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Quotations in context

A guide to identifying, introducing, interpreting, and interacting with quotes in research

Identifying

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When writing a paper, we may need to use information from sources such as books or articles. However, before we can do that we need to identify what information to use. Think of it as identifying a quote.

Imagine we are writing a paper about medical care for smokers. In this case, our main claim may be:

Many patients addicted to smoking are failed by the current medical system because they are told to quit but not given the help to do so.

To begin, we found this information to use in our paper:

“Patients were highly interested in quitting and most were daily but light smokers1. Nearly all (98.1%) lived with another smoker in the home2. Although 87% had been advised to quit by a health professional in the past year, only half (56%) had been given any assistance to quit3" (Campos, 2014).

For help with citations, visit rampages.us/vcuwrites/citation-guide

Step 1: We need to find the important part of the quote. Of the three sentences above:

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Hot tip: Quote as little as possible from the source, giving only the necessary information.

Introducing

Step 2: Before we can use a quote in our essay, we must introduce it.

Why do we need to introduce a quote?

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Hot tip: A quote can never be its own sentence!

When writing a paper, it is important to both give context (background information) for the quote and to tell the reader who is speaking. Often the author of the quote is an expert or has expert knowledge.

Some common ways to introduce quotes include:

Using our quote from before, let’s work on adding an introduction. We could say:

Interrpreting and interacting

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Hot tip: Think of interacting with a quote as a conversation!

We can interact with quotes by:

Step 3: Interpreting the quote is when you explain what the quote means. We will need to tell the reader what is important about the quote.
The data from this study shows that a large percentage of smokers need more than just verbal encouragement to quit, which is shown in the almost half who were not given assistance to quit.

Step 4: Connect the quote to the main claim.

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Hot tip: Ask yourself, “How does this quote relate to my research problem?”

We never want the quote to speak for us, so we will need to explain not only what the quote means, but also why it is important to the main claim of our essay. This is called interacting with a quote.

Let's review how we used the quote in context

1. We identified which information to use:
“Although 87% had been advised to quit by a health professional in the past year, only half (56%) had been given any assistance to quit" (Campos, 2014).

2. We introduced it:
In the article Cigarette Smoking Among Patients with Chronic Diseases, Campos et al. found that “Although 87% had been advised to quit by a health professional in the past year, only half (56%) had been given any assistance to quit” (2014).

3. We interpreted it:
The data from this article shows that a large percentage of smokers need more than just verbal encouragement to quit, which is shown in the almost half who were not given assistance to quit.

4. We interacted with it:
Thus, the current medical system is failing in its duty to provide proper medical care due to the high number of patients who were only given warnings and did not receive treatment.

5. We combined every step together.

The final result

In the article Cigarette Smoking Among Patients with Chronic Diseases, Campos et al. found that “although 87% had been advised to quit by a health professional in the past year, only half (56%) had been given any assistance to quit” (2014). The data from this article shows that a large percentage of smokers need more than just verbal encouragement to quit, which is shown in the almost half who were not given assistance to quit. Thus, the current medical system is failing in its duty to provide proper medical care due to the high number of patients who were only given warnings and did not receive treatment.

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