Summarizing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing

Gonzalez – ENGL

Summarizing, Quoting, and Paraphrasing

Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). It is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

In academic writing, there are a few things to keep in mind when summarizing outside sources:

· Use your own words

· Include the key relevant elements of the original and keep it brief – you’re just going for the original’s essence

· Do not include your interpretation/analysis within the summary – make a clear distinction between your thoughts and someone else’s

· Vary how you introduce or attribute your sources, like “according to…” or “so-and-so concludes that…” so your readers don’t get bored

Example Source So That Nobody Has To Go To School If They Don’t Want To by Roger Sipher

A decline in standardized test scores is but the most recent indicator that American education is in trouble.

One reason for the crisis is that present mandatory-attendance laws force many to attend school who have no wish to be there. Such children have little desire to learn and are so antagonistic to school that neither they nor more highly motivated students receive the quality education that is the birthright of every American.

The solution to this problem is simple: Abolish compulsory-attendance laws and allow only those who are committed to getting an education to attend.

This will not end public education. Contrary to conventional belief, legislators enacted compulsory-attendance laws to legalize what already existed. William Landes and Lewis Solomon, economists, found little evidence that mandatory-attendance laws increased the number of children in school. They found, too, that school systems have never effectively enforced such laws, usually because of the expense involved.

There is no contradiction between the assertion that compulsory attendance has had little effect on the number of children attending school and the argument that repeal would be a positive step toward improving education. Most parents want a high school education for their children. Unfortunately, compulsory attendance hampers the ability of public school officials to enforce legitimate educational and disciplinary policies and thereby make the education a good one.

Private schools have no such problem. They can fail or dismiss students, knowing such students can attend public school. Without compulsory attendance, public schools would be freer to oust students whose academic or personal behavior undermines the educational mission of the institution.

Has not the noble experiment of a formal education for everyone failed? While we pay homage to the homily, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” we have pretended it is not true in education.

Ask high school teachers if recalcitrant students learn anything of value. Ask teachers if these students do any homework. Quite the contrary, these students know they will be passed from grade to grade until they are old enough to quit or until, as is more likely, they receive a high school diploma. At the point when students could legally quit, most choose to remain since they know they are likely to be allowed to graduate whether they do acceptable work or not.

Abolition of archaic attendance laws would produce enormous dividends.

First, it would alert everyone that school is a serious place where one goes to learn. Schools are neither day-care centers nor indoor street corners. Young people who resist learning should stay away; indeed, an end to compulsory schooling would require them to stay away.

Second, students opposed to learning would not be able to pollute the educational atmosphere for those who want to learn. Teachers could stop policing recalcitrant students and start educating.

Third, grades would show what they are supposed to: how well a student is learning. Parents could again read report cards and know if their children were making progress.

Fourth, public esteem for schools would increase. People would stop regarding them as way stations for adolescents and start thinking of them as institutions for educating America’s youth.

Fifth, elementary schools would change because students would find out early they had better learn something or risk flunking out later. Elementary teachers would no longer have to pass their failures on to junior high and high school.

Sixth, the cost of enforcing compulsory education would be eliminated. Despite enforcement efforts, nearly 15 percent of the school-age children in our largest cities are almost permanently absent from school.

Communities could use these savings to support institutions to deal with young people not in school. If, in the long run, these institutions prove more costly, at least we would not confuse their mission with that of schools.

Schools should be for education. At present, they are only tangentially so. They have attempted to serve an all-encompassing social function, trying to be all things to all people. In the process they have failed miserably at what they were originally formed to accomplish.

Example summary of source Roger Sipher makes his case for getting rid of compulsory-attendance laws in primary and secondary schools with several arguments, all of which can easily fall into three groups—first that education is for those who want to learn and by including those that don’t want to learn, everyone suffers. Second, that grades would be reflective of effort and elementary school teachers wouldn’t feel compelled to pass failing students. Third, that schools would both save money and save face with the elimination of compulsory-attendance laws.

Quoting

Quotations must be identical to the original. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.

Example

In his famous and influential work The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious, expressing in coded imagery the dreamer’s unfulfilled wishes through a process known as the “dream-work” (page #).

NOTE: I have put the quotes above in bold here simply to highlight them for you. However, do not ever put quotes in bold in an essay.

The Proper Punctuation: Keeping it Simple

Remembering just a few simple rules can help you use the correct punctuation as you introduce quotations. There are some exceptions to the rules below, but they should help you use the correct punctuation with quotations most of the time.

Rule 1: Complete sentence followed by quotation. If you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, use a colon (:) just before the quotation.

Example

Thoreau’s philosophy might be summed up best by his repeated request for people to ignore the insignificant details of life: “Our life is frittered away by detail.”

Rule 2: Someone says, followed by quotation. If the word just before the quotation is a verb indicating someone stating the quoted words, use a comma. Some examples include the words “says,” “asserts,” “states,” and “asks.” But remember that there is no punctuation if the word “that” comes just before the quotation, as in “the narrator says that.”

Example 1

Thoreau suggests the consequences of making ourselves slaves to progress when he says, “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.”

Example 2

Thoreau argues that “shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous.”

NOTE: Notice that no comma is needed in example 2.

Rule 3: If Rules 1 and 2 do not apply, do not use any punctuation between your words and the quoted words if you are using short quotations–only a few words–as part of your own sentence.

Example

Thoreau states that his retreat to the woods around Walden Pond was motivated by his desire “to live deliberately” and to face only “the essential facts of life.”

NOTE: Remember that a semicolon (;) is never used to introduce quotations.

Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words

Paraphrasing is one way to use a text in your own writing without directly quoting source material. Anytime you are taking information from a source that is not your own, you still need to specify where you got that information.

A paraphrase is…

· Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form—your form.

· A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single point rather than the whole work you are referencing

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because…

· It is better than quoting information from an passage that is not well known to a general audience.

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

5 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase.

3. Record the source (including the page #) so that you can credit it easily.

Example

The original passage Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.

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 recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

A paraphrase using direct quotation 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 “exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes” (Lester 46-47).