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A Do-It-Yourself guide for research

Supporting a thesis

When making an argument that advocates a certain position or points to facts, it is important to provide evidence of your conclusions and opinions.  Depending on your subject, you may need to provide direct quotes or cite tables and data or point to the conclusions of a research study.  In academic writing, you do this through the use of citations and quotes.  This strengthens your argument and helps support your thesis statement.

As you write more, this process will get easier and easier.  Consult your instructor's instructions as well as the Diana Hacker handbook for techniques and methods to do this.  Meanwhile, here are a few guides from academic writing centers to get you started and guide you on how to use evidence to support your thesis.

Avoiding plagiarism 

Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. Our words and ideas are considered intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, our words belong to us and should not be used without our permission.

Plagiarism is a serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. In some instances, plagiarism has meant that students have failed classes or have had to leave the institutions where they were studying.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you used at the end of your paper.

Some useful links about plagiarism and how to avoid it:

Integrating sources

There are three main ways to integrate another person's work into your own.  As you write, it isimportant to use each method to make your writing interesting and readable.

The three methods are:

  • Quoting - Direct quotations means that you use the exact words employed by the authors in the original text.  Usually, you will only use a few phrases or a sentence or two.
  • Paraphrasing -- To paraphrase something means to put the source material into your own words.  Typically, the paraphrase will be shorter than the source material. 

  • Summarizing -- When you need to use long passages, chapters, etc. of source material, you can rewrite the main ideas in much shorter form.  However, the ideas belong to the source material so they still need to be cited.

The following academic websites offer further advice as well as writing techniques for using these methods: