Using Direct Quotes in your Dissertation

APA Editing

Direct quotes can be a wonderful and useful tool to utilize in your dissertation, as they can provide definitions for terms, support your statements or assertions, or identify facts or beliefs held regarding your topic. Because direct quotes are so important, it is necessary to understand how and when to use them. As such, here we will outline several guidelines for using direct quotes in your dissertation.

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Primarily, it is important to know how to cite a direct quote. Somewhere in the sentence, either preceding or following the quote, you must cite the authors who originally made the statement you are quoting. Then, after the quote is used, you must cite the page number where the statement appears within the source you cited, per APA guidelines. If there is no pagination for the work you are citing, be sure to cite the paragraph number the quote is from instead. This would look like: Author and Author (year) stated, “Direct quote” (p. ); or  “Direct quote” (Author & Author, year, p. ). However, if the quote you are using is longer than 40 words, you would forego the quotations marks, and instead indent the entire quoted statement, which is called a block quote. If you are using a block quote, the citation or the page number would be placed in parentheses after the last punctuation mark of the quote, rather than before it as with non-block quotes.

Additionally, while direct quotes can be very useful, you should only use them when necessary, and paraphrase everywhere else. Typically, direct quotes should comprise no more than 20-25% of your total document. This will ensure that your document will be able to stand alone from prior research and maintain its own strength and merit.