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Incorporating Outside Sources. A Survival Guide The Writing and Reading Program Faculty Western New England College. Why Use Quotations?. To capitalize on particularly effective or memorable language. To lend authority and credibility to your argument.

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Incorporating outside sources l.jpg

Incorporating Outside Sources

A Survival Guide

The Writing and Reading Program Faculty

Western New England College


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Why Use Quotations?

  • To capitalize on particularly effective or memorable language.

  • To lend authority and credibility to your argument.

  • To help summarize or convey an important counter-argument.

  • To acknowledge sources that have influenced your thinking.


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“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“The aim of education must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals, who, however, see in the service of the community their highest life problem”

Albert Einstein

Effective or Memorable Language


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An Appeal to Authority

  • In his essay, “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society,” Kozol makes an appeal to an authoritative voice:

    Some of our Founding Fathers did, however, have [questions of literacy] in their minds. One of the wisest of those Founding Fathers [. . .] recognized the special dangers that illiteracy would pose to basic equity in the political construction that he helped to shape.

    “A people who mean to be their own governors, “ James Madison wrote, “must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both” (371).

Note the use of brackets and ellipsis marks.


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Representing Counter-Argument

  • In the essay, “Civil Disobedience: Destroyer of Democracy,” Van Dusen quotes Thoreau as a way of representing and then refuting a key counter-argument to his own position:

    Civil disobedience is not above the law, but against the law. When the civil disobedient disobeys one law, he invariably subverts all law. [. . . ] Thoreau expressed well the civil disobedient’s disdain for democracy:

    As for adopting the ways which the state has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time and a man’s life will be gone. (876)

    Thoreau’s position is not only morally irresponsible but politically reprehensible.


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Direct quotations use quotation marks and must report the language of the original precisely:

Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (1).

Indirect quotations may alter the original text but must remain faithful to the author’s meaning:

Roosevelt said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself (1).

Direct versus Indirect Quotations


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text… language of the original precisely:

  • Identify a passage that serves your specific purpose.

  • Quote only the sections of the text that are absolutely necessary.

  • Determine where this quotation should appear in your essay. Aim for a logical placement.


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text… language of the original precisely:

  • Create an effective transition

    • Build a sentence that will flow directly into the quoted material.

      Environmentalists often contend that “one species – man– [has acquired] significant power to alter the nature of his world” (Carson 293).


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text… language of the original precisely:

  • Another way to create a transition

    • Use a signal phrase at the beginning or in the middle of the quoted passage:

      Rachel Carson, noted biologist and forerunner of the environmental movement, contends that “one species – man– [has acquired] significant power to alter the nature of his world”(293).


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text… language of the original precisely:

  • All quotations require an effective transition

    • Use a colon to introduce a quotation that is one sentence or more in length:

      Carson discusses the implications of scientific discovery in the modern world, and she expresses a concern that change will occur at a rate that is incompatible with nature itself: “The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature”(294).


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text language of the original precisely:

  • Use a colon to introduce a quotation that is four or more sentences in length.

  • This is called a “block quotation.” You must follow a specific formatting rubric for all block quotations:

    • Indent the block quotation 10 spaces from the left margin.

    • Do not set off a block quotation with quotation marks.

    • Observe the correct punctuation and in-text citation format for block quotations.

  • Use the block quotation format sparingly and only include text that you plan to comment on specifically.


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A Sample Block Quotation language of the original precisely:

  • Carson describes the dangers of artificial “situations”created by man:

    • The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature. Radiation is no longer merely the background radiation of rocks, the bombardment of cosmic rays, the ultraviolet of the sun that have existed before there was any life on earth; radiation is now the unnatural creation of man’s tampering with the atom. (294)


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Aiming for a Fluid and Readable Text language of the original precisely:

  • Do not drop quotations into the text without providing a transition:

    There is a human penchant for scientific discovery which seems to supercede all other considerations. “The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature”(Carson 294).


