What is source blending?
Source blending is the skillful incorporation of paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing source material into your papers, and it takes more practice and structure than throwing bananas, berries, and protein powder into your next smoothie.
For example, let’s say you’ve found a credible source that supports your argument. Now what?
- Do you paste that passage into your document, surround it with quotation marks, add a citation, and call it a day?
- Or would it be better to stick to your own words, rephrasing the author’s thoughts in a way that is most suited to your discussion?
- Do you (or your readers) even need all this verbiage?
For help answering these questions, peruse the links and guidance below.
Short Takes: Citation Principles, Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting
These Graduate Writing Center video tutorials offer a concise overview of essential source-blending skills:
Source Blending: A Demonstration
Here's an example of the range of ways in which you can employ source blending—in this case, using text from Warren Berger's A More Beautiful Question (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014; citations are in Chicago Author-Date style):
- Quoting: Warren Berger (2014) suggests that "it can be a relief to know that, in coming up with fresh ideas, we don't have to invent from scratch; we can draw upon what already exists and use that as raw material. The key may lie in connecting those bits and pieces in a clever, unusual, and useful way, resulting in . . . smart recombinations" (103–4).
- Paraphrasing: According to Warren Berger (2014), new ideas are often not products of pure invention, unrelated to anything that has come before, but instead arise from familiar knowledge. The newness of new ideas, he proposes, frequently lies in the way in which they recontextualize and repurpose that familiar knowledge.
- Summarizing: Although it may seem counterintuitive, one way to create new knowledge is to use what we already know, but use it in a new context or application (Berger 2014).
Note that it's often useful to move back and forth in a single sentence between material from the source (whether summarized, paraphrased, or quoted) and your own language and ideas:
- Mixed: Warren Berger (2014) explains that "fresh ideas" might not actually be so fresh (103). Combining pieces of previous knowledge "in a clever, unusual, and useful way" leads to "smart recombinations" that allow old ideas to spark new ones (Berger 2014, 103–104).
How can I learn more about blending sources into my writing?
- The Thesis Processing Office's handout "Paraphrasing and Quoting Responsibly" defines summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting, provides guidance on when to choose which technique, and gives examples of best practices and proper formatting.
- "How to Look and Be Smart" (NPS video, 26:55) recognizes students’ need to “cite, quote, paraphrase, and summarize a potentially wide range of sources in [their] writing” and gives tips on using sources to develop better arguments and the basics of avoiding plagiarism.
- GWC/DKL workshop video (1:28:04): "Paraphrasing and Quoting Like a Pro" discusses four principles about when to quote, paraphrase, and summarize; a simple formula for incorporating these tools into your own work; a method for note-taking; and much more.
- GWC workshop module (MP4, 33:48): "Paraphrasing and Quoting" provides a shortened version of the "Paraphrasing and Quoting" workshop above with a focus on the APA citation style; includes examples.
- “Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting: A Guide to Doing it Right!” (Genesee Library video, 14:12) provides guidance on when to paraphrase, summarize, or quote as well as step-by-step instructions on how to (and now not to) paraphrase.
Using Signal Phrases
Source Blending and iThenticate