Is there a consensus that direct quotes should never be used in such papers?

  • What sort of quotes? Quoting people or quoting other papers?
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 17:26
  • The latter. A professor told me today that scientific papers should never do this. Thoughts?
    – Grant
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 17:32
  • 1
    No. There is not. Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 18:42
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    In the field of Human-Computer Interaction, direct quotes seem to be the norm based on the papers I've read. Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:17
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    Perhaps the answer varies depending on the branch of science. The OP did not reveal the branch involved where his professor rejected direct quotes.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


I guess I disagree, but you have to think about what you are doing. Anytime you use another's words directly you should quote them and indicate explicitly that it is a quote. This can be done with "quote" marks or otherwise, such as indentation. You also need to provide a reference to the source, say, in a footnote.

However, perhaps your professor is saying that, rather than quoting people's words directly, you paraphrase their arguments, etc. instead. Then you don't quote them. You still need the reference, of course and need to be sure that your paraphrase is accurate. Your formatting, etc. needs to make it clear that the words are yours, not theirs.

But I would suggest you explore it further with your professor. Perhaps he or she has another idea in mind.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. She is clear that she thinks that in the sciences one should always paraphrase (citing as you say) and never quote directly.
    – Grant
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 18:00
  • I wouldn't make it a rule but it is probably a wise choice. When you quote it is hard to quote just a small part and still be true to the sense of the paper's arguments. Overquoting is a bad idea and giving the wrong impression from a small quote is also a bad idea. However, there are times when no words but the original words will suffice.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 18:05
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    There are times quoting is the best choice. For example, quoting a senior leader's succinct comments which directly motivate your work. I agree with @Buffy in that direct quotes should be used sparingly and with purpose. Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 18:10

As suggested by @Buffy, I also think your professor wants you not to quote exactly "the Quote", but consider paraphrasing them.

You see Plagiarism software are not intelligent enough to understand what is in your mind. Software like Turnitin will take your "copied quote" as a plagiarised text, which might hamper the quality of your paper.

  • I’ve never used the software in question, but I’m skeptical. Software for detecting plagiarism that gives false positives on quotations is practically useless in many cases, if not most. Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 3:44

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