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The Art of Quotation in a Research Paper

Date published: | Lisa Barlow

A Student girl writing notes and preparing for university studying.

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Research papers presuppose investigating works of other scientists and using their materials to support one’s ideas. Skimming through non-fiction books and taking notes constitutes a crucial part of writing. Its value can’t be overestimated.  Nevertheless, creating an essay based on someone else’s data is a tricky operation. If students are not cautious enough, they might be charged with plagiarism. Uncredited use, in this case, implies integrating direct citation without applying quotation marks or author’s name and presenting a stolen piece of information as an original one.  Universities treat plagiarism as a violation of academic integrity and punish harshly the guilty. Here you will discover how to quote sources accurately.

Sensible Use of Quotations

At first, let’s find out when a direct quotation is appreciated. Most of the research papers from social and natural sciences require rather a shortened summary of the analyzed material. Meanwhile, it is a common practice to quote fellow experts or belles-lettres passages when producing a paper.

Thus, direct quotation is incorporated for the following purposes:

  • to focus on and examine the exact wording;
  • to provide credible evidence (e.g., interview transcripts or historical documents);
  • to familiarize the readers with existing theories and to comment on them;
  • to illustrate the authority of one’s claim;
  • to include a particularly well-expressed thought the connotation of which would be disrupted or modified if paraphrased;
  • to give the universally accepted definition of a term.

Fluent Document: How to Present a Quotation

The golden rule of writing states: don’t throw quotations like a towel. Make an introduction and allow the reader to form a logical chain.

Intermingling a quotation with your text is built on two components:

  • A sign that notifies the forthcoming quote –usually the author’s name and/or a reference to the work.
  •  An affirmation that smoothly shows the link between the quotation and your text.

Both the sign and the affirmation turn up in a single introductory statement. It is also possible for the sign to appear after the affirmation, with a connecting word or phrase.

Exploring Technicalities: How to Format a Quotation

Short Prose and Verse Quotations

Integrate short direct prose and verse (up to three lines) quotations into the text and enclose them in double quotation marks. To divide lines of poetry utilize slash (/) button with a space on either side.

Long Prose and Verse Quotations

For the extended prose and verse excerpts, a block system of the quotation is demanded. You have to insert a passage after a colon, start from a new line, and indent it. No quotation marks are used (unless you want to designate the quotation within the quotation).

Regulations about the length of blocks and spaces quantity for indentation differ in various documentation systems, so look over the guidelines.

Punctuation in quotes that You Shall Be Aware of:

  • Parenthetical citations are placed outside of closing quotation marks and followed by sentence punctuation (colon, semi-colon, period, question mark, comma). If you are dealing with block quotations, check the requirements for the documentation system.
  • Commas and periods are placed: 1) inside closing quotation marks when no parenthetical citation is used; 2) outside closing quotation marks after the citation.
  • Semi-colons and colons are placed outside of closing quotation marks or after a parenthetical citation.
  • Question Marks and exclamation points are placed: 1) inside closing quotation marks if they refer to the quotation; 2) outside of closing quotation marks if they relate to the entire sentence.

Indicating the Adjustments

  • An omission within a quotation is indicated through ellipsis points (. . .) Bear in mind, ellipsis must be utilized only before or after a quote, or else it would be a partial/dropped quote.
  • Alteration, concretization and commenting are highlighted with square brackets []. The added information facilitates a better understanding of the context.

Quotation within a Quotation Dilemma

Simple as one, two, three: apply single quotation marks for the embedded passage.

Write down [sic] (“so” or “thus”) to point out that a mistake is in the quoted material and is not your own.

Citing a Quote

Direct quotes and paraphrases must contain a citation of the primary source material. The rules of citing depend on a style. For some citation styles, you are to use footnotes, for the others – in-text citations. Dissimilarities can be vague, therefore, be attentive. Select the quotes carefully and ensure they are relevant to your study.