1. Making an Argument
The first thing to realize about an essay is that it must make an argument and not merely cram as many facts as possible onto the page. You are writing to persuade the reader (ANY reader) to believe what you are saying. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself, “What do I think about this question?” Whatever the question, you need to (1) introduce the reader to the basic elements of the question as you will treat them in your answer; (2) tell the reader what your position on the question is; and (3) presents an argument with evidence to demonstrate the correctness of your position. But before you write anything you must form your own opinion. (Or at least, before you write anything anyone will see.)
A good introduction is indispensable to a good essay. Without it, the reader gets lost from the very beginning, and is likely to remain lost. The introduction must do two things.
a. It introduces the reader to the topic of the essay. This can be done in any number of ways, such as with a short anecdote (for a 5-page essay, any anecdote you use must be very short!), or by launching into the topic.
b. It tells the reader, in a few sentences, what you intend to say about the topic. That is, it lays out your thesis.
3. Exposition and Argument in the Main Body of the Paper
Once you have moved from the introduction to the main body of the essay, you face the task of giving your reader sufficient details about the topic so s/he can get some idea of what you are talking about. At the same time, you must present your argument and persuade the reader that your interpretation is a reasonable one. Combining these tasks is no easy matter, and even experienced writers often devote considerable effort to giving their essays a readable structure.
One thing that may help you to organize your essay is to keep in mind three questions that a reader will be asking when reading your essay:
1. What does the writer mean?
2. How do I know it’s true?
3. So what?
These three questions should be in your head at all times. The first reminds you to take care in explaining yourself. Don’t just assume the reader knows what you are talking about; make sure you have said enough for the reader to understand your point. Above all, DO NOT assume the reader is your professor! You will do much better if you assume that your reader is a reasonably well educated person who knows nothing specific about the subject and who has to be told certain things in order to understand what your essay is about.
The second question reminds you that you must provide specific evidence for your claims. In the case of this essay, all the evidence will be likely to come from primary sources; if you use direct quotations, you MUST use footnotes or endnotes to cite where your evidence comes from. It does not matter exactly what citation format you use, but it should be consistent.
The third question reminds you that you must work hard to see that everything in the essay has some recognizable function. Don’t just throw in “interesting” facts to take up space: “It is interesting that Paracelsus lived in Southern Germany and Vesalius in Italy.” No, it isn’t, unless you explain why that little tidbit is important (for example, by going on to say that medical education was different in the two countries and this gave them different conceptions of the profession). Everything you do and say must advance the essay toward your goal: persuading the reader of the reasonableness of your judgment.
Finally, one more word of advice about the main body of the paper, and that is to take the reader by the hand and lead him step-by-step along the way. Historians are very lazy creatures, and given half a chance they will completely lose track of your argument. Good writers provide plenty of signposts of where things are and where they are going. Remember that the reader cannot peer into your mind; therefore, you must do everything possible to make the essay completely transparent. For example, don’t leave the answer to the “So what?” question for herself. Tell her what the connection is. You can do this along the way, but a good place to reinforce it is in your conclusion.
4. Using Footnotes and Endnotes
Historical essays of the kind described above need evidence. A footnote or endnote basically tells the reader, “Here is my evidence for this particular point.”
Footnotes and endnotes are mostly used to display a writer’s evidence. But they have two other functions as well. First, they sometimes are used to explain or expand something said in the main body of the text. Writers do this to avoid getting too far away from their point. Secondly notes are also used to give credit to another writer when you are using that person’s ideas. You must give credit for someone else’s ideas, even when you have put them into your own words (and, of course, when you are using someone else’s words you must use quotations). Failure to do so is plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense.
Teaching Students the Skills to Argue from Sources
Argument defined: A course in argument is essentially a course in rhetoric: rhetoric provides a way to think about writing and speaking as part of a conversation, a conversation that aims to bring about both understanding and, perhaps, agreement.
Genres Features of An Argument Related Skills
Identifying an issue
Asking a “good” question
Argument from Experience
Crafting an introduction that specifies context
Constructing an arguable thesis that is persuasive
Considers contrary evidence
Who is speaking here (voice)? From what vantage point is the author speaking (point of view)? What part of the author’s personality comes through? What is the shape and organization of the piece? What is the status of the assertions made for the claims? Does the author demonstrate knowledge of different rival hypotheses?
Metacognition: what, when, why
Library: Print and electronic resources
Identifying an issue
Asking “good” questions (as opposed to topics)
Comparing and contrasting sources
Distinguishing fact from opinion
Analyze argument for its assumptions and implications
Craft an introduction that specifies context
Defend argument within context of others’ arguments or assertions, rival or supportive
Constructing an arguable thesis that is persuasive
Considers many points of view
Examines limits in one’s own view
Considers both specific and general case Oral Debate: Rogerian & Classical
Making Connections between Reading and Writing
University of Notre Dame
“Mining” texts refers to one way that readers read to advance their goals as writers. Assuming an understanding of content, the notion of mining entails gaining a sense of the context that shapes the writing, the structure of a given piece, and the language a writer uses. What issue, problem, or concern motivates the writer? Could the author have defined the problem in a different way? What choices are involved in structuring one's ideas? What options does a writer have in deciding how to frame his or her ideas in language (formal, academic, pedestrian)? What is the relationship between context, structure, and language?
A journal assignment: how writers in different fields represent the contexts shaping discourse, the kinds of conventions writers use, and the language that characterizes the writing in these fields
Modeling: show students how a piece of writing works, pointing to the context that an author appears to respond to, the structure of the piece, and the use of language. How do conventions for structuring an argument and using evidence reflect readers’ expectations?
Discussing reading/writing in groups: Have students work in groups in attending to some of these questions, the very questions that students can use to read their own work:
Group 1-2: Focus on Context: Who is speaking here (voice)? What is the context of E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy, at least as you understand his purpose so far? From what vantage point is the author speaking (point of view)? From what he says and the subjects he writes about, who do you think his audience is? What are the issues that concern his readers?
Group 3: Focus on Structure: How does Hirsch structure the movement of the introduction and first chapter of his book? How does he move from idea to idea? How does he set up significant points? Does the author demonstrate knowledge of different solutions to the problem he identifies? What are some alternative ways to move from one idea to another?
Group 4: Focus on Language: What kinds of language does Hirsch prefer in advancing his argument (voice and tone)? Do you find many allusions to different works? What do these allusions suggest about the
writer’s personality? about the ways he attempts to establish a relationship with his audience?
