How Do We Incorporate Sources that Necessitate Citation?

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism

Learning how to effectively summarize, quote, and paraphrase research can be difficult and it certainly takes practice. It’s also important to know when and why to do each of them. Traditionally, research in humanities disciplines often uses quotations, but researchers in the natural and social sciences tend to paraphrase and summarize more. The goal of this page and those that follow is to introduce some basic strategies for summarizing, quoting, and paraphrasing research in your writing and to explain how to avoid plagiarizing your research.

  • Summarize when you want to convey only the main point or message of a passage or section of a source. Summaries can also be written about entire articles or whole books.
  • Paraphrase when you believe you can more clearly represent source material than the source itself. However, paraphrasing is more than just using a thesaurus to replace every other word in a sentence. You must put the material “in your own words” by not only shifting the vocabulary but also using different syntax (sentence structures).
  • Quote directly (using the exact words within the source) only when necessary.*

*Generally, when you directly quote a passage from a print source, you must include the page number in a parenthetical citation. Paraphrasing does not necessitate page numbers, but can be included if you want to refer to content you are restating from a specific page. Summaries do not usually require page numbers unless they include direct quotes, which are generally not necessary for summarizing.