7.4 Synthesising information from multiple sources - 7 Referring to sources: paraphrase, refer-encing, criticality and the issue of plagiarism

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

7.4 Synthesising information from multiple sources
7 Referring to sources: paraphrase, refer-encing, criticality and the issue of plagiarism

Usually, you will want to gather information from a range of sources instead of just one, and synthesise the information and ideas in those sources. This will show that you have read widely and investigated the facts along with different approaches and viewpoints.


You are going to write an introduction to the following essay:

Are antibiotics a thing of the past?

1) Start by noting down what you already know in the table.

What is an antibiotic?

How does it work?

How have antibiotics benefitted society?

What are the current problems associated with antibiotic use?

2) Now use the table to make notes from the texts below.

Select information which is relevant and interesting.

Use your own words, except for technical terms or anything that you think is ’quotable’.

Distinguish between fact and opinion.

Indicate any differences of opinion or perspective.

Add references; indicate where information comes from more than one source.

Text A

Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are types of medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. The Greek word anti means ’against’, and the Greek word bios means ’life’.

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria are microscopic organisms, some of which may cause illness. The word bacteria is the plural of bacterium.

Such illnesses as syphilis, tuberculosis, salmonella, and some forms of meningitis are caused by bacteria. Some bacteria is harmless, while others are good for us.

(Nordqvist, 2013)

Text B

Antibiotics are drugs used for treating infections caused by bacteria. Also known as microbial drugs, antibiotics have saved countless lives.

Misuse and overuse of these drugs, however, have contributed to a phenomenon known as antibiotic resistance. This resistance develops when potentially harmful bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics.

(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

Text C

It is tempting to think that infections are no longer a widespread cause of death and morbidity. In some places and for some groups, this belief is reasonably valid but elsewhere, despite many advances in infection control and treatment, infectious diseases remain a major threat. New antibiotics are being developed for some conditions, but new and some resurgent viral conditions (such as avian and swine flu, SARS, viral encephalitis, and several others) are of course not amenable to antibiotics, and antivirals are rarely very effective. Moreover, certain ’superbugs’, such as MRSAs, are emerging in both hospitals and the community, raising the real threat that antibiotic resistance will become ever more common.

(McCracken and Phillips, 2012: 152)

Text D

The discovery of penicillin in 1929 and streptomycin in 1943 heralded the age of antibiotics, and, coincidentally, the founding of the American pharmaceutical industry. Within a decade after World War II, a number of important antibiotics were discovered and developed for therapeutic use. They became the foundation for the treatment of infectious disease. This, along with the introduction of better hygiene, led to a dramatic reduction in worldwide morbidity and mortality due to bacterial infections.

The period from 1950 to 1960 was truly the golden age of antibiotic discovery, as one half of the drugs commonly used today were discovered in that period. Unfortunately, the increasing use of antibiotics for human and non-therapeutic animal use (growth promotion) led all too soon to the development of resistant bacterial pathogens. Recognizing the correlation between antibiotic use and resistance development, much of subsequent antibiotic research has been devoted to the discovery and design of new compounds effective against the successive generations of resistant pathogens.

(Davies, 2006: 287)

Text E

Britain’s most senior medical advisor has warned that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies.

She described what she called an ’apocalyptic scenario’ where people going for simple operations in 20 years’ time die of routine infections ’because we have run out of antibiotics’.

(Sample, 2013)

3) Now use your notes to write your introduction, with references.

Model Text 10, Appendix 4