Integrating Sources to Demonstrate Strong Writing

View Worksheet

When you turn in a research paper, your final draft is what determines your grade. The time you spend conducting research, note-taking and evaluating sources are for naught if integrating sources hurts the strength of your paper. Strong writing is characterized by avoiding common mistakes, proofreading well and the effectiveness of your source integration. If your goal is to demonstrate strong academic writing skills, follow these four strong writing rules.

Strong writing rule #1: Select quotations carefully

Integrating sources is as much about what you select to include as it is about how many quotations you use. Every single quotation, whether it is a direct or indirect one, should be carefully selected because the overuse of cited sources is detrimental to the quality of your paper for several reasons:

  • It appears sloppy in academic writing
  • It implies to your readers that you were lazy

In addition, quotations that are well-chosen support your point. Those that are not appear to do the work for you, which is not the message you want to send.

Strong writing rule #2: Ensure reader understanding

Integrating sources relies heavily on the assumption that your readers understand what you are writing and why you are writing it. However, this is not always the case. If you leave your readers re-reading quotations to make sense of them, the strength of your paper plummets. Instead, consider every quotation closely by asking these questions:

  • Is the quotation too difficult or convoluted for readers to understand?
  • Is every quotation adequately matched to your intended audience?
  • Is the grammar, punctuation and syntax understandable within each quotation?
  • Is each quotation easily connected to the relevance of your paper?

If the reader is re-reading a quotation just to understand it, then you are in trouble, and most likely, so is your grade.

Strong writing rule #3: Blend in quotations seamlessly

Seamlessly integrating your sources so that quotations blend in is vital to maintain strong writing. When your quotes do not flow with the rest of your paper or words, the effect is rather jarring. Every quotation should fit naturally. Two additional things you can do when blending in source information include:

  • Beginning your entire paper with an impact quotation that grabs the attention of readers.
  • Utilizing strong signal phrases to create more of an impact with each quotation

Strong writing rule #4: Start discussions, not end them

Well-integrated sources start discussions instead of end them. Avoid asking many random questions, dancing around an issue or trying too hard to make your point. Also avoid listing random questions followed by making your point by ending with a quotation. When you do this, not only does your writing suffer, but you show lack of the ability to engage your readers critically with a more complicated problem. You do not want to influence readers to make them question your claims.

By carefully selecting those sources you integrate and how you integrate them, you maintain control over the final product of your research writing efforts.