Using Borrowed Material



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Using Borrowed Material
Skilled use of borrowed material is one mark of an accomplished writer. You can’t expect just to sprinkle it on the paper in the hope it will magically create an argument for you. Good arguments with borrowed material to support them don’t just happen; they come from careful work. To make sure your borrowed material helps your argument, you must consider two key questions: whether to quote or not, and from what to quote. Answers to these questions are closely related and depend on the paper you’re writing.
What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing?

These three ways of incorporating other writers’ work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source.


Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
Paraphrasing restates the original source material in your own words. You interpret the technical or complex wording, but you retain the flow of the thought from the source. Paraphrased material must be attributed to the original author and is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Thus, choose a paraphrase when the way a source presents an argument works well, but the words themselves need adjustment for your purposes.
Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). They capture facts and opinions from the original source but use neither the original words nor the original thought pattern and must be attributed to the original author. Choose a summary when you want only the data from a source.
Whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, you must follow four steps to use borrowed material effectively.

1. Introduce the borrowed material

2. Present it (quote, paraphrase or summarize)

3. Cite the source

4. Explain the relevance of the borrowed material and relate it to the

claim
Step 1: Introducing Borrowed Material

Perhaps the most neglected step in using borrowed material is the first one – introducing it. In this step you mention the author or title of the source before presenting the material to signal to your readers that you are beginning the borrowed material. Here are some sample introductions:

As Grant explained in his Memoirs


According to the press secretary, the president decided that…
Reverend Graham was correct when he said…
In his essay “Here’s HUD in Your Eye,” Larry McMurty reveals…
**When introducing borrowed material from a novel, be sure to include some story context so that the reader understands the circumstances surrounding the borrowed material.
Templates for Introducing Quotations

  • X states, "blah........ blah."

  • As the prominent philosopher/noted researcher/author of "Blah Blah" X puts it, "....."

  • According to X, "...."

  • X him/her writes/notes/asserts "..."

  • In her book article, _______, X maintains that "....."

  • In X's view, "....."

  • X's view, "...."

  • X agrees when she writes, "...."

  • X disagrees when she writes, "....."

  • X complicates matters further when she write/argues, "...."

The variety of introductions is almost endless, but all of them identify your source, often helping readers judge whether the source you’re citing is reputable. Without an introduction, the borrowed material seems just spliced in; look for such an example in the following paragraph:


Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. “The secret of the British failure was the ministry’s neglect in immediately securing absolute naval supremacy on this coast. It is the British naval administration that is to be charged with the Yorktown catastrophe” (Johnston 101).
Readers will recognize where the borrowing begins and ends because of the quotation marks, but they will wonder who Johnston is and where the quotation comes from. Annoying, isn’t it? Don’t annoy your readers; don’t even leave them slightly frustrated from wondering about who said what. Introduce the material:
Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. In The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, historian Henry P. Johnston blames the British navy with his observation that “the secret of the British failure was the ministry’s neglect in immediately securing absolute naval supremacy on this coast. It is the British naval administration that is to be charged with the Yorktown catastrophe” (Johnston 101).
This tells readers who wrote what you’ve quoted and where you found it.
An introduction is even more important for a summary or paraphrase then it is for a direct quotation. Quotation marks show where a quotation begins and ends. But where does the paraphrase begin here?
Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. The British failed because the navy did not control the sea off the American coast. The British navy should be blamed for the Yorktown defeat (Johnston 101).
How many of the ideas come from Johnston’s book? Does the paraphrase begin at the first word of the paragraph or is it only the sentence ending with the parenthetical reference? Who knows? When you introduce the paraphrase, everyone will know:
Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. In The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, historian Henry P. Johnston asserts that the British failed because the navy did not control the sea off the American coast. The British navy should be blamed for the Yorktown defeat (Johnston 101).
With that simple introduction readers know where the paraphrasing begins. Be sure to introduce your summaries in like manner.

Step 2: Presenting Borrowed Material

Paraphrases and summaries, no matter their length, should be fully integrated with your own writing, but no special formatting is required for their presentation.


Quotations require special presentation techniques.

  • Use double quotation marks (“ “) to enclose your source’s exact words and punctuation; if the quoted material itself includes quotation marks, use single quotation marks (‘ ‘) to enclose the interior quotation.

  • Place a parenthetical reference after the quoted material and closing quotation mark but before the punctuation mark, if any, that ends the sentence.

  • You need not always reproduce complete sentences. You may want to quote just a word or phrase as part of your sentence. This is integrating or incorporating the quote within a sentence of your own.

For Charles Dickens the eighteenth century was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times”(1).

It is noted that the contrast between Ralph and Jack exists mostly because they

have different “ideas of order and control” (Golding13).


After analyzing options, “choose those which provide the most value for the money” (Johnson 32).


