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How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing

Paraphrasing is an often misunderstood component of writing. Without fully understanding how to accurately paraphrase, you could find yourself in allegations of plagiarism, even though it may be accidental.

As seen in the WriteCheck Writing Center, here are some tips for how to effectively paraphrase without plagiarizing:

What is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is putting someone else's writing into your own words and then citing that text.

Why paraphrase? A writer would decide to paraphrase when he or she doesn't want to quote too much. Paraphrasing can make a paper more readable and make it the writer's own. Paraphrasing well also allows the reader the completely understand the material he or she is writing about. A well-written document will be easier to read and make the author more credible.

How do I paraphrase correctly? The first step for the writer is to read and re-read the text to be paraphrased to grasp the entire meaning. When paraphrasing, convey the intended message of the original author.

For example:

Original text: A purpose statement is a declarative sentence, which summarizes the specific topic and goals of a document. It is typically included in the introduction to give the reader an accurate, concrete understanding what the document will cover and what he/she can gain from reading it. To be effective, a statement of purpose should be:

  • Specific and precise - not general, broad or obscure
  • Concise - one or two sentences
  • Clear - not vague, ambiguous or confusing
  • Goal-oriented - stated in terms of desired outcomes (Washington.edu, n.d., para.1)

Paraphrased text: According to Washington.edu (n.d.), an effective purpose statement summarizes the study topic and its goals. The purpose statement is also clear and precise and states what the study will cover and what the reward will be for the reader.

See citation formats and more paraphrasing examples

Another excellent resource to learn about paraphrasing is the Purdue Online Writing Lab: Paraphrase: Write it in your own words. Or get more writing tips and writing instructions in the WriteCheck Writing Center.

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Published on by jessicag.