Paraphrasing is one of the most intimidating concepts to master when it comes to writing essays. Though there are many situations where a direct quote is useful, an essay that quotes too heavily or has too little original writing not only shows little mastery of the subject, but also does a poor job at conveying information from disparate sources.
As such, it’s important to master paraphrasing as it is a way to share the ideas and knowledge of others while still speaking in your voice. Learning how to paraphrase will not only help you improve your essays and your grades, but make you a better writer and communicator in general, helping you find a unique voice and style for you.
Fortunately, paraphrasing is actually fairly easy straightforward and you can master it yourself by following the following steps:
Read and Absorb the Source Material: Take the time to thoroughly read and understand the source material you want to paraphrase from. Try to remember all of the key information and concepts you want to share and the order you would like to present it.
Put the Source Material Away: Whether it means closing the tab in your browser, shutting the book or turning away from the table, getting the original material out of your sight ensures you don’t begin unintentionally quoting from it or patterning your language after it.
Write Down the Information You Wish to Share: Though paraphrasing is often presented as rewriting concepts in your own words, the best paraphrases are original writings, combining ideas and facts from various sources to make something new and unique. But even if that isn’t the goal of the paper, writing with nothing but a blank screen ensures that your words are original and that you are rewriting the work in your own voice.
Check Your Information: When you’re done writing, go back and make sure that you remembered the key facts correctly, comparing the information you have on paper to what is in the sources you are citing.
Cite Your Sources: Finally, and most importantly, cite your sources. Though the text may be your own words, the ideas, information and research came from other sources and it’s important to acknowledge them. Otherwise, even with a complete rewrite, the work could be considered a plagiarism.
The most intimidating element of paraphrasing for most is the idea of not paraphrasing enough, of being too close to the original work. This is because many make the mistake of believing that paraphrasing is simply reordering or rewriting what has already been written.
However, paraphrasing is not about putting words in a blender and mixing them up, it’s about writing something new, using the ideas and information provided by others. This is why it is crucial to put the original source away when paraphrasing, so that the original words don’t unintentionally spill over into your work.
If you understand your information, start from a clean slate and cite your sources, you should have little trouble paraphrasing and avoiding allegations of plagiarism.
Paraphrasing is one of the most intimidating concepts to master when it comes to writing essays.