Writing@CSU Guide

Integrating Sources

Once you have evaluated your source materials, you should select your sources and decide how to include them in your work. You can quote directly, paraphrase passages or, simply summarize the main points. You can use all of these techniques in a single document.

Choosing Sources to Establish Credibility

The main reason writers include sources in their work is to establish credibility with their audience. Credibility is the level of trustworthiness and authority that a reader perceives a writer has on a subject and is one of the key characteristics of effective writing, particularly argumentative writing.

Without credibility a writer's ideas are easily dismissed. Including sources in your writing indicates that your opinions are based on more than a personal or surface knowledge of the subject. It shows that others agree with your ideas, that experts in the field corroborate your reasoning and that there is hard evidence to support your opinion.

To Show Your Knowledge of the Subject

Writing that "shoots from the hip," without citing sources, is fine for many purposes, an Op-Ed piece, for instance, but not for academic writing.

Without establishing that they have researched and studied their subject, writers can and do appear intelligent and witty, however, the question arises: how much do they really know about their topic?

Citing and documenting source material in your work shows your reader how knowledgeable you are regarding the facts and background of your subject. Your reader will know that you've put time and effort into making sure you "know whereof you speak."

Aligning Yourself with Experts

When establishing credibility with a jury, attorneys often call witnesses to the stand who have expertise in a given field. The "expert witness" provides opinions and presents facts regarding the technical aspects of a case. This is done because the attorney does not have the professional credentials of the witness. By borrowing the credentials of the "expert" the attorney is better able to argue his or her case.

For instance, a brain surgeon has the medical expertise to explain whether, why or how a certain type of brain injury leads to memory loss. The attorney does not and banks on the jury trusting the "expert testimony" of the surgeon.

As a student, you are often put into this same position. You will be writing about unfamiliar subjects; topics in which you have little or no expertise. By including source material in your writing you, too, are calling upon "expert witnesses."

Researching outside sources helps you find statements from authorities on the subject that you then can quote or paraphrase within your paper. The ideas you express then become not just yours, but those of men and women who have studied and worked in your field of study for years. In effect, you make your case by "borrowing" the knowledge of experts and including it in your paper.

To Show Agreement

One person declaring something to be true can be easily ignored or dismissed. After all, it is only one person's opinion. It may or may not be true. When several people agree that something is true, however, it is not so easy to dismiss.

By including source material in your writing, you tell your reader, in effect, that there is a "chorus" of agreement on your ideas.

That said, be aware that a "chorus" of agreement does not necessarily mean that the "chorus" is right. Citing and documenting the "chorus" simply bolsters the credibility of your argument and gives others the opportunity to research your findings further and come to their own conclusions.

It also indicates that you have done your homework on the subject and that what you have to say can be trusted at least to the extent of your research efforts.

To Introduce Factual Evidence

Because factual information (such as the date a war started) and statistics can be independently verified by your readers through their own research or experimentation, this type of evidence is often the most credible form of support you can offer for your ideas.

As a student, you usually might not have the time to conduct first-hand surveys or experiments of your own to generate this kind of evidence. Instead, you might call on the research conducted by others to bring in factual evidence to back up your ideas (giving full credit to the source of the evidence, of course).

Quoting Source Material

There are many reasons for quoting source material, a primary one being that captured in the expression: "getting it straight from the horses mouth."

Quoting authoritative voices in your field lends credence to the arguments you present. By association, your words and those you quote are drawn closer together, creating powerful perceptions for you readers regarding the veracity and validity of your work.

It's especially important in academic writing that original sources be quoted accurately and correctly and that they be cited immediately following their appearance in the text.

Quoting Directly

Quoting Directly means taking a specific statement or passage made directly by an author and including it, word for word, in your work. The words you quote are original to the author you are quoting and are not taken from any other source.

You may not rephrase the statement or passage; simply copy it into your document exactly as you found it, punctuating it with an open quotation mark placed directly before the first word and a closing quotation mark placed directly after the last word.

Example of Quoting Directly

Original Passage:

This first juxtaposition sets up a tension between black reality and the white ideal. The question that arises is how this disparity came about. Readers--particularly white readers as we most closely match that ideal--must ask themselves: "Who or what is, after all, responsible for the soil that is bad for certain kinds of flowers, for seeds it will not nurture, for fruit it will not bear?" (Napieralski 61)

--from Brenda Edmands, "The Gaze That Condemns: White Readers, Othering And Division in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye" (Unpublished Essay)

Edmonds material quoted directly in the following passage:

It is clear that Toni Morrison is using the excerpt from the classic children's novels, Dick and Jane, for the purpose of establishing a conflict between "the norm"-in this case the white culture-and "the other"-black culture. By following the Dick and Jane excerpt so closely with the short prologue describing Pecola's pregnancy by her father and her subsequent shunning by the townspeople, Morrison "sets up a tension between black reality and the white ideal" (Edmands).

Note how the source citation is documented within the sentence in which the quote appears.

Quoting Previously Quoted Material

Quoting previously quoted material means taking a specific statement or passage that the author of your source material has already taken (directly quoted) from another source, and inserting it into your work.

The rules remain the same as when quoting directly; you may not rephrase the statement or passage, but copy it exactly as it was written, placing the quotation marks in exactly the same manner. You must document previously quoted material differently, however, than other types of quotations.

Example of Quoting Previously Quoted Material

The Original Source Material says:

The question that arises is how this disparity came about. Readers--particularly white readers as we most closely match that ideal--must ask themselves: "Who or what is, after all, responsible for the soil that is bad for certain kinds of flowers, for seeds it will not nurture, for fruit it will not bear?" (Napieralski 61)

--from Brenda Edmands, "The Gaze That Condemns: White Readers, Othering And Division in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye" (Unpublished Essay)

Napieralski's statement, previously quoted by Edmonds, quoted in the following passage:

In Morrison's novel, The Bluest Eye, the overriding question is about responsibility according to Professor Edmund A. Napieralski: "Who or what is, after all, responsible for the soil that is bad for certain kinds of flowers, for seeds it will not nurture, for fruit it will not bear?" (qtd. in Edmands)

Note how the citation here tells the reader that this quotation was previously quoted in the source by Edmands and how it appears outside of the sentence in which the quote appears.

Using a Quotation within a Quotation

Using a quotation within a quotation means taking a passage from your source material that is a combination of the author's own words and a passage that he or she has quoted from yet another source, and inserting that into your own work.

While you document these types of quotations in the same manner as direct quotations, you use slightly different punctuation to indicate where the author's own words leave off, and the quoted passage begins.

