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Paideia 112 Research Unit

Guidelines for Using Direct Quotations

If you are using a direct quotation, follow these guidelines:

  • Provide a lead into the quotation which characterizes the work or the author. For example: "In her brief survey of British history, Jane Smith argues....
  • You might also identify the source by its title or even date of publication if either helps provide a context for the reader.
  • Consider varying the way you introduce quotations, using words like "reported," "emphasized," "observed."
  • Once you have introduced the source completely, the name or title will be sufficient reference.
  • Follow the quotation with your own comment on its significance or importance.
    • Connect quoted material to your thesis, explaining how it supports your argument.
    • Don't expect the reader to make connections that are not on paper; explain how the quote is valuable to your argument.

Questions to Ask Yourself about Including Quotations

As you integrate the sources in your paper, consider the following:

  • Would the impact of the source be lessened if the quotation were summarized or paraphrased?
  • Is the author one of the experts in the field?
  • Will I be using only a few direct quotations from this source?
  • Is the quotation less than 100 words long?

Worksheet 9: Integrating Source Material Into Your Paper (see Home: Worksheets 1-10) asks that you work on two or three key pages from your research paper in which you incorporate a number of sources.

Guidelines for Using Paraphrasing

If you decide, based on your answers to the four questions above, that a parphrase is more appropriate, use the following guidelines to help you paraphrase effectively:

  • Set the source aside and explain the pertinent information in your own words.
  • Be careful not to look at the original, to avoid careless "slipping" of the author's word order or phrases into your own sentences.

It is important to use your natural voice here.  If you have mimicked the source, your prose will sound disjointed and it will seem that you don’t really understand the information that you are presenting.

Be sure to cite the source.  Even though you do not have a direct quotation, unless the information is “common knowledge” (a distinction your instructor can help you with in relation to your topic area), the author of this information deserves credit.  When used correctly, a citation can also add credibility to your argument or provide a path of research for an inquisitive reader.

See Step 4b for more information on paraphrasing.

Further Reading

They Say/I Say
  • Ch. 1: Starting with What Others Are Saying
    pp. 19-29
  • Ch. 2: The Art of Summarizing
    pp. 30-41
  • Ch. 3: The Art of Quoting
    pp. 42-51
The Little Seagull Handbook
  • Incorporating the Words and Ideas of Others Into Your Text
    pp. 97-98
  • Quoting
    pp. 98-100
  • Paraphrasing
    pp. 100-102
  • Summarizing
    pp. 102-103
  • Using Signal Phrases to Introduce Source Materials
    pp. 103-105
  • Acknowledging Sources
    pp. 106-107
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
    pp. 107-108
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