Adapted from OWL: Purdue University Online Writing Lab


From W. Badke's Research Strategies Online Textbook


The main point of a research essay is not simply to quote or interpret others, but to evaluate their work and provide your own arguments.  Your analysis is extremely important. Most of your work is to be in your own words. This means:


Any time you draw ideas or information from outside your own experience, you should cite where you found the information. In other words, in order to avoid plagiarism, give credit to the source. 


What do I need to document?



What do I not need to document?



How can I best bring outside sources into my paper?


Summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting directly are the most common ways to incorporate sources into your researched prose. Why should you think about the ways you use sources? It is important to keep the subject interesting to your reader. Restrain yourself when you feel the urge to quote. Often, direct quotes contain more information than is necessary for your purpose. To be more succinct, paraphrase the author’s ideas. It is a good idea to quote only when the author has said it so well that you can’t improve it. Otherwise, summarize or paraphrase. Your audience will appreciate hearing your voice when they read your writing.


Do not use the name of the source in your work (sources are in the reference list). Use the last name of the author followed by a citation that corresponds with the source in the reference list. Avoid phrases such as: "in the article Blah Blah " and "in chapter two of our text" etc.


Direct Quotation

Direct quotation is simply that—using the source's exact words within the context of your own prose. When you use quotations, you're letting someone else speak in the middle of your discourse. That has its uses, of course, but it also risks confusing your reader about who's speaking and what relation the quoted words have to your own argument.

Quotes should be identified with quotation marks (no more than 25-30 words and no more than one quote per paragraph – do not shorten paragraphs just so you can add more quotes!!) in order to separate them from your words or the words of other sources.

From UW-Madison Writing Center

Introducing a quotation
NOTE below that this also applies to paraphrases
One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don't simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections. Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves three elements:


Note the following examples, in which the tag, connection, and source are marked. Also note the different ways the same information is conveyed in each example. 

Often both the tag and the source appear in a single introductory statement, as in the example below. Notice how a transitional phrase also serves to connect the quotation smoothly to the introductory statement.

Ross (1993), [source] makes it clear that economic status to a large extent determined the meaning of motherhood [connection]. Among this population [tag], "To mother was to work for and organize household subsistence" (p. 9).[source]

Illness was rarely a routine matter in the nineteenth century [connection]. As Ross (1993) [source] observes [tag], "Maternal thinking about children's health revolved around the possibility of a child's maiming or death" (p. 166)[source].


Consciously using tags or signal phrases may help prevent quote dumping, or not integrating quotes.


Dumped Quote:

The passage also stresses that the foreigner must be able to blend in with hegemonic British society. "[Dracula] was a criminal socialist, a monster who had no respect for the hereditary continuities, the racial 'equilibrium,' or the evolutionary elite" (Dijkstra, 2007,  271).


Revised with proper attribution (tag, signal phrase):

The passage also stresses that the foreigner must be able to blend in with hegemonic British society. Dijkstra (2007) also argues that, "[Dracula] was a criminal socialist, a monster who had no respect for the hereditary continuities, the racial 'equilibrium,' or the evolutionary elite" (p. 271).



Avoid monotony by varying the manner in which you give credit to a source. Is your source taking a neutral stance, inferring or suggesting some connections, arguing a point, or agreeing with other scholars?


For example:

Davis noted, "..."
Morrison stated, "..."
"...," claims Chomsky.

The following list offers a variety of verbs that might help to make your source's stance clear.


























points out










Adapted from Diana Hacker's A Writer's Reference (Boston: St. Martin's, 1992. 217-218) and Jane E. Aaron's The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers  (Boston: Longman, 1996. 101-102).



adapted from

Paraphrasing is one way to use a text in your own writing without directly quoting source material. Anytime you are taking information from a source that is not your own, you need to specify where you got that information.

A paraphrase is...

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because...

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

Some examples to compare

The original passage:
From Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46.

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.

A legitimate paraphrase:

According to Lester (1976), in research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (p. 46).

An acceptable summary:

Lester (1976) states that students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (p. 46).

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

The paragraphs below provide an example by showing a passage as it appears in the source, two paraphrases that follow the source too closely, and a legitimate paraphrase.