  • Use square brackets [ ] to indicate words you have added to the quote to make ideas flow more smoothly or to clarify something in your sentence.

When it comes to cell phones, “it [static] can ruin the quality of your cellular communication” (Rodman 95).


As John Knowles sums it up, “Fail[ing] to research properly can cause a lack of paragraph development” (4).


  • Sometimes it is necessary to only use a few words from a quote. In this case, you need to use an ellipsis or three periods … to indicate words deleted within a quotation. However, the deletion must not change the intent or meaning of the author!

According to Consumer Reports, “not all brand names … are as safe as they would lead you to believe” (Devlin 12).




  • When you quote only a sentence fragment, a word, or phrase, you don’t need to show that material has been left out before or after the quotation; the cutting is obvious.

Paraphrase: Write It In Your Own Words

A paraphrase is…

- Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form

- One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.

- A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.


Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because…

  • It is better than quoting information from an undistinguished passage.

  • It helps you control the temptation to quote too much.

  • The mental process required for successful paraphrasing helps you to grasp the full meaning of the original.


Some examples to compare

The original passage:


Students frequently overuse direct quotations in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final paper. Probably only about 10% of your final draft should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.
A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material quoted verbatim (Lester 46-47).


An acceptable summary:
Students should take just a few notes in direct quotations from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

A plagiarized version:



Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final draft should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.
Step 3: Citing the Source (AKA parenthetical documentation)

Whenever you use borrowed material, the third step is essential: crediting your source. You must identify the printed or spoken source of your information.


Failure to cite your source is dishonest. Plagiarism occurs if you fail to document the words or ideas of others when you use them in your writing. So to avoid plagiarism, you need to understand the mechanics of documentation.
1. AUTHOR PROVIDED – use parentheses at the end of the sentence with the

author’s last name and page number

(Austen 227).

2. NO AUTHOR GIVEN – use first key word or two of title and page number

Book (Horizons 5). Periodical (“Winning” 17).

3. TWO OR THREE AUTHORS – use all authors’ names

(Dyer and Foreman 78). (Dwight, Jones, and Noble 123).

4. QUOTING SOMETHING WHICH WAS QUOTED IN A SOURCE –

Samuel Johnson admitted that “Edmund Burke was an extraordinary man”

(qtd. in Pearson 97).

5. TWO SOURCES BY THE SAME AUTHOR – include key word from title after

author


Book (Graham, Witness 34). Periodical (Graham, “Listening” 17).


  • A one page work only requires the author’s last name.

  • When a source has no page numbers or paragraph numbers, do not create your own.

    • If no author is provided, the work must be cited in its entirety.

    • If an author is provided, the author’s last name must be cited.

  • If you introduce the quote using the author’s name, then the parentheses need only include the page number. If you do not use the author’s name in the introduction of the quote, then the name must appear in the parentheses.

  • Note that the final punctuation appears after the parentheses – not in the quote itself.

  • Place quoted material where a natural pause would occur in the sentence.

  • Parenthetical references should not interrupt the flow of your essay and should be only 10 words or less.

  • NEVER USE A QUOTE AS A SENTENCE BY ITSELF!!



Step 4: Explaining & Relating the Borrowed Material
Now that you have introduced, presented, and cited your borrowed material, you’ve arrived at the final and crucial step in the process: explaining your material for relevance and relating it to the thesis. Without this last step, your borrowed material has no relevance because the reader doesn’t know why it’s there or its significance to the thesis. Generally, example must be explained and discussed in detail in order to develop your body paragraphs and prove your point.

Templates for Explaining Quotations - Remember, after every quotation, you must explain its significance.

  • Basically, X warning that the proposed solution will only....

  • In other words, X believes ....

  • In making a comment, X urges ....

  • X corroborates the age-old adage that ....

  • X's point is that...

• The essence of X's argument is that
Below is an example of borrowed material with no explanation. The information has been introduced, presented, and cited, but its significance is not clear.
Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. In The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, historian Henry P. Johnston blames the British navy with his observation that “the secret of the British failure was the ministry’s neglect in immediately securing absolute naval supremacy on this coast. It is the British naval administration that is to be charged with the Yorktown catastrophe” (Johnston 101).
This example has an explanation of the relevance of the borrowed material. We now understand why the quote has been included, and the paragraph is more coherent and developed.
Washington’s victory at Yorktown was precarious almost up to the moment of the British surrender. What really defeated the British was the inability of Lord Cornwallis to move his forces away from Yorktown. In The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, historian Henry P. Johnston blames the British navy with his observation that “the secret of the British failure was the ministry’s neglect in immediately securing absolute naval supremacy on this coast. It is the British naval administration that is to be charged with the Yorktown catastrophe” (Johnston 101). Most likely, the British under Cornwallis were occupying Yorktown because it was the best available naval station, and retreat by sea would have been possible had not the French fleet kept the British fleet away from the battle area.


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