Integrating evidence: Author- or information-prominent citations

Integrating evidence: Author-Prominent vs Information-Prominent

All academic writing requires you to integrate evidence to support your argument (see Integrating Evidence Effectively to learn the basics). However, the way you blend the other scholars’ findings into your own words differs depending on the field you’re in, and what kind of context your field prioritizes: authorship or information.

Author-Prominent

What is it?

The author-prominent style identifies the author/source of the evidence inside the sentence text.

Example (MLA):

Lee and Villanova call for artists to dismantle prejudicialnorms through sculpture, arguing that changing the way we sculpt human bodies can “change the way we think about human bodies” (21).

Who uses it?

Author-prominent integration occurs most commonly in the humanities, social sciences, and general writing for the public. But people in all disciplines will write this way in order to show that they are considering the ideas of other scholars.

When should I use it?

Use the author-prominent style when you want to

  1. make your source obvious and easy to look up.

    For example (Chicago Style NB): In “Slavery as the Commodification of People”, Fiskesjo writes that all migrant labourers are at risk of becoming slaves and being trafficked.
     
  2. contextualize evidence within your argument and your discipline.

    For example 
    (APA): Tagaq (2019) argues that “bees are cruel and full of woe” (p. 12), but the fact that she was stung by one as a child may contribute to her assertion.
     
  3. make the sources of your arguments and evidence obvious and easy to follow.

    For example (APA): Tagaq (2019) argues that “bees are cruel and full of woe” (p. 12), but the fact that she was stung by one as a child may contribute to her assertion. Halton (1984), on the other hand, has previously claimed that bees are morally neutral, “stinging only when they have no other option” (p. 31).

    Information-Prominent

    What is it?

    The information-prominent style does not identify the name of the source inside the text sentence. This style aims to remove irrelevant and distracting information. It also tries to present data without biasing the reader to one interpretation or another.

    Who uses it?

    Information-prominent integration occurs across all disciplines. In STEM fields it is used almost exclusively because scholars strive to be objective. In other fields, it is used alongside the author-prominent style.

    When should I use it?

    Use the information-prominent style when you want to

    1. keep your writing clear and relevant. The reader can still follow up on the sources, but they won't be distracted by names or dates while they read.

      For example (IEEE): The often-quoted statistic that “the average person eats 3 spiders a year” [1,2] is inaccurate. One statistical outlier consumes 10,000 spiders per day [3], and has therefore skewed past studies.
       
    2. avoid biasing your reader. Ideally, scientific results are valued for their accuracy, not because of the name of the person who conducted the study. In addition, when presenting interpretations of fact, the information-prominent style allows readers to judge the evidence for themselves. 

      For example (CSE Citation-Sequence): Although most mellitologists (people who study bees) conclude that bees are morally neutral1,2, “stinging only when they have no other option”3, the morality of bees is still disputed. Some scholars conclude that they are “kind and noble”4, but a recent study suggests that they may be “cruel and full of woe”5.

    Tips: For more information on how to signal your evidence, see Reporting verbs