The student’s intention was to incorporate the material in the original passage into a section of a paper on the concept of “experts” that compared the functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.

        The Passage as It Appears in the Source

Critical care nurses function in a hierarchy of roles. In this open heart surgery unit, the nurse manager hires and fires the nursing personnel. The nurse manager does not directly care for patients but follows the progress of unusual or long-term patients. On each shift a nurse assumes the role of resource nurse. This person oversees the hour-by-hour functioning of the unit as a whole, such as considering expected admissions and discharges of patients, ascertaining that beds are available for patients in the operating room, and covering sick calls. Resource nurses also take a patient assignment. They are the most experienced of all the staff nurses. The nurse clinician has a separate job description and provides for quality of care by orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and providing direct support where needed, such as assisting in emergency situations. The clinical nurse specialist in this unit is mostly involved with formal teaching in orienting new staff. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist are the designated experts. They do not take patient assignments. The resource nurse is seen as both a caregiver and a resource to other caregivers. . . . Staff nurses have a hierarchy of seniority. . . . Staff nurses are assigned to patients to provide all their nursing care. (Chase, 1995, p. 156).

Word-for-Word Plagiarism

Critical care nurses have a hierarchy of roles. The nurse manager hires and fires nurses. S/he does not directly care for patients but does follow unusual or long-term cases. On each shift a resource nurse attends to the functioning of the unit as a whole, such as making sure beds are available in the operating room, and also has a patient assignment. The nurse clinician orients new staff, develops policies, and provides support where needed. The clinical nurse specialist also orients new staff, mostly by formal teaching. The nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist, as the designated experts, do not take patient assignments. The resource nurse is not only a caregiver but a resource to the other caregivers. Within the staff nurses there is also a hierarchy of seniority. Their job is to give assigned patients all their nursing care.

Why this is Plagiarism

Notice that the writer has not only “borrowed” Chase’s material (the results of her research) with no acknowledgment, but has also largely maintained the author’s method of expression and sentence structure. The phrases in red are directly copied from the source or changed only slightly in form.

Even if the student-writer had acknowledged Chase as the source of the content, the language of the passage would be considered plagiarized because no quotation marks indicate the phrases that come directly from Chase. And if quotation marks did appear around all these phrases, this paragraph would be so cluttered that it would be unreadable.

A Patchwork Paraphrase

Chase (1995) describes how nurses in a critical care unit function in a hierarchy that places designated experts at the top and the least senior staff nurses at the bottom. The experts — the nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist — are not involved directly in patient care. The staff nurses, in contrast, are assigned to patients and provide all their nursing care. Within the staff nurses is a hierarchy of seniority in which the most senior can become resource nurses: they are assigned a patient but also serve as a resource to other caregivers. The experts have administrative and teaching tasks such as selecting and orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and giving hands-on support where needed.

Why this is Plagiarism

This paraphrase is a patchwork composed of pieces in the original author’s language (in red) and pieces in the student-writer’s words, all rearranged into a new pattern, but with none of the borrowed pieces in quotation marks. Thus, even though the writer acknowledges the source of the material, the underlined phrases are falsely presented as the student’s own.

A Legitimate Paraphrase

In her study of the roles of nurses in a critical care unit, Chase (1995) also found a hierarchy that distinguished the roles of experts and others. Just as the educational experts described above do not directly teach students, the experts in this unit do not directly attend to patients. That is the role of the staff nurses, who, like teachers, have their own “hierarchy of seniority” (p. 156). The roles of the experts include employing unit nurses and overseeing the care of special patients (nurse manager), teaching and otherwise integrating new personnel into the unit (clinical nurse specialist and nurse clinician), and policy-making (nurse clinician). In an intermediate position in the hierarchy is the resource nurse, a staff nurse with more experience than the others, who assumes direct care of patients as the other staff nurses do, but also takes on tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the entire facility.

Why this is a good paraphrase

The writer has documented Chase’s material and specific language (by direct reference to the author and by quotation marks around language taken directly from the source). Notice too that the writer has modified Chase’s language and structure and has added material to fit the new context and purpose — to present the distinctive functions of experts and nonexperts in several professions.