Wednesday 30 August 2017

Integrating Quotes into Essays and Dissertations

Integrating Quotes into Essays and Dissertations

While it is important to cite the research of others in order to make your writing better, it can be very challenging to integrate these sources effectively into your own research. Quotes can often make the writing of beginners sound clunky or unnatural. Good academic writing is able to integrate quotes seamlessly into paragraphs so that they don’t become intrusive, making the work disjointed or confusing the reader.

Quotes should always be kept as short as possible, and you should aim to always analyze and discuss the quotes for most of your essay, paper or dissertation, rather than spending the bulk of your time reproducing the ideas of others through large block quotes. However, sometimes it’s necessary to use extended quotes in order to share particularly important passages or to express very complex ideas which can’t be paraphrased or summarized without losing some of the original meaning. If you have to use long quotes, make sure that you follow the conventions of your referencing style.

For quotes of four lines or longer, regardless of how many sentences make up the quote, you will insert the quote on a new line. Make the font one size smaller than the font of your paragraphs, and indent the quote so that it stands out from the rest of the text. Indented block quotes also don’t require inverted commas around them, since the quote is already clearly distinguished from the rest of your text. An example of what this would look as follows:

This is an example of a block quote, which is separated from the rest of your text by using a different font size and indenting it. The quote should only be indented if it is four lines of text or longer, and you should end it off with the reference based on the referencing style you are using. (Andrews, 2017, p.9)

The indented block quote still forms part of the paragraph which introduced it, and you should also try to spend a few lines after the block quote to give an analysis or explanation of the contents of the quote and how it relates to your research.

Even when you have shorter quotes, they can often cause your writing to become difficult to read if you don’t integrate them artfully. Many students simply place a quote as a sentence on its own, and then proceed to discuss it afterwards. The reader might be left very confused if a quote is suddenly thrown at them in your essay without any context to prepare them. For this reason, good academic writers integrate their quotes within sentences. For example, if you want to use the following quote from a book by Oliver Stephens:

“Every child deserves a good education.” (1935: p. 22)

This quote would be much more effective if the reader knew why and how you were using it to strengthen your research. Giving some context first will make the quote resonate more with the reader. You could introduce the quote first by doing something like the following:

Children benefit greatly from education. Oliver Stephens believed that education should be seen as a basic human right, and he argued that “[e]very child deserves a good education” (1935: p. 22).

By first giving some context for the quote, it makes much more sense to the reader, and your writing becomes stronger. The quote becomes part of the sentence, rather than a separate entity which might cause the paragraph to feel clumsy.

Notice also how the capital “E” from the word “Every” has been changed when the quote was integrated into the sentence. In order to make the quote flow with the rest of the sentence, the letter was changed to the lowercase “e”, and the change was noted with square brackets. This is a widely-accepted method for integrating quotes and making slight changes in direct quotes to help the reader understand the context.

Let’s look at a final example of integrating quotes. If you want to use the following quote in your research:

“Little did he know that I was already waiting for him at his home.” (Warwick 75)

You could integrate the quote as follows:

The character Donaldo is ready to pounce on Bertrand when he arrives at home. He explains that Bertrand had no idea that Donaldo “was already waiting for [Bertrand] at his home” (Warwick 75).

In this integrated quote, the word “him” was changed to “Bertrand” so that the reader would know who it was referring to. Some parts of the quote were omitted so that it flowed with the rest of the sentence.

Even though square brackets can help you to alter your quotes slightly to fit in with your sentences, you should always reproduce the ideas of the quote exactly with the original context. Misrepresenting the ideas of another author is also a form of intellectual dishonesty, and could also have implications for your academic career or your grades.

Review Your Learning:
      Block quotes of 4 lines or longer should be separated onto a new line, indented away from the margin, and formatted to a smaller font size.
      Integrating quotes is important in order to make your academic writing easier to read. Whenever possible, try to integrate quotes so that they flow from your own ideas.

      Square brackets can be used whenever words are changed within a direct quote in order to clarify meaning or to help with integrating the quote.