Paraphrasing is one strategy to maintain your academic integrity. Paraphrasing means expressing information or ideas from other sources in your own words. Paraphrasing is NOT simply replacing words with synonyms or rearranging the structure of sentences. It involves rephrasing a text substantially while retaining the original meaning. Paraphrasing involves acknowledging the original source with proper referencing.
A paraphrase is particularly useful:
- when you are dealing with facts and definitions
- when you need to refer to a chunk of information from one particular part of a source (e.g. a paragraph in the introduction of a journal article).
How to paraphrase
- The first step in paraphrasing is to read the original text and get a full understanding of it.
- You may need to read the original text a few times and check the meaning of key words to achieve accurate understanding.
- While you are reading, think about the overall meaning of each paragraph or section. Don’t just focus on the individual words and sentences.
- After each paragraph or section, put the reading aside and state it in your own words.
- When you can do this, you are ready to write your paraphrase.
- Finally, proofread, revise and edit your paraphrase as necessary.
Don't forget to include a proper citation when paraphrasing and be careful not to change the author’s meaning.
Rewording some technical terms or specialised vocabulary (e.g. direct instruction and liquid chromatography in the following examples) might not be easily possible because replacing them with similar words can alter the original meaning or not communicate the same meaning.
Therefore, you might need to copy the keywords or discipline-specific words that are essential to retain the original meaning in your notes and use them in your assignments.
Check your understanding View
View the tabs below to check your understanding of paraphrasing by analysing the quality of a paraphrase, and comparing two different paraphrasing attempts.
The paragraph below is a paraphrase written by a student. Its aim is to support one of the key arguments in their essay on learning motivation among older students studying off campus. Compare the student’s paraphrase to the original text and answer the following question.
The student’s paraphrase:
Below is an extract from a text which a student intends to use in an assignment, followed by two attempts at paraphrasing it. Read through these, then indicate which you think does a better job of paraphrasing.
It is generally agreed that homelessness is increasing in Australia, yet there is no commonly accepted definition. What does it mean to be ‘homeless’, and why is it so hard for governments, charities and social commentators to agree on a definition?
Paraphrasing - Example A:
Paraphrasing - Example B: