Give credit where credit is due, right? Wrong! In a few specific instances, you should actually avoid using quotation marks. The fear of plagiarizing can lead some to quote excessively and unnecessarily. What often happens when a writer is overly concerned about plagiarism is they take a "better safe than sorry" approach. As a general rule of thumb, this is a great strategy to keep yourself out of trouble.
That being said, a collage of quotes isn't going to win you any writing awards or get you an A in class. So how, you might ask, are you supposed to create a strong piece of writing while not encroaching upon any literary laws? It's a fine line, to be honest. However, there are a few basic tricks to help you decide to quote or not to quote. Read up on the occasions where omitting those pesky talking marks is the way to go.
There are some common knowledge facts that everyone just knows. Bananas are a fruit. There are seven continents on Earth. A college degree is needed for many professions nowadays. These facts would be considered common knowledge, or information just about everyone knows without needing to research it.
This sort of information would not require quotation marks. It can be assumed that people already know the information and would not question the writer's judgement regarding these topics. Let's say you're writing about the implications of pollution on the water cycle, which therefore impacts the planet. The stages of the water cycle should be known to the average person. The concept of what pollution is should be a basic fact as well. That's not to say you wouldn't discuss it in your paper, but you wouldn't need to quote it or credit a specific source for that information.
Now let's say you're commenting on how pollution in the water gets cycled around, simply coming back down as new rain and polluting a new area. Some might consider that common knowledge, but everyone certainly would not. If published, that essay would receive a lot of comments and arguments. For that reason, this would be something that requires a source cited and a quote.
This might seem silly, but for those people that overanalyze and want to do everything the right way, the concept of when to use quotes can be very overwhelming. If you think about it, just about everything you have learned in your life you learned from someone else. Your teacher, your parents, a friend... But you're obviously not going to thank your fourth grade teacher for your knowledge of the water cycle while writing a college essay or a scientific paper.
The problem is, your brain constantly receives new information, that it then classifies, sorts, and integrates into the rest of your knowledge. If you have developed an idea or area of expertise over time, then you cannot easily quote just one source for it. If you sat through an economics class and had three required books to read, the information from all three books eventually melds together in your brain.
So how do you distinguish something you have come to know versus something that requires a quote? There isn't one simple answer, but there are a few tricks.
First, think, "Can I recall one exact person or source that taught me this information?"
Chances are, if you can remember that, then it hasn't evolved into your own thoughts for that subject. Quote it.
Next, think, "Is this topic the main focus of my essay or paper?"
Even if something has become internalized, the rules are a bit different when you're referring to your thesis or main point. Writing about evolution and survival of the fittest? You had better mention Darwin.
However, if you remember learning about it "sometime freshman year in a sociology class" or "from various conferences over the years," then skip the quote. Though one caveat here: remember the rules are different if it's your thesis topic or main essay point. If you're trying to prove or analyze something, then along with any original ideas you will need references to the experts that came before you.
Pay close attention: not having to quote something does not mean you get to avoid citing it. A quote is when you use the exact wording that the original person did. Citing something means you got the idea from them, but you have put it into your own words. If you know you are taking information from a certain source, but you specifically try to make it your own, then you do not need to use quotes, just a citation.
This usually occurs over the duration of a course, where you have been reading parts of a certain text. You have received all your information from that text, but you have also studied it and internalized it, so that you feel you could talk about it on your own, without needing to quote the book exactly. Therefore, no need for quotes. But you most definitely need to cite this information!
I agree to the changes.
By using the website you acknowledge you are fine with it. Please read our Legal agreements for more information.