The Art of Paraphrasing

Ever sit down to put something in “your own words,”  thesaurus in hand.  It’s a common trap.  Students (and sometimes other writers) misinterpret the concept of parapharasing as one that involves “reworking” and “replacing” words so that they appear “new.”

Paraphrasing is, in fact, a process that, when done well, allows a writer to both credit the original author, while speaking out with their own voice. Learning to paraphrase the ideas of another is a skill that is developed with practice.

The following steps will help you practice careful and considerate paraphrasing.  After repeated use, these steps will become habitual.

1.  Read the resource through, writing down bullet points on the facts or opinions presented.  Do NOT copy down even phrases “word for word” without using quotation marks.

2.  Set the resource and your notes aside.  Breifly explain, in complete sentences, the information your have learned from the resource.  Use paraphrase indicators to identify the author of the ideas you recall (see list on right).

3.  Check your explanation against your notes and make any factual corrections necessary.

4.  Compare your explanation to the original.  Place quotations around any unique ideas or wording that you directly recalled and quoted.

5.  In all cases, include an in-text citation to the original resource.


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