Example of Using a Quotation within a Quotation

Original Passage:

This first juxtaposition sets up a tension between black reality and the white ideal. The question that arises is how this disparity came about. Readers-particularly white readers as we most closely match that ideal-must ask themselves: "Who or what is, after all, responsible for the soil that is bad for certain kinds of flowers, for seeds it will not nurture, for fruit it will not bear?" (Napieralski 61)

--from Brenda Edmands, "The Gaze That Condemns: White Readers, Othering And Division in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye" (Unpublished Essay)

Edmands' introductory material, including the previously quoted Napieralski statement, quoted in the following passage:

Many scholars feel there is a need for white readers to wrestle with questions of race in Morrison's The Bluest Eye in a fashion different from readers of other races. Brenda Edmands, a lecturer in the English Department at Colorado State University, argues that white readers must consider questions of racial disparity in the novel more closely. According to Ms. Edmands: "Readers-particularly white readers as we most closely match that ideal-must ask themselves: 'Who or what is, after all, responsible for the soil that is bad for certain kinds of flowers, for seeds it will not nurture, for fruit it will not bear?' (Napieralski 61)" ("The Gaze That Condemns").

Note how the material quoted from Napieralski is enclosed by single quotation marks while the entire passage taken from the Edmands essay, including the Napieralski quote, is enclosed in double quotation marks. As with a direct quotation, the relevant documentation is cited within the sentence in which it appears.

Using Block Quotations

A lengthy quotation—one exceeding four lines of text—is often set off as a"block quotation," or independent passage indented on the left margin. Typically, they appear immediately following the paragraph introducing the quotation.

The general rule is to end the last sentence of the paragraph preceding the block quotation with a colon, then drop down a line in your text—as if beginning a new paragraph—before inserting the quoted material. One inch (about 10 spaces) is the standard.

Be sure to cite the source of your quotation properly: for more on that, please refer to the style rules of the documentation system (MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.) your academic discipline requires.

Note: Unlike other quotations, block quotations do not require the use of quotation marks. Blocking and indenting the text, as well as introducing the quotation in the preceding paragraph, sufficiently notifies the reader of its status.

Example of Block Quoting

 

In the article "Dispositions for Good Teaching," Gary R. Howard concludes:

Having said this, it remains true that all American citizens have a constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment right to remain imprisoned in their own conditioned narrowness and cultural isolation. This luxury of ignorance, however, is not available to us as teachers. Ours is a higher calling, and for the sake of our students and the future of their world, we are required to grow toward a more adaptive set of human qualities, which would include the dispositions for difference, dialogue, disillusionment, and democracy. These are the capacities that will make it possible for us to thrive together as a species. These are the personal and professional dispositions that render us worthy to teach. (para. 28)

Howard, G. R. (2007). Dispositions for Good Teaching. Journal of Educational Controversy. Retrieved Oct 25, 2007, from http://www.wce.wwu.edu/Resources/CEP/eJournal/v002n002/a009.shtml

When to Quote

Source material should be quoted when it enhances the focus of your document and maximizes the impact of the message you are trying to convey. When it does not, it's best to use your own words.

Quoting a Well Known Person

Quoting a well known person helps catch the attention of your reader. A trait of human nature is that people often listen more carefully when a widely recognized authority speaks. When you include statements from such people, quote them directly, rather than paraphrasing or summarizing. Doing so preserves the accuracy of the author's original words.

Quoting Unique or Striking Material

Quoting unique or striking material preserves the freshness, power and beauty of the author's original words. Paraphrasing or summarizing this kind of material will diminish the inherent strength that attracted you to them in the first place.

Direct quotations allow you to "borrow" the writing tone and style of a recognized author. This will enhance your own writing, without plagiarizing, and make it more appealing to your reader while successfully conveying your own ideas.

Example of Unique or Striking Material

When you can "hear" an individual's spoken voice in a written passage or, when the writing is particularly beautiful or unique, quote it directly. The stylistic flair in the following passage, for instance, would be hard to duplicate if not quoted directly.

We've seen a huge rise in the number of fatal Human-Mountain Lion encounters during the past decade (Smith 21). With humans increasingly moving into the lion's natural territory, is it any wonder that these tragedies are occurring? These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow or why, when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze.

Rephrasing "right smack in the middle" and "lion chow" with "directly in the path of" and "lion food", would diminish the spoken quality and sarcastic tone of the original wording; a "lion's unblinking golden gaze" would lose a great deal of beauty and rhythm if converted to "the lion's staring yellow eyes".

Quoting Controversial Material

Quoting controversial material puts distance between you and the quoted source. This is especially important when readers might react negatively toward information or opinions that contain startling, questionable or overly biased statements and statistics.

Example of Controversial Material

This paragraph contains controversial material. It is blunt, sarcastic and highly opinionated. It is best to quote statements of this nature directly, as they exhibit an overly biased position.

We've seen a huge rise in the number of fatal Human-Mountain Lion encounters during the past decade (Smith 21). With humans increasingly moving into the lion's natural territory, is it any wonder that these tragedies are occurring? These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the carefully pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow or why, when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze.

By directly quoting this material, you will avoid leaving the impression that the thoughts conveyed in the passage are yours. A quotation clearly indicates that you are not the author.

When Not to Quote

Source material should be quoted when it enhances the focus of your document and maximizes the impact of the message you are trying to convey. When it does not, it's best to use your own words.

Overusing Quotations

Overusing quotations may leave the impression that you are simply cutting and pasting the words and opinions of other people into your document rather than expressing your own ideas. It may lead a reader to question your own originality and understanding of the material you are quoting.

Example of Overusing Quotations

In the following paragraph, a series of quotations about smoking have been cut and pasted together. Each quote has a specific focus, ranging from medical dangers to lingering bad odors, and yet, none build up to or explain their relevance.

Smoking should be banned from restaurants. "The regulation is long overdue" (Jones 12). "We need to ban smoking to help prevent diseases such as cancer, asthma, and bronchitis" (Smith 45). According to one restaurant customer: "I find someone smoking next to me really destroys my meal. I can't taste it anymore" (qtd. in Smith 45). "Too many restaurant owners ignore how dangerous second hand smoke is. They don't take steps voluntarily to make sure their nonsmoking customers aren't exposed, so we need to force the issue through regulations" (Jones 21). "Smoking makes my hair and clothes smell. I always have to take a shower after I've been out to eat in a restaurant that allows smoking" (Andrews 5).

As it stands, the paragraph is no more than a list of random complaints serving no clear purpose. The quotes could easily be paraphrased and placed in a bulleted list entitled Reasons Why Smoking Should be Banned from Restaurants.

Unmemorable Material

Unmemorable material contains widely accepted statements of fact that are unlikely to generate debate (i.e. "Smoking causes cancer"). There is nothing to be gained by quoting this kind of statement. Source material containing a generally neutral tone or stated without some sort of stylistic flourish that strengthens your own thoughts and ideas can just as easily be paraphrased or summarized.

Example of Unmemorable Material

There is nothing particularly memorable, stylish, or controversial in the highlighted sentence below. Since it can be rephrased without losing any meaning, quoting makes little sense.

Immediately upon opening Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye we are confronted with the idea of othering and, in particular, that this othering is a result of establishing the white culture as the norm. The novel begins with a section from a classic children's book that paints an idealized picture of a family. We assume the family being described is white both because we are familiar with the book being excerpted and because of the era in which it was written.

