Conversation between Sources

venn diagram

Sources for a research essay can be seen as a web of people talking to each other. Although sources may not seem alive to you, they represent their authors’ unique identities and opinions, which makes conversations among them not only possible but also lively. Similar to people who may have different types of conversation, sources may converse with each other: they may support, complement, conflict with, or attack each other’s opinions.

In order to easily identify a conversation between your sources, look at those sources (articles, websites, images, videos, books), and think of these questions:

  • What kind of conversation can you see happening between your sources?
  • How many sources are communicating with each other? How are they communicating?
  • Why don’t other sources join that conversation? Can they engage in another conversation? Can you link all conversations in one web?
  • How are sources in your bibliography communicating with one another?

An example of a conversation between two sources is illustrated in the conflict between Rebecca Rosen and Clive Thompson, who both discuss how new media affects literacy. In her article “This is Your Brain on the Web,” Rosen discusses the negative effects of reading online and how it changes reading to “disjointed scanning” (51). Conversely, in his article “The New Literacy,” Thompson argues “online media are pushing literacy into cool directions” because “digital natives” now write more widely than older generations (48). This conflict of ideas creates a conversation between the two authors and consequently between the two sources.

venn diagramIn order to create this conversation between your sources, you should start by sketching links between them. Analyze how a source is talking to one or more other sources. Use quotes from sources to illustrate and support these links. This will help you connect your ideas as the first step to build your argument in your Literature Review.

As you get ready to write your Literature Review, you are expected to do three major things:

  1. Explicitly demonstrate the links and conversations between two or more of your sources.
  2. Support this demonstration quoting and paraphrasing the ideas that helped you hear these conversations.
  3. Critically think about how these conversations among your sources will be useful in sharpening your own argument and position in your research.

“Conversation between Sources” was written by Lilian Mina, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Works Cited

Rosen, Rebecca. “This Is Your Brain on the Web.” Wilson Quarterly. 33.4 (2009): 50-51. Web.

Takai, John T., “stock vector : Circle Puzzle Chart” via Stock Vector Illustration. Public Domain Image (55837336)

Thompson, Clive. “Clive Thompson: The New Literacy.” Wired. 17.9 (2009): 48. Web.

Vaclavek, Petr, “Big Speech Bubble Made from Small Bubbles- Retro Colors” via Stock Vector Illustration. Public Domain Image (73007482)