Integrating evidence of past research is a fundamental part of academic writing. In this module you will learn:
Using evidence from the findings of researchers or authors is an integral part of academic writing. It allows you to build trust and credibility in your work, demonstrating to your reader that you are informed and knowledgeable about the topic – after all, you’re probably not considered an expert in your chosen field yet! It’s not something tacked on as extra; rather it’s woven throughout your writing into your own argument, and appropriately referenced with an in-text citation.
Evidence from other sources is incorporated through citation. The main forms of citation are:
Whether you are paraphrasing, quoting, summarising or synthesising, you need to connect your reader to your references through in-text citations and corresponding reference list entries.
There are different ways to structure your citations. Work through the following activity to learn more about information prominent, author prominent and secondary citations:
Information prominent citations are where the author’s surname, year of publication (and sometimes page number) are in brackets following the evidence you are presenting.
Information prominent citations place the focus on the ideas or theories you are communicating.
Example: The success with which infectious diseases are diagnosed, prevented and treated has “altered the very fabric of society, providing important social, economic and political benefits” (Fauci, 2001, p. 675).
Author prominent citations include the author’s name within the sentence, with the year (and sometimes page number) appearing in brackets directly after.
Author prominent citations emphasise the author to your reader, especially useful if you want to highlight them as an expert in the field (lending weight to your argument), or if you are providing a longer summary of their work (say a few sentences).
Example: Fauci (2012) who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 suggested that the success with which infectious diseases are diagnosed, prevented and treated has “altered the very fabric of society, providing important social, economic and political benefits” (p. 675).
A secondary citation is one where you indicate that you are receiving the information second-hand. You haven’t read the original author’s argument, but you’ve read about it in someone else’s paper.
Secondary citations can be information prominent or author prominent.
Example : People should wear masks, practise physical distancing and avoid large social gatherings to slow down the spread of infectious diseases (Fauci, 2020, as cited by Vigdor & Kaplan, 2020).
Example: Fauci suggests that people should wear masks, practise physical distancing and avoid large social gatherings to slow down the spread of infectious diseases (as cited by Vigdor & Kaplan, 2020).
It should be noted that academic content, including books and journal articles will often contain a lot of citations, so it can be difficult to determine whether you need to give credit to the original author (also known as the primary author), or the author of the source you are reading.
You should cite the original author (and consider accessing the primary source directly) when:
It is not necessary to cite the original author when general statements or arguments are made in the source you are reading and references are provided as supporting evidence.
Want to see some examples? Watch this short video on when to use a secondary citation.
There are different rules for how citations should be presented, depending on the referencing style you are required to use. For specific instruction on how to create an in-text citation in either APA, Chicago, AGLC or Vancouver, see the Curtin Library’s referencing guides.
Plagiarism happens when you use the work of others, but present it as your own. Very few people deliberately choose to plagiarise. Instead, it occurs when referencing is overlooked, or when there is very little difference between the words, phrasing and structure of a source and your assignment.
The best way to avoid inadvertent plagiarism is at the note taking stage. When reading the source material, record your notes in your own words and then write your assignment from your notes. Does this sound hard? Don’t worry, we’ll explain strategies for doing this throughout this module.