Using Sources, Page 7

Direct Quotation

You use quotation whenever you wish to retain the beauty or clarity of someone else's words, or if you plan to discuss the implications of the words in question. You may also use quoted words or phrases in summary and paraphrases; this is called "partial quotation."

As a general rule, you need to use quotation as little as possible; the bulk of your use of other sources should consist of paraphrase and summary. Also, when using quotation, you should introduce your source (including whose words it is) and explain how and/or why the quoted passage is relevant.

Quote accurately. Enclose all quoted material in quotation marks, and cite the exact source. You should keep quotations as short as possible and make them an integral part of your text; if you need to quote longer passages (more than four lines), you should set the quotation off in an indented block. (Because the indentation indicates it is a quoted passage, you do not need quotation marks. You do still need, however, to include a citation to the source.)

An Example

Don Davies, a British psychologist, argues that traditional methods of measuring text anxiety are "inadequate...except when used for research purposes with large groups of people" (53).
Note that the speaker of the above quotation is introduced, as well as his credentials ("a British psychologist"); note, too, that the author has quoted only a portion of the source, indicating omitted words with ellipsis marks ("...").

Keep the number of quotations in a paper to a minimum. Too many quotations in a paper can convey the impression that you have little to say for yourself.

When to quote

As Sandra Schor and Judith Fishman explain in The Random House Guide to Basic Writing, "The rule of thumb is to write your own research paper in your own words unless you want to capture the exact words of another writer for a special purpose" (481). Most often, then, a paper should have more paraphrase and/or summary than quotation.

How then does a writer know when to quote? If the paper is a literary analysis or focuses on some primary source such as a significant speech, an important editorial, or some government document, the writer would need to quote extensively from the original source, reporting and explaining to his/her audience the content, tone, style, and structure of that work. Secondary sources such as critics, others who have commented on the primary sources, or experts in related fields, should be quoted much less frequently. Secondary sources should be mostly paraphrased or summarized, included as voices in agreement or disagreement with the student writer's voice. No matter how the source is incorporated (paraphrase, summary, or quotation), the student writer's voice, or authority, should prevail over any other voice.