Integrating Quotations in Research Papers: Citing Sources Effectively

Touched up this handout on integrating quotations:

If your college instructor wants you to cite every fact or opinion you find in an outside source, how do you make room for your own opinion?

  • Paraphrase. You can introduce studies that agree with you (Smith 123; Jones and Chin 123) and those that disagree with you (Mohan and Corbett 200) without interrupting your own argument. (Note how efficiently I did that — the parenthetical citations are designed to preserve the flow of ideas in the sentences that refer to outside ideas.)
  • Quote Selectively. If you must use the original author’s language, work a few words from the outside source into a sentence you wrote yourself. (If you can’t supply at least as many words of your own analysis of and rebuttal to the quoted passage, then you are probably padding.)
  • Avoid Summary. If you must quote several lines of another author’s language, don’t interrupt the flow of your own argument in order to summarize the material you have just quoted. (Generally speaking, summarizing someone else’s ideas is one of the easiest ways to churn out words; while students often turn to summary when they want to boost their word count, paragraphs that merely summarize are not as intellectually engaging, and therefore not worth as many points, as paragraphs that analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. See “Writing that Demonstrates Thinking Ability.”)