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Citations + Writing

MGH IHP's general guide to citations and writing

person typing on a laptop

An Introduction to Academic Writing

Academic writing can take many forms and serve different functions, especially in the context of a graduate school program. Here are some of the varied purposes. 

  • Demonstrate understanding of a topic
  • Report expert opinion about a topic
  • Synthesize different pieces of information
  • Present your own commentary on a topic
  • Use evidence to support a point of view
  • Present new information or data about a topic

Your graduate school assignments can include one of these, multiple of these, or all of these (which would be typical of a paper you would submit for publication).

Reporting vs. Synthesizing

For people new to academic writing, the difference between reporting and synthesizing can be a tough concept to understand. Let's see if we can give you some guidelines to help you understand the difference.



1. Can include one or multiple sources.

1. Must include multiple sources.

2. Summarizes what a sources says.

2. Highlights the most relevant and/or unique 
points of each source and makes connections
between them.

3. Does not include your thoughts on those 
sources or the general topic.

3. Includes your own interpretations of what
the connections between the sources mean.

It might help to think about reporting like news reporting, "Just the facts, Ma'am." While synthesizing takes information from several sources in order to better explain the why or how of something. 


For more discussion about this topic, take a look at Help... I've Been Asked to Synthesize!

Writing Guides

General Writing Guides

Different Types of Writing


Avoiding Plagiarism

Image with text reading plagiarism in addition to synonyms for plagiarism in different colors


Enroll in Bellack Library's short, self-paced online course on Academic Integrity that uses videos and written materials to help you learn to avoid plagiarism. 

Here are a few additional guides that can help you avoid plagiarizing.

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing (Purdue OWL)

Incorporating References (University of Kanas)

Avoiding Plagiarism (Purdue OWL)

Avoiding Plagiarism - Paraphrasing (MIT)

You may also want to talk with the MGH Institute's Writing Consultant.

Numbers in Text

Need to talk about percentages, statistics, or any other numbers in your paper?

APA Numbers in a Nutshell