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Summarising, paraphrasing and direct quotations

There are three main ways in which you can integrate information or ideas from other sources into your writing:

  • direct quotation

  • paraphrasing

  • summarising.

Read this extract from “Utility Privatisation in Sub-Saharan Africa: A case study of water” by Kate Bayliss of the University of Greenwich, London, published in the Journal of Modern African Studies in 2003.

Now many countries are privatising utilities, mainly under the guidance of international donors (Bayliss 2002). To some extent this is due to poor performance under public ownership (although not all had bad results). In the water sector, for example, in many cases leakage levels have been high due to aging infrastructure and illegal connections. There are weak billing and revenue collection mechanisms, and in some cases public sector organisations fail to pay their water bills and the tariff structure has failed to recoup costs. In Tanzania, World Bank advisers suggest that only about 8% of all water produced was being billed (Wateraid, 2002).

Now look at the three different ways in students have referred to this section of text in their essays.

Source text Student essay
Bayliss (2003) cites “aging infrastructure and illegal connections” as the main reasons for high leakage levels in water utilities under public ownership. Direct quotation
Here the writer repeats the exact words from the source text and encloses these in quotation marks.
Not all the problems are due to lack of investment. According to Bayliss (2003), water utilities under public ownership have failed to operate effectively in the way they invoice customers and collect payments. Paraphrasing
Here the writer takes a point from the source text and expresses it in his or her own words.
Many water utilities under public ownership have performed badly, partly due to lack of investment in infrastructure, but also because of inefficiencies in water distribution, invoicing and collecting payments (Bayliss, 2003). As a result international aid donors have pushed for privatization. Summary
Here the writer summarises a section of text, in his or her own words. Notice that much of the detail from the source text is not included in the summary. The summary is therefore significantly shorter than the section of the source text it relates to.

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This article is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading