Incorporating sources into your writing

This article shows you how you can add ideas and information from other places to your writing

Referring to other people’s ideas in your writing is a critical part of using English for Academic Purposes, and doing it well is hard! Today I am going to show you one way of structuring a paragraph which includes a reference to other people’s work.

Here’s an example paragraph in an essay discussing the difficulties faced by international students at universities:

One of the biggest difficulties facing overseas students in British universities is the issue of English language competence. Robertson et al (2000) report that overseas students were often unable to play a full role in classrooms because they were so conscious of their restricted command of English. Clearly any university which is serious about recruiting and teaching international students needs to make sure that those students receive adequate language support.

We can see that in this paragraph there is:

1. A topic sentence:
One of the biggest difficulties facing overseas students in British universities is the issue of English language competence.
This sentence clearly puts forward an idea (or thesis) . It is the topic for the whole sentence.

2. Evidence from an outside source which supports the topic sentence:
Robertson et al (2000) report that students were often unable to play a full role in classrooms because they were so conscious of their restricted command of English.

3. Input from the writer on the implications (effect, consequences) of the evidence and topic sentence:
Clearly any university which is serious about recruiting and teaching international students needs to make sure that those students receive adequate language support.

Further reading:  comes from the University of Victoria, Wellington. Their Academic Writing Module neatly encapsulates writing paragraphs in Academic English. The first units focus on topic sentences and building paragraphs and section 3 on incorporating sources. This material is here.

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