The bottom line: Students are accustomed to reading the content of something, but they do not always recognize the constructed nature of a given text: the choices and options available to the writer. Mining encourages students to “draft” a reading that helps them think about writing/reading from a rhetorical perspective. The shape of a text they read comes about from deliberate choices about how to get readers to think in certain ways. In turn, students can begin to develop a repertoire of strategies for representing the context, structuring their ideas, and using language as a way to connect with a reader in their own writing:
For authors: Come to writing group with specific concerns, focusing on the line of argument you take, the structure of the essay, the extent to which you present options, and the language you use to convey your argument (voice and tone).
For readers: Help authors focus their argument, and use sufficient and appropriate evidence to support points. Who is speaking here (voice)? From what vantage point is the author speaking (point of view)? What part of the author’s personality comes through? What is the shape and organization of the piece? What is the status of the assertions made for the claims? Does the author demonstrate knowledge of different options?
Evaluating and Organizing Source Material
This handout and the one that follows (“Reading Critically in Preparation for Writing from Sources”) are designed to help students do two things: first, “mine” texts for the author’s argument, purpose, and use of evidence; and second (with your careful guidance, of course), to get students used to the idea that those texts can provide launching points for their own original arguments.
Your next paper will require you to write from sources. This assignment asks you to practice evaluating and organizing source material. Think about what you probably did with research assignments in the past: you went to the library and got a bunch of materials that (you hoped) related to the assigned topic in some way. How did you decide which materials were going to be useful? And once you had identified “useful” materials, how did you delineate between articles you used for statistics, articles you used for anecdotes, articles you used for historical background, etc. ? This exercise will help you make strategic decisions about source material. Concentrate on making effective decisions about a source’s “usefulness” in a limited amount of time.
You will write a 5-7 page argumentative paper about the state of American education. You must use at least three sources from your reader. There are no other requirements; the specific topic you address is up to you.
Step 1: One hour
Skim through and take notes on the first six readings (Gagnon, Anyon, Bechtel, Kozol, Kozol, Kozol), allotting ten minutes for each reading. Try to answer the following questions: What is the author’s purpose? What kind of evidence is the author using?
PURPOSE KINDS OF EVIDENCE
Step 2: Five minutes
Choose one of the readings that, at this point, you think you are most likely to use in your paper. This source could be the one that was most interesting to you, the one that you found most sympathetic, the one that you most disagreed with… there could be any number of reasons for choosing this source.
Which source did you choose? -->
Step 3: One hour
Read, summarize, analyze and evaluate the source you chose on a separate sheet of paper. In other words, summarize the article, analyze the author’s rhetorical situation [what is her purpose? who is her audience? what kind of evidence/ rhetorical strategies is she using?], and evaluate the article [what do you think of it?].
Step 4: Five minutes
Do you have an idea about the topic you would like to pursue in this paper? If so, write your ideas down here.
Can you eliminate any of the articles? In other words, are there any articles that you are pretty sure you won’t be using? Which ones and why?
Reading Critically in Preparation for Writing from Sources
We will use this table in talking about and thinking critically about the various authors we have read. Try to fill in the boxes, answering the questions for each author. Of course, the answers will be different for each one, since each reflects a different view of literacy, the problems related to it, and how to solve those problems.
Rose Hirsch Argument Based on Personal Experience. Freire Hunter-Gault Me
Definition of Literacy?
What's left out or needs to be emphasized more?
What happens if things remain as they are (politically, socially, educationally)?
What should we do?
The following essay forms the second chapter of The University of California-Irvine’s handbook, A Student Guide to Writing at the University of California––Irvine (1994). I include it here as a resource you may want to use with your students, many of whom may not have done analytical writing before.
What Are College Audiences? What Is Analysis?
(Gretchen Bohack, John Hollowell and Paul Morsink, eds.)
As many composition teachers have learned, the notion of academic discourse often takes some getting used to for students who are new to college. How, you might wonder, does writing in college differ from the work you accomplished in high school? How does the scholar in the Humanities, or one biologist writing for another, compose in ways that differ from writing you already know about? In some sense, you figure, you already know how to write.
One important lesson from the last fifteen years of research about college writing is the significance of audience and the way that writers need to be trained in the rules and conventions of academic prose. For example, writing expert David Bartholomae argues that the student must “invent the university” for himself or herself, implying that the mysteries of codes and conventions of academic life will be learned in the course of gradual, trial-and-error discovery (134-65). The pages that follow will set forth some general principles that will allow you to understand what college audiences are, what their expectations are, and how these matters control the organization of academic analysis. You will explore two interrelated questions: a) what audience are you writing for? and b) how does academic prose make use of analysis?
One of the reasons the University requires you to take composition classes at UCI is that now you will be writing for a new audience— actually, a number of audiences. Each one has its own specialized rules, standards, and conventions about acceptable reading and writing. You will find, for example, that a course entitled “Molecular Biology” will provide different reading and writing assignments than one called “World War II” or “The Criminal Mind.” Not only do different disciplines study different things, they have different ways of talking and writing about their different fields of study. For example, in a biological science journal, you might find “the review of the literature,” the hypothesis, the methods, the findings, and the implications as standard format. A similar set of conventions would be true for civil engineering or anthropology if you examined periodicals in those fields. Learning to decode these rules and conventions both among and across disciplines is part of what college writing courses accomplish.
Despite the differences between academic disciplines— even fields as different as biology and art history— you will find some common ground. When it comes to reading and writing, most disciplines agree on a number of things. Good writing is clear, precise, and persuasive. Good reading is careful, thorough, and probing. So while it is true that different disciplines have different rules and conventions— the lines in your lab report do not rhyme, and the American history essay does not have a “Results” section— there is still a broad consensus across disciplinary boundaries about what kinds of things constitute good reading and writing.
The composition class in WR 39 A B C is both a result of and a contributing cause of this consensus. Like other classes you will take in the future, it is designed to develop the reading and writing skills to help you succeed in any discipline that involves reading and writing. Here you do not learn about writing just for a biology audience or a history audience, but instead you are writing for a general audience comprised of intelligent, literate adults.
When you first enroll in WR 39 A B C, you do not come to class as a blank slate, no do you need to learn to write all over again. A university writing class will build upon skills and knowledge you developed in high school. At first, you may find yourself resisting: “I was a good writer in high school. I was editor of the . . . .” Since UC students are drawn from the top 12% of high school classes, some of the best students in the state attend UCI. Still, you will probably find that the task of writing in college will inevitably lead to new challenges that have not been expected or required in your previous writing courses.
