A critical aspect of academic writing is using credible evidence to support any claims you make. You can claim that a certain theme (like courage or the shocking effects of war) is present in the works you’ve selected, but you need to be able to support each claim with valid evidence. Strong supporting statements indicate scholarly research.
You can write strong supporting statements essays and research papers in two ways: by including quotations from credible sources, and by paraphrasing information from credible sources. Below are detailed explanations of each form of support.
A quotation is a direct copy of words from a credible source that you use to support a claim. For each quotation that you use, be sure to enclose the source’s words in quotation marks and add an in-text citation in APA format.
While quotations will help provide strong supporting statements for your claims, make sure you don’t overuse them (or use overly long quotations). If you do, your reader might assume that you, the writer, cannot think for yourself. Always connect quotations to your own ideas.
Take a look at the examples below. The claim is in bold and support (quotation) is not in bold.
Example 1: Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way comes to us in the form of a mural, and a large one at that. “The work… is of monumental proportions measuring approximately twenty feet in height and thirty feet in length” (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012, p. 2).
Example 2: The common theme shared by both of these works is patriotism. According to John Kronlokken (2014), “Holst set this melody to Cecil Spring Rice’s text ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’ in 1921, and it instantly became a symbol of English identity.”
Paraphrasing information from credible sources is another way to support your claims. Paraphrasing means expressing someone else’s ideas in your own words. You might consider paraphrasing a piece of text when you just need the author’s main points, not his or her exact words, or if the tone or style of the writing does not match your own.
To paraphrase a source’s ideas, change the source’s words to your own words. You’ll also want to change the word order and the style of the writing. The most important thing to remember is that your paraphrase should closely match the meaning of the original text, not the words. Be sure to add an in-text citation for each paraphrase, just as you would when using a quotation.
How to Paraphrase
Being able to paraphrase a piece of text is a skill that takes practice. To paraphrase someone else’s writing effectively means to understand it throughly. You can only paraphrase a piece of text well if you understand its main idea and supporting details.
To write a strong paraphrase, you’ll need to use an online thesaurus such as the one from Merriam-Webster. A thesaurus is a reference book that lists words with similar meanings (synonyms). Another option is to use a search engine, such as Google, and simply type in search terms like “define X” or “another term or word for X.” These tools are invaluable for paraphrasing, and even the most seasoned writers depend on them.
The first three points below explain how to get started paraphrasing:
Reread the piece of writing you’d like to paraphrase until you fully understand its meaning.
Put aside the piece of writing, and jot down the main points you remember in your own words.
Compare your paraphrase to the quotation, and check to see whether your version contains all the main points of the quotation.
And keep these two points in mind as you’re paraphrasing:
If there are unique or unusual terms or phrases you cannot paraphrase, put quotation marks around them.
Cite your source using an APA in-text citation, and be sure to include the source in your reference list at the end of your document.
Examine the two sets of quotations and paraphrases below. The highlighted words are the key ideas that need to be reworded to make an effective paraphrase. As you read these examples, notice how each paraphrase differs from the original quotation. Does the paraphrase successfully change the quotation’s words, as well as the word order and the writing style? Does each paraphrase maintain the meaning of the original text?
Quotation: “Over the last few decades, the proportion of students receiving arts education has shrunk drastically” (Kisida & Bowen, 2019, para. 3).
Paraphrase: There have been substantially fewer students educated in the arts over the past thirty years (Kisida & Bowen, 2019, para. 3).
In the next example, notice below how the terms “attendance” and “school” have not been paraphrased, as they are commonly used within the field of education.
Quotation: “Research has also shown impressive benefits of arts education on entire school culture—especially student motivation, attitudes, and attendance” (Americans for the Arts, n.d.).
Paraphrase: Increased student participation and attendance are the primary effects of receiving an education in the arts, according to studies, and these effects have been shown to positively influence the environment of an entire school (Americans for the Arts, n.d.).
Now that you understand how to incorporate quotations and paraphrases into your exploration document, write powerful research papers and essays that will give you the desired top grade.
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