For all university students, it is essential that they understand how to paraphrase in their academic work. The guidelines below outline this essential skill:
What does paraphrasing mean?
- Paraphrasing is the expression of the ideas of others by rephrasing the original in your own words.
- It is a way of avoiding plagiarism when borrowing from a source.
- It is a restatement of the ideas in the original source and includes the same information/details, but written in the student's own words.
Why is paraphrasing useful?
- It is more effective than directly quoting directly from the original text.
- It helps resolve the problem of over-quoting.
- It keeps all of the writing in the assignment in a similar style/register.
- The process of paraphrasing helps the student understand and engage with the original texts more effectively.
11 Steps to paraphrasing sentences/paragraphs more effectively
The procedure below is designed to help students paraphrase more effectively in their academic work.
1. Before you paraphrase, it is essential that you fully understand the ideas and concepts of the original text.
2. Make notes summarising the original:
- Note only the main ideas, concepts or theory that are important from the original text
- Express the ideas of the original text in your own words, and write in as few words as possible. Do not copy complete sentences (this will help you paraphrase better later).
3. Write the bibliographical details now, so you can cite and reference your material later.
4. Looking at your notes, attempt to rewrite the information fully into your own style, words and grammar. Do not just change the odd word here and there, it must be entirely rewritten in your language.
5. Ensure you keep the specialised/technical words in your rewrite. It will be necessary to include these in your paraphrase because without them, the meaning will probably not be clear. Specialised/technical words are words which belong to a specific field. For example, in the sample original text provided below, the words marketing strategies, planner, segmenting, management, and marketers are all words which belong to the field of Marketing and therefore do not need to be changed.
6. To help you paraphrase more effectively, try to use 'synonyms' of the original words (a thesaurus will help you achieve this).
7. During your paraphrasing, try not to look at the original text. Write your paraphrase using only your notes. When paraphrasing, it is not enough to merely substitute words; you must also change the structure of the original text, but keep the meaning and the attitude taken in the original. Remember to cite the original source.
8. Check that your sentence(s) are indeed using your own words and sentence/paragraph structure, but keeping intact the original meaning of the original text.
9. Use quotation marks to distinguish any terms or phrases that you have used exactly as they appear in the original source.
10. Compare your paraphrase with the original to ensure that it expresses the same ideas and attitude that are expressed in the original, but that your version is sufficiently different from it. Ensure you have cited the original text in your paraphrased version.
11. Do not include your own opinion or comments as this would change the meaning of the original and would result in ideas being wrongly attributed to the author. However, your choice of reporting verb can be used to convey your attitude towards that idea.
Referencing and plagiarism is a topic related to paraphrasing.
Academic Skills Unit 2012, Reporting verbs, Australian Catholic University, viewed 28 September 2012. (Opens external site)
Learning Lab 2012, Paraphrasing (tutorial), RMIT University, viewed 28 September 2012 (Opens external site)
McCarthy, E. J., Perreault, W. D. Jr and McGuiggan, R. L. 2000, Learning aid to accompany basic marketing, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, Sydney. (Opens external site)
The Writing Lab 2012, Paraphrase: write in your own words, Purdue University, viewed 28 September 2012. (Opens external site)