a knack for quoting

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An effective (coherent and correspondent) argument is reliant upon your ability as a writer to bring others’ credible ideas, claims, and arguments together to form an open dialogue within your essay.  Moreover, the success of your own argument and its conclusions become reliant upon the introduction and analysis of these texts and the ideas they entail.  You need to think broadly about want to pull from various texts as your quotations; for example, your citations can range from hard numerical evidence to demonstrated facts to abstract philosophy and scholarly opinion.

What’s important to acknowledge when making an argument is that sometimes summary is simply not enough—you have to show us exactly what others have said concerning the topic(s).  It’s a misnomer to assume that quoting others is some sort of inherent weakness in your writing and ability to convey your own ideas, because in reality you’re showing the readers your knowledge of the subject(s) and topic(s) of which you’ve chosen to speak of.  You’re also bringing credibility and accuracy to your work by artfully using quotations.

Since it’s  important to find the proper range of quotations you should use for a given assignment or research paper, you’ll need to consistently evaluate the nature of your assignment and argument to make sure you’re not quoting too little or too much.  In the case of quoting too little you may feel like you do not want to revisit an author’s text because you can simply form your own way of describing, reconstructing, the author’s ideas.  The problem with this is two-part: first, there is no dialogue happening in your work, and second, the lack of direct support that comes from citing evidence is nowhere to be found.  If, on the other hand, you quote too much, you put yourself at risk of creating an essay that has little analysis, thus leaving no room for the essential goal of making yourself part of, and an extension to, the dialogue.

Another common mistake is assuming that the quote speaks for itself.  Each time you cite a source you cannot assume the reader is familiar with its rhetorical situation or the scholar.  In essence you have to frame each citation with an endpoint in mind that revolves around supplementing, furthering, your own argument or investigation.  Framing is important as it allows you to effectively introduce a voice into your work in such a way that allows the reader to understand why you value the quote and why this supports your own ideas.  Framing your quote by effectively bringing it into the text requires smooth and elaborated transitions (please see citation template link below).  Don’t let the quote spontaneously appear.  Remember that the quote has to be followed by correspondent analysis; don’t let the citations just dangle and then move on to another point. And also remember that your citation doesn’t do the work for you, but rather gives you the ability to do your work (assignment) as an academic writer.

Once again it’s important to bring in a quote for the purpose of furthering your argument, and not just showing the reader that you have read others’ work.  It should be noted that many times you will find a quote that seems to be great for what you imagine your essay will argue, will be, but as your essay and concepts co-evolve it no longer carries the weight that you need it to for your own rhetorical situation.  One thing to keep in mind as you piece together your thesis during the process of research and writing, you will notice changes in your evaluations and perspectives relative to the utility of the passages you’ve selected.  That’s to say that you need to choose your quotes wisely and be open to changes as your argument develops.

This link gives helpful beginner templates for framing your quotes on how to introduce, summarize, explain, and set up your analysis.

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One Response to “a knack for quoting”

  1. Freddie Says:

    Hey! This is kind of off topic but I nee some advice from an established blog.
    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty
    quick. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to start.

    Do you have any tips or suggestions? With thanks

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