A few weeks ago, in the blog “Research: Wading Through Sources” (found here: https://wordpress.com/view/wkuwritingcenter.wordpress.com), I talked about how to choose sources for your paper and to think of your writing as “joining in a conversation” with scholars. Now, I’d like to share some tips for actually integrating those sources. There are a lot of things to cover on this topic, so I’m going to share what you will most likely be using and the areas where I see the most issues in student papers.
For examples, I will be using material from my paper, “The Despair Unto Death in The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy: A Kierkegaardian Reading.”
How Much to Quote/Paraphrase
Often students fill their papers with too many quotes, especially long ones. This can quickly come across as lazy and a way for the student to reach a certain page count.
According to the University of Iowa’s writing center, “ninety-nine percent of your paper should be in your own words. Quotes help your argument, but cannot substitute for your own original work.” You’ll probably find other percentages. For instance, WriteCheck.com suggests %20 can be quoted/paraphrased material. The main idea is that the majority of your work should be in your own words and ideas.
Another problem I’ve seen is students tossing in a quote here and there with no introduction or commentary.
“In Confession, Tolstoy ‘speaks of spiritual discomfort having grown in him like a disease, at first revealed by transient symptoms but gradually mastering the whole organism,’ and ‘the process is realized in his finest tale of the decade, The Death of Ivan Ilych (1886)’ (Gifford 45). Here, Tolstoy describes his despair as like a disease. This simile is made into metaphor in Ivan Ilych, in which the protagonist suffers an actual illness that represents his internal despair. In this example, I introduce the source (an unpublished fictional work by Tolstoy), and then, after I quote the source, I apply the quote to my argument. It is not usually safe to assume that the reader will know immediately how your quote applies. Even if they do, it is your job to not only provide evidence but to also interpret that evidence.”
You won’t always need a direct quote. In fact, most of the time you will be paraphrasing.
“While Kierkegaard was not well-received in Russia during his own time because of his anti-Hegelian philosophy (Makolkin 2), Hilary Fink writes in an essay comparing Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata and Kierkegaard’s Either/Or that the Russian author did, in fact, read and admire Kierkegaard (1).”
When paraphrasing, make sure you cite the page numbers where the information came from.
Sometimes you’ll find a lengthy quote that you want to use but find is too long or includes too many irrelevant details. This is where you can use an ellipsis (…) to join pieces of a quote. The ellipsis serves as a bridge between the two (or three or four) sections.
“In a letter to his wife in 1869, Tolstoy writes: ‘…suddenly I was overcome by despair, fear and terror, the like of which I have never experienced before…I’ve never experienced such an agonizing feeling before and may God preserve anyone else from experiencing it’ (Wilson 250).”
When you quotation is longer than a few lines, it should be blocked. Some specific guidelines exist for blocked quotes that are important to remember.
- Quotes must be indented one-half inch
- Quotation marks are not used around the quote
- The parenthetical citation comes AFTER the period
- Quotes are usually introduced with a colon, but sometimes with a comma
- Double spacing is maintained
Example: (Because of the format of this blog, this example is in single space with extra spaces before and after the block quote. In an actual paper, the whole thing will be double spaced.)
“In Kierkegaard, despair is the ‘sickness unto death.’ He writes:
The torment of despair is precisely the inability to die…Thus to be sick unto death is to be unable to die, yet not as though there were hope of life. No, the hopelessness is that even the last hope, death, is gone…It is in this latter sense, then, that despair is the sickness unto death, this tormenting contradiction, this sickness in the self; eternally to die, to die and yet not to die, to die death itself. (48)
“To despair unto to death, then, is to be ill in spirit and to desire to cease existing.”
An integrated quote is simply a quote that flows from a sentence in your own words, and I have already used this example many times in this blog. To integrate a quote, it is important to make sure that they are consistent with the grammatical progression of your sentence. This some times takes altering the quote, which I explain next.
“Ivan was ‘an intelligent, polished, lively and agreeable man’ (256), who married because it ‘gave him personal satisfaction, and at the same time it was considered the right thing by the most highly placed of his associates’ (259).”
To alter a quote, you can use ellipses as mentioned before, but you can also change words by putting them in brackets. This is especially useful if the quote you are using is not in the same tense as your sentence or if you want to specify something that is not clear in the sentence.
“At this time, ‘Tolstoy [became] something more than a writer: he [became] a religious leader, sage, a modern prophet’ (165).
“Because of these differences, Kierkegaard ‘searches for the absolute in the eternal world which is really the absolute world, a world without the limitations of place and time, a world without beginning and end, while [Tolstoy] searches for the absolute in this temporal world which is a relative and finite world’ (502).”
Quotes Within Quotes
Finally, note that, in the last example, I used singular quotations (‘…’) when quoting within my own quotation. This is the standard for quotes within quotes. If the author you are quoting mentions a title of a short work, for instance, you would put it in singular quotations.
Fink, Hilary. “Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer’s Sonata and the Kierkegaardian “Either/Or.”
Canadian-American Slavic Studies 36:1-2 (2002): 7-18. Brill Online Books and Journals.
Web. 18 March 2016.
Gifford, Henry. Tolstoy. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1982. Print.
Kierkegaard, Soren. The Sickness Unto Death. Trans. Alastair Hannay. Great Britain:
Penguin Classics, 1989. Print.
Makolkin, Anna. “Russian, Stalinist and Soviet Re-Readings of Kierkegaard: Lev Shestov
and Piama Gaidenko.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 44.1 (2002): 79-96. ProQuest. Web. 19
“Paraphrases and Quotes.” University of Iowa, https://clas.uiowa.edu/history/teaching-
and- writing-center/ guides/paraphrases-and-quotes. Accessed 11 October 2017.
Tolstoy, Leo. “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” Tolstoy, Leo. Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy.
New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1967. 245-303. Print.
Wilson, A. N. Tolstoy: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1988. Print.
“Writing Tip #20: How much of my paper can be quotes?” WriteCheck, 16 January 2013,