Paraphrasing as a strategy of avoiding plagiarism
In order to avoid plagiarizing, a student must learn to paraphrase. A paraphrase precisely restates in YOUR WORDS the written or spoken words of someone else. A paraphrase is your wording but not your thinking. A paraphrased idea must be documented even though it’s not quoted directly.
Guidelines for Writing Paraphrases
1 Say what the source says, but no more.
2 Reproduce the source’s order of ideas without having the source in front of you.
3 Use your own words, phrasing, and sentence structure to restate the message.
4 Read your sentences over to make sure they do not distort the source’s meaning.
5 Document carefully. You are required to give the source of any paraphrase, just as you do for quotations.
The following example badly plagiarizes both the structure and the words of the original quotation by Jessica Mitford in Kind and Unusual Punishment:
ORIGINAL: The character and mentality of the keepers may be of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of the kept.
PLAGIARISM: But the character of prison officials (the keepers) is more important in understanding prisons than the character of prisoners (the kept).
The next example is more subtle plagiarism because it changes Mitford’s sentence structure, but it still uses her words.
PLAGIARISM: In understanding prisons, we should know more about the character and mentality of the keepers than of the kept.
AVOIDING PLAGIARISM IN PARAPHRASING
The plagiarism in the above examples can be remedied two ways: Mitford’s exact words can be placed in quotation marks, or correct paraphrasing can be used.
QUOTATION: According to one critic of the penal system, “The character and mentality of the keepers may be of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of the kept” (Mitford 9).
PARAPHRASE: One critic of the penal system maintains that we may be able to learn more about prisons from the psychology of the prison officials than from that of the prisoners (Mitford 9).
Form and Punctuation for Documentation
After a direct quote:
…in the lives of Daisy and Tom” (Eble 319).
…in relation to Fitzgerald’s career (Poupard and Persons 146).
After a long quote set off from the text:
…according to the history of the Jazz Age. (Turbin xii)
When critic’s name is mentioned in text:
Malcolm Cowley strongly suggests that this is true “when discussing Gatsby and his relationships in relation to the American Dream” (50).
When you use more than one book by the same author:
…as Nick comments throughout this incident” (Eble, F. Scott Fitzgerald 14).
…which is Gatsby’s particular brand of dishonesty” (Eble, Hemingway 85).
When you use a book by two authors:
…and had a profound effect on his life” (Baker and Cole 138).
When you use a book by three or more authors:
…are bound to produce new forms of subjectivity” (Henriques et al. 275).
Verbs used to help weave quotations into your writing are sometimes called “tag words.” A number of these words have rather specific meanings, while others are appropriate in most situations. Choose the ones that fit your context from the following representative word list:
30 offers another view
31 points out
55 takes exception
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