In your high school English classes, you learned about a range of subjects that included grammar, usage, literature, rhetoric and style, and critical thinking. Still, no matter how outstanding your secondary training was, it might have stopped short of teaching you the conventions of academic discourse and the demands of analytical reading and writing. Some high school assignments require the report, the book review, the paraphrase, or often, perhaps, the “research paper” as a compilation of sources. Consequently, you were often required to report on or summarize your findings from research, but you might not have practiced critical evaluation and analysis. Seeking to develop and refine the methods and techniques of analysis is part of what the college writing course explores.
In all WR 39 A B C classes you will be asked to work toward analysis. At first, this method of reading and writing may seem detached from your previous experience or insufficiently defined to allow you to produce it. Analysis, then, implies shifting gears, or moving beyond merely paraphrasing or summarizing what a story or article says. For most academic audiences, you will need to say something new, or locate something not found in the original text, or frequently challenge assumptions and arguments of the original writer. Sometimes students
are frustrated by their first attempts to make analysis happen in a paper they write for their composition class.
Don’t be surprised if at first you find yourself resisting the idea that reading and writing require serious thinking, not just a big vocabulary, a good imagination, and a little inspiration. Thinking about reading and writing can be hard work— and it can be frustrating. The challenge, as you face assignments in your composition class, is to turn your frustration into concentration that will yield positive results.
Fortunately, you already know a great deal about analysis from your previous experience in class and in life. Part of the work in composition classes is to make this knowledge explicit. For example, you find that you understand the meaning of a popular song beyond what the lyrics merely say. Or, you are having a familiar argument with your parents when you conclude, “It’s about control” or “They’re afraid I’m moving away from them.” Or , you watch a TV ad and recognize: “They’re using sex/money/prestige to sell the product.” All of these everyday kinds of behavior are forms of analysis, since you are moving beyond the apparent meaning or explicit meaning of a text in order to say something about how that meaning is produced.
Even though you are probably practicing analysis every day, it may take you a little time to get used to recognizing the kind of analysis that is expected of you in university-level classes. One way to become aware of this kind of analysis is to think of the audiences who will be reading your writing.
What do college audiences expect from you and the form of writing you are expected to do? Depending on the assignment and the audience, your readers will want you to do some or all of the following things:
• provide evidence to back up the claims you make;
• be entertaining;
• state clearly what you want to assert;
• tell them something new;
• draw logical connections between your thoughts;
• support your ideas by quoting from other texts;
• discuss and analyze the words you quote;
• place your personal concerns in the essay;
• relate your topic to broader social or cultural concerns;
• not include your personal reactions;
• divide your paper into clear paragraphs, each containing a single idea and purpose;
• not end in the middle of a thought; and so on
Unfortunately, this list of do’s and don’ts is never complete, and you may have noticed that some demands even contradict each other. Still, from this jumbled list of prescriptions, a set of expectations emerges. Your audiences will generally want your writing to be clear, precise, grammatically correct, logically coherent, and persuasive. This is the kind of writing you will practice in the composition class.
WHAT IS ANALYSIS?
One important skill involved in writing the kinds of papers required in the composition class is called analysis. No doubt, it is a word you have heard in many classes and in everyday speech. Analysis a useful word with a wide range of applications and meanings, depending on the context. It originally comes from the Greek analusis, which in its verbal form means “up, back” and “loosen, free.” In everyday speech it usually means “breaking something down into its component parts.” In the composition class, it means breaking down words, paragraphs, patterns of words, figures of speech, metaphors, and so on. You will be breaking down the source text you are reading, so that you can create an argument based on how the language in a newspaper article, poem, essay, short story, or novel works.
You may be thinking that so far this sounds very much like what is called paraphrase or summary. When you summarize or paraphrase something, you may turn something complex into your own, simpler words. How is this different from analysis?
The question is useful because it asks us to be precise in our terms and illustrates the difference between summary and analysis that will become an issue in all writing courses. A summary or paraphrase simply repeats what someone has already said. It may put complex ideas into simpler terms, but it doesn’t add anything. It doesn’t demonstrate any thinking on the writer’s part other than the ability to repeat. Analysis, on the other hand, requires complex reading skills that may involve some or all of the following:
• explaining implied distinctions that are not clearly stated in the original text,
• pointing out a contradiction between two ideas in the same text,
• identifying a pattern of words (a pattern of sentences all beginning with “It is…,” for example) and explaining the significance of this pattern,
• examining an author’s use of adverbs and adjectives that reveal a bias,
• testing an author’s examples to see if they actually illustrate the point they’re supposed to make, and so forth.
This list is never complete. Analysis, since it refers to a range of activities of reading and interpreting, will take many shapes and forms. In every case,
however, analysis means more than just letting the words pass through your head and putting them on paper. Analysis always involves a kind of reading, a way of paying attention to words on the page (or to song lyrics, or camera angles in a movie) that is precise and critical. It almost always means finding patterns and making connections that may not be immediately obvious. It involves asking questions and thinking about what the words are saying and doing and how they are saying and doing it.
All of these forms of reading— engaging in analysis— make greater demands on you than simply creating a summary or paraphrase. You must become active rather than passive, and you must assert your own voice and your own thoughts in the face of a text that is telling you what the author thinks and also telling you how you should think.
FIVE EXAMPLES OF ANALYSIS
Almost every class in WR 39 A B C involves some form of analysis. This chapter provides five specific examples that demonstrate in various ways how a writer makes the move from reading for summary to asserting his or her own analytical perspective. After you have read and studied these examples, you will find some general principles to remind you of the ground covered.
Read over the examples while bearing in mind that in many of your WR 39 assignments you will be asked to interpret quoted material from another writer’s texts:
Example #1: Locating Key Words: Health Care in America
You are reading a recent copy of the journal Imprimis and you come across the following lines arguing that there is no need to change the existing health care system in the United States:
We are the world leader in health care. There is no place on the face of the earth that has a system as successful as ours or can deliver the quality of health care that we have come to enjoy. (2)
It would not be difficult to summarize or paraphrase these two sentences. But what about analyzing these lines? What kinds of things would an analysis look for?
Whether or not you agree with the opinion expressed in the Imprimis article, if you are going to analyze these sentences you will need to start by looking carefully at the words the author has used. One thing you might notice is that the author uses the pronoun we twice, and the related possessive pronoun ours once. On its face, this is not all that surprising. You might ask: Who exactly is this we? Does this we include all Americans? When the author of this passage talks about
the excellent quality of health care “we have come to enjoy,” who exactly is doing the enjoying?
