Essay Writing - Properly Citing Sources

Essay Writing - Properly Citing Sources
How to Correctly Cite Sources in a Paper

Students who are afraid of being accused of plagiarism sometimes aren't sure how to cite sources properly. Here are a few tips for hesitant students.


Many students are wary of plagiarism and rightly so. But they shouldn't be so afraid that they quote sources improperly. Incorrectly ascribing words to someone is not anywhere near as bad an offense as plagiarism, but it could cause a student to get a lower grade on a paper.
There are two ways to integrate sources into one's paper: through the use of direct and indirect quotations. The best way to show a student is with an example. See the following text from which examples of direct and indirect quotation will be shown.
Sample Text
Examples will be taken from this fictional piece of text:
• While it has been proven that Shakespeare’s history was not always accurate, that he embellished some history, downplayed or compressed other various accounts, and erroneously (and sometimes intentionally) dramatized a few facts, I believe that Shakespeare attempted to remain true to the historical figures, even if those people were remaining consistent only within the framework of his play; when he chose to alter a character’s history, he did so for dramatic effect. Ultimately, however, I argue that Shakespeare did not portray women in anything other than a realistic light in regard to the times in which he lived, whether or not the character’s portrayal is faithful to the historical figure and whether the characters were based on real women or were entirely fictional roles.
Direct Quotations Must Use the Exact Words of the Source
The most important rule of quoting a source: When a citation is quoted, be aware that the quote must contain the exact words of the author. The best way to think of this is realizing that no one likes words put into her mouth. If someone is going to say she said something, she wants it to be exactly what she said. She doesn't want someone to inaccurately quote her.
Using the above example, the following are two examples of direct (and accurate) quotations:
• “Shakespeare did not portray women in anything other than a realistic light in regard to the times in which he lived.”
• “Shakespeare . . . portray[ed] women in . . . a realistic light in regard to the times in which he lived.”
Note that the second quote, while altered by the writer who displayed the changes with brackets and ellipses (which is perfectly acceptable; essay writers may do so to help their papers flow smoothly), does not change the author’s original intent. Always be careful to maintain the author’s original intent (in other words, don’t take the author “out of context”).
This example is incorrect:
• “Shakespeare portrayed women in a realistic light in regard to the times in which he lived.”
Why is it incorrect? Because these are not the exact words of the author. If a writer does not want to use an actual quote, an indirect quote (a summary or paraphrase of the author's words) might work better.
Indirect Quotations Should be Used When Not Using an Author's Exact Words
Remember, any source from which a student gets information should be cited. However, if a student would rather put a source into his own words, he will be indirectly quoting his source. The following is an example of summary:
• The author maintains that Shakespeare “portrayed” historical women realistically.
Notice that the student still quoted one word from the original text, but he summarized the author's words. This summary is not the student's original idea, so he must let his readers know his source.
Citing Sources is Important, but Quotations Must be Exact Wording
Students should endeavor to cite their sources properly and always be sure to give credit where credit is due. However, if a student quotes a source, she must be sure the original contains the exact phrase as she shows it in her paper.


This article originally appeared on http://essay-writing.suite101.com/article.cfm/essay_writing_properly_citing_sources#ixzz0pnJ4AGPX

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