Academic writing

Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising

Any writing you do at university will require reference to recognised experts or authorities in that particular subject area (discipline), to give the thoughts, ideas and information in your assignment credibility. There are three ways of including the ideas of an expert in your text: quoting, paraphrasing, summarising. No matter what you choose to do, you must acknowledge the source of these ideas.

Learn how to transform a journal reference to an APA 6th referencing style.

Activity 1: APA 6th - from journal to referencing

Activity 2: APA 6th - order of elements

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References are given in your text by including the surname of the author and the date that the idea was first published. If it is a direct quote, you should also include the page number.

Look at the examples below

  1. In examining Gandhi's search for Absolute Truth and post-modern perspectives, Salla (1996, p.43) concludes that there can be no non-violent future, only a non-violent present.
  2. Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence was essentially a philosophy of action, a means of resolving conflict and creating a just society free of violence. "By non-violence Gandhi means … the technique of conducting social relations characterised by constructive peaceful attitudes …" (Bondurant 1988, p.193). For Gandhi, this meant living a life of 'truth'.
  3. "The distinctions [between individual and collective violence] are helpful in so far as they make violence against women visible and connect different forms of violence to structures of domination" (Tolhurst 1997, p.10).
  4. Gandhi believed that tapasya (self suffering) had its greatest value when one is in a position to do harm, but refuses to do so … While suffering love was an important function of Satyagraha, it had its limits. However, Abhaya (fearlessness), as Sharma (1987) contends, was critical to Gandhi's philosophy.
  5. “When killing is viewed not only as permissible but heroic behaviour sanctioned by one's government or cause, the distinction between taking a human life and other forms of impermissible violence get lost” (Cambridge Women's Peace Collective 1984, p.227).
  6. "Gandhi thought that exact truthfulness follows real fearlessness and that when man abandons truth in any way, he does so owing to fear in some shape or form" (Iyer 1973, p.180 cited in Sharma 1987, p.47).
  7. If writing, even occasionally, causes you grief and misery, you are in very respectable company. Publius Vergilius Maro, otherwise known as Virgil, started  his epic poem, the Aeneid, in 29 B.C. and continued writing it until 19 B.C. That is an average of a line a day for eleven years, and even then it was not finished (Klauser 1987, p.7).

You will have noticed that there are two ways of writing the reference in-text. Either you can write it at the end of the quote, paraphrase or summary or you can write the author’s surname as part of the sentence.

  • Short quotes, quotes of less than three lines, should be written into the paragraph and shown by quotation marks: “ .............”.

Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence was essentially a philosophy of action, a means of resolving conflict and creating a just society free of violence. "By non-violence Gandhi means … the technique of conducting social relations characterised by constructive peaceful attitudes …" (Bondurant 1988, p.193). For Gandhi, this meant living a life of 'truth'.

  • Long quotes, quotes of more than three lines or 40 words, should be indented and separated from the paragraph. No quotation marks are needed.

If writing, even occasionally, causes you grief and misery, you are in very respectable company. Publius Vergilius Maro, otherwise known as Virgil, started  his epic poem, the Aeneid, in 29 B.C. and continued writing it until 19 B.C. That is an average of a line a day for eleven years, and even then it was not finished. (Klauser 1987, p.7).

  • [ ] Square brackets in a quote show that the writer has added words to the original quote. This may be necessary to clarify what is being said.

"The distinctions [between individual and collective violence] are helpful in so far as they make violence against women visible and connect different forms of violence to structures of domination" (Tolhurst 1997, p.10).

  • An ellipsis … mark shows that part of the quote has been omitted. This is useful if you don't want to include all of a statement.

Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence was essentially a philosophy of action, a means of resolving conflict and creating a just society free of violence. "By non-violence Gandhi means the technique of conducting social relations characterised by constructive peaceful attitudes …" (Bondurant 1988, p.193). For Gandhi, this meant living a life of 'truth'.

Gandhi believed that tapasya (self suffering) had its greatest value when one is in a position to do harm, but refuses to do so While suffering love was an important function of Satyagraha, it had its limits. However, Abhaya (fearlessness), as Sharma (1987) contends, was critical to Gandhi's philosophy.

  • if the quote you are copying comes from a source other than the author of the book you are reading, you should cite the original source then the author you are reading.

"Gandhi thought that exact truthfulness follows real fearlessness and that when man abandons truth in any way, he does so owing to fear in some shape or form" (Iyer 1973,p.180 cited in Sharma 1987, p.47).

Paraphrasing means using your own words to report someone else's material or ideas. You will need to paraphrase when you want to change the style or the language used in the original either to make it easier to understand or to make it fit better into your own piece of writing. Unlike a summary, a paraphrase is usually about the same length as the original, but both the words and the sentence structure must be changed in a paraphrase. An idea that has been paraphrased must also acknowledge the source of that idea.

The most effective way to paraphrase is to use the following method:

  1. Read the sentence or sentences several times carefully to make sure you understand the meaning.
  2. Highlight the key words and phrases.
  3. Cover up the original and try writing down the substance of the sentence/s from memory in your own words.
  4. Now check the original. Make sure you did not leave out anything important or added something that isn't there.
  5. Check your wording. Make sure you have not used the same words as the original. If you have, change them.
  6. If the original contains a phrase that you find particularly striking and you do not want to change this expression, put quotation marks around it and only paraphrase the rest. Do not overuse quotes though as you will lose the flow of your writing.

Original

(Original taken from Wajnryb, R 1990, Grammar Dictation, Oxford University Press, Oxford)

Teen suicide is an increasing source of concern in today's society. Health professionals attribute it to a reaction to unresolved conflict within the family and to stress, both, real or perceived. Over the last twenty years the incidence of suicide among teenage boys has doubled, while that for girls has fallen. This trend is explained in two ways, one quite immediate and objective, the other more interpretive. Firstly, there is the fact that boys usually choose more violent ways of killing themselves. Secondly, among broken families, where the children usually stay with the mother rather than the father, the loss of a father makes a greater impact on a boy that a girl, leading to a greater probability of psychological injury.