At this point you have turned the corner from paraphrase to analysis. So far you have only noticed a pattern of pronouns and asked a few questions, but you have taken a first bold step beyond simply repeating what this text already say. The next step in your analysis would entail asking more questions, making more connections, and turning these questions and connections into coherent points of your own. One such point you might want to make is this: by talking about “our” health care system, the author of this article cleverly obscures the possibility that in this country there is no all-inclusive “our.” What the author obscures, in short, is that the “we” he invokes may be a divided or fragmented “we,” and that what is best for some people may not be best for all people.
Example #2 Finding a Pattern of Words: Alzheimer’s Disease
Here is a slightly more complex example. In a recent edition of Newsweek you might have come across this discussion of Alzheimer’s disease:
What gives people Alzheimer’s disease? A decade of sleuthing has produced myriad suspects-- genes, viruses, aluminum cookware-- but none has aroused more interest than an unassuming protein fragment called beta amyloid. The aberrant molecule, a small piece of a normal protein call APP, invariably shows up in victims’ brains, surrounded by masses of dead neurons. But its role in the disease remains murky. Is it a brain killer or just a bystander? Last week, writing in the British journal Nature, researchers at St. Mary’s Hospital in London presented the most incriminating evidence yet: they showed that Alzheimer’s victims from two frequently afflicted families shared a defect in the gene that synthesizes APP. (54)
Once again, as with the health care example, it would not be too difficult to summarize the information contained in the quotation: scientists are trying to find out what causes Alzheimer’s disease, and the latest research suggests that inherited genes are involved.
But how is this information presented? On thing you might notice is the author’s use of a number of related words: “sleuthing,” “suspects,” “victims,” “role,” “killer,” “bystander,” and “incriminating evidence.” Now, taken alone, none of these words is so unusual as to require much explanation. Some of the words (“evidence” and “role,” for example) seem perfectly at home in an article discussing recent research on Alzheimer’s disease, and many others will seem familiar from detective stories and TV police shows. Yet taken together, these words as they appear here in an article about Alzheimer’s disease demand some explanation. Our question is this: Where did all these characters (sleuths, suspects, bystanders) and props (clues, evidence) come from, and what do they have to do with Alzheimer’s disease?
Clearly, the author of the article is comparing two things. On the one hand, there is the scientist’s search for the causes behind Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, there is the stereotypical detective story. What the article suggests is that finding the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is in some way like finding the killer in a detective story.
This is where you, the reader, suddenly have some hard thinking to do. Your analysis has turned up a comparison. You could say at this point: “The author is writing about a complicated subject: Alzheimer’s research. To make it easier to understand, he has compared it to something familiar: a detective story.” this already would be an important observation. But you might press the comparison further. Is finding the cause of Alzheimer’s disease really like finding the culprit in a detective story? If Alzheimer’s is caused by a “killer” gene, does this mean Alzheimer’s patients should be treated like criminals? And does comparing Alzheimer’s to a crime imply that researchers should have the same powers as police detectives— the power to detain patients and force them to undergo lab tests, for example? these are the kinds of questions that might arise with a careful analysis of the detective story comparison.
Example #3 Quotation in Your Paper: Summary vs. Analysis
Students frequently make the mistake of using quotations in their essays in ways that look “on the page” like analysis but remain mostly summary.
The following examples do not qualify as analysis. The writer does not fully or sufficiently explain the quotations.
a) Dropping the quote
David Gross and Sophfronia Scott claim that no one paid any attention to what they call the twentysomething generation: “The twentysomething generation has been neglected because it exists in the shadow of the baby boomers. . . [Their] ordeal was loneliness.”
Problem: The writer introduces the quotation but does not go on to explain or analyze it.
b) Paraphrasing directly
In “Proceeding with Caution” David Gross and Sophfronia Scott write that:
Absent parents forced a dependence on secondary relationships with teachers and friends. Flashy toys and new clothes were supposed to make up for this lack but instead sowed the seeds for a later abhorrence of the yuppie brand of materialism. “Quality time” didn’t cut it for them either. (1041-42)
In this passage the authors contend that the twentysomethings rejected their parents, refused their offers to compensate with presents and “quality time,” and eventually resented their parents entirely.
Problem: The writer introduces the quotation and then summarizes or paraphrases the material from the quotation. No ideas from the writer are present.
c) Letting the text speak for you
The writers say the group has no heroes:
While 58% of those in the Time/CNN survey said their group has heroes, they failed to agree on any. Ronald Reagan was most often named, with only 8% of the vote, followed by Mikhail Gorbachev (7%), Jesse Jackson (6%), and George Bush (5%). (1046)
Problem: The writer only manages to introduce the quotation but makes no comment or provides no guidance for the reader.
In the following examples the writer analyzes the quotation.
d) Paying attention to language
There are at least three levels of neglect in “Proceeding with Caution.” The first is the neglect of the twentysomethings generation by parents, who structured their children’s “ordeal” as “loneliness” (1041) by rarely being around. The second level is that of demographers and marketeers who neglect the group “because it exists in the shadow of the baby boomers” (1040). The third is that of the writers themselves. They neglect the possibility that the group might have values in claiming the group has none.
Improvement: The writer has established his own ideas by finding “three levels” in the text and then supporting this observation with quotations.
e) Breaking down the text
When the writers state that “absent parents forced a dependence on secondary relationships with teachers and friends” (1041), they seem to be blaming the parents for what they see as a problem. But are they problems? By using the word “dependence,” the text seems to argue that these relationships are “bad” things rather than adjustments to a changing culture and socio-economic system. The relationships are further disparaged by the use of “secondary” to define them. The writers structure the relationships as substitutes, and substitutes that should not be allowed to work: “flashy toys and new clothes were supposed to make up for this lack” (1041). The writers implicitly uphold “thirtysomething” values while allegedly attempting to explain the “twentysomething” generation’s values. Even the name “twentysomething” tells us that this is really an article about the “thirtysomething” generations’ perception of people just below them in age.
Improvement: The writer uses words or phrases from the original article to support an argument that he or she controls.
f) Speaking for the text
When the authors talk about the lack of heroes for the generations, they are really talking about the lack of consensus on a hero, the lack of conformity the group demonstrates in its aspirations: “While 58% of those in the Time/CNN survey said they had heroes, they failed to agree on any” (1046). What is important to the writers is not the group’s having heroes, but the group’s “failure” to agree on any particular hero. Again, we see value-loaded language used to harm the group that the authors are nominally portraying in an objective manner.
