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The Research Essay or Term Paper

Using Quotations and Citing Sources

  1. All quotations that are quoted verbatim, word for word, should be quoted with 100 percent accuracy. If you paraphrase a statement (which means putting the statement into your own words) make sure that you preserve the original meaning of the statement, and at the same time change the sentence structure and wording to show that you have understood it and adapted it to your own speech. Whether you paraphrase a statement or quote it directly, you must give credit to the author by mentioning his name, the title of the book or article, and the page number where the idea appeared. If you quote something directly, you must put quotation marks around it. Avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is copying. It involves either quoting something directly and not putting quotation marks around it and acknowledging the author and book, or paraphrasing the information and again not crediting the author or book.
  2. Short quotations - - those of three sentences or less - - are retained within the body of the essay and marked off with quotation marks. Quotations of four sentences or more are separated from the body of the text, single spaced, marked off by double spacing above and below the quotation, and are given an additional indentation of five spaces on the left hand margin. Such indented quotations are called "block quotations" and these are not set off with quotation marks:
  3. Behind the impasse lies a very interesting layer, the death layer or implosive layer. This fourth layer appears as death or as fear of death. The death layer has nothing to do with Freud's death instinct. It only appears as death because of the paralysis of opposing forces. It is a kind of catatonic paralysis: we pull ourselves together, we contract and compress ourselves, we implode. (Perls 60).
  4. Very long quotations should be avoided (unless the material is very important and must be maintained in its original eloquence). Quotations should not occupy more than 10-15% of the body of your essay. "A quotation should always add to the logical development of your discussion, not merely repeat it in different words. Therefore, find the strongest quotations you can - - surprising details, key statements of controversy, prime examples, significant phrases or sentences that seem to condense a whole idea into a memorable truth" (Hopkins and Furberg 8).
  5. Give credit to the source of the quotation immediately after the quotation or paraphrase. Put the citation in parenthesis by first mentioning the author's last name. Also mention the title of the book or article if you are citing more than one book by the same author. If not, you don't have to mention the title since it will be mentioned at the end of the essay on a separate page entitled "Works Cited." After mentioning the author's last name (and possibly the book title), mention the page number(s) where the quotation appeared:

    "Mammals form images because their mental processes deal with many interfaces" 
    (Bateson, Mind and Nature 41).

    You may, of course, mention the author's name and/or book title in your main text instead of in the parenthesis to follow:

    As Gregory Bateson points out, "Mammals form images because their mental processes deal with many interfaces" (41)


    As Gregory Bateson points out in Minds and Nature, "Mammals form images because their mental processes deal with many interfaces" (41).

    Sometimes you may quote a source indirectly. For example, you may wish to use a quotation of Aristotle's which you found in a book by Albert Camus:

    According to Aristotle: "The often ridiculed consequence of these opinions is that they destroy themselves. For by asserting that all is true we assert the truth of the contrary assertion and consequently the falsity of our own thesis..." (qtd. in Camus 13).

    If the name of the person being quoted is not mentioned, simply say:

    (Aristotle, qtd. in Camus 13).

    Remember that even if you don't directly quote from an article or book but rather borrow an idea and paraphrase it into your own words, you still have to credit the source:

    Mammals' brains are more complex than those of other animals (Bateson 41)

    If you have personally interviewed a knowledgeable authority in a field, it is a good idea to mention the person in the text itself, thereby eliminating the need for a parenthesis:

    David Smith, president of The Rifle Association of B.C., favors the legalization of owning handguns because he thinks that criminals will obtain them even if handguns are illegal to possess.

  6. Quotations should fit naturally into the flow of your own prose. One way to accomplish this is to introduce the quotation by referring to its source:

    As A.J. Mitchell observed, "Ice hockey is not a game for sissies" (63).

    This point is supported by D.G. Jones who claimed that "The study of mathematics should begin in grade one"(qtd. in Smith 85).

    Pope Pius stated that a war is just "if it has been forced upon one by an extremely grave injustice that in no way can be avoided" (Johnson 97).

    Notice how in each of these cases the quotation fits in smoothly and grammatically with the rest of the sentence.
  7. Two special marks of punctuation, ellipsis and brackets, are useful in helping to fit quotations into your text. Ellipsis consists of three spaced periods ( . . . ) and is used to indicate that some part of the quotation (either at the beginning, middle, or end) has been omitted.

    " . . . the love of truth with most people is the faintest of passions."

    "Civil disobedience . . . involves a deliberate breach of the law."

    "To resist is to say, NO! without a qualification . . ." (Thoreau 350).

    Square brackets [ ] are used when the writer of an essay wants to add to the quotation a word or phrase not found in the original. Such an addition may provide a necessary explanation or may help the quotation to blend in with the writer's own prose:

    "Most Democrats believed that [Jimmy] Carter was wishy-washy."

    Kennedy said "this policy [of selling wheat to Russia] could bankrupt the farmers of America."

  8. Use double quotation marks when you quote something. The only time to use single quotation marks is when a quotation appears within another quotation:

    "Thus I return to Chestev. A commentator relates a remark of his that deserves interest: 'The only true solution,' he said, 'is precisely where human judgement sees no solution. Otherwise, what need would we have of God? We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible. As for the possible, men suffice'" (Camus 25).

  9. "Sometimes you will have a paragraph in which all the data are yours except for the final two or three lines. In this case, use a hinge sentence ('Jones has shown that peer approval is a primary need during adolescence') to separate your own from borrowed information. Otherwise, a citation at the end of the paragraph might cause readers to conclude that the whole paragraph is borrowed" (Lannon 384).

  10. "If the work is by a corporate author or if the work is unsigned (i.e., author unknown), use a shortened version of the title or corporate name in your citation, as in: ('Information Systems'18). But make sure that shortened titles correspond with the complete entries in "Works Cited" (e.g., "Information Systems for Tomorrow's Office, "Fortune" 19 (Oct. 1982): 18).

  11. At the end of the essay, on a page of its own, comes a list of works cited. This title of this section depends on the style you are using:

    MLA : Works Cited
    APA - References
    Chicago - Bibliography

    The section lists all the books, articles, and references that have been used in the essay. The title Works Cited should appear about an inch from the top of a fresh page. It is the very last page of your manuscript. Every source mentioned in your text must have a corresponding entry in Works Cited. Underline titles of books, magazines, and newspapers, and put quotation marks around essays and articles (from newspapers, magazines, or books).

  12. Entries in Works Cited are listed alphabetically according to the author's last name. If the article is anonymous, list the entry alphabetically according to its title (disregarding "A", "An", or "The"). Do not number the items on your list. Here is a sample list. Notice that the first line of each entry begins at the left margin; subsequent lines are indented five letter spaces. Double space every line. The only time you list page numbers is with magazine or newspaper articles.