Citations: Direct Citations and Indirect Citations (Paraphrasing)

A common concern is often how to cite information one wants to use within their paper. The most important thing to remember about citing sources is that you must give credit to the sources in each of the following information sharing scenarios:

-word-for-word (a direct quote)

-paraphrasing (putting the information in your own words for an indirect quote)

-summarizing information from an outside source (stating in your own words information from a source briefly but concisely)

Another important part of citing sources is to be aware of when you are over-using outside information in your writing. For example, some students write papers in which almost every sentence is a direct or an indirect quote. There is nothing in a paper like this that is contributed by the student. The point of a research paper is not just to provide a lot of information through outside sources, but to analyze that information and comment upon it. You need to include your own observations and analysis in your research papers; otherwise, there would be no point in someone reading your paper – he or she could just go to your outside sources and get the same information.

To stop yourself from over-using outside sources, keep this simple rule of thumb in mind: For every line of a direct or indirect citing that you use, have at least one line of your own analysis regarding that quote. For example, if you have a quote that is three lines long, have at least three lines of your own writing in which you comment on that quote. This way the reader knows (A) that you understand what the quote means and (B) that you are using the quote for a reason, not just to take up space.