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Plagiarism tutorial: Paraphrasing

Plagiarism Tutorial

Paraphrasing correctly

Using and citing a direct quote is fairly straightforward, but properly paraphrasing someone else’s words can be tricky. It is not enough to replace some words with synonyms, or to change the order of particular words or sentences. A well-written paraphrase will use your own words and "voice" to convey the ideas expressed in the source material and will connect those ideas to your own conclusions.

The most effective way to do this is to read the material you want to use in your paper or presentation, then close the book, journal or web page and write the main ideas in your own words. Once you are finished, compare what you have written to the original material to make sure that the two are not too similar. There is no concrete rule to tell you what is too similar, but if you have written the idea in your own voice and have added your own interpretation of what was said, you should have a successful paraphrase. Be careful not to change the meaning or intent of the original author's ideas, however!

Paraphrase or summarize?
A paraphrase includes all of the points made by the original author, but rewritten in language that is easier to understand, or in a manner that better suits the tone of  your paper. Use a paraphrase when you want to convey the author's ideas or conclusions but don't need to include the exact language as a quote. A summary is shorter and only includes the major points made by the author; use a summary when a paraphrase would be too long, or when a brief overview of the author's ideas will suffice. If you summarize another author's work, be sure you haven't left out something important.

In both a paraphrase and a summary, the ideas expressed are not your own even though you have used your own words. The source should be referenced appropriately within the text and should appear in your Bibliography or Works Cited.

Family discussion: why is academic integrity such a big deal? Or is it?

Now you try it!

Original text:

No one could deny the remarkable feats of the American economy in the 1920’s. The nation’s manufacturing output rose by more than 60 percent. Per capita income grew by a third. Inflation was negligible. A mild recession in 1923 interrupted the pattern of growth; but when it subsided early in 1924, the economy expanded with even greater vigor.

Source citation:

Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation.
     Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008, 628.

Student's paraphrase:

Brinkley describes the tremendous economic growth that took place in the U.S. during the 1920's, which was only minimally affected by a small recession in 1923.

 


Did the student effectively paraphrase the text? Click on your choice below:

Yes

No

 


 

Original text:

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.

Source citation:

Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row.
     New  York: Penguin, 1994, 5.

Student's paraphrase:

John Steinbeck described Cannery Row in Monterey, CA as a stink, a tone, a nostalgia or a poem.

 


Did the student effectively paraphrase the text? Click on your choice below:

Yes

No

 

How can you know when to quote, when to paraphrase, or when to summarize? These are different ways to incorporate source material into your essay. Take a look at these sites for some help:

Questions? Comments?

Click here if you have a question or comment about this tutorial.