Dropped Quotes

A dropped quotation is a quotation that a writer has just dropped into his or her text without integrating it into a sentence. In a research paper, that’s a big mistake. Instead, you should integrate the quotation into your own sentence. When you are writing a paper, be sure to integrate your quotations and avoid just plugging in quotes without incorporating them into your work. Although they may seem innocuous to you, dropped quotes are quite grating on people accustomed to reading properly composed academic papers. It can be easy, and we will talk about some ways to easily incorporate quotes into an essay, and avoid any dropped quotes.
A dropped quotation can disrupt the flow of thought, create an abrupt change in voice, and/or leave the reader wondering why the quote is included. Instead of creating an unwelcome disruption in their paper’s cohesiveness with a dropped quotation, thoughtful writers should employ strategies for smoothly integrating source material into their own work.

Use a signal phrase at the beginning or end of the quotation:

• Sample signal phrases:
o Noted journalist John Doe proposed that “ . . . ” (14).
o Experts from The Centers for Disease Control advise citizens to “ . . . ” (CDC).
o “. . . ,” suggested researcher Jane Doe (1).

Use an informative sentence to introduce the quotation:

• Sample introductory sentences:
o The results of dietician Sally Smith’s research counter the popular misconception that a vegan diet is nutritionally incomplete:
o An experiment conducted by Dave Brown indicates that texting while driving is more dangerous than previously believed:

Use appropriate signal verbs:
adds      confirms      lists      reports
argues      describes      illustrates      states
asserts      discusses     notes      suggests
claims      emphasizes      observes      writes

Information from: http://writingcommons.org/evidence/quotations/563-avoid-dropped-quotations-

A great YouTube video to help explain: (follow the link)
http://youtu.be/bNftswcFUCs

“You” Isn’t as Effective as You Might Think

The use of second person plagues college campuses everywhere; “you” is an epidemic that needs to be obliterated. When the word “you” is used in academia it denotes weak writing. “You” limits what the writer is able to convey to their potential reader; thus, it limits the information that the reader is able to absorb. A strong writer knows how to avoid the use of second person. Avoiding the use of second person requires the writer to implement their critical thinking skills; hopefully, this is what one is trying to accomplish in an academic setting, even if s/he wants to just write a work email. When I speak to you in this message, I am purposefully using generic language, to avoid offending you. Speaking to you like this is very easy for me, because I am thinking about a physical person while I speak. You are hearing my voice mentally, because I am using active, progressive words when speaking.
But, there’s a difference, ya see. Occasionally, stories are told throughout families, and they are very exciting and are presented to others with a lot of enthusiasm. To make the listener of the story closer to the speaker, the person telling the story may switch to telling things like, “You wouldn’t believe it!” This seems harmless, but in reality, we are assuming that the person reading has never experienced what is being said. There are a lot of people in the world, all of whom have a lot of experiences. They will be immediately distanced from the writing, as soon as they could believe it. This seems extreme, but many writers often fall into a narrative similar to “But when you went up there, ya couldn’t see anybody!” At what point will your reader shake their heads and step back – “You” isn’t as Effective as You Might Think.

Be, Be, Be Active!

Compare the following passages:

My brother’s ex-girlfriend made my brother cry. As a result, the entire gallon of ice cream was eaten by my brother. Lots of loud break up songs were sung by my brother. The dog was snuggled by my brother because he was so sad. My brother was also bitten by the dog afterwards.

Now, look at this one:

My brother cried because of his ex-girlfriend. He also ate an entire gallon of ice cream, and sang a lot of break up songs. Mostly, he just snuggled the dog because of his sadness. The dog then bit him.

Essentially, both paragraphs say the same thing, yet one is definitely better than the other. What makes the second paragraph so much stronger is this little thing called active voice.

When using active voice, a subject does something—they are an active participant in the story. My brother cried. The girlfriend broke up with him. The dog bit him.

Due to the nature of the English language, the subject of the sentence becomes responsible for the actions of the sentence. The students win an award. The kids pulled the prank.

Essentially, you want to avoid using passive voice when writing academically because it takes responsibility away from the subject. “The research was conducted in S.T.A.R. Labs” makes it sound as though the research just happened to occur in S.T.A.R. Labs, but “S.T.A.R. Labs conducted the research” puts responsibility on the on the subject (and, incidentally, is how we end up with the Flash). “Gotham is guarded by the Batman” implies that Gotham is the subject of the sentence, but really, we’re more worried about Batman—he’s the one who’s doing the guarding.

Likewise, a lot of students use passive voice to avoid writing about what they don’t know. “The internet was invented by politicians” is vague—we don’t know who these politicians are that have invented the internet, when we know that we want to be as specific as possible when doing research. Alternatively, “The politician Al Gore invented the internet” is specific, and it also uses active voice.

So, how do we avoid writing in passive voice? One easy way to do that is to avoid using be verbs, or helping/linking verbs. Using words like be, been, being, is, am, are, were, and was are all examples of helping verbs that tend to make things passive, and often times aren’t necessary. “She was washing the dishes last night” is the same sentence as “She washed the dishes last night” – one is just a more active sentence.

In general, it’s better to write with an active voice, but there are times when passive voice is appropriate. Some science journals prefer passive voice because it allows for an objective response to data. Some news articles also use passive voice to put emphasis on the object of the sentence—“The victim was stabbed in the parking lot” is passive, for example, but it also puts emphasis on what happened to the victim. But in general, avoid using passive voice if you want a stronger, better written paper.