Integrating evidence of past research is a fundamental part of academic writing. In this guide you will learn:
- Strategies for incorporating the work of others into your own academic work
- Tips and tricks for paraphrasing, summarising, synthesising and quoting in your assignments
- The basics of the Trinity Referencing Style
- How to cite different types of resources with SBL
- How Zotero can help with referencing
Using evidence from the findings of researchers or authors is an integral part of academic writing. 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. We integrate evidence into academic writing for two reasons:
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 is about respecting the original ideas of others and acknowledging their contribution to the discussion. Information has value in our society, it takes skills, time and effort to produce knowledge, which is why plagiarism is such a serious offense.
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 and author prominent citations:
Information prominent citations are where the author’s surname does not appear in your writing, just in the footnotes.
Information prominent citations place the focus on the ideas or theories you are communicating.
Example: The key to understanding any passage of scripture is to understand that the Bible is “one book with one ultimate author, God, and one ultimate subject, God’s plan of salvation through his Son Jesus.”2
2 Roberts, God’s Big Picture, 21.
Author prominent citations include the author’s name within the sentence.
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: Roberts suggests that the key to understanding any passage of scripture is to understand that the Bible is “one book with one ultimate author, God, and one ultimate subject, God’s plan of salvation through his Son Jesus.”2
2 Roberts, God’s Big Picture, 21.
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 work.
Secondary citations can be information prominent or author prominent. The footnote will be the same for both.
Example: There are many themes that hold the Bible together, one of the most helpful themes to trace is the kingdom.2
Example: There are many themes that hold the Bible together, Goldsworthy suggests that one of the most helpful themes to trace is the kingdom.2
2 Goldsworthy as cited by Roberts, God’s Big Picture, 22.
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:
- They are quoted by the source you are reading (their exact words have been used)
- When a specific work is discussed in detail in the source you are reading and you want to reproduce arguments from that work in your own assignment
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.
A referencing style gives you guidelines on how to format a reference to an original source in your writing. At Trinity we use the the first edition of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Handbook for our referencing style. See the Trinity Referencing Style page for more information about SBL.
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 taking notes clearly distinguish between direct quotes, other people’s ideas, and your own ideas.
If you want to know more about plagiarism see this video for an explanation of the 10 types of plagiarism.
Copyright statement: The content on this page is based on the Curtin University Library UniSkills Citing in your writing module which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence. Examples have been customised for Trinity but otherwise the text is mostly the same.