Quick Tips Part 8: When to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize in Your Papers

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are all crucial to writing a persuasive, well-reasoned paper. But do you know when and how to use each one? The chart below can help with that.

Citation Technique Key Points When to Use It
  • Use exact language of original source
  • Put quotation marks around original language
  • Use proper attribution
  • Avoid using quotes too often
  • Indent quotes of several lines (block quotes)
  • The language of the original text is important
  • The quote lends authority to the argument you are making
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing the text would make it lose some of its meaning or power
  • There is no other way to say something
  • Restate the original text in your own words
  • Restated text should have approximately same level of detail as original
  • Wording, sentence structure, and order of ideas should be significantly different from original
  • Faithful to the original meaning of the text
  • Use proper attribution
  • While quotes can be distracting, paraphrasing preserves continuity of style in your paper
  • You want to simplify or clarify vocabulary, sentence structure, or arguments of original text
  • You want to put technical language into language more appropriate for your audience
  • You want to show you’ve understood the text by stating it in your own words
  • Restate the original text in your own words
  • Should be much more condensed than the original
  • States only the main ideas
  • Wording, sentence structure, and order of ideas should be significantly different from original
  • Faithful to the original meaning of the text
  • Use proper attribution
  • The text you are summarizing supports your argument or provides background information
  • You want to draw attention to the points that are relevant to your paper
  • You want to leave out extraneous material
  • You want to simplify the material

Want more tips on how to write a paper?  Check out The Secrets of Top Students!

The Benefits of Going Low-Tech in College

Originally posted on Stefanie Weisman:

Low-tech tools

USA Today‘s College Blog just posted my article on the benefits of going low-tech in college!  In it, I explain why ditching your laptop may be good for your GPA.  There were a bunch of things I didn’t get to include in the article, though, so here’s some more advice about how to avoid the pitfalls of technology in the classroom.

  1. How to use slides.In my article, I caution against relying too much on the professor’s PowerPoint presentations, which are now commonly posted online.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all – they can make taking notes easier and faster, if you use them the right way.  Here’s one way to do it:
    • If the slides are posted before class, print them out and number each one.  Bring the print-outs and a notebook to class.  Write today’s date on your slides and…

View original 656 more words

Quick Tips Part 7: Using Technology for Group Projects

By Stefanie Weisman

Group projects are an unavoidable fact of life in high school and college.  Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that technology can make them a whole lot easier.  Here’s some great free software that will let you share documents, set up meeting times, work remotely, and lots of other cool “teamwork” stuff.

Google Docs: Allows you to share and collaborate on documents in real time.  You and other members of your group can make changes to docs simultaneously; the app will show you who changed what, and when.

Skype: If one of your members can’t meet in person, bring a laptop to the meeting and have him/her participate through Skype.

Trello: Trello is a project management program that can do wonders for group work.  With this program, you can share documents, make lists of tasks to be done, and keep track of progress.

Dropbox:  Allows you to store and share large files with a group.

Lastly, use a program like Google Calendar or MeetingWizard to plan meeting times.

What are your favorite group project apps?

Get more back-to-school tips with The Secrets of Top Students.

Quick Tips Part 6: How to Study Actively

By Stefanie Weisman

Did you know you learn better when you study actively?  Next time you have a test, instead of passively reading and re-reading your textbook, try the following active study techniques:

  • Explain concepts in your own words, to yourself or someone else.  Remember: it’s okay to talk to yourself!
  • Make review sheets/ Write out the main points.
  • Join a study group in which you and the other members test each other on the material.
  • Write and re-write things — like names, dates, formulas, vocabulary, and verb conjugations — from memory.
  • Draw out/ diagram complex concepts.
  • Do practice problems — and don’t look at the answers until you’re done!
  • Take practice tests provided by your teacher.
  • Think up potential test questions (and answer them).
  • Test yourself with flash cards, lists, etc.

For more study tips, check out The Secrets of Top Students.

How to Get Started on a Career While Still in College

By Alison

Many college students are so focused on their academics that they may decide to put their career aspirations on hold until after graduation. This is understandable; while attending classes, studying for tests and doing homework, beefing up a resume may seem like a Herculean task.

