Using Sources, Page 8

Introducing the Source

The basic pattern for using sources in a paper is (1) introduce the source; (2) paraphrase, summarize, or quote it; and (3) explain it. The best way to introduce sources is in the structure of sentences themselves. It is only honest to let the reader know--in the body of the paper--whose authority is being invoked. On the other hand, page numbers are not particularly important to most arguments and can be shuttled into parentheses where they will be less distracting.

Here are some examples of varied strategies for introducing quotes:

1. "Strawberry jam is good for Martians," claims Dr. Adam Extraterrestrial in his new book, The Care and Feeding of Our Furry Neighbors. "It has as many uses on Mars as penicillin has on earth" (27).

2. As Martian Worlding points out in his article on "The Tragedy of Peter Pan," "Although Martians love strawberry jam, the entire race exhibits a fatal reaction to peanut butter" (45).

3. "The Martians' inability to stomach peanut butter has forever destroyed their chances of enjoying that most heavenly of earthly delights, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich," explains Martian Liaison Officer Wax Stout in his Guide to Planetary Diplomacy (14).

4. Stella Tripper's book Inside the Red Planet advises us to avoid using strawberry scented shampoos or soaps because "even the faintest residue" of the fruity odor will "drive Martians absolutely bananas" (36).

Introducing the Author

Whenever a quotation is introduced, the author should be identified; as Robert Perrin notes in his workbook Resources for Practicing Research, "Be specific. Do not write 'a film critic' if you mean 'Richard Corliss'" (33). If the person has enough authority to be quoted in a paper, he or she should have enough authority to be acknowledged.

The first time an author is referred to, a complete introduction should be provided, including full name, position, and any other identifying information that would help the reader know who this person is and why he or she is being cited as an expert. For example, in The Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan is always careful to indicate the field, institution, and nationality of each scientist he refers to; "as the British anatomist Sir Wilfred Le Gros Clark of Oxford University has observed . . ." (96) is one of many such professional acknowledgements.

The first time an author is cited, full name, title, etc., should be given; subsequently he or she may be referred to by last name or by pronouns. (It is not professionally respectable to refer to anyone by his or her first name; such familiarity implies a certain amount of contempt.)

Introducing the Work

As with the author, the first time a source is named, it should be fully identified. If the source is a book, then the full title should be written out; the subtitle is included if the title is so generic there are likely to be many others with the same name; the sub-title should be listed on the Works Cited page. If the source is an article, then the newspaper or magazine it came from should be named. Dates of article publication are not included in the text (they are in Works Cited) unless for some reason they provide significant clues about the context of the source.

Subsequent mentions of a source may refer to a shortened version of the title, a word or words that clearly identify the work. Such abbreviations cannot be acronyms or other standard abbreviations; they must also be underlined or in quotation marks depending on whether you are referring to a book or an article.

WRONG:In IAM Sontag says that . . .
In DOE Sagan says that . . .

CORRECT:In "Metaphor" Sontag says that . . .
In Dragons Sagan says that . . .

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