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Prof. Martucci - English 101 - Food Fall 2018: Using Your Sources

Quoting Your Sources

You will need to incorporate information from books, articles, websites and other sources into your paper to support your ideas. There are two main ways to do so, through Direct Quotation or Paraphrase (Indirect Quotation). Both require the original source be given credit through an In-Text (or Parenthetical) Citation at the end of the passage. See the How to Cite tab to find out how to create In-Text/Parenthetical Citations in the format required for your assignment. 

Information that is so well known, referred to as Common Knowledge, does not require any citation. See below for definitions and examples of each.

Before you use any material in your paper be sure to:

  • Read the source completely.
  • Re-read it to be sure you understand what the author is trying to say.
  • Make sure it supports the point or argument you are trying to make.
  • Write down or print out the complete citation for the source, so that you can cite it properly.

Direct Quotes, Paraphrasing, and Common Knowledge

Direct Quotation is copying your source exactly the way you found it - word for word.

Use Direct Quotes sparingly in your paper - most of your information should be paraphrased.

Show your reader you are quoting directly from your source by putting the quoted passage within quotation marks and following it by an In-Text Citation. The quoted passage should be integrated with your own thoughts and words.


Direct Quote - Example (MLA format)

In Norse mythology those who are killled in battle go to Valhalla, or "Hall of the Slain," where "they feast every night, while by day they fight to the death, reviving at nightfall to feast together once more" (Simpson 973).

Simpson, Jacqueline. "Valhalla." Encyclopedia of Death & the Human Experience, edited by Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck, vol. 2, SAGE Publications, 2009, pp. 973-974. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://lib-proxy.sunywcc.edu:2634/apps/doc/CX3201700336/GVRL?u=valh61524&sid=GVRL&xid=f826a135.

You can make minor changes to a Direct Quote so that it fits better into your text.


You can shorten a direct quote by cutting some of the text. Add ellipses ... to show where the missing text would have been. Be sure you have not changed the meaning of the passage with the edited text.

“Papers from the treatment and control groups were then tested … for plagiarism, with the students never told that they were part of a plagiarism study” (Jaschik).

Source: Jaschik, Scott. “Plagiarism Prevention Without Fear.” Inside Higher Ed. 26 Jan. 2010, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/01/26/plagiarize


Use square brackets [ ] around individual words you have changed so the quote fits better in your text. E.g. tense changes or to clarify pronouns (it, him, her) mentioned earlier in the original.

Original: “The overall results found that students who went through the tutorial were less likely to plagiarize” (Jaschick).

Changed: “The overall results found that students who [go] through the tutorial [are] less likely to plagiarize” (Jaschick).

Source: Jaschik, Scott. “Plagiarism Prevention Without Fear.” Inside Higher Ed. 26 Jan. 2010, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/01/26/plagiarize


Direct quotes are copied word for word from the original text including unusual spelling or typographical errors. Follow any problematic word with [sic] to indicate to your professor this is not a mistake on your part. Sic is the Latin word for thus, meaning: that's the way I found it.

Upon discovering someone on Twitter using her name and photo, the author posted "The person using my name -- Margaret Atwood -- and my picture on Twitter is not me. Please stop imperonating [sic] me. Thanks."

Source: @MargaretAtwood. "The person using my name -- Margaret Atwood -- and my picture on Twitter is not me. Please stop imperonating me. Thanks." 25 July 2009, 5:37 p.m. https://twitter.com/MargaretAtwood/status/2839206166.

Paraphrase (or Indirect Quote) is when you put the author's ideas into your own words.

Be sure to read the source thoroughly and understand what the author is trying to say.

Follow the paraphrased passage with an In-Text Citation - even though these are your words, they are the original authors ideas and need to be credited.


Paraphrase - Example (MLA format)

Original:

"Valhalla is the conventional English-language rendering of Old Icelandic Valhöll (The Hall of the Slain), which, according to Nordic mythology of the Viking Age, is a paradise reserved for warriors who died in battle, presided over by Odin, the god of war. There they feast every night, while by day they fight to the death, reviving at nightfall to feast together once more" (Simpson 973).

Paraphrased:

In Norse mythology, those who have met their death in combat go to Valhalla, which translates to "Hall of the Slain." There they find a warriors heaven, spending eternity fighting one another and feasting in the company of the god of war, Odin (Simpson 973).

Jacqueline. "Valhalla." Encyclopedia of Death & the Human Experience, edited by Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck, vol. 2, SAGE Publications, 2009, pp. 973-974. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://lib-proxy.sunywcc.edu:2634/apps/doc/CX3201700336/GVRL?u=valh61524&sid=GVRL&xid=f826a135.

Common Knowledge is information that is so well known that it does not require a citation. This includes as scientific facts, historical facts and common rules.

Be careful to not confuse well accepted ideas with common knowledge. If it's possible to have differing opinions on something, it is not common knowledge (e.g. "Everyone knows that...")

BUT there may be times you need to cite facts that are common knowledge.


Common Knowledge - Examples 

H2O is the chemical formula for water.

H2O is the chemical formula for water. There is no other chemical formula for water. You cannot argue with this statement.

George Washington was the first President of the United States.

There is no doubt about who was the first President of the U.S.  If you were writing this statement for a paper during a study-abroad semester in another country, it would not be common knowledge and you would need to cite it.

When driving, you must come to a full stop at a red light.

If the topic of your paper was motor vehicle violations you would need to cite the law that states you have to come to a full stop at a red light (7 N.Y. VAT Law Sec. 1111). This is because you will be making some point or argument about this subject. 

Before You Hand Your Paper In:

Inadvertent plagiarism issues can be a result of poor time management and rushing to finish a paper. Leaving enough time to go over your work - or to ask someone else to look at it - can help avoid unnecessary charges of plagiarism.

  • Do you have in-text/parenthetical citations and a works cited page citation for each of the sources that require it?
  • If you have quoted word-for-word (Direct Quote) from a source, have you put the phrase(s) in quotation marks to mark those words as not your own?
  • Do all the quotes and paraphrased passages support the point(s) you are trying to make?
  • Have you used Direct Quotes sparingly and paraphrased most of your source material? The majority of the paper should be in your own words.