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Anatomy of a Paragraph… language of the original precisely:

  • Topic sentence

    • Develop the main idea

    • Provide an effective transition to the quotation

    • Quote the text accurately

    • Provide an in-text citation

    • Explain the quotation

    • Relate the quotation to your topic sentence or to the overall thesis


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Sample paragraph language of the original precisely:

  • Science and technology have, indeed, progressed at an incredible rate, but often neither scientist nor layman stops to consider the implications of such “progress.” Rachel Carson, biologist and environmentalist, is particularly concerned because she feels that this change “[follows] the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature”(294). Instead of considering implications, we go ahead and use pesticides, only to wind up with resistant strains of insect (294). We see this today in the workplace where one particular panacea, the computer, is often accused of causing repetitive stress injuries, not to mention a change in visual acuity and comprehension skills. Clearly, we use technology first and consider its impact later.


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Acknowledging an Influential Source language of the original precisely:

  • Science and technology have, indeed, progressed at an incredible rate, but often neither scientist nor layman stops to consider the implications of such “progress.”¹ We see this today in the workplace where one particular panacea, the computer, is often accused of causing repetitive stress injuries, not to mention a change in visual acuity and comprehension skills. Clearly, we use technology first and consider its impact later.

¹I am indebted to Rachel Carson for this idea. Please refer to her essay, “The Obligation to Endure.” The Arlington Reader. Eds. Lynn Z. Bloom and Louise Z. Smith. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 293-98.


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The Truth about Paraphrasing language of the original precisely:

  • Paraphrases are NOT summaries. Summaries condense ideas and offer a shorter version of the original text.

  • In order to paraphrase, writers must understand their sources completely, identify the critical passage and cast this specific passage into their own words, using their own voice and style.

  • Writer’s must distinguish between their own text and the paraphrased material. Use a signal phrase to accomplish this.

  • Paraphrases still require an in-text citation.


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Paraphrasing language of the original precisely:¹

  • Scat singing. A technique of jazz singing in which onomatopoeic or nonsense syllables are sung to improvised melodies. Some writers have traced scat singing back to the practice, common in West African musics, of translating percussion patterns into vocal lines by assigning syllables to characteristic rhythms. However, since this allows little scope for melodic improvisation and the earliest recorded examples of jazz scat singing involved the free invention of rhythm, melody, and syllables, it is more likely that the technique began in the USA as singers imitated the sounds of jazz instrumentalists. – J. Bradford Robinson, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz

¹This example comes from your text, A Writer’s Resource, 183.


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Paraphrasing language of the original precisely:¹

  • Opening passage from an UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE:

  • Scat is a way of singing that uses nonsense syllables and extemporaneous melodies. Some people think that scat goes back to the custom of West African music of turning drum rhythms into vocal lines. [. . .] It is more likely that scat was started in the U.S. by singers imitating the way instrumental jazz sounded.

¹This example comes from your text, A Writer’s Resource, 183.


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Paraphrasing language of the original precisely:¹

  • Acceptable version:

    Scat, a highly inventive type of jazz singing, combines “nonsense syllables [with] improvised melodies.” Although syllabic singing of drum rhythms occurs in West Africa, scat probably owes more to the early attempts of American singers to mimic both the sound and inventive musical style of instrumental jazz (Robinson 515).

¹This example comes from your text, A Writer’s Resource, 183.


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Remember… language of the original precisely:

  • You must cite all primary and secondary source material used in an essay.

  • Ideas gleaned from outside sources require citations as well.

  • Paraphrased passages must be clearly demarcated from your own text and must be cited.

  • Always include a complete “Works Cited” page.


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Sample Citations language of the original precisely:

Kozol, Jonathan. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society.” The Arlington Reader. Eds. Lynn Z. Bloom and Louise Z. Smith. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 370-76.


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Sample Citations language of the original precisely:

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. “First Inaugural Address.” Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. Washington, D.C.:U.S. G.P.O.,1989. Bartleby.com. 2001. 12 Nov. 2003. <http://www.bartleby.com/124>.


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Corresponding Citations language of the original precisely:

Van Dusen, Lewis H. “Civil Disobedience: Destroyer of Democracy.” The Arlington Reader. Eds. Lynn Z. Bloom and Louise Z. Smith. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 871-877.


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