How to integrate research findings into your writing - without copying it or quoting it wholesale

For undergraduate / postgraduate students and writers of all kinds who are producing a thesis, research paper, news article, magazine / journal article, book or other written project.

 

 

Scenario: You have found three great articles on the topic you are researching.

From these articles you really like the following bits:

1. "The primary aim of marketers today is to track the macro and micro trends that parallel individual consumers' point in their life cycle. By linking various products to large groups of the population who are at a particular point in their senior years, for example, a company can maximize their revenue potential." (Grover, 2005)

2. "Marketing managers look at the following main groups of consumers and design products and marketing campaigns to directly target these groups:

  • Retiring baby boomers (50-75 years old)
  • Wannabe baby boomer followers (40-50 years old)
  • Generation X (30-40 years old)
  • Baby boomlets (20-30 years old)
  • Generation Y (0-20 years old)"

(Bird, 2004)

3. "Products today must be more than just technologically advanced. They must also be specifically adapted and visually positioned to what is expected by the consumer. By mining trends, designs, and imagery from the past, marketers can gain an intimate sense of the spirit of the consumer's earlier life experiences and build a nostalgia triggering marketing package. Without even knowing it consciously, the consumer will find himself predisposed to purchasing this product based on patterns established earlier in his life. This predisposition leads directly to a high degree of consummated sales for the producer of the product." (Kurucz, 2005)

How *not* to include these bits in your writing:

This is the wrong way to include these findings:


The primary aim of marketers today is to track the macro and micro trends that parallel individual consumers' point in their life cycle. By linking various products to large groups of the population who are at a particular point in their senior years, for example, a company can maximize their revenue potential. (Grover, 2005)

Further, marketing managers look at the following main groups of consumers and design products and marketing campaigns to directly target these groups:

  • Retiring baby boomers (50-75 years old)
  • Wannabe baby boomer followers (40-50 years old)
  • Generation X (30-40 years old)
  • Baby boomlets (20-30 years old)
  • Generation Y (0-20 years old)"

(Bird, 2004)

Kurucz states that products today must be more than just technologically advanced. They must also be specifically adapted and visually positioned to what is expected by the consumer. By mining trends, designs, and imagery from the past, marketers can gain an intimate sense of the spirit of the consumer's earlier life experiences and build a nostalgia triggering marketing package. Without even knowing it consciously, the consumer will find himself predisposed to purchasing this product based on patterns established earlier in his life. This predisposition leads directly to a high degree of consummated sales for the producer of the product. (Kurucz, 2005)


What are the problems with the above way of integrating the 3 articles?

  1. They are copied verbatim. The above is not really plagiarism as the articles are referenced, but they are not quoted properly with quotation marks (" ...").

  2. Simply copying these quotes into the body is really just .... copying someone else's work. As the producer of a research paper or thesis, your job is to summarize, synthesize, draw inferences, generate insights, and generally do something "new". Not copy the work of someone else! This type of copying is called "unduly derivative", which means that you have derived (taken) your writing from other peoples. Your work is therefore not original.

  3. The writing styles do not fit together. These articles are written by 3 different authors and by simply putting them together, you are mashing different styles. Very hard for the reader to follow what you are trying to say.

  4. There is duplication and overlap of the content. As each author is really covering the same idea, you are repeating the idea in 3 different ways. Is this what you want? I suspect not.

How *to* include the bits in your writing:

This is the tough part - you need to use your brain to pull out a summary insight into what all three authors are saying. There is no easy process, set of instructions, rules, or format for doing this. It is high level thinking that requires you to focus on the key ideas, infer new insights, and say it your way - simply and clearly.


Marketers today have access to far more data on consumers than their predecessors had in the past. This data includes whole pictures of how the consumer grew up right through to their senior years - a full picture of their lifecycle . "Mining" trends in order to build a "nostalgia triggering marketing package", as one author puts it, is the ultimate goal (Kurucz, 2005). Marketers can assemble groups of potential buyers for their products from this mined data. They naturally turn first to age groupings that include seniors who are 'retiring baby boomers' right down to 'Generation Y', a term used to describe the young children of baby boomers (Bird, 2004). The goal, of course, is to maximize revenue potential by linking products as closely to the best of these groups - the largest and most wealthy ones are typically the most attractive groups (Grover, 2005).


Since it is an example, the paragraph above may not be an "A" grade integration of the three article bits as we don't know the context of the whole paper/thesis that is being produced. The paragraph nonetheless shows how three related articles can be reviewed, synthesized, and summarized into one meaningful, consistent message.

What is better about this paragraph?

  1. There is vastly more original writing than copied text. And what is copied is clearly noted in quotation marks.

  2. The work is original - it includes insights such as "Marketers today have access to far more data on consumers than their predecessors had in the past. ", interpretations of what others have said, and a summary of their findings.

  3. The writing style is consistent.

  4. There is little duplication and overlap of content.

In summary, integrating research findings is hard work. And is really "half art and half science" - by this we mean that you have to work hard at the process and what you produce won't just come from a linear process. Likely, you will have to go back and edit your writing a couple of times until the paragraph reads the way you think it should. Hard work, but ultimately the difference between your own work and that of others. By doing your own thinking, you are doing the best kind of learning - building your own mind to think analytically and critically.


The article © 2005-6 by Paul Kurucz. Please e-mail with your thoughts so that this document can be improved. This document or any information on it may be quoted or reprinted for non-commercial use. However, please reference this site and recognize Paul Kurucz as the author of anything you copy from here. Thank you.

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