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The Research Process: From Assignment to Finished Papers: Incorporating & Citing Sources

This guide contains information presented at workshops held jointly by Moon Library and the Writing Resource Center.

Reading for Research

Here are some helpful tips on reading for comprehension that will help you determine what you'd like to incorporate into your writing.

  • Preview
    • How is the content laid out or arranged?
    • Does this match up with a specific type of source (newspaper, scholarly article, etc.)?
    • Who is the author?
  • Annotate
    • Make notes in the margins
    • Ask questions and write them down
  • Outline, Summarize, Analyze
    • Outline to see the skeleton of the argument
    • What reasons are there for the evidence?
    • What am I being asked to believe or accept?
    • What doesn’t make sense
  • Look for repetitions and patters, and key propositions
    • Repeated words, phrases, examples, images
    • Consistent ways of characterizing people, events, or issues
    • Key proposition: a statement of what the author believes to be true
  • Contextualize
    • How is content framed by its historical, cultural, material, or intellectual circumstances?
    • Read through the lens of your own experience
  • Compare and Contrast (with other articles, books, etc.)
    • Look for relationships between other readings
    • Is there a trend? Is there a shift in focus?


Adapted from: Gilroy, L. (2015) Interrogating texts: six reading habits to develop in your first year at Harvard. Harvard Library Research Guides. Retrieved from:

Incorporating Sources in Your Writing

Here are some suggestions to help you incorporate and cite sources into the body of your paper:

  • As you are reading and evaluating sources that you may want to use, make notes about what you find interesting.
  • As you're writing, it's best to summarize the material that you want to use in your own words so that it matches the rest of your writing. You still have to cite the source.
  • In scientific writing, it is usually not acceptable to include direct quotes from a text.
  • For in text and bibliography citations, follow examples to get the formatting correct.
  • Use a citation manager to help you gather and organize sources, and to assist with citing while you write and generating your bibliography. Zotero and Mendeley are two highly recommended citation managers which you can learn more about here.
  • Be consistent with the citation style you choose (APA, MLA, etc.).

Citing Sources

Every source you reference in your paper should have an in text citation that refers to a full citation in the references list (bibliography) at the end of your paper. Here is an example full citation for a journal article in APA style.

More citation resources: