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On occasion, you will choose to include the exact words—word for word—of your source. Quoting your source is selecting a very brief passage, sentence, phrase or term from the original source to use in your paper.  You will do so when you want to include the exact language of the source's author for any of a number of reasons: (1) the wording of the source is particularly apt or concise, and, as a result, it will be very appropriate and precise for your paper; (2) the wording of the source is expressed particularly well; that is, the words themselves are well-spoken, persuasive, or especially powerful; (3) the language of the source provides terms or phrases that are field-specific and have very precise definitions or meanings.

Original source: Laurie, John and Stephen Buckman. "WiFi as a backend." Economic Development Journal 7.4 (2008): 12–17.

"As technology advances and becomes more integrated into people's lives, cities are increasingly becoming a digitalized, fragmented environment that results in a dichotomy of separation and togetherness. The advent and expansion of the internet . . . accelerates both spatial concentration and decentralization. In theory, the internet allows people to live and work wherever they choose and yet stay connected with society at large . . . Communities have been traditionally defined by spatial parameters. The internet is dissolving these traditional spatial parameters, yet it could be argued that Wireless (WiFi) internet is actually helping to reestablish traditional spatial communities."   


Though many people feel that technology is electronically connecting but physically separating people, the growth of Internet cafes and cities' use of wireless networks make it possible to say that the internet "is actually helping to reestablish traditional spatial communities."

Frequently, you will write sentences and paragraphs that use the techniques of paraphrase and quotation as you refer to ideas from your sources.  Careful use of paraphrasing can help your refer to material that you prefer not to quote word-for-word. Quoting allows you to retain the exact words, terms, and expressions of the original author. Here is another example from a recent article about the discipline of Economics within the liberal arts curriculum:

Original source: Colander, David, and Kimmarie McGoldrick. "The Economics Major and Liberal Education." Liberal Education 95.2 (2009): 22–29.

"It is worthwhile to teach 'big-think' questions, but because they do not fit the disciplinary research focus of the profession, they tend not to be included in the economics major. This is regrettable, since struggling with the "big-think" questions helps provoke a passion for learning in students and, hence, can be a catalyst for deeper student learning.

It is similarly worthwhile to expose students to longstanding debates within the field.  For example, Marx considered the alienation created by the market to be a central problem of western societies; Hayek argued that the market was necessary to preserve individual freedom . . . Such debates are highly relevant for students to consider as they study economics within the context of a liberal education. But these kinds of debates are not actively engaged as part of cutting-edge research, which instead tends to focus on narrow questions that can be resolved through statistical analysis or on highly theoretical questions that exceed the level of undergraduate students."

Paraphrase and Quotation:

One of the most important qualities of a small liberal arts college is the emphasis on the type of  thought-provoking questions that not only help students learn academic material, but also help them to learn about the important ideas that have shaped our culture.  Colander and McGoldrick calls these "big-think" questions, which are often not addressed at institutions that focus too narrowly on the research dimension of the discipline (22). For example, about the discipline of Economics, the two professors assert that it is "worthwhile to expose students to longstanding debates within the field," but at most large institutions "these debates are not actively engaged as part of cutting-edge research," and, as a result, students miss out on classroom approaches that can "help provoke a passion for learning . . . and be a catalyst for deeper student thinking" (Colander and McGoldrick 22). 

The first citation above marks the end of a sentence that includes material paraphrased from page 22 of the original. The second citation also refers to material from page 22, which is directly quoted in the paragraph. 

As you see, paraphrased and quoted material always requires citations.  But different academic disciplines use different style guides as the standards for presenting and formatting those citations and a paper's bibliography. The next section will give you some examples of citations in a few of the most widely used documentation styles. It will also direct you to a page that demonstrates documentation comprehensively and provides information about all of the documentation styles used in college courses.

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