5. Paraphrase and Summaries

Paraphrase and summary are additional ways to include ideas directly from other writers in your own work. Both techniques involve re-expressing someone else’s text in your own words. You are responsible for giving proper attribution to the original source of the information, usually by crediting the source somewhere in the summary or paraphrase and including an appropriate citation.

Summarizing and paraphrasing are different activities. A summary is usually shorter and just covers the major points from the author’s material in your own words. A paraphrase actually restates much of the author’s text in your own words. It is important to make sufficiently substantial changes that the paraphrase is a genuinely new expression of the idea, not merely a trivial rewording of the original passage. If you are having trouble paraphrasing, try writing your paraphrase without looking at the original, relying only on your memory and notes. Incorrect paraphrase is perhaps the most common type of ‘accidental’ plagiarism.

Key points:

  • Paraphrased and summarized material must be credited.
  • You must use your own words
  • Paraphrased material must involve more than just substituting phrases here and there. It should be a substantial revision of the original text.

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Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson
contact: sthompsn@csusm.edu