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Perfect paraphrasing

Show you understand material through using your own words. Learn the critical skill of how to paraphrase well in this article.
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Don’t be a copycat! Paraphrasing helps to avoid plagiarism and is a critical academic writing skill.

Paraphrasing means to rewrite someone else’s words into your own. Before you begin paraphrasing you should make sure that your understanding is correct. Paraphrasing is a crucial skill to develop when writing academically for several reasons:

  • It is a useful way to use source material in your work.
  • It demonstrates your understanding of the information.
  • It helps to avoid plagiarism.

When writing academically you need to add credibility to your work. You can do this by using research within your writing. There are two ways that you can do this; by using a direct quote or by paraphrasing.

A direct quote is when we copy word for word something that someone else has done in their research – it’s essentially copy and pasting with quotation marks and a citation.

We are not looking at direct quotes, we are looking at paraphrasing here. As explained above, paraphrasing is when you rewrite someone’s words into your own. This is a much more effective way to use other peoples’ work.

There are 5 key steps to paraphrasing. Here they are:

5 tips - read and reread. note key concepts. write your version without looking at original. compare to original. cite the source

There is no one right way to paraphrase. The method above outlines one strategy that may or may not work for you. The Paraphrasing Quick Guide download below will explain other ways that might suit you better. The important thing is that you find a strategy that works for you.

Even though you are not using someone’s exact words when you paraphrase, you do need to acknowledge where your ideas have come from. Keep a record of all references you use to avoid plagiarism. We will look into what plagiarism is next, and we will talk more about referencing later.

This article is from the free online

Skills for Higher Learning: Introduction to Academic Reading and Writing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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