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UCRS 1100 & 1850

This is a course guide for the UCRS 1000 and UCRS 1100 courses.

College Writing: Synthesizing Your Research

Now that you found your sources, it's time to write your paper. 

The first step is to organize your sources, read them thoroughly if you haven't already, and take notes. While you take notes, you will want to draw connections between your sources so that can synthesize your ideas into your paper. These common ideas in your paper will form your papers' outline. As you write your paper, you will integrate your sources along with your own thoughts to develop the content of your paper. 

GCFLearnFree.org. 2012. "Synthesizing Information." YouTube. Accessed July 11, 2018.


Tips on Note Taking

Decide if you want to use a:

  • simple quote
  • block quote
  • paraphrase
  • summary 

Guidelines on When to Quote, Paraphrase or Summarize

1. Brief and Block Quotes:

  • wording that is so memorable or powerful, or expresses a point so perfectly, that you cannot change it without weakening the meaning.

  • authors' opinions you wish to emphasize

  • authors' words that show you are considering differing points of view

  • respected authorities whose opinions support your ideas

  • authors whose opinions challenge or vary greatly from those of others in the field

**Note: Although quotations can add interest and authenticity to an essay, be careful not to overuse them: your research paper is primarily your own work, meant to showcase your ideas and your arguments.

2. Paraphrase:

  • passages where the details, but not the exact words, are important to your point

3. Summarize:

  • long passages where the main point is important to the point you are making, but the details are not


Brief quotations vs Block Quotes

Short prose quotations should be enclosed in quotation marks that show where someone else's words begin and end in your text. The following brief quotation follows MLA style:

In Miss Eckhart, Welty recognizes a character who shares her "the love of her art and the love of giving it, the desire to give it until there is no more left" (10).

Block or Long quotations

According to MLA style, set off a prose quotation longer than four lines (APA and Chicago style differ - the rule for APA is quotes 40 words or longer and the rule for Chicago is 5 or more lines). For information on how much to indent a block quote for each style, check out the Purdue OWL's Research and Citation Resources section. Introduce long quotations with a signal phrase or a sentence followed by a colon. The following long quotation follows MLA style:

A good seating arrangement can prevent problems, however, "withitness" as defined by Woolfol, works even better:

Withitness is the ability to communicate to students that you are aware of what is happening in the classroom, that you "don't miss anything." With-it teachers seem to have "eyes in the back of their heads." They avoid becoming too absorbed with a few students, since this allows the rest of the class to wander. (358)

*Note that the parenthetical citation comes after the period at the end of the quotation and does not have a period after it.

Though long quotations are often necessary in research projects, use them cautiously. Too many of them make your writing seem choppy - or suggest that you have not relied enough on your own thinking.


Integrating Quotations

Use both signal phrases to introduce a source (before a quotation) and use parenthetical references when you stop using a source. Make sure to follow the requirements of the documentation style you are using. 

  • Signal phrases introduce the material, often including the author's name and verb
  •  Parenthetical references direct your readers to full bibliographies entries included elsewhere in your text.

Example: As Eudora Welty notes, "learning stamps you with its moments. Childhood's learning," she continues, "is made up of moments. It isn't steady. It's a pulse" (9).

In this example, the signal phrase that introduces the quotation is As Eudora Welty notes and she continues. Because the first signal phrase includes the author's name, MLA style requires only the page number in parentheses.

Tips on Writing Signal Phrases

  1. Carefully integrating quotations with signal phrases into your text will make your writing flow smoothly and clearly with the surrounding sentences.
  2. Verbs in a signal phrase should be appropriate to the idea you are expressing. The signal verbs you choose allow you to characterize the author's viewpoint or perspective as well as your own, so choose them with care.
  • In the above example, the verb notes tells us that the writer probably agrees with what Welty is saying.
  • If that were not the case, the writer might have chosen a different verb, such as asserts or contends or claims.
  • Notice that this example also use neutral signal verbs -- continues and said -- where appropriate.

Signal Verb Examples

acknowledges 

concludes 

emphasizes 

 replies

advises

concurs

expresses

reports

agrees

confirms

interprets

responds

allows

criticizes

lists

reveals

answers

declares

objects

says

asserts

describes

observes

states

believes

disagrees

offers

suggests

charges

discusses

opposes

thinks

claims

disputes

remarks

writes


Working with Paraphrases

Introduce paraphrases clearly in your text, usually with a signal phrase that includes the author of the source. Here are two passages -- an original excerpt from a book and a student's integrated paraphrase of it into her text.

Original:

Understanding genderlects makes it possible to change -- to try speaking differently -- when you want to. But even if no one changes, understanding genderlects improves relationships. Once people realize that their partners have different conversational styles, they are inclined to accept differences without blaming themselves, their partners, or their relationships. The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship. Nothing hurts more than being told your intentions are bad when you know they are good, or being told you are doing something wrong when you know you're just doing it your way. -- Deborah Tannen, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation (298)

Paraphrase Integrated into Research Paper:

One observer of the battle of the sexes, linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, is trying to arrange a cease-fire. Tannen illustrates how communication between women and men breaks down and then suggests that an awareness of what she calls "genderlects" can help all speakers realize that there are many ways to communicate with others and that these differing styles of communication have their own validity. Understanding this crucial point can keep speakers from accusing each other of communicating poorly when they are in fact communicating differently (298).

In the preceding passage, notice how the student writer brings authority to the point she makes in the first sentence. She introduces the author by name and title and then paraphrases her work. Note also that a page number is included in parentheses at the end of the paraphrase.

In the following paraphrase, the research paper author introduces an authoritative source for his information -- the College Board -- and then identifies the authors of the College Board report in parentheses:

The fact remains, however, that youth literacy seems to be declining. What, if not IMing, is the main cause of this phenomenon? According to the College Board, which collects data on several questions, from its test takers, enrollment in English composition and grammar classes has decreased in the last decade by 14 percent (Carnahan and Coletti 11).


Working with Summaries

Summaries, too, need to be carefully integrated into your text. Indicate the source of a summary, including the author's name and the page number, if any. Here is how the research paper author might have integrated his/her summary of the passage from David Crystal's Language Plus

David Crystal, an internationally recognized scholar of linguistics at the University of Wales, argues that various kinds of language play contribute to awareness of how language works and to literacy (180).

Note that in this hypothetical example, the research paper writer introduces his/her source (Crystal), establishes the source's expertise by identifying him as a recognized scholar in the field of linguistics, and uses the signal verb argues to characterize Crystal's passage as making a case, not simply offering information. The research paper author also includes the page number in the parentheses for the passage he/she has summarized.


***Whenever you include summaries, paraphrases, or quotations in your own writing, it is critically important that you identify the sources of the material; even unintentional failure to cite material that you drew from other sources constitutes plagiarism. Be especially careful with paraphrases and summaries, where there are no quotation marks to remind you that the material is not your own.***


This information comes from CCC Online Library. 2018. "Integrating Sources into Your Writing." Citing Your Sources Tutorial: Integrating Sources into Your Writing. CCC Online Library. Accessed July 11, 2018.

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