Let’s suppose that you are writing an essay and you need to include in it information from another source. There are two ways how you can do it: quotation and paraphrasing. When quoting someone’s ideas, you use identical wording from the article or the website and add quotation marks. When paraphrasing, you rewrite the ideas from another source in your own words. Both methods of introducing information from another source are used in academic writing, though paraphrasing is a bit more common. Apart from this, paraphrasing can be useful if you need to convey long and complicated ideas from several different sources.
The art of paraphrasing: avoiding plagiarism
However, don’t be misled by the idea that paraphrasing is as easy as pie! When introducing the ideas of other scientists, you have to be careful, as there are a few common mistakes an inexperienced student can make while paraphrasing. Here are a few tips how to master your paraphrasing skills and to avoid plagiarism:
Tip 1: Be selective. When choosing a passage to paraphrase, focus on the main ideas of it rather than on separate words and collocations. Read (and reread) the passage until you entirely grasp the ideas behind the words.
Tip 2: Change the words, not ideas. Use synonyms where it is possible, but do not change the original idea of the author. Alter word forms, grammatical forms, and the order of ideas or words. Remember to introduce the name of the author whose ideas you are paraphrasing.
Tip 3: Get back to the original source. After you are done paraphrasing, be sure to take a look at the source again. Compare the information in your paper and in the original source and make sure that you haven’t changed the ideas the author conveyed.
Tip 4: Cite the source. Although you are writing in your own words, remember that the ideas and research originate from another source, which you must acknowledge. Make sure that you properly introduce the name of the author, the name of their research, and the page.
Tip 5: Proofread. Don’t ignore this step (although many students do!). Examine your text to detect and correct any mistakes in grammar, spelling, and style. Carefully check the terminology and common sense of the written paper.
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