--from Brenda Edmands, "The Gaze That Condemns: White Readers, Othering And Division in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye"

Irrelevant Material

Irrelevant Material contains information or opinions that have little to do with the point you are trying to make. Briefly summarizing this kind of material rather than quoting it will help keep your writing focused on a specific idea. In addition, your reader will not get the idea that quotations have been included as filler rather than meaningful and useful information.

Example of Irrelevant Material

In the passage below, the writer discusses how the Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison uses children's literature in her own writing. For an essay arguing that adult novelists frequently use children's literature in their works, quoting the passage might support the argument.

Including all, or even part of it, may leave your reader wondering who Pecola is, however, and why the details of her pregnancy are relevant to your focus.

Toni Morrison's novel begins with a section from a classic children's book that paints an idealized picture of a family. We assume the family being described is white both because we are familiar with the book being excerpted and because of the era in which it was written. Mother, father, sister, brother, cat and dog all live in harmony in a white and green house. Contrasted with this portrait on the very next page is an image of utterly frightening disharmony in a family--Pecola's father has gotten her pregnant--and of two sisters in disagreement over seeds being planted in black dirt. This first juxtaposition sets up a tension between black reality and white ideal.

--from Brenda Edmands, "The Gaze That Condemns: White Readers, Othering And Division in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye"

The particular point Morrison makes when quoting The Bluest Eye has nothing to with an essay on novelists citing children's literature. It would be better to simply summarize the idea that Morrison quotes a child's book to set up tension and introduce her major themes, rather than quote the entire passage.

Overly Wordy Material

Overly Wordy Material should not be quoted. When you can restate the same information or the general idea in a more succinct fashion, do so. While it is tempting to include original wording to help increase the length of your essay-don't-it provides no compelling reason for a reason to continue.

Readers can spot this kind of filler easily and will cause them to question your integrity. Are you trying to present your points clearly and convincingly, or are you simply trying to fill up pages?

Example of Overly Wordy Material

Each sentence in the sample paragraph below says essentially the same thing, though in a slightly different manner. Together, they are a tangle of unnecessary, confusing and repetitive subordinate clauses. It would be better and more efficient to summarize what Bowers is saying, rather than quote the whole passage.

Including all, or even part of it, may leave your reader wondering who Pecola is, however, and why the details of her pregnancy are relevant to your focus.

Teachers from all levels of the education process, from kindergarten to graduate schools, need to take immediate steps to ensure that all students leave school fully prepared to be contributing members of society. We must make certain that they graduate ready to give back to their communities, not just to take from them; that they walk out the doors of our institutions not just thinking about how to make a buck, but how to make a difference. Students must be taught to be civic minded, to think in terms not only of what will benefit them individually, but also in terms of what will benefit society as a whole. We have to teach them not to be selfish isolationists, but generous, willing contributors to our communities.

 

--from Angela Bowers, "Our Responsibility to the Community" *

*This is a fictional source created solely for the purpose of providing an example.

Sample Summary:

Angela Bowers, a professor of human development, feels that one of our duties as educators is to teach civic responsibility to our students. ("Our Responsibility" 21)

Note how this cuts to the chase of the main point of the source material, neither leaving out crucial points, nor repeating any statements included in the original passage.

Editing Quotations

In order to clarify vague references, avoid irrelevant details or blend a quoted passage smoothly into the surrounding text, you may need to edit the quotations you use.

Omitting Words and Phrases

At times, you may wish to quote only parts of a passage, omitting words and phrases to avoid irrelevant details or combine it smoothly with the sentences in which it is framed. You may do so at the beginning, middle or end of the quoted material, but remember, your reader must be informed of the omission.

The manner in which you indicate what has been omitted depends upon where in the passage it occurs and whether it remains a complete grammatical unit after the omission.

Making Quotes Grammatically Correct

If, after omitting words from the beginning, the quoted passage becomes an incomplete grammatical unit, a dependant clause, you may either insert a bracketed ([]) word or phrase into the quote or, combine it with a framing sentence that corrects the improper grammar as in the following examples.

Example of Framing to Make a Quotation Grammatically Correct

Original Passage:

"These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow or why, when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze."

In this case you wish to preserve the author's unique and striking tone; however, the entire passage is too wordy. You may introduce the portion of the passage with a beginning frame.

Correctly Quoted:

The blame for the increasing frequency of these dangerous, and sometimes fatal, human-mountain lion encounters "must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the [Rocky Mountain] foothills. . . ." (Cronin 21)

Note how the clause before the quotation (the beginning frame) and the quotation itself are grammatically incomplete. Each is a dependent clause when standing alone. Notice that when the two clauses are combined, they form a complete and grammatically correct sentence.

Example of Inserting Words to Make a Quotation Grammatically Correct

Original Passage:

"They feel there is only one answer to the lack of civility and increase in violence in schools: to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom."

The wording following the colon, "to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom", is all you intend to quote from the original passage, however, standing alone, it is an incomplete sentence, a dependent clause. To correct this you might insert the words [The answer is], in brackets, like so:

Correctly Quoted:

Congress has addressed violence in schools by pushing for laws that would require schools to provide a specific moral code to students: "[The answer is] to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom."

Omitting Words at the Beginning of a Quote

If, after omitting words from the beginning, the quoted passage remains a complete grammatical unit, an independent clause, simply capitalize the first letter of the first word of the shortened quotation. Brackets ([]) placed around the newly capitalized letter indicate that words preceding the bracketed letter have been omitted.

Example of Omitting Words at the Beginning of a Quote

Using Brackets to indicate Omitted Words

Original Passage:

Second, there are economic benefits to cycling. I save money on gas, car insurance, parking fees, and maintenance costs on my car. While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle, much of the work I can do myself, and when I do have to take it to a bike shop, the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive.

To blend the above passage more smoothly into a paragraph on the benefits of cycling, the author of the piece below removed the word "second". To indicate the omission, the first letter of the abbreviated quote was capitalized and bracketed.

Correctly Quoted:

In addition, according to cycling advocate Harold Burns, "[T]here are economic benefits to cycling. I save money on gas, car insurance, parking fees, and maintenance costs on my car. While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle, much of the work I can do myself, and when I do have to take it to a bike shop, the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive" (154).

Omitting Words from the Middle or at the End of a Quote

When omitting words from the middle or end of a quoted sentence, indicate with an ellipse (…) where the omission occurs. When they occur at the end, place a period after the last word and then insert your ellipse. In either case, take care that the wording remains grammatically correct.

Example of Using Ellipses to Indicate Omitted Words

Original Passage:

Second, there are economic benefits to cycling. I save money on gas, car insurance, parking fees, and maintenance costs on my car. While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle, much of the work I can do myself, and when I do have to take it to a bike shop, the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive.

In example A below, the writer omitted words from the middle of the original passage, replacing them with an ellipse (?). In example B the writer omitted the entire second sentence, replacing it with an ellipse immediately following the period ending the first sentence.

(A)

"Second, there are economic benefits to cycling. I save money on gas, car insurance, parking fees, and maintenance costs on my car. While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle . . . the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive."

(B)

"Second, there are economic benefits to cycling. . . . While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle, much of the work I can do myself, and when I do have to take it to a bike shop, the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive."

Inserting Editorial Comments into a Quote

At times, you will find it necessary to add an editorial comment within a quotation in order to clarify terms or references which, having been pulled from their original context may not be as clear to your reader as they are to you.

Understanding your audience will help you decide what needs clarification. Bear in mind they may not have the same research and scholarship under their belt as you. The terms and references in a quote may be unfamiliar and need explaining.

Under such circumstances you may either insert an explanation, within brackets ([]), directly after the word or phrase needing clarification or, you may replace it entirely with the bracketed word or phrase.

Example of Using Brackets to Insert Editorial Comments

Original Passage:

"They frequently argue for the need to apply the First Amendment to the issue of prayer in schools."

If you were to include the quotation above in a document you are writing, you would doubtless know to whom "they" refers because you would have read the original source material in which it was included. But will your reader?

To clarify who is making the argument about prayer in schools, an editorial comment can be inserted within brackets ([]) directly after the word "they", as in example A below or, instead of it, as in example B.

(A)

"They [religious leaders] frequently argue for the need to apply the First Amendment to the issue of prayers in school."

(B)

"[Religious leaders] frequently argue for the need to apply the First Amendment to the issue of prayers in school."

Blending Quoted Material

One of the goals of effective writing is creating a sense of unity, a sense that all parts of the text are clearly related. To achieve this you must connect each part. A quotation must blend into your text so that it reads as an integral part of the sentence and paragraph in which it is included.

A quotation that lacks a clear relationship to its surrounding text makes a paragraph sound choppy and unfocused. Your reader will find it more difficult to decide if the quotation expands or clarifies the idea being presented, or if it is an example of a situation or fact that supports the idea, or whether it presents an opposing view.

To avoid this, make sure to blend your quotations into the text of your document. Use frames and transitions that clue your reader into the reason why it is being included.

Framing to Blend Source Material

A frame is simply an introduction at the beginning of your quote and a follow-up statement at the end. They are the bookends that keep the quote from sliding off the shelf.

An Opening Frame is often called an "Author's Tag". It establishes the identity and credibility of your source. It also ties the quotation to the focus of your document, hinting at what you are going to reveal, explain or support.

Without a beginning frame, your reader may rightly question the authority and trustworthiness of the source of the quotation.

A Closing Frame explains how the quotation is relevant to the point being made and, in addition, shows that you are capable of expressing ideas in your own words. This is important in the process of establishing your authority as a writer.

Without an end frame, different readers may take away different ideas from the same piece of text: an unintended consequence.

Example of Framing a Direct Quote

Notice how the opening frame in the paragraph below introduces the quotation. First, a general point is made regarding increased mountain lion encounters. Next, Biologist Samuel Cronin, a credible expert, is introduced. The fact that Cronin "agrees" tips the reader that the quotation is there to support the writer's view presented in the opening frame.

Each year has seen an increase in encounters between humans, and their pets, and mountain lions. This is the fault of humans encroaching on the animal's rightful territory. Biologist Samuel Cronin agrees: "These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow, or why when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze." It is our behavior that has created the danger. The lion did not come down out of the mountains into our suburban backyards; we've moved the suburbs into his.

The closing frame focuses the reader's attention on the fact that human behavior and the issue of where million-dollar homes are built is the main point and that other issues, such as keeping pets in a wild area and class-status of home owners, is not.

Notice how restating the idea in the Cronin quotation allows the writer's own voice to emerge. A strong personal statement on the subject clarifies why the quotation was included in the first place.

Using Transitions to Blend Quoted Material

Transitions are words or phrases that indicate the relationship between two statements. They are the "bridges" that link two sentences or paragraphs together.

For instance, the words "furthermore", "also", and "additionally" are transitions indicating that the statement to follow will link to or build upon the ideas expressed in the previous. Notice how this paragraph begins with "for instance".

Transitional words and phrases like "for example" and "for instance" establish that the following statement is going to illustrate the point made in the first. Words such as "however" and "although", on the other hand, establish that the statement following it is a contradiction to the preceding statement.

Using transitions before and after you insert outside source material clarifies for your reader why it was included and how it relates to your focus.

Example of Using Transitions

Notice how the phrase "In addition" tips off the reader that the quotation is going to build on the ideas in the preceding sentences. The transition indicates that the quotation is an additional item in the focus of this paragraph: the benefits of cycling.

There are many health reasons to bike instead of drive. It's a cardiovascular workout; it burns many more calories than driving; it's less stressful, so it keeps your blood pressure down; and it strengthens your muscles. In addition, according to cycling advocate Harold Burns, "[T]here are economic benefits to cycling. I save money on gas, car insurance, parking fees, and maintenance costs on my car. While there are occasional costs for maintenance on my bicycle, much of the work I can do myself, and when I do have to take it to a bike shop, the hourly rate for labor is considerably lower than what most auto mechanics receive" (154). Cycling, we can see, is good for the well being of your body and your wallet.

Grammar and Spelling Issues

Problems regarding misspelled words and grammatical errors are bound to occur when quoting an outside source. There are two underlying causes for this.

Quotations Containing Preexisting Errors

Quotations containing preexisting grammar and spelling errors are often found in source material published by highly recognized and credible authors. Naturally, you may be tempted to make an appropriate correction. Don't-doing so is against the rule disallowing the alteration of someone else's words. Instead of correcting spelling and grammar errors, simply note them for you reader's benefit.

Example of Noting Grammatical Errors in a Quotation

Original Passage:

"Many activists feels that the gun lobby holds too much influence in Congress."

The original wording is grammatically incorrect due to a misspelled word. Regardless, you may not alter the original words. Note the error by inserting the word "sic", which means as it is in the original, in brackets ([]) directly after its occurrence in the sentence.

Correctly Quoted:

"Many activists feels [sic] that the gun lobby holds too much influence in Congress."

This is a signal to your reader that the error was not committed by you, that you are aware of the error and that your intention is to accurately and faithfully transcribe the original wording found in the quote. This is known as an editorial comment.

Creating Grammatical Errors by Omitting

Creating grammatical errors is the inevitable consequence of omitting words and phrases from a quotation. This usually happens at the beginning or end of a quote in order to eliminate irrelevant material or reduce its wordiness.

If a passage is no longer a complete grammatical unit after omitting words, you may either insert an editorial comment in brackets ([]) to help it make grammatical sense or, combine the quoted passage with an opening frame in a manner that creates a complete grammatical unit.

Example of Combining an Opening Frame with a Quotation

In the passage below the author's unique and striking tone is worth preserving, however, the entire passage is too wordy. Both the beginning and the end of the quotation are going to be omitted.

Original Passage:

"These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow or why, when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze."

Correctly Quoted:

The blame for the increasing frequency of these dangerous, and sometimes fatal, human-mountain lion encounters "must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of the yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the [Rocky Mountain] foothills. . . ." (Cronin 21)

The clause before the quotation (the opening frame) and the quotation itself are dependent clauses when standing alone. When the two are combined, however, they form a complete, grammatically correct sentence.

Note how the writer has inserted an ellipse before the period at the end of the sentence to indicate omitted text. Note also how the bracketed words provide a clarification regarding to which foothills the quote refers.

Punctuating Quotations

An opening frame such as an attribution or Author tag introducing a quotation, and the quotation itself should be punctuated at the spot in the sentence where the two meet. This guide provides instruction on how to do that.

The grammatical relationship between the opening frame and the actual quotation will define what type of punctuation you should use.

Punctuating Two Independent Clauses

When a beginning frame is an independent clause and the quotation it precedes is also an independent clause, the two may be separated with a colon or semi-colon.

This indicates to the reader the close relationship between the two and that the quotation is either a restatement or a clarification of the idea presented in the beginning frame.

Both can stand on their own as complete grammatical units, however, the colon separating them indicates that the frame leads into the quotation.

Example of Punctuating Two Independent Clauses

Teachers have a responsibility to teach students to be contributing members of society: "We [educators] must make certain that they graduate ready to give back to their communities, not just ready to take from them. . . ." (Bowers 21)

Notice how the quotation elaborates on what is meant by "contributing member of society." It clarifies that "contributing" means "giving back." Each statement is an independent clause; however, the colon linking them together indicates a very close relationship.

Punctuating Two Dependent Clauses

When you choose to quote only part of an original passage and the resulting quotation becomes an incomplete sentence (a dependent clause), you may combine it with an opening frame that is also incomplete in order to form one complete grammatical unit.

Example of Punctuating Two Dependent Clauses

There is no doubt that those at fault are "yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills. . . ."

Neither clause in this sentence can stand on its own. When combined, however, the sentence reads as a complete grammatical unit. Though this is not always the case, in this example, the two dependant clauses are combined without any punctuation between the frame and the quotation.

Punctuating a Dependant and an Independent Clause

One of the most common opening frames is an author tag or attribution such as, "According to Howard Sprague, an accountant with…" or, "As President Clinton said in his first inaugural speech…."

By themselves neither is a complete sentence. We are left waiting to hear what was according to Mr. Sprague and what was said by President Clinton. As opening frames they are dependant upon the quotes they precede.

When the opening frame is a dependant clause, such as an author tag, and the following quote is an independent clause the two may be separated by a comma or a colon, depending upon the length of the quote, as in Examples A and B.

Example of Punctuating an Independent and a Dependent Clause

(A) Author Tag followed by a Short Quote

As John Murphy says, "There is no other viable option."

(B) Attribution followed by a Long Quote

 

Biologist Samuel Cronin contends: "These kinds of attacks must be laid squarely at the pedicured feet of yuppie mountain dwellers who build million-dollar homes in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the mountain lion's usual hunting ground, and then wonder why their poodle Fifi becomes lion chow, or why when they go to put their garbage out, they find themselves staring into a lion's unblinking golden gaze."

Here again, the beginning frame can not stand on its own as a complete grammatical unit. It is dependent on the quotation to make it a complete thought. Because the quotation is so long, a colon should be placed between the frame and the quotation.

Quick Guide to Punctuating Quotations

Here are some simple rules to follow when punctuating quotations:

  • Place double quotation marks (""), often called opening and closing quotation marks, at the beginning and end of your quotation.
  • Place single quotation marks (' '), at the beginning and end of a quotation that appears within another quotation.
  • Place commas, periods, question marks and exclamation points inside the closing quotation mark when they refer to the quote.
    • "Mary is fine," her sister said.
  • Place punctuation outside the quotation marks when they do not refer to the quote.
    • "When Mary said 'she was cool', she meant that she was fine," her sister said.
  • Place sentence-ending punctuation outside of quotation marks only if they alter the meaning of the quote when placed inside.
    • What did Mary mean when she said she was "cool"?
  • Always place colons and semicolons outside quotation marks.
  • Do not place quotation marks around extended blocks of quoted text. Instead, format four or more lines into an indented block one inch, or ten spaces, from the left margin. Place a colon at the end of the sentence that introduces your block quote.
  • Place a three-point ellipse, with one space before and one after, to mark the location inside a quotation from which words have been omitted.
  • Place a four-point ellipse, with no space before and one after, to mark the location of at the end of a quotation from which words have been omitted.
  • Citation information placed in parentheses after a quotation should be followed by the appropriate punctuation mark (comma, period, colon, semicolon or question mark).

Paraphrasing Source Material

Paraphrasing restates ideas and information found in source material. It requires that you fully understand the contents of the passage enough to explain or reiterate them in your own words while retaining the meaning intended by its original author. This guide explains the paraphrasing process and provides both accurate and inaccurate examples, as well as tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

Overview: Paraphrasing

Simply quoting someone on a subject achieves little toward building your own scholarly reputation. In many cases, the choice to paraphrase rather than quote demonstrates your grasp of the subject matter. It also enhances your credibility as both a critical reader and thinker.

Being able to paraphrase accurately demonstrates that you respect the contributions made by others while showcasing your own skill as a writer. This is especially useful when you want to point out specific details or information bearing directly on your argument or, when you wish to reference an opposing idea.

As with summarizing and quoting, whenever you restate someone else's words, thoughts or points of view you must document the source.

Accurate Paraphrasing

Accurate paraphrasing requires careful attention to the nuance and meaning of words. The ones you choose must reflect the meaning found in the original source without plagiarizing its author.

The key to this begins with your own comprehension. How well you understand the contents of a passage will determine how accurately you restate it in your own words. Using sentence structures and rhythm patterns that are uniquely your own will distinguish your voice from the ones you paraphrase.

When you are through there should be no mistake regarding the speaker's identity. The following example illustrates accurate, inaccurate as well as inappropriate paraphrasing.

Example of Punctuating Accurate Paraphrasing

Original Passage:

The Lomonosov Ridge is 1,100 miles long, about the distance from San Francisco to Denver, and rises about 10,000 feet from the floor of the Arctic Ocean. Geologists think the ridge might have broken away from a continent about 55 million years ago and remained near the North Pole while other landmasses drifted away. Moran and other scientists chose the ridge for potential drilling during a 1991 cruise during which they crossed the North Pole. The site was intriguing for the fact that no one had ever drilled the seafloor for a core there because of sea ice that drifts around like pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle.

 

Source: Rozell, N. (2005). A fern grows in the Arctic Ocean. Alaska Science Forum Article #1773. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF17/1773.html.

Accurate Paraphrase:

Climbing 10,000 feet above the floor of the Arctic Ocean, the Lomonosov Ridge stretches 1,100 miles in length: roughly the distance between San Francisco and Denver. Geologists believe that it may be what remains of a continent that broke apart and moved away from the North Pole around 55 million years ago. Moran and her colleagues, knowing that the shifting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean had prevented others from having ever drilled there, selected the Lomonosov Ridge location as a future core-sampling site on a 1991 excursion across the North Pole.

As you can see, when comparing the original passage with this paraphrase, the writer's word choices and sentence structure are not the same, yet the information has remained the same.

Inaccurate Paraphrase:

In 1991, Moran and her colleagues, convinced that the core samples retrieved would reveal startling new geologic information, chose to drill the Arctic Ocean seafloor near the 1,100 mile long Lomonosov Ridge, a left over relic of continents breaking up and moving away from the North Pole some 55 million years ago.

In this example, the wording and sentence structure are significantly different; however, the meaning of the original passage has been considerably distorted. Inferences are drawn that are simply not accurate enough for a paraphrase.

Inappropriate Paraphrase:

The 1,100 miles long Lomonosov Ridge, about the same distance from San Francisco to Denver, rises about 10,000 feet from the floor of the Arctic Ocean. Scientists think the ridge may have broken away from another continent about 55 million years ago, remaining near the North Pole while the rest of the landmass drifted away. Moran and other scientists chose this ridge for drilling on a cruise in 1991 in which they crossed the North Pole. They were intrigued by the fact that no one had ever drilled the seafloor there for a core because of sea ice drifting around like massive jigsaw puzzle pieces.

In this example, the wording and sentence structured corresponds too closely to the original for it to be fairly called a paraphrase.

How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing

Plagiarism is a serious offense. It means that you have used someone else's words or ideas without proper acknowledgement. This is easy to do unintentionally, especially when paraphrasing. Once understood, it can be avoided.

One useful technique is to read the passage carefully several times to identify its main points; then set it aside. Try rewriting the main points in your own words without looking at the original. In other words, explain it to yourself.

When finished, set your draft aside and move on with the rest of your writing, or to some other activity. Turning your attention to something else puts distance between yourself and the original passage. It clears your head, so to speak.

When you return to it you will have a fresh perspective. Your recollection of the exact words being paraphrased will have faded to some degree and it will be easier to focus on your own language choices and sentence structure.

At this point, still not looking at the original, revise and polish your draft. You will discover your own voice asserting itself in the writing process. After editing and revising, compare your paraphrase with the original passage. Do your words accurately convey the original contents? Are they sufficiently different to avoid a charge of plagiarism?

You may find it useful to repeat the process several times. Revise your paraphrase, in other words. Examine your results carefully and compare them with the original to see that what you have written is original, gives credit and repeats the essential information. Below is an example that walks you through the paraphrasing process.

Example of How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing

Original Passage:

Derived partially from the Greek prefix epi-, which means "on" or "in addition," the epigenome is to the cell what an organism's sensory organs are to the individual. Like an octopus's tentacles that, among other functions, gather information from the environment so that the brain can tell the neurons, "Move your eighth arm here, " the epigenome gathers information from the cell's environment and tells the genes, "turn on" or "turn off." In science lingo, it governs "gene expression." Based on emerging evidence, the epigenome appears to play a vital role in most, if not all, cellular activity, from metabolism to fertilization.

 

Source: Pray, L. A. (2005). Soiled Genes: Can toxic exposures be inherited? Orion Magazine. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from http://www.oriononline.org/pages/om/05-6om/Pray.html.

The original passage contains three relevant pieces of information that need restating in order to create an accurate paraphrase. The highlights in paragraph A below identify these pieces of information.

(A) Derived partially from "the Greek prefix epi-, which means "on" or in addition," the epigenome is to the cell what an organism's sensory organs are the individual. Like an octopus's tentacles that, among other functions, gather information from the environment so that the brain can tell the neurons, "Move your eighth arm here, " the epigenome gathers information from the cell's environment and tells the genes, "turn on" or "turn off." In science lingo, it governs "gene expression." Based on emerging evidence, the epigenome appears to play a vital role in most, if not all, cellular activity, from metabolism to fertilization.

Paragraph B below restates the highlighted information and cites the source. Notice that it is roughly the same length as the original. This is as it should be; a summary would need to be shorter. Consider Paragraph B a first draft. It's still a little wordy.

(B) Pray (2005) compares the epigenomes of a cell to the sensory organs of an individual. She likens them to octopus tentacles gathering information from the environment so that the brain has something to work with when deciding what instructions to send the neurons governing specific tasks, like moving an arm for instance. The epigenomes turn genes governing cellular activity on or off. The latest research suggests that epigenomes (the Greek prefix epi-, meaning "on"), are an integral and decisive part of practically every cellular activity, from metabolism to fertilization, known to science.

Paragraph C is a final revision based on the draft above. Notice how the sentence structure and word choices have evolved and yet the essential meaning of the paragraph has not changed.

(C) Reporting on recent research, Pray (2005) observes that epigenomes (the prefix epi-, meaning "on" in Greek) are much like the tentacles of an octopus. Attached to individual cells, the epigenomes collect and provide external data to specific genes as do the tentacles to the brain of an octopus. As the octopus's brain transmits a signal via a neuron back to one of its tentacles telling it to move, the latest scientific evidence indicates that epigenomes are the transmitters responsible for conveying the information that flips the on/off switch on the genes governing practically every kind of cellular-activity, from metabolism to fertilization, known to science.

Summarizing Source Material

A summary captures the general idea, main points or opinions found in your source material without providing a lot of details.

Note: The examples here have been created for instructional purposes using Mindy Pennybacker's article "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much".

Overview: Summarizing Source Material

Summarizing a single source or a collection of related sources can provide your reader with background or supporting information that helps them better understand your chosen topic. It is also a useful method to point out material that either supports or contradicts your argument while not distracting your reader with irrelevant details.

As with quoting and paraphrasing, you must document the sources you summarize. Unlike a paraphrase, which rewords a specific passage and often remains the same length as the original, a summary reduces the material into a more concise statement. To be effective you must choose your words carefully, being accurate, objective, focused and concise.

Once you fully understand the intended meaning conveyed by the source material, write your summary. Pay close attention to the precise meaning of the words you choose and be especially careful not to introduce new ideas.

Developing critical reading skills will help you examine source materials with an eye toward what to include in a summary.

Being Accurate

Being accurate requires that you fully understand the ideas and information presented in your source material. Misunderstanding an author's tone of voice or misinterpreting the information he or she has extrapolated from numerical data, for instance, may cause you to inadvertently misrepresent their point of view, ideas, opinions or position.

Example of Being Accurate

Here is an example of source material being inaccurately summarized and a brief description of what the writer misunderstood. An accurate summary follows.

Original Source:

At slaughterhouses, on too-fast production lines, manure and the contents of stomachs and intestines often splatter the meat. In winter, about 1 percent of cattle from feedlots harbor E. coli; in summer, up to 50 percent can do so. "Even if you assume that only one percent is infected, that means three or four cattle bearing the microbe are eviscerated at a large slaughterhouse every hour, and a single animal infected with E. coli can contaminate 32,000 pounds of ground beef," Schlosser writes.

--Excerpted from Mindy Pennybacker, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much"

Inaccurate Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker states that one percent of the cattle slaughtered in a fast-paced, meat-processing plant on any given day carry the E. coli microbe and, as a result, 32,000 pounds of ground beef are contaminated in the eviscerating process every hour.

On the surface this summary appears to be accurate, however, it is not. As in most cases, inaccuracies are caused by omission or misinterpretation of facts.

In the first place, Pennybacker refers specifically to feedlot cattle in her article. This fact is important and must be included so that your readers understand the author's argument: pasture-fed and feedlot cattle carry widely differing risks in the slaughter and meat-packing process.

Secondly, the summary omits the fact that up to 50 percent of the cattle may carry the E. coli microbe during the summer months. It obscures the fact that the author deliberately chose the lower, one-percent figure as a baseline from which to draw a conclusion. The phrases "on any given day" and "every hour" are suggestive half-truths and completely inappropriate.

Lastly, the summary misstates the Eric Schlosser quote, which will lead the reader to a wrong conclusion. There is a world of difference between the words are and can. The summary states that 32,000 pounds of ground beef are contaminated every hour. In fact, in the original, Schlosser said "can contaminate", which only implies

Accurate Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker states that one percent of feedlot cattle during the winter, and as much as 50 percent during the summer, carry the E. coli microbe from the feedlot to the slaughter house. Using Eric Schlosser's one percent baseline argument calculating three to four infected animals being slaughtered every hour, Pennybacker illustrates that 32,000 pounds of ground beef risk being contaminated every time one infected animal is eviscerated.

Being Objective

Being objective is as important as being accurate. It's a matter of fairness. Interjecting personal opinions into the ideas or information in your summary confuses the reader by obscuring the information in the original source material. Expressing your attitude toward it, whether negative or positive, is inappropriate and self-serving.

You may express your own opinions, of course, but that should be done in the surrounding comments framing your summary. Bear in mind, being respectful is simply a matter of good form when arguing a difference of opinion.

Example of Being Objective

Here is an example of source material being summarized in a non-objective manner and a brief discussion of the writer interjecting a personal bias. An objective summary follows.

Original Source:

Other environmental costs include depletion of natural resources. It takes 4.8 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, Jim Motavalli reports in E Magazine. Animal feed corn "consumes more chemical herbicide and fertilizer that any other crop," Pollan writes, noting that the petrochemical fertilizer used to grow corn, he says, "takes vast quantities of oil-1.2 gallons for every bushel." The cow Pollan has bought "will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil." The industrial food system guzzles fossil fuels at a time when we should be conserving energy for the sake of our national security-and that of pristine ecosystems such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

--Excerpted from Mindy Pennybacker, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much"

Non-Objective Summary:

In her leftist Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker reports that it takes 1.2 gallons of petrochemical fertilizer to grow one bushel of feed corn, making it the largest consumer of chemical herbicides among all industrial-farmed crops. Quoting tree-hugging writer Michael Pollan, she then points out, after first converting bushels to gallons, that a single cow consumes 284 gallons of oil before fulfilling its inevitable obligation of a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to McDonalds. Concluding her environmental rant, she accuses the industrial food-production system of "guzzling" precious fossil fuel reserves at a time when we should be conserving energy.

This is an unfair summary: the writer's bias is clearly obvious. In this example, adjectives such as "leftist" and "tree-hugger" are derogatory labels deliberately expressing the author's low regard for Pennybacker's opinion.

Characterizing her opinion as an "environmental rant" is also deliberately belittling and the "pilgrimage to McDonalds" remark borders on editorializing, neither of which is appropriate in a summary.

Unfair labels and editorializing fall outside the boundaries of a summary for the simple reason that they add nothing new or helpful to the process of understanding the actual information. As a matter of fact, they get in the way, succeeding only in exposing personal biases.

Such distractions can lead the reader to question your motives and whether you are fully informed; to question whether your opinion is reasoned and credible.

In the revision below, the opinion of the writer has been removed and the summary succeeds in being far more objective. Notice that it is also much shorter.

Objective Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker reports that 1.2 gallons of petrochemical fertilizer is required to grow one bushel of feed corn, making it the largest consumer of chemical herbicides among industrial-farmed crops. Using Michael Pollan's calculations to illustrate how conventional farming practices consume fossil fuels, she points out that a single cow, on a diet of petrochemically fertilized field-corn, will consume 284 gallons of oil in its lifetime.

Being Focused

Being focused means not wandering off-topic. Stick to what's important. A good summary highlights only those facts, ideas, opinions, etc., that are useful in helping your reader understand the topic being presented. Avoid a detailed account of the minutia contained in your source material.

Including minute details hinders the reader's ability to understand why the summarized information is relevant to your document in the first place and can lead them to conclude that you may not fully understand your topic.

Example of Being Focused

Here is an example of an unfocused summary and a brief discussion of how the writer wanders off point. A much more focused summary follows.

Original Source:

Better Farming Methods: Organic farming of animals and field crops is cleaner. "Conventional farmers have no regulations regarding management of manure. Organic does," says Fred Kirschenmann, Ph.D., director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. "You have to leave at least 90 days-120 days for root crops-between application of manure and the harvest. That's how long it takes for bacteria such as E. coli to degrade and become neutralized in the soil." Kirschenmann, who was a member of the National Organic Standards Board, expresses regret that the final rules don't require that ruminant animals be "pasture-based" to ensure that they get out and graze. In practice, though, "all the organic meat producers I know of are small, two to three hundred head, and they all graze, get exercise, eat organic foods-just before slaughter they are switched to corn, which is usually grown on the farm," says Scowcroft. If a cow gets sick and is treated with antibiotics, it cannot be labeled "organic." Wihelm says she would welcome an organic hog farm as a neighbor. Consumers can also seek ecological, humanely raised meat from local farms, or look for other sustainable labels.

--Excerpted from Mindy Pennybacker, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much"

Unfocused Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker argues that applying organic methods when raising field crops and animals makes for cleaner farming practices. Citing Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a member of the National Organic Standards Board, she points out that E. coli bacteria requires 90-120 days between manure application and the actual harvest to be rendered harmless. Since organic farmers must abide by regulations established by the National Organic Standards Board to be certified as organic, manure application to their crop fields is carefully monitored. Conventional farmers have no such oversight. Completely unmonitored, manure gets applied to their crops in ways that are hazardous to the environment. In turn, this creates ideal conditions in which E. coli, Salmonella and other infectious bacteria thrive and enter the food chain.

While this summary is accurate, it includes points that do little to help the reader understand the main focus. The fact that organic farming is cleaner than conventional farming is not really the point, nor the fact that a 90-120 day cycle is required for E. coli to be rendered completely harmless.

