What are quotations and why are they useful?
This is the first of three lessons about Quoting. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the concept of using academic quotations
– Explain why and when quotations should be used
– Explore the usefulness of quotations in academic writing
If you’ve been at university for some time, you should already know that it’s necessary to include sources as evidence for a piece of research or academic assignment if you wish for your ideas and arguments to be convincing and supported by source voice. For most occasions of including such evidence, you’ll need to synthesise more than one source and so will be required to summarise and paraphrase those source materials in order to include them in your own writing. However, there may be times when you wish to include the direct words of a source author in your research, and to do this you’ll need to be familiar with the conventions of writing and correctly formatting quotations, such as the example provided below:
A quotation then, like in this example, is when the exact or lightly modified words of one or many authors are provided within a text. Quotations may be written, usually in the context of academic writing (although quotes can be used in more informal styles too), or they may be used in direct reported speech – in which case the speaker may use the double-finger quotations mark gesture to indicate that they are quoting someone verbatim (word-for-word).
It’s useful to use quotations in academic writing for three primary reasons. The first reason is that using both quotations and paraphrases in a piece of writing makes that writing more dynamic and therefore more engaging to read. With this in mind, a good writer should use quotations carefully and at the right moment to improve the style and readability of their research. Secondly, quotations are useful in providing a distinct and clear source voice, working to further separate the writer from the quoted source. Perhaps that writer has chosen to include the original author’s words because of their poignancy or elegancy, or because those words are particularly famous or pertinent. The final reason that quotations are useful for the writer is that they provide strong and verifiable support for an argument. While a paraphrase could have been misinterpreted by the writer, the direct words of an author or source can be directly interpreted by a reader and as such may provide more convincing and less refutable evidence. There’s quite a lot of variation in exactly how and when quotations are used in academic writing however, and so these issues are covered in some detail in Lessons 2 and 3.
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