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Writing Center

Paraphrasing without Plagiarizing

So What?

Writers often reference others’ ideas as support, and paraphrasing is one way to integrate sources into a text. While quoting is also used, paraphrasing may be expected or more appropriate for certain writing contexts. Unsuccessful paraphrasing can sometimes lead to plagiarism, which must be avoided.

Summarized Explanation

  • Paraphrasing means restating others’ ideas in an accurate way.
  • Paraphrasing uses different words and sentence structure than the original text.
  • Paraphrasing should avoid quoted words or phrases whenever possible.
  • Paraphrasing must include proper integration.

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Detailed Explanation

Note that a paraphrase is not a summary. A summary typically recaps larger chunks of text, while paraphrases reiterate specific places within texts. It is best to paraphrase no more than a few sentences at a time from a given text. Paraphrases should communicate an author’s original ideas but in a way that does not resemble the original word choice or sentence structure. And paraphrases should never add extra information to an author's original ideas. Furthermore, quotes should ideally not be included within a paraphrase; typically, information can easily be reworded and restructured, so quoted content is not necessary. However, if a writer feels that the original information cannot or should not be reworded, quotation marks can be used around specific words or phrases from the original text. Lastly, a paraphrase should be the same length or shorter than the original text; a paraphrase should ideally not be longer than the content that is being restated.

A Helpful Strategy for Paraphrasing:

  1. Focus on one to three sentences of a text.
  2. Read the isolated section a few times.
  3. Put the original text aside.
  4. Wait a couple minutes; maybe even do another brief activity to slightly distract the mind.
  5. Without looking at the original text, try to restate the author’s main idea in your own words.
  6. Write down two or three possible restatements of the original text.
  7. Compare your restatements with the isolated section from the original text.
  8. Choose the restatement that most accurately communicates the author’s ideas without resembling too closely the word choice or sentence structure of the original text.
  9. Integrate the paraphrase into your written text using the IICE template.

Examples

Original Text: Writers often reference others’ ideas as support, and paraphrasing is one way to integrate sources into a text. While quoting is also used, paraphrasing may be expected or more appropriate for certain writing contexts. Unsuccessful paraphrasing can sometimes lead to plagiarism, which must be avoided.

Possible Paraphrase: Paraphrasing and quoting allow writers to enhance their ideas with outside support, and while both methods are valuable, paraphrasing is sometimes preferred. Thus, writers must know how to paraphrase well to keep from inadvertently copying someone else’s ideas.

 

Original Text: Note that a paraphrase is not a summary. A summary typically recaps larger chunks of text, while paraphrases reiterate specific places within texts.

Possible Paraphrase: Unlike summarizing, paraphrasing involves isolating smaller sections of a work, so summarizing and paraphrasing are not synonymous.

 

Original Text: Furthermore, quotes should ideally not be included within a paraphrase; typically, information can easily be reworded and restructured, so quoted content is not necessary. However, if a writer feels that the original information cannot or should not be reworded, quotation marks can be used around specific words or phrases from the original text.

Possible Paraphrase: Quoting and paraphrasing are separate methods for integrating support that should not be combined if it can be avoided. Quoting within a paraphrase should be used sparingly and only for situations in which a writer wants to maintain the effectiveness of the author’s original wording.