In a previous article we have illustrated why it is advisable to cite your sources properly to avoid being accused of plagiarism (go to the article). Today, we are going to focus on reformulation: a citation technique that you need to master to be successful in your writing!

Reformulation: 3 traps to avoid

Reformulating in a too superficial way

Reformulating doesn’t only consist in simply replacing with some synonyms a few words in the sentence. You must appropriate the cited extract adapting it to your own writing style, modifying its structure but always being careful not to change its meaning!
A difficult exercise, that requires some training if you don’t want to fall into a form of a « superficial paraphrase » in your works.

Reformulating without understanding

Here’s our advice: if you are not sure that you have understood the author’s concept thoroughly, do not use it in your work. You would have trouble editing it in your own words. Your teacher would quickly become aware of your « awkwardness » in relation to the concept, and they would be likely to question you on that specific point. Choose some references that you are at ease with and that will enable you to contribute with your own point of view.

Reformulating without citing the source

Using an author’s ideas is not forbidden, as long as their origin is not hidden from the reader. In fact, reformulation, too, must include a citation and a reference to the author: when we take an idea from someone, we cite it. If not, we fall into plagiarism: an infraction that can be punished by diverse sanctions. For instance, at the end of 2016, two students at Brest University were dismissed for having copy-pasted some extracts from the Net without citing their authors.


Reformulating: a valuable art

As a student

We’ve said it earlier on: mastering the art of reformulation will prove to your examiners that you have fully understood what you are writing about. If your teachers request that you provide bibliographic references, it is indeed with the aim of evaluating your ability to mobilise several texts around a specific subject by analyzing and interpreting comments.

As a prospective professional

Whatever your future career is, it looks like reformulation is going to be the key to success. Some examples:
– For a salesperson, reformulating a client’s request will enable them to reassure the client and show them that their requests have been understood.
– For a manager, reformulation will enable them to clarify an element, to redefine a debate, to review a matter and to enable their partners to follow and re-concentrate…
– For an employee, reformulating will be a chance to clarify their managers’ requests and to confirm that both parties are going in the same direction.


Reformulating: some key sentences

In order to help you reformulate when working on your documents, we are suggesting some sentences to introduce the words from an author:
« According to this author …»
« So, in this author’s opinion … »
« If we consider this author’s words… »
« That is to say … »
« In other words… »
« This author seems to be saying that … »
« To put it another way… »
« According to this author’s words … »