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Choosing Whether to Quote or to Paraphrase


Sometimes students are not sure when to quote directly and when to paraphrase. As we said before, quote only if the language is particularly expressive and/or adds weight to your argument.

Example of a good use of quotation:

After the Challenger disaster of 1986, it was learned that NASA was so anxious to launch the shuttle that it had overlooked certain safety measures. Nobel physicist Richard Feynman later observed that “for a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled” (cited in Katz, 1999).

Source:
Katz, J. (1999, May 13). Retrieved July 6, 2005 from
http://wuphys. wustl.edu/-katz/nature fooled.html

Feynman’s credentials and the fine wording of his comment deserve quotation here.

Example of unnecessary quotation – paraphrase would be better:

The World Health Organization is conducting a study on the connection between cell phone use and brain cancer. Until the study is published, the World Health Organization “suggests that persons concerned about cell phone use can limit the length of calls, use a hands-free device to keep cell phones away from the head and body, and avoid using cell phones while driving” (National Brain Foundation, 2005).

Source:
National Brain Tumor Foundation: connection between cell
phone use and brain tumors studied. (2005, July 9).
Law and Health Weekly. Retrieved July 10, 2005
from LexisNexis Academic Universe database.

The wording of this information is not particularly noteworthy. In this case, it would be better to paraphrase:

The World Heath Organization is conducting a study on the connection between cell phone use and cancer. Until the results are published, the WHO recommends that those who may be worried about such a link keep their calls short, curtail phone use while on the road, and use hands-free equipment to maintain distance between the phone and the user (National Brain Tumor Foundation, 2005).

Source:
National Brain Tumor Foundation: connection between cell
phone use and brain tumors studied. (2005, July 9).
Law and Health Weekly. Retrieved July 10, 2005
from LexisNexis Academic Universe database.

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This guide has been adapted from one produced at MIT entitled Academic Integrity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:  A Handbook for Students.  We are grateful for their permission to use and revise the work for students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Written by Patricia Brennecke, Lecturer in English Language Studies
Edited by Professor Margery Resnick, Chair of the Committee on Discipline, and Joanne Straggas, Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education.  Prepared with the support of Professor Robert P. Redwine, Dean for Undergraduate Education at MIT.

Adapted in Fall 2006 for use by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania and published as the Handbook for Students, Ethics and Original Research by Professor Barbara Fuchs, Romance Languages, Dr. James B. Lok, Professor of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Linda Meiberg, graduate student and Karen Lawrence, Assistant Director of Education.

This edition edited, amended and produced by:

The University Honor Council and the
Office of Student Conduct
University of Pennsylvania
Fall 2008