In a previous article, we demonstrated the advantages of adequately citing sources to avoid being accused of plagiarism. Today, we will focus on paraphrasing: an essential citation technique that you ought to master in order to successfully tackle your written projects!
Paraphrasing: 3 traps to avoid
Excessively close paraphrasing
Paraphrasing does not simply involve replacing a few words of a sentence by synonyms. You must make the cited passage your own by adapting it to your personal writing style and change its structure without altering its meaning.
It is a difficult exercise that requires training in order not to be engaged in a form of « superficial paraphrasing » in your works.
Paraphrasing without understanding
Advice to the wise: if you are not certain that you have fully grasped the author's concept, don't incorporate it in your project. You will have a hard time putting it into your own words and your teacher will quickly sense that you are uncomfortable with the theory, then will probably ask you questions specifically on this point. Choose references that make sense to you and will allow you to bring your own perspective to the table.
Paraphrasing without citing the sources
Paraphrasing an author's ideas is not forbidden as long as you do not conceal their origin to the reader. As a matter of fact, paraphrasing an idea cannot be done without citation or reference to the author: when borrowing someone's idea you have to cite him. Otherwise you will effectively commit plagiarism, an offense that can lead to a variety of sanctions. Proof of this can be seen in the case of two University of Brest students who, at the end if 2016, were expelled from their school for copying and pasting online passages without citing their authors.
Paraphrasing: An art that is valued
As a student
As stated before, when you master the art of paraphrasing as a student, you provide evidence to your examiners that you have a clear understanding of what you wrote. If your teachers ask you for bibliographic references it is precisely to assess your capacity to gather manuscripts with the aim of developing a specific subject by means of pertinent explanatory comments.
As a future professional
In the workforce, no matter what your future occupation might be, it seems that paraphrasing will be a valuable asset to your success. Here are different examples :
– As a sales representative, paraphrasing the customer's request will help reassure him and show him that he is clearly understood.
– As a manager, paraphrasing will provide the opportunity to clarify a point, refocus a debate, take stock of the situation and allow interlocutors to follow and sharpen their attention.…
– As an employee, paraphrasing will contribute to clarifying your supervisors' requests and confirming that both parties are on the same page.
Paraphrasing : key phrases
To help you paraphrase your written projects, here are a few phrases you can use to introduce an author's words :
« According to this author, … »
« Therefore, in this author's opinion, … »
« If we quote this author's words… »
«This amounts to saying that… »
« In other words… »
« This author seems to imply that... »
« Simply put… »
« Judging by the words of this author... »