|Working with Critical Sources
From: Writing Tips by Professor Elizabeth Outka
(printable version here)
It is a challenging task to integrate critical sources into your argument and into your prose. These tips should help:
1. Signal Phrases
Critical sources must be introduced with signal phrases; do NOT simply drop a quotation into your argument with no acknowledgement about where it's from.
Here, the author has merely dropped the critic Leaska into the essay. Avoid doing this.
Here, the author has carefully introduced the critic and the quotation. Once you've introduced your source, subsequent quotations from the same source do not need to include the work's title or the author's full name in the signal phrase: e.g. As Leaska further observes, "The question does not seem to have been an especially vexing one to novelists of the past" (159).
2. Incorporating your source into your argument
There are two basic ways to use critical sources.
Here are two examples:
You'll need, of course, to summarize the key elements of the source's argument in order for you to disagree/revise, etc. that source.
3. Stay honest with your source
It is important not to misrepresent a source in your paper. You should avoid taking a small part of someone else's argument and suggesting that this argument represents the author's entire point. Likewise, if a source offers a point that would serve as a powerful rebuttal to one of your points, you'll need to explain to your reader why this rebuttal is not valid.
It's always a good idea to keep in mind how you might like to be treated by another critic. You would want your ideas to be fairly represented, even if someone disagreed with them.