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Using Sources

As the previous section explains, good research requires excellent organization and record-keeping.  Good organization also helps you avoid unintentional plagiarism. When you have completed most of your research and you are ready to draft your paper, you will need to learn how to incorporate ideas from your sources accurately, correctly, and honestly. 

  • Accurate use of sources is referring to sources without changing the ideas, facts, numbers, or—if you are quoting—the words of the source material.
  • Correct use of sources is adhering to the requirements of your discipline's documentation style as you refer to your sources.
  • Honest use of sources is citing—giving credit to—the sources you have used.  You will need to keep all these values in mind when you incorporate sources into your work, particularly when you summarize, paraphrase, and quote from any source. 

When you summarize, paraphrase, or quote from a source, you must provide a citation. So, in this sense, summary, paraphrase, and quotation are similar: each of these ways to use your sources requires citation. But these three techniques are also significantly different from each other.  You will choose among these techniques by deciding what you intend to accomplish with your source material.

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