First let me remind you that, regardless of how you do it, source documentation is required for the original source of any quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material. Proper source documentation is a 2-piece process (in-text + bibliographical listing). Neglecting either of these pieces puts you at risk of negligent plagiarism. Plagiarism, whether overt of by accident, has consequences.

The skill of smoothly incorporating quotes, etc. into our writing is difficult for many. Too many simply resort to the novice-level practice of Dr. Justsayit says …” Dr. Whoknows says . . .” A writer may add “variety”—and unnecessary wordiness—by including “author of” or “member/president of (insert organization name). A few of those are ok, but when overdone, it starts to sound ridiculous. Besides, you have to include proper source documentation so why do all that work for little to no gain? It becomes a dangerous practice because it can lull writers into forgetting to include proper citations causing serious negligent plagiarism issues (incomplete source documentation).

A practical and more effective strategy is to introduce a particular author(s) the first time you use them as a source. After that, simply use the in-text citation, which is required anyway. As a practice, it is similar to how you only spell out an acronym the first time, and use just the acronym after that. If you feel you must include their title or why they are a relevant authority, make that a separate sentence rather than piling it on in front of the actual quoted or paraphrased information. Don’t bury the what—the valuable information supporting your ideas—under the who (the source). When you watch a movie, the credits are at the beginning or the end, not jammed in or repeated in the middle constantly. Keep introductions clean, clear, and simple.

Avoid introductory clauses completely when there are more than two authors. Otherwise the list gets too long and again buries your valuable content under distracting wordiness. Simply let that in-text citation (i.e. label pointing to the complete listing) carry the load of providing the rest source information as it was designed to do.

Show common courtesy and respect when you do introduce a subject matter expert. Use their formal title and last name. Avoid using just a first name even if do you happen to know them as a personal friend.

If no individual is identified just insert the required in-text citation. Don’t bother with an in-sentence introduction at all. This ensures you avoid the amateur error of attributing something to a type of media such as “an article stated” or “[name of news media] says.” Websites, newspapers, or other media are not sentient beings. They don’t actually say or do anything—people do.

Expert testimony is a valuable addition to academic writing. The practice of smoothly introducing sources and integrating quotes, etc. makes your writing appear more professional and polished.


This is Part 1 of the series: Better Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.