The correct use of quotation marks in academic writing

Posted on October 30th, 2018 by Angel Torres Toukoumidis

Author Angel Torres Toukoumidis – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

Quotation marks are a punctuation mark that is commonly used in academic and scientific writing. In Spanish, 3 types of quotation marks are used, low or Latin quotation marks(« »), which stand out when prescribed as the first option when making a quotation, as well as being frequent in social sciences and humanities, while high or English quotes (“ ”) and single quotes(‘ ‘), are used in texts that are already previously quoted with low or Latin quotations, being adopted more frequently for citations in scientific texts.

Among the multiple objectives of using quotation marks is to insert textual statements avoiding thereby incurring into plagiarism, to fully comply with reference styles, to add unusual or recently coined terms and to incorporate words or phrases into another language.

By delving into the first objective, the quotes delimit the content presented in which the exact words of a fragment are repeated, making it possible for the reader to understand that the information presented comes from another text and thus preveening the author of committing plagiarism to other sources. In this regard, the determination of the quotation marks in direct textual citations will depend on the guidelines subject to the bibliographic citation styles, in the case of the APA style, guidelines used by Comunicar, quotation marks are used in direct textual citations of less than 40 words .

On the other hand and in a complementary way, the presentation of bibliographic references also follows a protocol in the use of quotation marks. The Modern Language Association (MLA) and Chicago styles attribute the use of quotes in periodical publications, both of them in the title of the document.

MLA: Díez-Gutiérrez, Enrique, and José-María Díaz-Nafría. “Ecologías de aprendizaje ubicuo para la ciberciudadanía crítica.” Comunicar: Revista Científica de Comunicación y Educación 26.54 (2018): 49-58.

Chicago: Díez-Gutiérrez, Enrique, and José-María Díaz-Nafría. “Ecologías de aprendizaje ubicuo para la ciberciudadanía crítica.” Comunicar: Revista Científica de Comunicación y Educación 26, no. 54 (2018): 49-58.

Third, the quotes can be evidenced in neologisms, words and phrases that may have an alternative conceptualization or that is based on a highly technical terminology within the academic environment. Regarding this premise, the article number 25 (2005) of Comunicar: The Report of the “Committee of wise”: bases for a quality television, alludes “Committee of wise” to a group of technical experts for the management and financing of the public media. Now, in Comunicar 20 (2003): Proposals for «e-orientation» for an intercultural education, «e-orientation» is conceived as a specialized terminology in education and pedagogy.

Finally, when the words used are of another language and their literal translation could affect the meaning that the author intends to communicate and in some way decontextualize the meaning of the publication, the word can be used in that language and in quotes. In the article: “Teenagers” television phenomena: adolescent prototypes in TV series seen in Spain of Comunicar 33 (2009), although “teenagers” could be translated as adolescents, in this case, when they are under US media circumstances and that globalization itself has conferred this term by giving it a worldwide recognition, then, the most effective would be to keep it intact and without changes as in effect occurs in the publication. Additionally, in the article: Artivism and NGO: Relationship between image and «engagement» in Instagram of Comunicar 57 (2018), translating the word «engagement» into Spanish and replacing it with commitment would move away from the definition that seeks to respond to the objectives of the investigation.

In short, quotation marks are essential for correct writing in academic publications, while getting to know and apply them is a priority for researchers.

About Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

Erika Lucía González Carrión nació en Loja-Ecuador el 29 de marzo de 1994. Posee una licenciatura en Comunicación Social por la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) y además una licenciatura en Ciencias de la Educación con mención en Idioma Inglés por la Universidad Nacional de Loja (UNL). En la actulidad cursa el Máster Internacional en Comunicación y Educación Audiovisual, promovido por la Universidad Internacional de Andalucía y la Universidad de Huelva. Además, cuenta con una certificación internacional de conocimiento del Idioma Inglés, dentro del Marco Común Europeo de las Lenguas. Dentro del ámbito de la Comunicación Social investiga el área radiofónica y realiza traducciones de artículos científicos. Erika Lucía González Carrión was born in Loja-Ecuador on March 29th, 1994. She got her bachelor’s degree in Social Communication at Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) and additionally she got a bachelor’s degree in Sciences of Education, English Language Specialization at Universidad Nacional de Loja (UNL). Nowadays she is studying the Master degree in Communication and Audiovisual Education, promoted by the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía and the Universidad de Huelva . Moreover, she has an international certification of knowledge in the English Language, within the Common European Framework of the Languages. In the Social Communication field she investigates the radio and makes translations of scientific articles.
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2 Responses to The correct use of quotation marks in academic writing

  1. Eva Ulehlova says:

    I very much appreciate the information shared about the correct use of quotation marks in academic writing, as it is pretty a common problem, especially when new researchers do not have any experience yet and get familirized with the citations of APA or Chicago depending on each journal conditions. Thus, it is essential, that everyone who thinks of becoming a serious researcher, must know about this topic.


  2. Lida Solano says:

    Quotation marks are very important when writing and even more when preparing a scientific manuscript. According to APA style, it is indispensable to use quotation marks when using direct textual citations of less than 40 words . For this reason, every writer needs to know about the importance of quotation marks in order to use them correctly.


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