Text: Blending Source Material with Your Own Work

The process of research can be fun, interesting work.  Sometimes it can be hard to stop researching, and start writing.  You may also find that you find so many great ideas from research, that it’s hard to say anything unique yourself.

The goal of most college writing, though, is to showcase your own ideas.  The research should take a back seat to your personal thoughts.

Graphic organizer drawn on white paper. On the left, several bubbles are collectively labeled "The Commons" and include land, water, health care, free speech, knowledge/education, air, and genetic heritage. In the middle, emphasized in red, are bubbles labeled Capitalism. To the right, are empty bubbles collectively labeled Society. Arrows and lines indicate movement between bubbles in all sections.In practical terms, some ways to develop and back up your assertions include:

  • Blend sources with your assertions. Organize your sources before and as you write so that they blend, even within paragraphs. Your paper—both as a whole and at the paragraph level—should reveal relationships among your sources, and should also reveal the relationships between your own ideas and those of your sources.
  • Write an original introduction and conclusion. As much as is practical, make the paper’s introduction and conclusion your own ideas or your own understanding of the ideas from your research. Use sources minimally in your introduction and conclusion.
  • Open and close paragraphs with originality. In general, use the openings and closing of your paragraphs to reveal your work—“enclose” your sources among your assertions. At a minimum, create your own topic sentences and wrap-up sentences for paragraphs.
  • Use transparent rhetorical strategies. When appropriate, outwardly practice such rhetorical strategies as analysis, synthesis, comparison, contrast, summary, description, definition, evaluation, classification, and even narration. Prove to your reader that you are thinking as you write.

Also, you must clarify where your own ideas end and the cited information begins. Part of your job is to help your reader draw the line between these two things, often by the way you create context for the cited information. A phrase such as “A 1979 study revealed that…” is an obvious announcement of citation to come.

Another recommended technique is the insertion of the author’s name into your sentence to announce the beginning of your cited information.