Integrating Sources

Sources, or information from books, articles, newspapers or other online materials are an important component of academic writing.

Once you have read and analyzed your sources, you can begin to decide which information should be included in your essay. There are three ways to bring in outside information into your work:

  • Quote
  • Paraphrase
  • Summary

In each case you MUST cite the information you have used in every sentence it is used.

Using sources will allow you to:

  • Relate or connect your ideas to those made by others: enter the conversation taking place in a particular discourse community with respect to a specific issue or controversy.
  • Expand a point you are making and develop your paragraph: Bring in examples to help illustrate your analysis.
  • Provide evidence: Refer to information that supports or contradicts your position.

Read your paper out loud to determine whether it is clear to your listener/reader that where what you are saying ends and where information from your sources begins (without "seeing" the quotation marks). If not, your paper probably contains "hanging quotations." You must think about what to write before and after the source in order to integrate your sources smoothly and meaningfully. In order to use evidence and information from sources effectively, the following four elements should be included in your writing:

1. Attribution

Signal that you are using a source by:

  • Using attribution verbs: This will help indicate the author's/source’s attitude toward the statement given.
  • Using a lead-in: This provides information about the source in order to establish credibility and reliability. In one or two sentences, you can tell your reader where the information is coming from by telling your reader who the author of the source is, or the title of the article.
  • Contextualizing: It might be relevant to explain the circumstances in which, or even when the information was shared. You might need to explain what kind of study was undertaken. If you are referring to a chapter in a book or an article, what is the article about?

2. Information from the source

Then, provide relevant information from source: This will support the idea or point that you are making (in the paragraph) and can be brought in as quote, paraphrase or summary.

3. Citation

Next, include your citation (depending on the lead-in). This clarifies who the author of the ideas and directs the reader to information on the Works Cited page.

  • If your lead-in does not include mention of author, author’s last name only and page number. In MLA: (Haddad 7). In APA, the author's last name, date and page number are provided, e.g. (Haddad, 2016, p. 7).
  • If your lead-in includes mention of author (of text) only page numbers are necessary. In MLA: Haddad argues that … (7). In APA: Haddad (2016) argues that ... (p. 7).
  • If an online source, no page numbers are offered unless a pdf file. If both html and pdf are available use pdf..
  • If there is no author, then use the title in quotation marks (“Egypt Votes”).

Note: All ideas from source should be cited at the sentence level and sections from source identified clearly.

4. Bridging and comment/analysis

Bridging establishes a logical connection between the idea that you are making and the source information. It can be a word, sentence or two that indicates what will follow will be information from a source. When using outside sources in your writing, you should not only “integrate” before the information. You must make sense of the information for the reader or explain its significance. Discuss, analyze, comment and clarify the relevance of the information to your point, controlling idea or thesis. Give the information meaning in light of your essay.


Plagiarism is a serious offense. If you are caught plagiarizing you can be dismissed from University. For more information visit the AUC Academic Integrity site. Try this excellent self-test to identify plagiarism too.

If you are still unsure of when to cite or if you are unsure of your paraphrasing please visit the Writing Center. Take your sources with you and check your work with one of our tutors before you turn it in as your own.

Useful links

Strong and weak verbs

Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing (From Perdue University Online Writing Lab)

Using evidence effectively (From Indiana University)

Integrating evidence into your writing (From University of Northern British Columbia)