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Introductory signals appear at the beginning of citation sentences. Signals are important because they indicate how a cited authority relates to the text. This relation can be supportive, comparative, or contradictory. Signals can also inform a reader what inferential degree exists between the text and cited source.
A reader can thus determine if a cited source supports or contradicts an author's assertion and whether it is necessary to take an inferential step between a cited source and the text simply by looking at the signal used.