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Integrating ideas with reporting words



Whether you are paraphrasing or quoting, integrating the ideas of others with your own argument is an important part of clear, cohesive communication. It’s easy to become repetitive, using ‘this author said’ and ‘that author said’ over and over. Reporting words tell your audience more about a person’s position on a topic, not just that they ‘said’ something.

Reporting words

Reporting words are verbs that help us describe an author’s position on a topic. The reporting word you choose can help your audience understand the viewpoint of the original author, or it might express your own opinion about that author’s work. There are many of these words in English, and they all have different meanings. Some are more forceful, while others express a more modest position on a topic.


Author (2023) questions the idea that income from Australian mining exports will likely increase in the next two years.

Author (2023) dismisses the idea that income from Australian mining exports will likely increase in the next two years.

In the first example, the word questions shows the audience that Author (2023) doesn’t necessarily believe mining export income will increase. In contrast, the use of the word dismisses in the second example shows a much stronger position; Author is no longer just questioning the idea, but has completely rejected it.

Choosing the right reporting word is tricky because of the way words have small differences in meaning as well as in the positive, negative, or neutral feelings connected to a word, also known as connotation. A dictionary can help you understand if you’ve chosen the right reporting word for the idea you want to express.

Examples of reporting words

Suggest (that) Studies outlined by Leonard et al. (1999) suggest that personality and disposition play an equally important role in motivation.
Argue (that) Leonard et al. (1999) argue that there are three elements of self-perception.
Contend Mullins (1994) contends that motivation to work well is usually related to job satisfaction.
Outline As outlined by Mullins (1994), personality and disposition play an equally important role in motivation.
Focus on The early theories of Maslow and McGregor focused on personal needs and wants as the basis for motivation (Robbins et al. 2000).
Define Eunson (1987:67) defines motivation as "what is important to you".
Conclude Cherrington and England (1980) conclude that not all workers are motivated by job enrichment.
State Hackman and Oldham (1975) state that there are five characteristics that can make a job more motivating.
Maintain (that) Mullins (1994) maintains that job enrichment was influenced by Herzber's two factor theory.
Found (that) Mullins (1994) found that there is an increasing importance placed on the role of autonomy and self-regulation of tasks in improving motivation.
Promote Hackman and Oldham (1975) promote the use of their Job Diagnostic Survey when considering how to redesign jobs for improved motivation and productivity.
Establish Csikszentmihalyi (1990, cited in Yair 2000:2) established that "the more students feel in command of their learning, the more they fulfil their learning potential".
Assert (that) Locke's Goal Setting Theory asserts that setting specific goals tends to encourage work motivation (Robbins et al. 2000).
Show Various theories of motivation show employers that there are many factors that influence employees' work performance.
Claim (that) Hackman and Oldham (1975) claim that people with enriched jobs, and high scores on the Job Diagnostic Survey, experienced more satisfaction and motivation.
Report Mullins (1994) reports on four content theories of motivation.
Mention Mullins (1994) mentions two common general criticisms of Herzberg's theory.
Address Mullins (1994) addresses how the shifting of responsibility from management to workers might mitigate issues of job satisfaction.


Cherrington DJ and England JL (1980) 'The desire for an enriched job as a moderator of the enrichment-satisfaction relationship', Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 25(1)139-159, doi:10.1016/0030-5073(80)90030-6.

Eunson B (1987) Behaving: managing yourself and others, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.

Hackman JR and Oldham GR (1975) 'Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey', Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(2):159-170, doi:10.1037/h0076546.

Leonard NH, Beauvais LL and Scholl RW (1999) 'Work motivation: the incorporation of self-concept-based processes', Human Relations, 52(8):969-998, doi: 10.1177/001872679905200801.

Mullins LJ (1994) Management and organisational behaviour, 3rd edn, Pitman, London.

Robbins SP, Millett, B and Waters-Marsh, T (2000) Organisational Behaviour, 4th edn, Pearson Education Australia, Melbourne.

Yair G (2000) 'Reforming motivation: how the structure of instruction affects students' learning experiences', British Educational Research Journal, 26(2):191-210, doi:10.1080/01411920050000944.

Please note: The examples on this page use the RMIT Harvard referencing style. Check your course handbook or speak to your instructor about the referencing style required in your area of study.