Paraphrase

Wajnryb (1990) argues that an increasing incidence in suicide amongst young males is a worrying trend in our society. Generally, it is acknowledged that suicide is a result of stress or conflict. However, the significant increase in suicide amongst boys in the past twenty years needs to be further explained. Wajnryb suggests that there are two main reasons for this. The first is to do with the fact that boys generally chose a violent means of killing themselves. The second is to do with family breakdown. That is, it is believed that family breakdown, which often results in the loss of a father in the family home, affects boys in far more significant ways and is more likely to lead to psychological harm.

A summary, as compared to a paraphrase, is always much shorter that the original text. When you write a summary, you limit yourself to giving your readers only the main idea/argument of an article or chapter of a book. To write a good summary, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Read the original carefully ensuring that you understand the extract.
  2. Mention the author (and date) at the beginning of the summary and add again if you need to remind the reader that you are summarising another person’s ideas.
  3. State the author's main idea without distorting those ideas or adding your own.
  4. State the author's most important supporting evidence or sub-points without distorting them. Do not include details.
  5. Use your own wording. If there is a phrase in the original text that is especially striking, interesting, or controversial, or really cannot be changed without distorting its meaning, use the author's exact words. Make sure however that you put quotation marks around them if you do.
  6. Don't include your own ideas or comments (editorial remarks). The summary should include only the author's ideas.

Read through the example below:

Original Text
 “Migrants don't cost jobs”
by Peter Boyle (The Bulletin December,1998)

If recent polls are to be believed, a majority of Australians are in favour of stopping immigration at least in the short term. According to a November 2-3 AGB-McNair Poll, 62% are in favour of a "short term freeze", and a Bulletin Morgan Poll of October 22-23 found 66% in favour of "stopping immigration in the short term". While neither poll sought out the reasons for this anti-immigration sentiment, studies of earlier polls suggest that the main reason is a fear that immigration might be causing, or at least exacerbating, unemployment.

Widespread as this belief may be, it is totally false. Immigration is not causing the current levels of unemployment, nor making it worse. Indeed, economic studies indicate that cutting immigration now may actually worsen unemployment.  

However, it is a fact that unemployment has grown dramatically in Australia (and all other industrialised countries) since the 1970s. With each recession since then unemployment has shot up to new highs. During the last recession (1990-1992) it passed the 10% mark. Even more disturbingly, with the "recoveries" following each recession, the unemployment rate refused to fall back by as much as it had previously risen. Thus today, well into the current "recovery", the unemployment rate is still 8.8%. And as the unemployment rate has ratcheted up so has the anti-immigration sentiment.

In the 1960s, polls showed that less than 20% of Australians believed that immigration was too high. In the 1970s, when unemployment began to rise, the polls showed that figure rise to 40-45%. In the 1980s, it was up to 50-60% and this has obviously increased recently. Yet over the same period, immigration (as a percentage of the population) was declining from a high in the late 1940s.

In addition, several detailed econometric studies by the (now dissolved) federal Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research and individual academics have established that immigration has a positive impact on the economy.

These studies explained that immigrants contributed to both demand and supply in the economy. They contribute to demand because they need housing, clothing, food and other goods and services to establish themselves in a new country. The studies estimate that, on average, an immigrant family creates, through adding to demand, four new jobs over the first four years of their life here.

On the supply side immigrants contribute their labour and any savings and assets they bring with them. Obviously, richer immigrants have more assets, but even this is dwarfed by immigrants' contribution through their labour. In this sense they "take" jobs, but the report says that, on balance, they create more jobs than they take. Thus, cutting immigration today would actually increase the unemployment rate slightly.

However, anti-immigration lobbies point to the higher unemployment rates suffered by recent immigrants especially those from non-English speaking backgrounds and refugees from wars or countries in severe economic crisis, as "proof" that cutting immigration can reduce unemployment.

Superficially, this argument appears to make sense, but it doesn't. Unemployed immigrants add to demand and create jobs (for others), even if they come with few assets and require social security support – which they may be denied under new discriminatory laws which ban most immigrants from receiving social security payments for their first two years in Australia. The studies found that on the whole, the initial cost to government from immigration (for social security, health and other services) is more than repaid in taxes collected from immigrants. Indeed, Australian governments "save" by escaping the cost of bringing up and educating immigrants who arrive as adults.

Coalition government cuts to the social security entitlements of recent immigrants and to special migrant education programs only worsen the plight of some of the main victims of unemployment. The cuts prolong their unemployment while giving credibility to the myth that immigration causes unemployment. The previous Labor government also encouraged anti-immigration sentiments by cutting immigration quotas, attacking the rights of refugees and reducing the rights of recent migrants.

So if immigration is not the cause of growing unemployment, it must be asked, what is?

Summary

Boyle (1998) argues that here is no evidence to support the belief that immigration is the cause of an increasing unemployment rate. In fact, quite the contrary to this, migrants contribute in positive ways to the economy through supply and demand. This claim is supported by studies done by the Federal Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population research. While anti-immigration lobby groups cite evidence of high unemployment rates amongst particular groups of migrants as proof that immigration is causing unemployment, Boyle claims that this is misleading. He says such evidence ignores the fact that studies have shown that migrants generally more than repay any initial government assistance through payment of taxes and that even the unemployed create demand. Moreover, government cuts in assistance to migrants only exacerbate this situation possibly increasing the length of periods of unemployment and adding to the myth that migrants cause unemployment.

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