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Academic Integrity: Paraphrasing Pointers

What About Summarizing?

Summarizing is condensing information.

  • Summarizing is putting the main idea(s) of one or several writers into your own words, and including only the main point(s).
  • Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.
  • Summaries must be cited.

Summarize when:

  • You want to establish background an overview of a topic
  • You want to describe information (from several sources) about a topic
  • You want to determine the main ideas of a single source
Summarizing Steps
1. Take out material that is not important to understanding
2. Take out words that repeat information
3.  Replace a list of things with one general word. For example, substitute oak, ash, maple for the word tree
4.  Look for a topic sentence
5.  Look for a thesis

To Summarize Problem/Solution texts
        Ask yourself:
  • What is the problem?
  • What is a possible solution?
  • Are there any other solutions?
  • Which solution has the best chance of succeeding?
To summarize Arguments and Evidence texts
         Ask yourself:
  • Evidence:  What information does the author present that leads to a claim?
  • Claim:  What does the author assert is true?  What basic statement or claim is the focus of the information?
  • Support:  What examples or explanations support the claim?
  • Qualifier:  What restrictions on the claim, or evidence counter to the claim, are presented?

Adams, Cindy H. Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement From Classroom Instruction That Works by R. Marzano, D. Pickering, J. Pollock. N.p.: Created by The School District of Lee County, CSDC, n.d. PPT.

The Dos and Don'ts of Paraphrasing

When you paraphrase properly, you are reworking the author’s ideas, words, phrases, and sentence structure and incorporating it with your own style and voice.

Paraphrasing is:

  • rephrasing the words of an author, by putting the author’s ideas in your own words
  • synthesizing another person’s ideas to create your own knowledge or create your own interpretation or analysis
  • using your own ‘voice’
  • crediting the author of the ideas or words you used through citing properly

Three Paraphrasing Techniques

  • Bullet the main ideas. This way you will not be copying the sentence structure of the original author.  Then at a later date rewrite the paragraph including the pertinent information.
  • Talk to yourself as if you were explaining the information to a friend who knows nothing about the subject then write down what you said.
  • Give it 24  hours.  Write your paraphrase the next day after the ideas have percolated around in your thinking.  Remember, don't look at the original passage when you paraphrase  or you won't be able to get the author's words out of your thinking.

When you paraphrase properly you are:

  • using only ideas that you understand
  • synthesizing the author’s ideas so they become your own
  • using your own voice.

Paraphrasing is NOT taking a block of text and changing only a few key words (even if you use parenthetical references and include it in a works cited).

Remember, don’t use another person’s words, ideas, or catchy phrases without citing them.

What About Quotations?

Your paper should not be quote heavy!  Only about ten percent of your paper should be comprised of quotations.

Use quotations when:

  • You want to add the power of an author’s words to support your argument
  • You want to disagree with an author’s words or argument
  • You want to highlight exceedingly gorgeous, eloquent, or powerful uses of language
  • You are comparing and contrasting specific points of view
  • You want to note the important research that you are building on