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How to Summarize, Paraphrase, and Quote for Research and Term Paper Writing

Writers of research and term papers are frequently required to summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote another author’s work. These techniques bolster the research writer’s credibility when writing the paper. However, the author of the resource must be attributed correctly to avoid plagiarism.

By Joan Whetzel

When writing research and term papers, the teacher may require students to summarize, paraphrase and quote other authors somewhere in the paper. All three of these techniques make use of another authors words or ideas which must then be attributed to the author in some form. It is important for students to learn how to summarize, paraphrase and quote other authors as well as how to include attribution to the author.

 

Summarizing

Summarizing another author’s work means presenting the main idea of what that author discussed in a brief yet coherent manner. Writers who can summarize another author’s material show that they understood that author’s point, what that author was trying to say, and then was able to turn around and explain it to someone else.

 

An example of a summarization: In his book, Denmark Vesey, David Robertson attempted show the life and the person at the heart of the South Carolina slave rebellion.

 

This summarization lists the author’s name and the name of the book it was summarizing. It doesn’t quote or paraphrase any actual text from the book, but gives the general idea of what the author presents in his book. Of course, this is a very general summarization of an entire book. most likely, what needs summarization in the research or term paper, will be anywhere from a paragraph to several pages. The idea is to shrink down large chunks of reading into a sentence or two.

 

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is similar to both quotes and summarization. Paraphrasing uses from one sentence to a paragraph of the author’s words. However, the writer of the paper takes the resource author’s words, and restates what the author’s sentences or paragraphs in his or her own words.  

 

The paraphrasing may be attributed to the resource author in one of two ways. In the first method, the paraphrasing starts off with the author’s name (as in the above summarization example), with the page number placed in parenthesis at the end of the sentence (pg. #). The second method simply paraphrases the material then places the attribution  including the author’s name and the page number within ellipses at the end of the sentence before the period (author’s last name, author’s first name, pg #).

 

Quoting

To directly quote another author within a research or term paper, one two sentences are placed within quotation marks and a paragraph or partial paragraph (several sentences) are set apart and indented on both sides, so it looks like a paragraph that takes up less space. The attribution can be set up in one of two ways.

 

The first method involves stating the authors name (as in the summarization), followed by the quote, then the page number in ellipses placed outside the quotation mark but before the period at the end of the sentence. Example: Joe Blow states “quotation” (pg. #).

 

The second method simply gives the direct quote with the attribution at the end of the sentence. For example: “Quotation” (Blow, Joe, pg.#).

 

Footnote and Endnotes

Attributions may be added as a footnote or endnote rather than an in-text citation as previously discussed.  Word for Windows has a footnote / endnote function. Adding footnotes and endnotes can be done manually as well. For both footnotes and endnotes, a superscript number is placed at the end of the sentence. As superscript numbers (small numbers, elevated above the line by 1/2 line.) are added throughout the paper, they increase numerically, meaning the first reference becomes1, the second reference is2, the third reference gets the superscript number3, and so on. With Word, the program will automatically take you to the bottom of the page (if you’re adding footnotes) or to the end of the page (if using endnotes); and each footnote or endnote will be placed in the same order as the reference number within the text of the paper.

 

The footnotes are to be set up in correct format (either APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style). Ask the teacher for clarification as to which format the paper is to be written in, and whether there is a preference for footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical citations. Whichever method is used, be aware that parenthetical citations, footnotes, and endnotes do not replace the bibliography. They are simply an adjunct to the bibliography or list of works cited, which must be typed up separately.

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