Paraphrasing

Why is paraphrasing so important?

Paraphrasing is important because it shows you understand the source well enough to write it in your own words. It also gives you a powerful alternative to using direct quotes, which should be used infrequently.

  • It is a useful way to use source material for your research paper/essay - providing it is appropriately referenced. In academic essays, it is not acceptable to just copy and paste a source, add a reference and PRESTO! Finished essay!
  • You need to use a variety of direct quotes (referenced), indirect quotes or paraphrases (referenced), and your own comments.
  • It is important because it shows you and your reader (ie your lecturer) that you have understood the source sufficiently enough to write it in your own words. It also gives you a powerful alternative to using direct quotes (which might include some less relevant material).

How do I paraphrase?

There are useful strategies to develop your paraphrasing skills. The most important feature, however, is to make sure you understand the text fully before you attempt to paraphrase it.

  1. Read the text you want to paraphrase carefully before you attempt to paraphrase it.
  2. Look up in your dictionary any words you do not understand.
  3. Re-read the text quickly - skim it if you feel confident. In particular, pay attention to first sentences in paragraphs (these are often the topic sentences) and key words.
  4. Cover the text and verbally summarise it, from memory only. It is not necessary to use complex academic language - use your own words.
  5. Write down your verbal summary.
  6. Check the original text again to make sure you have included the main points. Add quote marks if you have used any key phrases or unique terms which cannot be paraphrased.
  7. Record all source and author details for future reference.