Using Evidence

In scholarly writing, you will often use direct quotations or paraphrased material from other sources to support your research and strengthen your academic argument. Although direct quotations are generally not as strong as paraphrases, they can add evidence and substance to your scholarly argument. Do keep in mind, however, that some instructors forbid direct quotations for some assignments.

In using quotations or source material, however, you must adequately incorporate the quotations and ideas from your sources. Simply inserting the material into your paragraph is not enough. You must incorporate your citation information, and then introduce, integrate, and explain your use of the quotations or source material.

Introduce

Paraphrased Citations:

1.Paraphrased material must be cited. Even though paraphrasing means that you are restating information in your own words, you must give credit to the original source of the information.

2.Citations for paraphrased material should always include both the author and the year. In-text citation can be placed within the sentence or at the end:

Yes: According to Johnson (2012), mirror neurons may be connected with empathy and imitation.
Yes: Mirror neurons may be connected with empathy and imitation in human beings (Johnson, 2012).

Note: Be sure to consider the frequency of your source citation when you are paraphrasing.

Direct Quotation Citations:

Every direct quotation citation should be incorporated into the paragraph with quotation marks. This means every direct quotation should have the following:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Page (p.) or paragraph (para.) number
  • Quotation marks

In APA, in order to best incorporate your direct quotations, pay close attention the punctuation:

1. Your page or paragraph number should always have a period, with no space between the p. or para. and the period.

2. Citations for direct quotes should always come directly after the quotation marks end. Per APA 6.03, "cite the source in parentheses immediately after the quotation marks, and continue the sentence" (APA, 2010, p. 171).

Yes: Christensen (2010) regarded the "infiltration of only red light" (p. 32) as a success in the experiment.
No: Christensen (2010) regarded the "infiltration of only red light" as a success in the experiment (p. 32)

    Integrate

     In order for a reader to understand the impact of a direct quotation or paraphrased source material, you should work to integrate your evidence into your paragraph's overall discussion. A strong way to integrate source material is to use transitions.  Take a look at these examples:

    Paragraph with direct quotations not integrated:

    Teachers in ESL classrooms need more access to professional development.  According to Grant (2009), "The percentage of ESL students in high schools has gone up 75% in the last ten years" (p. 338). Gramber (2010) said, "The scope of ESL education is changing rapidly" (p. 2834.) Judes (2008) suggested "ESL teachers often do not have updated certification." A study found that "Non-native English speakers require a different pedagogy than native speakers”" (Bartlett, 2004, p. 97).

    In this paragraph, there are several excellent direct quotations. However, readers cannot determine why the author chose to list each of these ideas or how they are connected.  This paragraph feels a bit choppy because the author is jumping from one idea to another. By using transitions, though, the author can identify the relationships among the ideas.

    Paragraph with direct quotations revision (revisions in bold):

    Teachers in ESL classrooms need more access to professional development.  According to Grant (2009), "The percentage of ESL students in high schools has gone up 75% in the last ten years" (p. 338).  This increase has caused a shift in the tradition training of ESL educators. Speaking of this shift, Gramber (2010) said, "The scope of ESL education is changing rapidly" (p. 2834.) With such a fast change in training and requirements, districts often neglect to keep their teachers up to date.  Judes (2010) suggested "ESL teachers often do not have updated certification" (p. 33). However, teachers must have up-to-date techniques and be familiar with the most recent theories in the field of ESL education.  A recent study found that "Non-native English speakers require a different pedagogy than native speakers" (Bartlett, 2011, p. 97), thus showing the need for teachers to be current in their training and pedagogy. One of the best ways to accomplish this update and keep educators aware of currents trends and theories in their fields is through professional development.

    Note that all the transitions and connecting sentences are in bold. These sentences help to move the reader along from one quotation to another while also connecting the quotations.