Improvement: The writer questions the language of the original text and controls the movement of ideas in the paragraph.
Example #4 Small Text, Large Analysis
In WR 39 B you use analysis to develop your opinions about a text— whether the text is a paragraph, an essay, a poem, a short story, or a short novel. You develop an idea and you try, in your paper, to make your audience see how the idea came from the text itself. In WR 39 C, you are looking at issues, usually social or professional ones, and you are developing opinions about them. In 39 C, unlike 39B, you have to read many sources, evaluate the positions in them, and develop your own opinions about the issues as you evaluate them. One goal of a 39 C research paper is to make space for your own opinion among a number of opinions on the same subject. As you are reading and researching your topic, you will need to decide how much of each article is important in shaping your opinion and how much is, in your terms, “wrong.” The more you read, and the more you have thought about what you read, the more likely it becomes that your academic audience will take you seriously. This thinking while reading, this process of evaluating and sorting, is part of analysis.
The use of a very small text will illustrate this process of evaluation and analysis. Suppose you receive an anonymous note that says:
“You (your name) are evil.”
When you see this note, you immediately want to know several things about it that sets your analysis in motion:
• Who wrote it?
• What right or qualifications do they have to say what they say?
• What information are they using to come to this conclusion?
• Does their information support this conclusion?
• What information are they leaving out and why?
• What is their bias— what motivates them to say it?
• What do they get from saying what they’re saying?
• Are they serious, or . . . ?
• And, finally and most importantly, how does the text affect your opinion of the subject?
Usually, in WR 39 C research, you’ll know who wrote the article, their qualifications, and the level of seriousness of the piece. The rest all requires interpretation and analysis. In WR 39 C, we need to know how an article presents information and opinion.
To return to the note analogy, trying to unpack the meaning from the text, you remember that you and another student down the hall, let’s call her Judith, studied together for a midterm. When you got together, Judith had been to all the lectures, she attended the discussion sections, and she seemed to have a better handle on things than you did. You got an A- on the midterm and Judith, because she had been up until 2:30 coaching you, got a B. Judith then slips this note under your door and you have to explain it to your roommate. Chances are, you’ll start out something like this: “It’s from Judith. It’s about the midterm thing. She’s pretty upset. It’s not like she doesn’t have a right to be mad, but where does she get off calling me evil? It’s not like I forced her to stay up; it’s not like I didn’t know anything about the course when we met to study.”
In this short version of argument, you’ve worked from a small text and analyzed your responsibility for Judith’s grade. You’ve considered her motivation and you’ve considered the information she might have used to arrive at her conclusion that, in her opinion, you are “evil.” You’ve decided to agree with the message to some extent, that you might be somewhat responsible for Judith’s grade. (In argument, this call a concession, a statement that goes “You may be right, but. . . .”) However, you have also decided that you are not evil and explained why you’re not. (This might be called a refutation, a statement that takes the form, “You’re wrong and here’s why.”)
This kind of negotiation with a text goes on all the time in the reading and writing for WR 39 C. Analysis of our small and apparently simple text has isolated and revealed the mental processes involved in asking the right questions to expose the context of any given text.
Example #5 Successful Excerpt From a WR 39 C Paper
The following is an excerpt from a WR 39 C essay on “Tabloid Journalism.” Containing various examples of several kinds of quotation, it illustrates how quotation from sources may be used to establish the ground for analysis. After the excerpt, two experienced teachers comment on the kinds of quotation strategies that a successful writer employs.
Excerpt from “Tabloid Journalism”
When asked to explain why they resort to such tasteless material, tabloid journalists cite the economic law of supply and demand as the major reason. Simply put, there is a strong public demand for sensationalism, and they supply it to maintain high ratings and high profits. Rupert Murdoch, the media boss whose tabloids such as the New York Post and The Star have been thriving, explains it this way:
The key to what the newspaper business is all about is producing a product that will be read.... Please remember that a newspaper, like all your businesses, is a business and not a philanthropy. (Shaw 14)
Krista Bradford, a former tabloid TV reporter, writes that although “true journalism... should bring people the hard facts of life..., tabloid television would point to its very success as proof that a larger number of viewers don’t want that” (43). Iain Calder, president of The Enquirer, added that, “My job is not to please myself; it’s to please middle America.... We have to blend in with what society wants” (Lamb A17). Even “60 Minutes” producer Don Hewitt acknowledged that “It’s one big porno shop. But am I going to tell someone who wants to watch it not to watch? No. It’s democracy. It’s the marketplace” (Waters 73). Nevertheless, offering tabloid journalism to people who crave it, knowing it is not in their best interests, is akin to offering drugs and alcohol to addicts and alcoholics. Even if audiences and readers do not know what’s best for them, journalists do, and should take responsibility for providing informative, enlightening news presentations.
TEACHERS’ COMMENTS ABOUT “TABLOID JOURNALISM”
As this paper excerpt shows, the research paper component of WR 39 C requires that students immerse themselves in a debate about an issue over which reasonable people disagree. Researching and writing their WR 39 C papers, students automatically learn about the different beliefs of various people who have already taken positions on these issues. No WR 39 C student comes to an issue cold. The issue may be new to the student, but a tradition of debate about that issue already exists. Successful WR 39 C papers use their research not only to prove the author’s individual position, but also to remind the reader of what the stakes are in this debate tradition by referring to other positions. Analysis in WR 39 C, therefore, is both a reading strategy and a set of writing techniques for selecting and integrating borrowed information.
As a reading strategy, analysis involves determining the credibility of sources, It requires separating out an author’s position and assessing the fit between the author’s evidence for that position and his or her reasoning about that evidence. As a writing technique, analysis involves weaving into one’s paper this borrowed information from other authors to support a thesis of one’s own, or to criticize that of another.
Analysis in WR 39 C is similar to joining a conversation. Before you join a conversation, especially if it is heated, you listen for while and try to figure out what the other people are talking about and where they are coming from. This is the research and reading stage. Only then can you make sense of the principles at stake and how best to enter the conversation so that others will pay attention to you, and you can have your own voice heard. This is the stage when you construct and defend your own position in writing.