The main point is that, unlike organic farms, manure management on conventional farms is completely unregulated which creates a dangerously unhealthy environment in which to raise farm crops and animals.

Extra details clutter up this summary, creating additional distractions the reader must wade through while trying to grasp its main focus. The fact that Fred Kirschenmann directs the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and is a member of the National Organic Standards Board is a case in point. It's extremely wordy and completely irrelevant.

Now, suppose the "90-120 day" detail in the summary was necessary. Should Fred Kirschenmann be cited? Not necessarily. Information of this sort quite often falls into the category of widely-accepted. Check a variety of resources. If you can find such information readily, it is not privately-held intellectual property and authorship need not be cited.

The following revision eliminates unnecessary details and is much more sharply focused on the main idea. Again, notice how much shorter the summary is.

Focused Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker argues that, since organic farmers must abide by regulations established by the National Organic Standards Board to be certified as organic, manure application to their crop fields is carefully monitored. No other farmers have such oversight. As a result, manure is applied to conventional crops in ways that are hazardous to the environment, creating ideal conditions in which E. coli, Salmonella and other infectious bacteria thrive and enter the food chain.

Being Concise

Being concise means being as brief as possible. Details, examples and descriptions contained in the original source material should be removed, as well as information repeated or rephrased in slightly varying ways.

The whole idea of a summary is to be direct and to get to the point. Being focused, objective and accurate will go along way toward achieving this goal.

Example of Being Concise

Here is an example of an overly detailed and repetitive summary along with a brief discussion of how it can be corrected. A concise summary follows and then, an even more concise summary.

Original Source:

Stricter Regulation: "Delays in detection and recall of bad meat happen because the industry is too weakly regulated," Schlosser says. "By the time the USDA discovers tainted meat, it's already being distributed," he wrote in The Nation on September 16. Since then, the agency has announced that it will begin random tests at all meatpacking plants in the U.S., and will have the power to close facilities where contamination is found.

What hasn't changed? The USDA still lacks the power to order the recall of contaminated meat. "Every other defective product can be ordered off the market. Mandatory recall is important because under the current voluntary standard the company decides how much meat needs to be recalled and doesn't have to reveal where the meat has been shipped," Schlosser says. He advises that we write our congressional representatives in support of the SAFER Meat, Poultry, and Food Act and the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction Act, which would give the agency power to enforce limits on contaminants, order recalls and impose fines. The meat industry says it cannot produce bacteria-free meat, so it's up to us to cook it until it's safely well done (160? F) to kill E. coli. But the tainted food should not be getting to us in the first place.

The industrial food system produces force-fed, disease-prone animals and people. An estimated 120 million Americans are overweight or obese. McDonald's announced in September, 2002 that it would switch to heart-healthier polyunsaturated vegetable oil, but that won't make the fries any less fattening. It's just a gloss on the system in which, through their massive purchasing and marketing power, giant companies control how our food is produced, from seed to feed to processing. As Wilhelm says of the big meat processors who buy from megafarms, "They say that we consumers want this pork and they need it to come from one place to be efficient. "It's time we consumers made it clear that industrial farms, fast foods and their costly "efficiencies" are not what we want.

--Excerpted from Mindy Pennybacker, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much"

Overly Detailed and Repetitive Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker exposes a weakness in the regulatory procedures with which the USDA monitors the meatpacking industry: it lacks the power to order a recall of contaminated meat. By the time it gets discovered, contaminated meat is already on the market. All the USDA has done lately is announce random testing of all meatpacking plants in the U.S. and threaten to close contaminated facilities when they are discovered.

 

Leaving safety up to the consumer, the meatpacking industry claims that producing meat uncontaminated by E. coli and other bacteria is impossible. They say that meat cooked to 160? kills the bacteria. Consumers who cook their meat safely to 160? are in no danger. But the question remains: Why is tainted food allowed to get to the market in the first place? The answer, supplied by the meat-packing industry, is that consumers demand the product and suppliers can only meet the demand in an efficient manner by buying from giant mega farms that control production without the USDA looking over their shoulder.

Pennybacker's argues for mandating stricter regulations on meatpackers because tainted meat is being distributed and, after it's too late, meat is voluntarily recalled. The whole operation is managed, with no USDA oversight, by the meatpackers. Meatpacking companies who recall contaminated meat decide how much to recall and are not required to report where the meat was shipped and how much is actually recalled. She urges that every concerned person write congress in support of the SAFER Meat, Poultry and Food Act and the Poultry Pathogen Reduction Act. Enacting these laws would empower the USDA to enforce limits, order recalls and impose fines.

The giant industrial food complex that controls food production, from seeding the fields to slaughtering the meat, and that wields massive purchasing and marketing power should not be in charge of voluntarily ordering recalls of tainted meat that has already made it to the marketplace.

In this summary, the writer includes unnecessary details and repeats information in manner that adds no new information to the reader's knowledge. The fact that tainted meat gets to the market, for instance is mentioned in each paragraph, though each time it is worded in a slightly different way.

The second paragraph presents an argument that is not central to the main point: USDA regulations need to be stricter and the agency needs to have greater enforcement power. The components of an argument should not be included in a summary unless summarizing the argument itself is the purpose.

Details such as what the USDA "has done lately" and how to "safely cook meat" should not be included in this summary either, as they do not inform the reader about the author's main point. Notice that the summary is nearly as long as the original passage.

By eliminating details and repetitious language, as in the following example, the summary will be far more concise while still providing an accurate picture of the author's main point.

Concise Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker exposes a weakness in the regulatory procedures with which the USDA monitors the meatpacking industry: it lacks the power to order a recall of contaminated meat. By the time it gets discovered, contaminated meat is already on the market.

 

Pennybacker's argues for mandating stricter regulations on meatpackers, noting that recalling meat is currently a voluntary operation wherein the industry itself decides how much to recall while not being required to report from where it was recalled.

She urges that every concerned person write congress in support of the SAFER Meat, Poultry and Food Act and the Poultry Pathogen Reduction Act. Enacting these laws would empower the USDA to enforce limits, order recalls and impose fines.

The giant industrial food complex that controls food production, from seeding the fields to slaughtering meat, and that wields massive purchasing and marketing power should not be in charge of voluntarily ordering recalls of tainted meat that has already made it to the marketplace.

An Even More Concise Summary:

In her Green Guide article, "Why Fast Food Costs Too Much" Mindy Pennybacker exposes a weakness in the regulatory procedures with which the USDA monitors the meatpacking industry: it lacks the power to order a recall of contaminated meat. By the time it gets discovered, contaminated meat is already on the market. Pennybacker's argues for mandating stricter regulations on meatpackers, urging that every concerned person write congress in support of the SAFER Meat, Poultry and Food Act and the Poultry Pathogen Reduction Act. Enacting these laws would empower the USDA to enforce limits, order recalls and impose fines.
Citation: Please adapt for your documentation style.

Palmquist, Mike, & Peter Connor. (2008). Integrating Sources. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guides.cfm?guideid=16