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Using quotations effectively

The way you incorporate quotations from primary and secondary material into your work can really affect what you are trying to argue. Try to avoid using long quotations, unless strictly necessary, and always justify the use of any quotation. You can do this making sure you demonstrate how it fits into the context of your argument. Quotation can either support a point you are making or it could function as the basis of a disagreement: 'Although X says...', 'it is clear from the evidence in TEXT Y, that...'.

REMEMBER: you need to make clear why each quotation is necessary and what you are doing with it. Never abandon a quotation: you must always address what you quote.

If quoting from primary material (examples could data, field research, etc), make it clear how you are interpreting the quoted text, and what it is demonstrating (and perhaps also, how it relates to other quoted text). If quoting from secondary material (examples could include material used to comment on primary material such as theory, critical material, texts books, journals), make clear what your stance is in relation to the material quoted (for example, do you agree with it? Are they expressing a particularly controversial opinion? Are you using the quotation as an example of an idea which comes from a particular critical field?). Do not use quotations from secondary texts merely to say what you would have explained in your own words. Secondary texts only convey opinions, not original evidence, so always treat them critically.

Useful phrases to introduce references:

  • as X points out,...
  • According to X,...
  • To quote from X, '...'
  • Burrows states/suggests that...
  • Hargreaves tells/shows us that...
  • Referring to ..., Marx argues that
  • As Chomsky stated/wrote/argued/discussed/expressed the concern, ...
  • In The Republic, Plato's primary argument is...
  • Whilst acknowledging ... Freud makes the significant claim that ...
  • Writing in 1926, Woolf argued that ...

Useful phrases to follow quotations

  • However, Bates suggests that
  • Yet this does not go far enough
  • This seems untenable because
  • This theory best fits the known facts, since..