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Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide: Paraphrasing

Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide

paraphrasing self test tasks

What is Paraphrasing?

It is...

Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form. A legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate referencing) of borrowing from a source. A more detailed restatement than a summary which can have a more general focus.

Avoid Plagiarism by Paraphrasing

Posted with permission from Emily Nimsakont.

Acceptable vs unacceptable paraphrasing

Unacceptable paraphrases can either constitute plagiarism or are so worded that the meaning of the original author is completely changed. You would then be guilty of laying claims at their door.

Paraphrases are considered unacceptable when:
1. only single words or phrases are shuffled
2. some of the words are merely replaced by synonyms but the order of the words in the sentence remains the same
3. the author is not cited using correct in-text referencing

Some examples to compare

The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final[research] paper. Probably only 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted material. You should, therefore, strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes (Lester, 2003:46)

Legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to an acceptable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester, 2003:46)

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes. In fact only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

Can you explain why this paraphrase is unacceptable?

6 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 of where you thought of using this material. At the top of the card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
4. Check your version with the original to make sure that your paraphrase accurately expressed all the essential information, just 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 card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into the paper.


To avoid plagiarizing, you must change both the sentence structure and the words of the original text.


This page was copied with permission from the US Language centre. It was copied from the Language and Thinking Skills 114 study guide. The guide is a self sudy guide for a not compulsory module for Economics and Business Sciences students at the University of Stellenbosch.