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Incorporating Sources into your Research Project

Introduction

Often times finding books or articles about your topic is the easy part. Incorporating them effectively into your paper, speech, or project can often make or break your assignment. This guide is here to help you take your sources to the next level!

Why do you need outside sources?

There's a reason why your professor includes a requirement for X number of sources for your project. For successful arguments at the college level you need to show how your voice fits into the rest of the discourse on your topic. Your position is more powerful when you can produce evidence that other individuals support your view, or if you can directly counter those that have differing opinions.

The trick is to balance these sources with your own arguments, and be sure that your reader can follow which ideas are original and which are from supporting sources. 

How do you use them effectively in your paper, speech, or project?

The following are just a few of the most common ways to incorporate a source

Sources of Examples

Does the source provide a perfect detail, statistics, or situation that will support your argument, or springboard your ideas into deeper meaning? Often times you may choose to direct quote these sources for a powerful effect.

Experts believe that zombies and humans can co-exist under the right conditions. CDC director John Smith states as much in a 2010 memo: "Zombies are an essential part of the earth's ecosystem. We just need to be sure we can out run them" (p.54). With cardio is becoming such an important part of our daily lives, interval training is an excellent way to fit cardio training into your busy day and get the most bang for your buck.

Supporting Evidence/Analysis

Finding other academics or experts that share your argument, or provide details that support your conclusions, is an important way to build the creditability of your argument. Often times you will find yourself building upon what the source has said and extending their argument with your own ideas.

Garfield the Cat's laziness mirrors our societal ennui and anxiety. Jane Doe explores similar themes in her book Angst and Anxiety in the Funny Papers: Societal Dysfunction in American Comics, 1979-present. She equates Garfield's continued reliance on John to provide him lasagna to our culture's reliance on social media and television for social interaction.

Illustrations of Counter Arguments

Sources that counter your argument give you the opportunity to explore your topic more completely, and may show additional avenues of analysis. These sources show your audience that you have considered position from multiple angles.

Mrs. Robinson (1995) believes that cookies are the best way to welcome people into a home. Her evidence suggests that their sweet smells elicit a positive neurological response from the visitor. For the gluten-intolerant, however, cookies are less than adequate, and a different welcome is necessary for them to feel at ease.

Be sure to use them responsibly!

A successful academic paper or project requires a balance between your own ideas and the supporting ideas of reliable sources. It's important to clearly indicate to your reader where your ideas begin and the supporting evidence ends. The best way to do this is with proper citations and paraphrasing/quoting.

In-text citations and bibliographies prove to your audience that you researched your topic adequately, and allows them the opportunity to review any source that sparked their interest.

The library has a few guides that cover successful documentation of sources. Also consider visiting the BC Writing Center if you need any additional assistance.