Sources can play several different roles as you develop your points:
Provide background information or context -- You can use facts and statistics to support generalizations or to establish the importance of your topic.
Explain terms or concepts -- Explain words, phrases, or ideas that might be unfamiliar to your readers. Quoting or paraphrasing a source can help you define terms and concepts in neutral, accessible language.
Support your claims -- Back up your assertions with facts, examples, and other evidence from your research.
Lend authority to your argument -- Expert opinion can give weight to your argument. But don't rely on experts to make your argument for you. Construct your argument in your own words and cite authorities in the field for support.
Anticipate and counter objections -- Do not ignore sources that seem to contradict your position or that offer arguments different from your own. Instead, use them to give voice to opposing points of view before you counter them.
1. Introduce the source: answer the following questions to create a context for your source:
2. Quote/Summary/Paraphrase of source: be sure to include the page number, if possible.
3. Translate the source: define any key words your audience might not know, and restate the main ideas of the source in your own words to demonstrate your understanding of its meaning and bring your reader up to speed on the subject matter.
4. Analyze/Critique/Interpret the source: this is where your ability to persuade comes into play. You control the conversation! Explore the source, dissect it, take it apart to see what makes it tick. Propose your unique perspective on the source’s meaning and significance. What is it really saying and how is that meaning conveyed? Why does it matter?
5. Synthesize the quote: by combining the source and your own ideas, you should now be able to create new knowledge that connects back to your own thesis and adds your voice to the conversation established by your source. How does this source fuel your argument? Why does your argument need this source to succeed? Connect the dots!
The Temple University Writing Center is an excellent source of help for writers. They offer one-on-one tutoring sessions for individuals seeking to work together with a tutor to improve their work. The Writing Center also offers email tutoring plus handouts and style guides on topics which writers frequently grapple.