Fortunately, using some creativity and taking advantage of your inherent interests and spare time, you can start working on your career goals while still in college — all while keeping up with your studies. For example, check out the following outside-the-box ideas:

girl typing

Experiment with contract work

Traditionally, one of the best ways to gain real-world experience in college is through an internship. If you are not having any luck finding a paid or unpaid position, or if the companies that need interns require a larger time commitment than you can afford, consider contractual or freelance work. This is an especially good approach for entrepreneurial-minded students to test out their interests and gain needed experience for their resume.

For example, Forbes notes that Amway, the 26th largest private company in the United States, offers plenty of flexible career-development opportunities that can easily fit into an already busy schedule. Other websites that offer freelance work include Handy, Upwork (which offers both short and long-term projects), Elance and Fivrr.

Make extracurriculars count

There are typically plenty of extracurricular activities in college. As Career Builder suggests, join some organizations and clubs and take on leadership roles that you can highlight on your resume. Showing your long-term commitment to a team or club will impress potential employers with your sense of responsibility. If the extracurricular fits into your career goal in any way, all the better — for example, if you hope to go to law school, joining the speech and debate team is a nice way to show you have experience in public speaking.

Work on your technology skills

Once you graduate from college and are getting into the real world of work, chances are good you’ll use at least one type of technology. In addition to becoming familiar with Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other programs, consider creating a website or app. This is especially important if you are hoping to get into IT or a related field. When you interview, you might not have a part-time job in technology on your resume, but if you can show a snazzy and eye-catching website that you created or talk about an innovative app you invented, it will be sure to impress your future boss. As a bonus, these are projects that you can fit in and around your college work.

Never underestimate the power of networking

Another great way to start on your career path while in college is to network with anyone and everyone. Tell your folks about your work dreams and see if they know anyone who works in that industry who might be willing to talk to you over a cup of coffee. If you are working a part-time job as a barista, tell your regular customers what you hope to do — one of them may surprise you and say she does that type of work and will keep you in mind for future openings. You can also use social media to your advantage, posting about your after-school plans. Getting the word out may lead to internship and job offers.

About the author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.

Pssst!  Check out The Secrets of Top Students.


Quick Tips Part 5: How to Come Up with a Thesis

By Stefanie Weisman

If you’re a high school or college student, you probably dread having to come up with a thesis.  A thesis is the argument you make in your paper based on research and/or your own experience.  Sometimes a thesis will come to you very quickly, in a flash of inspiration.  But most of the time, it takes a lot more work.

When writing a research paper, consider yourself part of a scholarly debate.  It’s perfectly acceptable – even encouraged – to challenge the ideas you read in a book or heard from your teacher.  A thesis should be your own unique, original contribution to the debate.

To come up with a thesis, think critically as you read books, articles, and other sources.  You should constantly ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why did a person or character do something?  What motivates him/her?
  • Who/ What is responsible for an event or action?
  • What is the cause of something?  What is the effect of something?
  • What is the significance of an action or event?
  • What are some potential flaws in an author’s argument or idea?  Are there other possible explanations?
  • What do you think about an issue?  Do you agree with the given interpretation?  Why or why not?
  • How did an event or action take place?  Why did it take place the way it did?
As you do research, try thinking like a reporter – always ask “who, what, where, when, why, and how?”

Do you have any tips for coming up with a thesis?

For more tips on writing papers, check out The Secrets of Top Students.

Quick Tips Part 4: How to Use Google for Academic Research

By Stefanie Weisman

Sure, you use Google to look up cute cat videos, but it can also be a great tool for academic research.  Here are some tips on how to use Google to find sources good enough to cite in your papers.

  • Use double quotes to search for an exact term or a set of words in a specific order.
  • Include “site:” to limit your search to a particular website (e.g., “site:nytimes.com”) or top-level domain (e.g., “site:.edu” – this is useful if you only want to search websites hosted by universities).
  • If you’re looking for pdf documents – which tend to be more scholarly than regular websites – enter your search term(s) followed by “filetype:pdf”.
  • When trying to find a term on a web page, don’t forget about Ctrl-F (or Command-F if you use a Mac).  Just type the word or phrase you want to find in the box that pops up, and it’ll show you all the places where it occurs.
  • Use Google Scholar to search for academic articles, and Google Books for easily searchable texts.

What are some Google search techniques you like to use?

For more tips on writing and research, check out The Secrets of Top Students.