IQE: Introduce, Quote, and Explain

academics expository writing writing

Though the arguments in our essays might seem clear to us, that doesn’t always mean our audience is going to find them so easy to follow. This is especially true when it comes to citing textual evidence in essays. Our audiences aren’t there with us in the library or at home poring over our books and papers. They’re not in our heads. We always have to make sure we’re bringing our reader along for the ride. 

The easy solution to this problem is a method called IQE: Introduce, Quote, Explain. It’s a model for how we should incorporate supporting quotes into our essays. 

All essays involve making claims. Take the two below as examples: 

  • Though the Republican Party of the Reconstruction period secured numerous legislative victories for freed people, it would be a mistake to think the party uniformly supported these efforts.
  • It is clear when looking at the data that consumer confidence was higher in 1955 than in 1965.

 

Both of these are claims a writer must then back up with evidence. Our reader, after all, can’t just take us at our word. The most effective way to provide that evidence is often by quoting text or data that support our arguments. This involves more than simply copying and pasting a paragraph into the middle of an essay, however. We need to create clear logical and linguistic connections between our claims, our evidence, and our explanations. 

In the example below, the writer foregoes all of that, and simply lets everything sit on the page unmediated. 

  • It is clear when looking at the data that consumer confidence was higher in 1955 than in 1965. “Maytag sold fewer washing machines in 1965 than 1955. Most consumers’ savings went up during this ten year period.” Consumers felt way less confident in the economy in 1965 than they did a decade before.

Though the writer is ostensibly trying to prove a point, they raise more questions than they answer. Where did this information come from? Is the source reliable? Did companies other than Maytag increase their sales? Are washing machines a good measure of consumer confidence? Why does increased savings reflect decreased consumer confidence? 

Instead of providing answers to the questions, the writer simply restate the claim that the evidence is supposed to support. 

We can avoid this error by following the three steps of IQE: Introduce, Quote, Explain. 

Introduce the source 

Your reader should always understand where your information is coming from. There is a big difference between the reliability of consumer data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and IJustHeartData.com. Moreover, you don’t want to just throw your reader into a quotation without warning. Our prose should be clear and pleasurable, not just persuasive. To achieve that, we need to ensure that we build legible connections between our sentences, which we can do by introducing sources before quoting them.

For example:

  • Towards the end of The Kiss of the Spider Woman, Molina’s emotional attachments become mutually opposed to one another. He says, of the tension between helping Valentin and seeing his mother again,…
  • It is clear when looking at the data that consumer confidence was higher in 1955 than in 1965. As economist Robert Perez states in his article, “Consumer Confidence in the 1960s”...

Introducing the quote helps us segue from our claim to our quote. Moreover, it helps the audience understand what it is they’re reading. They can evaluate the source, and have a better sense of the context in which the quote occurs in the text.

Quote

The next step in this process is to actually quote the evidence we want to use. Seeing is believing, as they say, and nothing helps a reader feel like they’re along for the ride more than actually seeing the text or data you’re discussing a given paper. By putting direct quotations in a paper, we can offer more detailed analyses of diction and other subtleties of the text. Readers don’t have to pull open their copies of Huck Finn, or look up the cited study using your endnotes. Instead, they can see clearly for themselves why the claims you’re making are sound.

To stay with our example from above, we simply place the quotes at the end of our introductions:

  • It is clear when looking at the data that consumer confidence was higher in 1955 than in 1965. As economist Robert Perez states in his article, “Consumer Confidence in the 1960s,” “Maytag sold fewer washing machines in 1965 than 1955. Most consumers’ savings went up during this ten year period.”

Explain

We should never assume that the relationships between our claims and our evidence are clear and, well, evident, to our readers. Instead, we have to explain how our citations prove us right. 

Let’s take a look at the example below to see how this works: 

  • It is clear when looking at the data that consumer confidence was higher in 1955 than in 1965. As economist Robert Perez states in his article, “Consumer Confidence in the 1960s,” “Maytag sold fewer washing machines in 1965 than 1955. Most consumers’ savings went up during this ten year period.” Consumer savings generally go up for two reasons: fears of an economic recession, or boosts to buying power that allow households to save without reducing spending. Since households simultaneously saved more and spent less on washers, it is clear that consumers were less cavalier about spending money in 1965 than they were in 1955. Otherwise, we would see steady consumer spending alongside this increase in savings. 

The author doesn’t simply quote the text and assume that the reader can put two and two together for themselves. Instead, they explain their reasoning and illustrate the relationship between the evidence and the claim. Is the argument a sound one? Not quite—but that’s for another blog post. At the least, this student is doing what they need to by introducing their citations, directly quoting from texts, and then explaining the relationships between their evidence and their claims. 

Andrew received a BA from Columbia University, where he graduated magna cum laude and double majored in American Studies and English. After earning his MFA in Poetry at Brooklyn College, Andrew is now an adjunct lecturer at CUNY.

Comments

topicTopics
academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT college admissions expository writing English strategy MD/PhD admissions writing LSAT GMAT physics GRE chemistry biology math graduate admissions academic advice law school admissions ACT interview prep test anxiety language learning career advice premed MBA admissions personal statements homework help AP exams creative writing MD test prep study schedules computer science Common Application summer activities mathematics history philosophy organic chemistry secondary applications economics supplements research grammar 1L PSAT admissions coaching law psychology statistics & probability dental admissions legal studies ESL CARS SSAT covid-19 logic games reading comprehension PhD admissions engineering USMLE calculus mentorship Spanish parents Latin biochemistry case coaching verbal reasoning DAT English literature STEM admissions advice excel medical school political science skills AMCAS French Linguistics MBA coursework Tutoring Approaches academic integrity astrophysics chinese gap year genetics letters of recommendation mechanical engineering Anki DO Social Advocacy algebra art history artificial intelligence business careers cell biology classics dental school diversity statement geometry kinematics linear algebra mental health presentations quantitative reasoning study abroad tech industry technical interviews time management work and activities 2L DMD IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs Sentence Correction adjusting to college algorithms amino acids analysis essay athletics business skills cold emails data science finance first generation student functions graphing information sessions international students internships logic networking poetry proofs resume revising science social sciences software engineering trigonometry units writer's block 3L AAMC Academic Interest EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian JD/MBA admissions Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python Shakespeare Step 2 TMDSAS Taylor Series Truss Analysis Zoom acids and bases active learning architecture argumentative writing art art and design schools art portfolios bacteriology bibliographies biomedicine brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets central limit theorem centrifugal force chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dementia demonstrated interest dimensional analysis distance learning econometrics electric engineering electricity and magnetism escape velocity evolution executive function fellowships freewriting genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law immunology induction infinite institutional actions integrated reasoning intermolecular forces intern investing investment banking lab reports letter of continued interest linear maps mandarin chinese matrices mba medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis mnemonics music music theory nervous system