Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015
9.2 Incorporating quotation
9 Academic and scientific conventions
The use of direct quotation is relatively rare in the sciences in comparison with other academic disciplines. However, it can be useful, particularly when defining terms. If used, it should be carefully incorporated into the grammar of the sentence, e.g.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be defined as ’diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine’.1
McDougal has also observed that the prevailing approach surrounding questions of reproductive decision-making is “based on the notion of the primacy of parental procreative liberty” (2005, 601).
Notice that the punctuation comes outside the quote as it is not a complete sentence, and that the page number is included in the reference (preceded by a colon or comma).
Sometimes, you may not need to use a long string of quotation, just key phrases, e.g.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be defined as ’diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention’ complementing orthodox medicine. It contributes to ’a common whole’ by fulfilling a need not met by traditional medicine or by ’diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine’.1
If the quotation is a full sentence, it should be introduced with a colon, e.g.
McDougal makes the following observation: “The current approach surrounding questions of reproductive decision-making is based on the notion of the primacy of parental procreative liberty.” (2005, 601)
Notice that the punctuation comes within the quote as it is a complete sentence.
A longer ’block quotation’ should also be introduced with a colon and indented, and should have no quotation marks. It may also have a different format to the rest of the text: the font size may be smaller and the line spacing reduced, as stipulated in the guidelines of the institution or publisher. The reference follows the quote (after the final full stop), e.g.
Other potential risks of harm raised in the debate relate to the psychological impact on the child in knowing that he or she was selected on the basis of his or her particular characteristics (in this case, on the basis of tissue type) (see Ram 2006, 280). Stephen Wilkinson summarizes these as follows:
There seem to be two linked but analytically separate concerns here: first, that a future child may suffer psychological harm if she finds out that she was not wanted for herself, but as a means to save the life of a sibling; and, second, that a child conceived for this reason is likely to enjoy a less close and loving relationship with its parents. (2010, 113)
Note from the examples given that both single and double quotation marks occur in scientific journals. Follow the guidelines given by your department. If there are no guidelines on this, just make sure you are consistent.
Sometimes, not everything in a quote will be relevant or necessary. You can indicate that you have left something out with ellipses, in square brackets (to make it clear that it is you, and not the quoted writer who is omitting something), e.g.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be defined as ’diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine […] satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine’.1
You can also use square brackets to indicate any changes or additions you have made to the quote to make it fit in with your grammar or sense, e.g.
if the actual quote is:
It is diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine.
you may need to change it to:
[Complementary and alternative medicine] is diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine.
If something is followed by [sic], it means that there is something in the original which is factually or grammatically incorrect.
Incorporate the quotations, in full or using some parts, into your own sentences, and reference appropriately.
1) ’Polymers are substances that have macromolecules composed of many repeating units (known as “mers”).’ (Oxford Dictionary of Science, 2005: 648)
The Oxford Dictionary of Science defines ______________________
2) ’The basic structure of an atom consists of a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons.’ (Atkins, 2013: 17)
The structure of an atom ________________________
3) ’From Pythagoras to string theory, the desire to comprehend nature has been framed by the Platonic ideal that the world is a reflection of some perfect mathematical form.’ (Smolin, 1997, in Dawkins, 2009: 363)
According to Smolin, ____________________________
4) ’The period from 1950 to 1960 was truly the golden age of antibiotic discovery, as one half of the drugs commonly used today were discovered in this period.’ (Davies, 2006: 287)
Davies describes the period from 1950 to 1960 ______________________