Using Quotations, Paraphrasing and Summary

Link to Free Online MLA formatting Guide

Limits to the Freedom of Expression
Class Rules and Plagiarism Project:
Let's say I'm surfing the internet and I come across this very cool explanation of freedom of expression and the limitations of this freedom that I want to incorporate into my blog, so I cut and paste the information onto my blog. If I don't attribute this source correctly, I have just plagiarized. For a writer, plagiarism is the equivalent of stealing. For a student, plagiarism is cheating. In the Academic world, plagiarism is considered to be: stealing, cheating and lying. No matter how you want to look at it: plagiarism is bad. Is that a clear enough definition? If not, please see me.

Question: Okay, so what do I do if I come across a cool passage that I want to incorporate into my blog? 
Answer: Attribute the source!

Question: What does attribute, or attribution, mean?
Answer:  Tell your audience where you got the information.

 This 20th Century Kresge College Mission Statement written in 1988 by the Kresge College Students at the University of California Santa Cruz  points out the complexities of free speech:
"Kresge College, acknowledging that difference is integral to our community of students, staff and faculty, upholds the ideals of cultural, ethnic, sexual, political and religious diversity. Kresge realizes that freedom to decide and to express one's opinion and beliefs is of the utmost importance. However, attitudes of disrespect or intolerance of the beliefs, ideas, lifestyles or personhood of another are not conducive to the academic and social environment Kresge strives to create. Freedom of expression does not mean freedom to violate others' rights or cause harm to any individual or group of individuals. Acts of oppression, such as, but not limited to racism, sexism, and homophobia, violate mutual respect and undermine community trust. We, the Kresge community, along with the University, will not accept or tolerate such acts and will, with due process, hold accountable those whose actions are not in accordance with our expressed ideals. In choosing to be affiliated with Kresge, we affirm these ideals and make a personal commitment to practice them in our daily lives."

The grey link to the source of this passage is an example of attribution that is ONLY appropriate when linking readers to an outside source in an electronic publication. A passage any longer than this one that is cut and pasted onto an electronic source, even with proper attribution, violates federal copyright laws. In order to reprint previously published material legally, one must research who owns the copyright on the material and ask for permission to reprint the material. The exception to this rule is authors who chose to apply a Creative Commons license to their material.

Please note that the link to the source is provided (in gray), however, the college has since updated their Mission to correspond with the University Mission Statement, so the reader will only be connected with the former location of this quote. Dead and changing links are a problem modern writers must contend with, which is why we have other, more reliable, modes of attribution outside of the blogosphere.

One of the main problems with including a big block of text like this in an academic paper is space. After all, your audience is not reading your paper to only read about other writer's ideas on the topic. An academic audience is equally interested in your ideas on a topic. So, if you are writing a five page paper, then you cannot justify taking up so much space in your paper, with someone else's writing. Academics caught onto this trick of filling word counts with block quotations long ago. Hence you will need to learn how to cut quotations down to better 'fit' important ideas from research in support of your own points.

In most cases, a shorter version of quoted text will have a greater impact because your reader is counting on you to digest the information and convey what is important about the passage and explain how the quotation supports the purpose (controlling idea) of your paper.

Question: How do I tell my audience where I got the information when I'm writing a college paper?
Answer: You have several choices:

1. Explain where you got the information by incorporating a simple sentence before the excerpt.
Example: Here is the what the 1988 Mission Statement from the Kresge College website at University of California, Santa Cruz, said about the freedom of expression:

2. Use a short signal phrase and quote an important section of the material
Example: According the 1988 Kresge College Mission statement, "insert quotation."

3. Use a signal phrase with a brief explanation as to the reason you are using the quoted material.
Example: According to the Kresge College Mission statement, freedom of expression has its limitations: "insert quotation."

4. Use MLA style citations and a Works Cited page. For all of your Formal Papers this will be required.

Example: Expression that includes racism, sexism and homophobia, crosses the line of acceptability because these behaviors have the potential to oppress others and undermine "community trust" (Kresge Students).

Works Cited
Kresge Students. "Kresge Mission Statement." UCSC. University of California, Santa Cruz.
       Web. Jan. 2011.

5. Paraphrase the material using a signal phrase/attribution (paraphrase means to restate in your own words).

Example: The Kresge Mission statement acknowledges the value of our first amendment rights as pertains to the freedom of speech, but the students also acknowledge that freedom of expression, in their college, does not extend to those statements that violate the personal freedoms (and choices) of others (Kresge Students).

6. Summarize the key points, attribute and incorporate specific language from the excerpt

Example: The Kresge Mission statement acknowledges the value of student "differences" and the "freedom to decide and to express one's opinion and beliefs," while at the same time the Mission makes clear the distinction between "the freedom of expression" and "acts of oppression" (Kresge Students).


Click here for a Tutorial on MLA citations.
For more information visit the Owl at Purdue. (Free online MLA style guide)

The following covers the basic rules for using and punctuating quotation marks.

1. Dialogue
 Note: Use a comma to introduce a quotation after a standard dialogue tag, a brief introductory phrase, or a dependent clause.

The detective said, "I am sure who performed the murder."

As D.H. Nachas explains, "The gestures used for greeting others differ greatly from one culture to another."

When introducing or responding to a text, incorporate the author's first and last name on first reference and only the last name on every reference thereafter. Notice the title is capitalized and the quotations indicate that this is a short work. The title of a full length book is indicated by capitalization and italics.

2. In his poem "Mending Wall," Robert Frost questions the building of barriers and walls.

X states, "____________."

According to X, "___________."

In her book, ____________, X maintains that "___________."

Writing in the journal X, X points out that "___________."

