Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Education & General Education Librarian
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2019     Views: 165

Academic writing often requires students to integrate information found in source material.  There are various ways to do this; quotations, summaries, or paraphrases.  A paraphrase is a restatement of information taken from source material written in your own words.

Creating a well-written paraphrase can be a challenging skill to learn.  Understanding the qualities of a "good" paraphrase can help. A well-written paraphrase includes the following qualities:

  • Includes all the important details
    • All of the main details in the original appear in the paraphrase
  • True to the original
    • The paraphrase does not change the original author's meaning.
  • Same length or shorter than the original
    • ​The paraphrase is roughly the same length or shorter than the original. 
  • In your own words
    • The paraphrase is written using language, tone, and style that is your own.
  • Source is cited in-text and in the References list.
    • Paraphrased material must include both an in-text citation and a reference in the References list.

Example of a well-written paraphrase:

Original Passage:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry studied seventy-three Oklahoma eighth graders who had taken a parenting course.  For ten days, each student had to care for a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  Berry's research on her young subjects suggests the course worked.  The teenagers in the study had a sounder sense of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course.

Harper, K. S. (1996). 'Flour babies' surrogacy teaches eight-graders parenting skills. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(4), 25-28.

Example of a Good Paraphrase:

Extended parental role-playing can actually increase an adolescent's awareness of parental responsibilities as shown by psychologist Judy Berry's study involving eighth grade students (Harper, 1996).

 

Avoid Patch Writing!

Students learning how to paraphrase may inadvertently "patch write."  Patch writing occurs when a writer uses a passage from source material and changes a few words and phrases before including the passage in a paper or assignment.  Not only is this  "bad" paraphrasing but it is also a form of plagiarism.  View the example below to gain a better understanding of patch writing:

Original Passage:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry studied seventy-three Oklahoma eighth graders who had taken a parenting course.  For ten days, each student had to care for a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  Berry's research on her young subjects suggests the course worked.  The teenagers in the study had a sounder sense of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course.

Patch Writing Example:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry conducted a study of eighth graders who had taken a parenting course. Students had to treat a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  The results of Berry's study suggested that teenagers in the study had a better understanding of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course (Harper, 1996).

TIP:  Notice how the bolded phrases are identical to the original.  Even though there is an in-text citation, patch writing is still a form of plagiarism. 

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