You undoubtedly know that you should cite your source whenever you use a direct quotation in an academic paper.

As an academic writer, though, you will be synthesizing information from a variety of sources.  Sometimes you will directly quote it, sometimes you will summarize it and sometimes you'll paraphrase it.  

In all of these situations, you should cite your sources!

  • When you quote a source, you use the author's words exactly, and indicate that with quotation marks. 
  • When you paraphrase a source, you put it into your own words. This does not mean changing a few words by inserting synonyms, it means integrating the meaning of the original passage into your writing.
  • When you summarize a source, you significantly condense the ideas in the original source -- without adding your own interpretation or analysis. 

In your academic writing, you should be careful not to rely too much on quoting -- save direct quotations for situations where you want to highlight a specific word or phrase, or where the original text is so well written that you want to capture it.  Most of the time, you will want to synthesize your sources by paraphrasing or summarizing. 

To find out more about quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing, check these links: