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So, your instructor asks you to complete research to use in writing your essay.  You pull some journal articles, grab a few books on your essay topic and start reading.  You've taken some notes, but what do you do next?   If you are unsure of how to effectively use research materials to support your thesis, there are some useful methods for summarizing, paraphrasing, and using direct quotations in your essay.   Let's start with summarizing, since that is what you should be using most often in your paper.  When you summarize, you want to share some of the author's main points.  Choose explanations and examples from the text that support your arguments.  When you summarize, you are looking to capture the main points of a few paragraphs or pages in one or two sentences.  In your own words, you highlight what the author said and then explain how it relates to your own ideas.    Maybe you agree with the author, and... read more

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