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Session 4

Academic Writing 5 – Citation skills

Welcome back to Academic Writing – the course with the tips and tools to get you on course for writing success. This time we're looking at how to refer to other people's work – sometimes called 'source material' – in your academic writing.

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

0 / 11

  • 0 / 1
    Activity 1
  • 0 / 10
    Activity 2

Activity 2

Use the right reporting verb

When you include a reference in your text – whether it's a quote, paraphrase or summary – you will probably use a reporting verb – but they all have different meanings. Take a look at this image.

Try the activity

Reporting verbs

contend / argue
If you contend something, you make your point knowing that others disagree with you. It is a strong expression of opinion.
If you argue something, you construct an argument. Remember: an academic argument is a claim that is justified by evidence. Argue is also a strong verb.

If you insist something, you say it firmly, especially when other people disagree with you.

Some other strong reporting verbs are:

The verb suggest is weaker than either contend or argue. This may be because Klein herself was only offering a suggestion, not a full argument. Or it may be because the author of the line above may not wish to over-emphasise the point Klein is making. In other words, look at context. Does the reporting verb reveal the position of author of the original text (Klein), or the author of the essay (you)?

Some other weaker reporting verbs are:

The verb examine is quite neutral. It doesn’t indicate a strong opinion. It simply describes the process of researching something thoroughly.

The verb investigate describes the process of looking at something carefully, possibly to work out a problem or an issue. Like examine it is fairly neutraland just describes the process of investigation.

Some other neutral reporting verbs are:

So reporting verbs can indicate strength, weakness or neutrality - and their meaning can apply to your own position as well as that of the writer whose work you're referring to! So choose your reporting verbs carefully!

To do

Find the neutral reporting verbs in the following activity.

Find the neutral reporting verbs

10 Questions

Answer these multiple choice questions to find the neutral reporting verbs

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Soon you'll be citing sources like a superhero

Now you've had a good look at quotes and reporting verbs, let's take another look at what we've learned so far:

  • There are three ways to refer to source material in your writing: quoting, paraphrasing and summarising. Use a combination of these to add interest.
  • Use a quote when the original text is particularly concise or makes a point in a very original or memorable way.
  • When quoting, use 'single' or "double" quotation marks to signal the beginning and end of the quote – check the requirements with your institution.
  • You may also need to give the page number when you quote – check your institution's style guide to format this correctly.
  • Use reporting verbs like 'contend', 'argue' and 'examine', to give extra information about the original writer's – and your – intention.

Find out more

There's a lot more to making sure you have great reference skills – so much that we have not one, but TWO free activity pdfs for you this time! You can practise your paraphrasing, summarising and getting your list of references perfect – just click on the Downloads!

Where next

Digital Literacy image link 2  GTD Academic Writing index link  OU AW image link 2

Session Vocabulary

  • Find out more about distance learning – visit our partner,The OU