A WR 39 C paper is the student’s attempt to join this on-going conversation. The research that the student introduces in a WR 39 C paper has, accordingly, several functions; it supplies evidence and demonstrates the student’s knowledge in various ways. First, the research provides a framework— a context— for the student’s position, thereby summarizing the conversation or debate in which the student is taking part, and establishing that the student’s is not a lone voice. Second, the quoted or paraphrased research proves reasons for and illustrations of the student’s own beliefs, and it establishes a position taken on the basis of those beliefs.
Notice, for instance, in the above paragraph with eight sentences about “tabloid journalism” how the student uses four quotations from three different sources in different ways. The student’s own first sentence contextualizes the debate by summarizing one position that he has identified in this conversation, namely, that some people maintain that this low quality of tabloid journalism is just a matter of supply and demand. The student’s second sentence is a paraphrase that refines and interprets this position. Then, in the next four sentences, the student reports several specific voices in this conversation to illustrate and represent the range and complexity of this position. In the last two sentences the student claims his turn to speak up again; he challenges this opinion, and adds his own different opinion. The student presents his own counterargument— the principle of addiction— to the principle of supply and demand. By the seventh sentence, having acknowledged the other voices, the student has placed himself in a situation to claim something different, and to end on a very strong note of both opposing the reported position the paragraph opened with, and of maintaining an alternative position.
The point about this example is that the student is analyzing information that he encountered during the research process. It is not enough for him to tell the reader the equivalent of, “Here’s a quotation I found. I disagree with it.” Instead, as the effective example above shows, the writer must contextualize, report, refine, interpret, and counterargue. The writer never drops the “ball” as he moves through the paragraph, weaving in his borrowed research information in order to construct his position. Such strategies of analysis and summary are working hand in hand to produce a successful effect on upon the reader.
SO WHAT IS ANALYSIS NOW?
Now that you have read over and studied the five examples of analysis in action, what conclusions do you have about how analysis works in the context of writing successful WR 39 A B C essays? Good use of quotations and success in analysis will usually involve the following:
• Being fair to the original text. This means giving credit where credit is due, quoting accurately and including accurate page references and, above all, reading carefully and thoroughly.
• Demonstrating that you have understood the text’s main points and that you are now trying to explain, for example, how these points fit together, or why the text is written in the first person, or what connections may be found between the text’s argument and the examples it provides. You must do more than summarize or paraphrase.
• Being critical of the text you are reading. Being fair to the text you are reading does not mean automatically accepting as true everything the text says. A good analysis must ask difficult questions and find weaknesses (as well as strengths) in the source text.
• Establishing your ground and taking control of guiding the reader of your essay, not allowing the source text to dictate it. When you as the writer take control, it means you are responsible for the plotting of the essay; that is, you determine the direction, order and conclusions.
• Making an argument— in the sense that reasonable readers would be able to disagree with or refute your presentation. Examples of quotations that simply repeat what a source text says do not achieve this level of complexity.
• Locating examples that when analyzed demand the reader pay close attention to the quoted material and the writer’s own ideas. The reader should not just skip over the quotations, because the writer does not simply repeat in his or her own words what was said earlier.
• Finally, a successful analysis will involve creating an argument presented in arguable terms that is supported with textual evidence. Developing a clear argument will take time, as the above examples demonstrate. The first step may be to look carefully at a pattern of words, or to notice interesting connections, or to supply a context for the text by probing its assumptions. When you write your own essay, these observations and insights about the source text must be placed in logical sequence. Creating an argument is not just a jumble of interesting questions, observations, and quotations; it means placing these things together in a clear, coherent whole.
DOES ANALYSIS MATTER?
If the examples section above taught you some important things about the organization of academic prose, you may now be convinced that analysis matters. As you saw earlier, analysis is not a mystical or mysterious activity as it is sometimes seen. You already know a great deal about analysis and you use it daily in evaluating advertisements, watching TV, or talking with friends. You are picking out details, you are paying careful attention to language, and you are locating clues that may allow you to detect value positions, assumptions, and covert forms of persuasion. These skills you already have will form the basis that you build on in writing successful WR 39 A B C assignments.
If the above examples have been successful, you may have identified some ways of reading and analyzing that you will want to emulate in your own essays. As in the examples, say the one about the “twentysomethings,” you need to break down what was said, looking for bias, hidden assumptions, or hasty generalizations.
As the examples help to make clear, analysis has a vital role in composition classes and in our everyday lives. Everything we do, every judgment and decision we make, involves some kind of analysis. The important question might be whether or not, and to what extent, analysis can be made a conscious activity.
In ordinary life, people usually analyze what they see and hear in a very quick and intuitive way without even being aware of what they are doing. Some kind of analysis is involved in watching a TV show, deciding to vote for Candidate X over Candidate Y, or choosing to major in Psychology rather than Physics. By referring to a set of not-so-well defined “rules of thumb” or knowing “what feels right,” they try to distinguish between truth and lie, reality and illusion, fact and fiction.
In your composition class, however, you have a chance to make all these unconscious and semi-conscious thought processes conscious and explicit. Here you have a chance to put all your rules of thumb and intuitive feelings (“what feels right”) to the test. Here you can enter into a dialogue with other texts that you can all read at the same time. In these dialogues with others who may disagree with your interpretation of a particular text, you can practice reliable methods for analyzing texts and verifying these analyses.
If you are like most students, you will still at this point have some lingering doubts about analysis and its role in the essays you are expected to write. Studying the examples above (more than once!) will help, and asking your teacher the purpose of each writing task will also assist you. Skill at analysis does not usually burst on the scene in a single blinding moment; it often arrives through continual practice in different contexts over many essays that allows you to develop skill and
confidence in doing analytical reading and writing. As you prepare rough drafts of your essays, you may want to refer to the examples above to see how well your own writing measures up to the goals set forth in this chapter.
The patterns of thought and writing discussed in this chapter are extremely important. They will have consequences beyond the composition course. These consequences will be intellectual (as you try to discover the truth), professional (as you enter the work force), social (as you act intelligently with others), and political (as you present logical positions on civic issues). Talking and writing about analysis allow you to become conscious about the way you analyze texts and make sense of the world around you. Ideally, in your composition course you will enter a dialogue about analysis that will continue throughout your undergraduate years and even beyond.
Asmus, Barry. “Private Sector Solutions to Public Sector Problems.” Imprimis 22:10 (Oct. 1993): 2.
Bartholomae, David. “Inventing the University.” When a Writer Can’t Write: Studies in Writer’s Block & Other Composing Problems. Ed. M. Rose. New York: Guilford, 1985.
