Engaging Sources: Acknowledgement, Response & Citation

Being a form of discourse, argumentation involves engaging or anticipating other perspectives on the topic at hand.  It thereby follows that in argument-driven writing one must determine the best ways to address those perspectives, inform readers of their relevance and respond to them in a way that supports one’s claims.  The list below should give you some ideas for how to do so.

Summary:  To summarize a source or part of a source is to provide a broad overview of its most relevant points in your own words.  Although one can effectively summarize passages or texts of any length, summary can be the best way to engage very large pieces of text.  The ratio of words in your summary to words summarized may therefore be high.

Paraphrasing:  Paraphrasing is similar to summary, because it involves condensing another author’s words and ideas into a smaller piece of text that you write.  When you paraphrase a source, however, you should include key words from it in order to characterize it and give a more detailed impression of how its meaning and argument are constructed.

Quotation:  To quote a source is to provide a portion of it verbatim.  When quoting a source, you should avoid modifying the original wording.  If you must change part of a quote, indicate that you have done so by putting the modified portion in square brackets: [].  You should use quotation whenever the exact wording of a passage in your source is essential (e.g. when you want to hold someone responsible for a statement, analyze the language of a text, or draw on a source for data that are too detailed to summarize or paraphrase).

Citation:  Whenever you mention, summarize, paraphrase, or quote a source, you should cite it (i.e., provide full bibliographic information for it so that your reader can locate the exact passage you referenced).  The methods for citation vary by discipline, publication, language, and culture.  It is best to learn which method you will be using in each class.

Acknowledgment:  We shall use the term “acknowledgment” to mean the act of signaling your intent to summarize, paraphrase or quote a source.  (This term should not be confused with “citation.”)  You should always acknowledge your sources, and most frequently you shall do so as you introduce them.  For example:

  • According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate has…
  • As [Author’s Name] has observed, X implicates Y.
  • In his article on this topic, [Author’s Name] claims that “[Quotation]…”
  • One might argue that, despite my claim to the contrary, X is actually true, but to do so would be to overlook the circumstances caused by Y.

Response:  Whenever you engage a source or anticipate a counterargument, you set your readers up to expect a response.  This could mean undermining a source’s argument, describing how a source’s data supports your claim, explaining how your agreement with a source fits into your reasoning, analyzing a quote, etc.

Procatalepsis:  This term, taken from classical rhetorical theory, means to anticipate and address potential counterarguments in order to strengthen your own argument. When doing so, it is still advisable to acknowledge the potential counterargument and then respond to it.  For example: 

  • One might argue that, despite my claim to the contrary, X is actually true, but to do so would be to overlook the circumstances caused by Y.

 

References

American Psychological Association (2010) Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R. (2012-10-31) APA formatting and style guide—reference list: author/authors. In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/06/

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R. (2013-03-01) APA formatting and style guide—reference list: basic rules. In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/05/

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R.  (2013-09-28) APA formatting and style guide—reference list: books. In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08/

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R.  (2013-09-28) APA formatting and style guide—reference list: electronic sources (web publications). In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R.  (2013-10-05) APA formatting and style guide—reference list: articles in periodicals. In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/07/

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, … Keck, R.  (2013-10-05) APA formatting and style guide—in-text citations: the basics. In Purdue OWL. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02/

Said, E. (1991). Identity, authority, and freedom: the potentate and the traveler. Transition 54, 4-18. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2934899?origin=JSTOR-pdf