Franklin Style Manual Online

1.3.2 Introducing and positioning sources within a paper

As mentioned above, not all sources have equal credibility and suitability for all writing assignments. Likewise, when finally presenting sources within your paper, do not assume all play equal roles in helping you demonstrate your main points. Rather, as the writer, you should tell readers how the references to sources help you achieve your purpose. To make this connection for readers, you will need to spend time introducing important or controversial sources, especially so you can show your position on their relevance to your original treatment of the subject.

Too often, student writers jump right into a quotation or paraphrase without telling readers anything about the authority, expertise, or biases of the source’s author(s). Similarly, student writers often omit sufficient explanation and examination of quotations and lengthy paraphrases, forcing readers to make their own connections between the source’s observations and the paper’s overall purpose. In both cases, the writer of the research paper loses a valuable opportunity to direct readers’ attentions and lead them from what they already know and understand to new information and connections. Clear transitions and introductions to sources help demonstrate the writer’s main thesis and persuade skeptical audience members to adopt a new point of view.

There are a few strategies writers can use to create meaningful transitions to source material. The primary verbal tool to frame such references is to begin them with phrases of attribution: According to . . . ; an economist at University . . . said; the head of the Finance Committee, . . . , stated; and so on. Such phrases allow you to insert background information about the source. Another strategy writers often use is to dedicate extended passages, even whole paragraphs, to explaining how quotations and paraphrases reflect, support, or qualify points raised earlier in the paper. There are many other strategies for engaging with outside sources, and you are encouraged to discuss with your instructors the most commonly accepted ways for engaging with sources within your field. For more general guidance on how to introduce sources, you can also review the suggestions in numerous guides on research writing or arrange for tutoring with the Student Learning Center.

Last Updated: 06/8/2012 12:51