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HON 201: Site Research

How do I integrate sources to make them 'talk to one another'?

Integrating sources is an important part of writing a sophisticated paper, but it's not always as straightforward as it seems. The first step is understanding that scholarship is a conversation.

Graham, Rebecca. "Understanding Scholarship as Conversation" YouTube, uploaded April 2019.

Now that we have a better understanding of the conversation that is happening in our sources, and our place in that conversation, let's explore some ways to demonstrate that understanding in the way we use our sources and write our paper.

While you are researching

Here are some things you can do while you are finding sources that will help you showcase the scholarly conversation around your topic:

  • Write a specific and appropriate research question. As you read and select sources, identify how they address or answer that question.
  • Read Widely - Find as many sources as you can, skim sources and pick the most relevant to read, read sources and identify the ones that make the most sense together (either because they support or present counter-arguments for the same topic/idea/argument)
  • Review the bibliography/works cited section of the source and read the articles that the author cites - that conversation has already been established. Likewise, search for other articles/books that have cited the source and read those conversations. 

For more information on how to find these articles, check out the Tips & Tricks for Effective Research guide. 

Before you start writing

The writing process will be much easier if you take the time to get organized first! 

One way to organize your sources before you being writing is to develop 'sub-topics' and match up which sources fit best with each'sub-topic'.

How you organize and divide out your subtopics will depend on your topic, your discipline, the type of paper you're writing, and the sources you have available. If you aren't sure how to approach this, talk to your professor or a tutor knowledgeable in the subject area.

Below are three abridged examples of how you might organize a paper by sub-topic. Note that within each paper, some sources might be used in more than one section. 

How have adaptations of Pride & Prejudice reflected changes in the viewer's expectations around gender roles?  How can colleges and universities encourage students to be civically engaged through voting? What how and why are freshwater zooplankton evolving in response to increasing levels of road salt. 

Background of gender roles expressed in Austen's work

  • (Lindenberg, 1982)
  • (Elkhund, 2004)
  • (Brauer, 1968)

Reasons why college students might not vote 

  • (Hurn, 2001)
  • (Pigott, 2008)

Increasing levels of road salt

  • (Sampson & Garcia, 2014)
  • (Greenberg, Lopez, & Kassamali, 2009)

How gender roles have changed since the early 19th-century

  • (Mattern, Senior & Macfarlane, 2014)
  • (Dambreville, 2009)
  • (Pigott, 2008)

Logistical challenges 

  • (Hunter, 2007)
  • (Nnemdi, 2017)
  • (Simonite, 2012)

Lethal Effects of Road Salt for zooplankton

  • (Freeman et. al, 2015)
  • (Brauer & Nnemdi, 2009)

Gender in adaptations of Pride & Prejudice

  • (Hunter, 2007)
  • (Simonite, 2012)
  • (Elkhund, 2004)

Engagement/Awareness challenges

  • (Lindenberg, Hunter, & Garfield 2017)
  • (Elkhund, 2004)
  • (Brauer & Sampson, 2015)

Nonlethal effects of road salt for zooplankton

  • (Mattern, Senior & Macfarlane, 2014)
  • (Dambreville, 2009)
  • (Freeman et. al, 2015)

While you are writing

Now that your paper is organized, let's look at the nuts and bolts of referencing and contextualizing multiple sources.

  • List examples from multiple sources, or list multiple sources as examples.
    • Previous research has sought to understand how distance from home impacts a student's choice and ability to vote or not vote (Baez, 2004; Lee & Alexopolous, 2015)
  • Show how sources agree
    • Freeman's findings are in line with previous projections of freshwater salination (Greenberg, Lopez, & Kassamali, 2009; Sampson & Garcia, 2004)
  • Show how sources disagree
    • Although Elkhund focuses on what she sees as 'political apathy' amongst students, there is a competing narrative that focuses on material and logistical challenges that keep students away from the polls (Hunter, 2007; Nnemdi, 2017; Simonite, 2012)
  • Explain why sources agree or disagree
    • Although Wu's work has been foundational in understanding gender roles in 20th-century adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, more recent work highlights new expectations for masculinity that 21st-century audiences have (Hunter, 2007; Sampson, 2014)

Some of these connections may be self-evident in your research, as some sources might cite others and comment on them. Many of these connections will have to come from your close reading and observation.

If you are not sure how best to integrated sources in your specific field/discipline, look to your sources as models. Where and how are they using sources? When do they cite multiple sources at once and what sort of things do they say about them?

Need help writing your paper, integrating your sources, or need someone to proofread?  Contact the Academic Sucess Center