Cowley, Geoffrey. “Brain Killer or Bystander? New Clues about the Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Newsweek 4 Mar. 1991: 54.
Gross, David M., and Sophfronia Scott. “Proceeding with Caution.” The Conscious Reader. 5th ed. Eds. C. Shrodes, H. Finestone, and M. Shugrue. New York: Macmillan, 1992. 1039-48.
James, William. Principles of Psychology in Basic Writings in the History of Psychology. Ed. R. Watson. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1979.
The Writing Center
6171 Helen C. White Hall
Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Acknowledging Sources
College writing often involves integrating information from published sources into your own writing. This means you need to be careful not to plagiarize: "to steal and pass off (the ideas and words of another) as one's own" and to "present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. "1 The University of Wisconsin takes very seriously this act of "intellectual burglary," and the penalties are severe. Paying attention to the following should help keep you honest.
What Must Be Documented
Quotations 1. If you use an author's specific word or words, you must place those words within quotation marks and you must credit the source
2. If you borrow an author's specific ideas, you must document their source. As Birk and Birk explain, it is plagiarism
when the writer presents, as his [sic] own, the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, the pattern of thought of someone else, even though he expresses it in his own words. The language may be his, but he is presenting as the work of his brain, and taking credit for, the work of another's brain. He is, therefore, guilty of plagiarism if he fails to give credit to the original author of the pattern of ideas.
This aspect of plagiarism presents difficulties because the line is sometimes unclear between borrowed thinking and thinking that is our own. We all absorb information and ideas from other people. In this way we learn. But in the normal process of learning, new ideas are digested; they enter our minds and are associated and integrated with ideas already there; when they come out again, their original pattern is broken; they are re-formed and rearranged. We have made them our own. Plagiarism occurs when a sequence of ideas is transferred from a source to a paper without the process of digestion, integration, and reordering in the writer's mind, and without acknowledgment in the paper.2
3. It is not necessary to document certain factual information considered to
be in the public domain: e.g., birth and death dates of well-known figures,
1. Merriarn Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (Springfield, MA:Merriam-Webster, 1993), 888.
2. Newmann P. Birk and Genevieve B. Birk, A Handbook of Grammar, Rhetoric, Mechanics, and Usage, 5th ed. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1976), 142.
generally accepted dates of military, political, literary and other historical events. In general, factual information contained in multiple standard reference works can usually be considered to be in the public domain. If, however, you use the exact words of the reference source, you must credit the source. If in doubt, be cautious and cite the source.
To Create a Successful Summary or Paraphrase
1. When reading source material, treat each passage as a discrete unit of thought to be assimilated into your own thoughts. Try to understand the passage as a whole, rather than pausing to write down ideas or phrases that seem, on first inspection, significant. Read purposefully, with a larger conceptual framework in clear view, and integrate each reading into that controlling purpose.
2. After reaching a clear understanding of the ideas contained in the source, summarize that information in your own words. Remember that you are taking notes, not copying down quotations. Your task is to extract, distill and compress essential content that will be useful in creating a paraphrase. Occasionally you may find it useful to quote words or phrases directly from the source, but limit yourself to very brief quotations, and be sure to use quotation marks and to record page numbers in your notes.
Sample Paraphrases--Unsuccessful and Successful
Based on paragraph A below, consider two improper ways of handling source material: (B) word-for-word plagiarism and © "The Mosaic." Finally, paragraph D provides a model of a legitimate paraphrase.
A. The Source
"How important is our power of nonanalytical thought to the practice of science? It's the most important thing we have, declares the Princeton physicist historian Thomas Kuhn who argues that major breakthroughs occur only after scientists finally concede that certain physical phenomena cannot be explained by extending the logic of old theories. Consider the belief that the sun and the planets move around the earth, which reigned prior to 1500. This idea served nicely for a number of centuries, but then became too cumbersome to describe the motions of heavenly bodies. So the Polish astronomer Copernicus invented a new reality that was based on a totally different 'paradigm' or model--that the earth and planets move around the sun" (Hoover, 124).
B. Word-for-word plagiarism
Non-analytic thought is considered very important to the practice of science by Princeton physicist historian Thomas Kuhn who claims that major breakthroughs happen only when scientists finally concede that some physical phenomena defy explanation by extending the logic of old theories. One idea which served nicely for many centuries but then became too cumbersome was the belief that the sun and planets revolved around the earth. This was held prior to 1500 until Copernicus invented a new reality: the earth and planets move around the sun.
The underlined words are directly copied from the source. Notice that the writer has not only "borrowed" Hoover's ideas with no acknowledgment, he or she has maintained the author's method of expression and sentence structure. Even if the student-writer had acknowledged Hoover as the source of these ideas. this passage would still be plagiarized because much of its exact wording comes from Hoover with no quotation marks to indicate that the language is Hoover's. It's not that using a single phrase such as 'prior to 1500" without quotation marks constitutes plagiarism,' it's the repeated use of exact wording and sentence structure without any quotation marks. If, for example, you used just that one phrase without quotation marks--a phrase whose language isn't particularly distinctive--and acknowledged the source of the ideas, that would be fine.
If quotation marks were placed around all material directly taken from Hoover, this paragraph would be so cluttered as to be unreadable. If you like the ideas and the wording of the original this much, if it is important to your paper, and if it is stated more concisely in the original than it would be in your paraphrase or summary, then quote the original.
C. The Mosaic
Intuition plays an important role in scientific progress. Thomas Kuhn believes that thought allows scientists to break through the logic of old theories to formulate new paradigms to explain a new reality. Copernicus' invention of one such model (a reversal of the Ptolemaic view which reigned prior to 1500) claimed that the earth and plants rotate around the sun.
Note the underlined phrases which have been borrowed from the original and shifted around. Hoover's structure has been modified to a certain extent by the writer, but numerous key phrases have been retained without quotation marks. and the source has not been credited.
D. A Legitimate Paraphrase
In "Zen: Technology and the Split Brain," Hoover suggests that the power of intuition--that suprarational half of our intelligence--is more important to scientific advancement than the function of the left hemisphere of our brain--the rigidly logical and process-oriented portion. He cites the revolution in thinking created by Copernicus' new paradigm of cosmic movement, a leap in understanding made possible only by the creative invention of "a new reality" after rational consideration of the old reality had exhausted itself (124).
Hoover's ideas and specific language have been documented (by direct references to the author, by citations to his article, and by quotation marks where specific language has been used). Notice too that Hoover's language and structure have been modified to fit this student-writer's own purpose.