    Paragraph with paraphrased material not integrated:

    The causes of childhood obesity are various.  Greg (2005) found that children need physical activity to stay healthy. One study found that the amount of time spent in front of the television or computer had a direct correlation to an individual's BMI (Stephens, 2003).  Parsons (2003) debated whether nature or nurture affects childhood obesity more. Scientists have linked genetics to obesity (Parsons, 2003). Parents often reinforce bad lifestyle habits (Parsons, 2003).

    Here there is a list of paraphrased sentences, but again they seem to be missing any links or connections to show how the different ideas are related. Rather than simply using a list of paraphrased sentences from these sources, the author of the next example integrates each piece of information from the sources by using extra explanation or transitions. 

    Paragraph with paraphrased material revision (revisions in bold):

    The causes of childhood obesity are various.  Greg (2005) found that children need physical activity to stay healthy. However, children's inactive lifestyles and the time they spend in front of a screen seem to consume the time they could otherwise spend playing outdoors or involved in physical activities. In fact, this lack of physical activity has a direct effect on body fat index (BMI).  One study found that the amount of time spent in front of the television or computer had a direct correlation to an individual's BMI (Stephens, 2003).  While screen time is correlated with high BMI, Parsons (2003) still debated whether nature or nurture affects childhood obesity more. Though Parsons admitted that scientists have linked genetics to obesity, he also explains that parents often reinforce bad lifestyle habits (Parsons, 2003).  

    Adding transitions allows the author to make connections while still presenting the paraphrased source material. 

    Explain

    After introducing your quotation and source material, be sure to explain how it fits into your overall discussion.  See the examples below.

    Unexplained quotation:

    Embryonic stem cell research uses the stem cells from an embryo, causing much ethical debate in the scientific and political communities (Robinson, 2011). "Politicians don't know science" (James, 2010, p. 24). Academic discussion of both should continue (Robinson, 2011).

    Explained quotation:

    Embryonic stem cell research uses the stem cells from an embryo, causing much ethical debate in the scientific and political communities (Robinson, 2011). However, many politicians use the issue to stir up unnecessary emotion on both sides of the issues. James (2010) explained that "politicians don't know science," (p. 24) so scientists should not be listening to politics. Instead, Robinson (2011) suggested that academic discussion of both embryonic and adult stem cell research should continue in order for scientists to best utilize their resources while being mindful of ethical challenges. 

    Note that in the first example, the reader cannot know how the quotation fits into the paragraph. Also, note that the word both was unclear. In the revision, however, that the writer clearly explained the quotations as well as the source material, introduced the information sufficiently, and integrated the ideas into the paragraph.

    Unexplained paraphrase:

    Trow (1939) measured the effects of emotional responses on learning and found that student memorization dropped greatly with the introduction of a clock. Errors increased even more when intellectual inferiority regarding grades became a factor (Trow, 1939).  The group that was allowed to learn free of restrictions from grades and time limits performed better on all tasks (Trow, 1939).

    In this example, the author has successfully paraphrased the key findings from a study.  However, there is no conclusion being drawn about those findings.  Readers have a difficult time processing the evidence without some sort of ending explanation, an answer to the question so what? So what about this study?  Why does it even matter?

    Explained paraphrase:

    Trow (1939) measured the effects of emotional responses on learning and found that student memorization dropped greatly with the introduction of a clock. Errors increased even more when intellectual inferiority regarding grades became a factor (Trow, 1939).  The group that was allowed to learn free of restrictions from grades and time limits performed better on all tasks (Trow, 1939).  Therefore, negative learning environments and students' emotional reactions can indeed hinder achievement.

    Here the meaning becomes clear. The study’s findings support the claim the reader is making: that school environment affects achievement.


     

    Improve Your Writing Skills

    Would you like to receive individualized feedback on your writing?  Make an appointment with the Writing Center!

    We also offer a series of webinars on a variety of writing-related topics.

    Have you considered taking a writing course to improve your writing skills?  Click on each course name below for more information.

    Skills for Academic Integrity

    A Practical Course in APA Style

    Advanced Reading Strategies 

    Suceeding on Academic and Professional Exams