Integrating Research Smoothly into Your Writing
Once you have found material from your research sources that you want to use in your own writing, you have to think about how best to incorporate that material. There are two basic strategies for integrating research smoothly into your work. You should vary the method you use, but be aware that you should not just choose randomly. Each method has its own strengths.
- Integrating QuotationsTwo Methods
A good way of integrating quotations into your writing is to use an introductory, or a "signal," phrase. This makes sense when you want to highlight the context of the quoted material. Using a signal phrase can be as simple as this:
Ann E. Reuman writes, "Clearly there is a change in tone, characterization, and focus in O'Connor's stories written after 1951" (text on p. 537 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 465 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
"Ann E. Reuman writes" is my introductory phrase; it "signals" to my reader that a quotation is coming. Notice that such a phrase is useful when I want to provide some context for the quotation, like who is writing, or the original source:
Ann E. Reuman, writing on Flannery O'Connor in her essay, "Revolting Fictions," argues that ""Clearly there is a change in tone, characterization, and focus in O'Connor's stories written after 1951" (text on p. 537 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 465 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
I wouldn't want to repeat all of that information every time I quoted from Reuman's article, but it is nice to give my reader a heads up about the context of the quotation.
The signal/introductory phrase method can work if I am quoting from a primary source as well, but be careful:
Arthur Miller writes, "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!" (text on p. 2189 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 1732 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
It is true that Miller wrote these words in his play, Death of a Salesman, but it doesn't make sense for me to name Miller as a writer in my signal phrase and then have an "I" voiceclearly not Millerspeaking in the quotation.
Something like this might work a little better:
At one dramatic moment in the play, Willy Loman yells at his son Biff, "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!" (text on p. 2189 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 1732 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
My introductory phrase makes more sense this way, though notice that I still use it to provide context for the quotation.
An alternate method for integrating quotation smoothly into your work is to run the quoted material as part of your sentences with no signal phrase at all:
At one point we are told that the "reducing class was designed for working girls over fifty, who weighed from 165 to 200 pounds" (text on p. 519 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 447 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
Here is another example:
Setting is very important in the story, including the "medieval town" where the foxes lived (text on p. 141 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 139 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
Notice that both methods of integrating quotations smoothly into your own writing can be effective.
Use a signal phrase when it makes sense to highlight the context of the quotation (who is writing or speaking or the source of the quoted material). Generally, using the signal phrase method is best when you are quoting from secondary sources, since the author and original place of publication are important here. You want to be sure your reader is aware of the credibility of the research sources you have found. But for the sake of variety, and because quoted material can often flow better this way, be sure to integrate some quotations directly into your sentences, without using a signal or introductory phrase to set up the quotation.
Either way, always be intentional about which method you use and why. And never let quotations stand alone as their own sentences, as in the following example:
Willy Loman is a very proud character. "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!" (text on p. 2189 of the full Tenth Edition, and p. 1732 of the Shorter Eleventh Edition).
Letting quotations "hang" like this is not at all effective, as it produces very choppy writing that is difficult for the reader to follow.