Introduce a quotation by signaling that it is coming and perhaps by indicating your purpose in using it. You may name the title of the source and the author in a signal phrase: In her book Contemporary Feminist Thought, Eisenstein warns against a "false universalism that addresses itself to all women." Or you may wish to name only the author: In a discussion of Enlightenment political philosophy, Eisenstein asserts that while "liberal theory contested the divine right of monarchs and aristocrats to political rule .... "women questioned the "divine" right of men to deny suffrage to half the population.3 There are many graceful ways to integrate a quotation into your text, but try to keep in mind that quotations are confusing if they appear to "drop from the sky."
3. Hester Eisenstein, Contemporary Feminist Thought: An Assessment (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983), 43, 53.
Punctuating and Formatting Quotations
Short direct prose quotations should be incorporated into the text of the paper and enclosed in double quotation marks. For example: According to Jonathan Clarke, "Professional diplomats often say that trying to think diplomatically about foreign policy is a waste of time.”4
For a quotation within a quotation, use single quotation marks. For example: The new head of General Motors is cautiously optimistic about the influence the resurgent U.S. auto industry can have on the entire domestic economy, according to a recent Time magazine story. "All told, GM's Smith estimates, the recovering industry is now strong enough to add 1 1/2 %--$20 billion--to the nation's gross domestic product in the last quarter of this year. 'It's been a long time, but you always thought of the U.S. auto industry as the engine of economic recoveries in the 1950s and '60s,' says Smith. ' I think we could be that kind of locomotive again.’”5
Quotations of four or more typewritten lines should be set off from your text in single spacing and indented in their entirety, generally 5 or 10 spaces from the left margin, with no quotation marks at beginning or end. (See the extended quotation on page 1 of this handout.) Rules about how many spaces to indent and about whether to single- or double-space extended quotations vary with different documentation systems; check the guidelines for the particular system you're using.
Quotations of up to three lines of poetry should be integrated into your sentence. For example: In Julies Caesar, Anthony begins his famous speech with "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" (III.ii.75-76). Notice that a slash (/) with a space on either side is used to separate lines.
More than three lines of poetry should be indented. As with any extended (indented) quotation, do not use quotation marks unless you need to indicate a quotation within your quotation.
Use an ellipsis (. . .) only when it is not obvious that you are quoting only a portion of the whole.
Within quotations, use square brackets [ ] (not parentheses) to add your own clarification, comment, or correction. For example, the material enclosed in square brackets in the following sentence was added to clarify the quotation: "He [Hamlet] changes significantly after seeing Fortinbras and his army." Use [sic], which is Latin for "in this manner," to indicate that a mistake or problem of some sort is in the original material you are quoting and is not a mistake you introduced in your transcription.
Place commas and period inside the closing quotation marks, but all other punctuation marks--such as semicolons, colons, exclamation points and question marks--go outside the closing quotation marks except when they are part of the quoted material.
4. "The Conceptual Poverty of U.S. Foreign Policy," Atlantic, September 1993, 55.
5. William McWhirter, "Back on the Fast Track," Time, 13 December 1993, 64.
For Further Information
For further information on summarizing and paraphrasing sources, see any of these books:
Hairston, Maxine, and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 3rd ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
Hodges, John C., and Mary E. Whitten. Harbrace College Handbook. 11th ed. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1990.
Lunsford, Andrea, and Robert Connors. The St. Martin's Handbook. New York: St. Martin's 1989.
Spatt, Brenda. Writing from Sources. 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.
For information about specific documentation systems, consult the guide for the system you're using. If you're not sure which documentation system to use, ask the course instructor who assigned your paper. The following are just a few of the most commonly used guides:
American Medical Association, Manual for Authors and Editors
Council of Biology Editors, CBE Style Manual
The Chicago Manual of Style
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
The Writing Center has handouts explaining how to use many of the standard documentation systems.
Using Quotations in an Argumentative Paper
Siobhain Bly and Jacqueline Stodnick
• Quotations should be used as evidence or support for your own argumentative points. In structuring your paragraphs, remember that it is your opinion which is important to the reader and which justifies the quotation being included at all. Don't allow the quotation to take over the paragraph and shape your own words about the topic.
• Avoid an excessive use of quotations. By including a large number of quotations, you make the reader think that you either do not know your topic well or you do not have your own opinion on it.
• Quotations should not be used purely to communicate factual content. This practice just wastes space in your paper and again suggests that the writer is excessively reliant on authorities and uncertain of his or her own abilities and opinions. Even worse, it suggests that the writer is using the quotations to "cut 'comers" in his or her writing. Factual material can be paraphrased much more efficiently in your own words and this will also allow you to combine and synthesize several different parts of one article or multiple articles at once--in this way, you can make a more effective and complex use of evidence. [Remember, when paraphrasing you still need to provide a reference in order to acknowledge that you are presenting someone else's findings/opinions]
• So when should quotations be used? When they add something to what you are saying through, for example, their phrasing or structure, i.e. those things which would be lost in a paraphrase. You may also want to use a quotation to surprise the reader- for instance, if the author or context of the quotation is not what the reader would expect.
• Quotations must always be attached to one of your own sentences (the only exception to this is when a quotation appears at the opening of an essay-in which case the reader can fairly expect it to be immediately addressed in the introduction and to have some kind of overall relevance for the entire paper). If a quotation is left floating free in your paper, the reader cannot possibly know what the point of including that quotation is, i.e. is it explicated by (does it go with) the sentence preceding or following? Also, the practice of including quotations which are not moored in some way to one of your own sentences encourages the reader to think you are using the author's words as your own-because you are making the quotation as important as one of your own sentences rather than showing, through punctuation, that the quotation is only in the essay because it is connected (and subordinate) to a point you have made.
• How can I attach a quotation to my own sentence? There are two main methods, and if possible both should be used to make your presentation of quotations interesting and varied.
You can integrate quotations within the syntax of your own sentence, for example,
Isabel Archer believes that a young girl should begin "by getting a general impression of life," and England proves to be a diverting pantomime to her.
In this case, you should make sure that the quotation makes grammatical sense within the context in which you have placed it--the quotation should read just as if it were pan of your own sentence. If you have to add any words to the quotation include them within [ ] so that the reader knows that they are not original to the author. If you have to delete any words, show this by...
You could also attach a quotation by using a colon, for example,
In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Antony says of Brutus: "This was the noblest Roman of them all" (5.5.74).