X disagrees when he writes, "___________."

If you haven't had a lot of practice introducing texts, then use these templates in your papers until the sentence construction feels comfortable to you. Like everything, this aspect of writing takes practice.

3. Quotation Marks with Titles

Use quotations marks for:

* Titles of short or minor works
* Songs
* Short Stories
* Essays
* Short Poems
* One Act Plays
* Other literary works shorter than a three act play or complete book
* Titles of sections from longer works
* Chapters in books
* Articles in newspapers, magazines, or journals
* Episodes of television and radio series

Remember: Underlining or italics are used for the titles of long pieces or works that contain smaller sections.

4. A few more important reminders: 

Direct quotations involve incorporating another person's exact words into your own writing.

Quotation marks always come in pairs! Do not open a quotation and fail to close it at the end of the quoted material.

Capitalize the first letter of a direct quote when the quoted material is a complete sentence.

Mr. Johnson, who was working in his field that morning, said, "The alien spaceship appeared right
before my own two eyes."

Remember, you want to use your quotations sparingly. Always check to make sure you don't have redundancy and work to incorporate only the portion of the quote that fits your needs.

5. Indirect Quotations/Paraphrasing

Indirect quotations are not exact wordings but rather re-phrasings or summaries of another person's words. In this case, it is not necessary to use quotation marks. However, indirect quotations still require proper citations, and you will be committing plagiarism if you fail to do so.

Mr. Johnson, a local farmer, reported last night that he saw an alien spaceship on his own property.

Many writers struggle with when to use direct quotations versus indirect quotations. Use the following tips to guide you in your choice.

Use direct quotations when the source material uses language that is particularly striking or notable. Do not rob such language of its power by altering it.

Example: Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the Emancipation Proclamation was important and provided hope to millions.

The above statement could be modified to introduce the following quote, but this indirect quote doesn't have the same impact as the direct language:

Example: Martin Luther King Jr. said of the Emancipation Proclamation, "This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice."

General Guidelines:
  • Use an indirect quotation (or paraphrase) when you merely need to summarize key incidents or details of the text.
  • Use direct quotations when the author you are quoting has coined a term unique to their research and relevant within your own paper.
  • When to use direct quotes versus indirect quotes is ultimately a choice you'll learn a feeling for with experience. However, always try to have a sense for why you've chosen your quote. In other words, never put quotes in your paper simply because your teacher says, "You must use quotes."
Grammatical Rules for Introducing Quotes:

1. On first reference, please use the first and last name of the author and the title of the work. On the second reference, please refer to the author by their last name.

In  "The Sanctuary," Linda Barry explains that for many students school not only provides an opportunity for education, but also provides a safe haven from difficulties they many children face in the outside world. Barry states, "We are told in a thousand ways that not only are public schools not important, but that the children who attend them, the children who need them most, are not important either."

In her essay, "The Sanctuary," Linda Barry emphasizes the importance of supporting public education. Barry believes that we need to pay more attention to the many important roles schools play in society.

"Shitty First Drafts," by Anne Lamott, gives us a clear idea on what it feels like to be a writer. Lamott reveals, "Very few writers really know what they are doing until they've done it."

2. When using an indirect quotation or paraphrase,  always reference the author whose ideas you are summing up. Never leave out the attribution when you are paraphrasing someone else's ideas.

Barry points out that we ask our children to place their hands over their hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance to our country, and children across the country do so faithfully, but she wonders when the country will face its children and pledge their allegiance with the same dedication.

According to Barry,  art allowed her to imagine a better life, a brighter future.

One more common mistake:

In Bill Robinson's book, Text and Contexts, Robinson points out that prepositional phrases often confuse students when they are referencing a source indirectly.

For example, if a student starts off the sentence with "In this book" or "In the novel" they tend to omit the subject of the sentence because they mistakenly believe that "book" or "novel" is the subject.

This is wrong: In this Novel stated that Las Flores was spelled incorrectly.
Students try to correct this error by adding it:
This is wrong: In this novel it stated that Los Flores was spelled incorrectly.
To correct this error the writer needs to insert who stated the information.

This is correct: In the novel, Sonny stated that Los Flores was spelled incorrectly.

This is correct:

John Holt's "School Is Bad For Children" challenges the notion that education improves a child's capacity to learn. Holt claims that students arrive at school already having "solved the mystery of language" through their own interaction, exploration and experimentation which is a far greater accomplishment than any method taught in "any school-type formal instruction."

Selecting the correct reporting verb is one of the key tools for proper attribution. Writers should strive to not only select the appropriate reporting verb, but also use a variety of reporting verbs to better cue the reader as to the importance of the quotation.

Write this list in your notes, so you can broaden your use of proper reporting verbs in the signal phrase.

More reporting verbs used to present factual or neutral information from the reading:

point outs

Certain reporting verbs show the writer's (or character's) opinion or attitude about something:

For more information on Quotations, Paraphrasing and Summary click here

In The Flowers, Sonny often recalls what other characters have said. In other words, because this is a first person narrative, we depend on Sonny for all of the information and often the information is revealed in his reflection or memory of a situation and not in real time. Technically, if the quotation is not in real time in the novel (if Sonny is recalling a conversation), you would need to use the quote inside a quote method. Here is MLA style for a quotation within a quotation:

"'You'd love it' [Cloyd] said. 'Wait 'til you eat fresh venison, fresh duck. Nothing better'" (12).

Better yet, use a "bite-sized" quote:

Cloyd told Sonny there was "nothing better" than "fresh" game.

Remember you don't have to use the quotes, especially if you are just trying to explain a situation. Use the quotes to emphasize language and to provide evidence in support of your claim.

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