacceptable Borrowing of Phrases
Davis observed that the existence of a signing ape unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists (26).

Unacceptable Borrowing of Structure
Davis observed that if the presence of a sign-language-using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior (26).

Acceptable Paraphrase
Davis observed both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise upon learning of an ape’s ability to use sign language (26).