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Academic Integrity: Paraphrasing


Many students struggle with paraphrasing.  Paraphrasing can be a good way to integrate someone's ideas into your paper, but if it's done incorrectly, it becomes indistinguishable from plagiarism. Here are some tips on how to parapharse properly:

  • Acceptable paraphrasing expresses an idea in your own words and gives credit to the source.
  • Paraphrases aim to replicate the writers intended meaning, while a summary compresses the original thought into fewer words.
  • Changing only a few words or the structure of a sentence is considered unacceptable paraphrasing.
  • Use author's name when paraphrasing (e.g., According to Missy Elliott,…).
  • Explain to a classmate in your own words the meaning of the text you want to paraphrase.
  • Write paraphrase without looking at original text.
  • Check paraphrase against original text to make sure it’s not too close to original in wording or structure.

Six Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

Paraphrase or Summary

While a summary contains only the most important information from a source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage. Notice the difference between the paraphrase and the summary in the following example.

Original Sentence: 


The cowbird, as well as other species of birds, lays its eggs in another birdʹs nest and thus avoids hatching and raising its own young. 


 Certain birds, including the cowbird, do not hatch and raise their own offspring but rather pass on these responsibilities by laying their eggs in other birdsʹ nests (Kennedy and Smith 139). 


Cowbirds do not hatch or raise their own young (Kennedy and Smith 139).