The Art of Paraphrasing
When you are writing, paraphrased ideas are marked by an in-text citation for MLA and APA style or footnote/endnote for Chicago style indicating the origin of an idea or concept. Consider, however, if you're asked to present the same thesis or argument verbally.
Paraphrase indicators allow an author to indicate an upcoming paraphrase through "lead-in" by which listening audiences can easily determine when you are presenting your own ideas or the supporting ideas of others. Using paraphrase indicators is good habit, even if your work will be presented visually, because:
- even if mechanical errors appear in a citation, the intention to give credit is evidenced in your text.
- a direct reference to experts lends added authority to your own ideas and analysis
Ever sit down to put something in "your own words" with a thesaurus? It's a common trap. Students (and sometimes other writers) misinterpret the concept of paraphrasing as one that involves "reworking" and "replacing" words so that they appear "new."
Paraphrasing is, in fact, a process that, when done well, allows a writer to both credit the original author while speaking out with their own voice. Learning to paraphrase the ideas of another is a skill that is developed with practice.
The Act of Paraphrasing
The following steps will help you practice careful and considerate paraphrasing. After repeated use, these steps will become habitual.
1. Read the resource through, writing down bullet points on the facts or opinions presented. DO NOT copy down even phrases "word for word" without using quotation marks. Use the notecard feature in NoodleTools and view your notes in 'detail view'.
2. Set the resource and your notes aside. Briefly explain, in complete sentences, the information you have learned from the resource. Use paraphrase indicators to identify the author of the ideas you recall (see lists below).
3. Check your explanation against your notes and make any factual corrections necessary.
4. Compare your explanation to the original. Place quotations around any unique ideas or wording that you directly recalled and quoted. The 'detail view' in NoodleTools lets you look at the original passage with your paraphrase below it.
5. In all cases, include an in-text citation or footnote to the original resource.