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Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

What is the difference between a paraphrase and a summary?

A paraphrase is a restatement of a passage in your own structure and words. A paraphrase is usually about the same length as the original passage and retains the same level of detail.

A summary is a condensed version of a passage in your own structure and words. A summary is generally shorter than the original source because it aims to extract the main idea of the passage and may not retain the same level of detail as the original.

Why paraphrase and summarize?

Paraphrases and summaries allow you to synthesize and integrate ideas seamlessly into your own text, while still maintaining your voice in the paper. Generally, in academic writing, you will want to paraphrase or summarize sources more often than quoting them directly.

How do I paraphrase?

  1. Before you paraphrase, read the source several times to ensure that you understand the idea you are writing about. You must know what the source is saying in order to explain it to your readers.
  2. Focus on the main ideas rather than the wording. What are the most important parts for you to capture?
  3. Write your draft paraphrase or summary without looking at or referring to the original source. This strategy will help you think of new words and phrasings--and test your understanding of the idea. If you can’t write the paraphrase without referring to the source, return to Step 1.
  4. Review your draft paraphrase to make sure:
    • You have not used more than 3-4 words in a row verbatim (these 3-4 words do not include technical terms or names, which should not be changed in a paraphrase).
    • You have not copied more than 20% of the language of the original source (again, this 20% does not include technical terms or names).
    • You have accurately captured the meaning of the original passage.
    • You have properly cited the source of the paraphrase.

What are some tips for paraphrasing?

When writing your paraphrase:

  • Try combining ideas (or breaking them down).
  • Change the order of the ideas or the order in which they are explained.
  • Try changing the perspective (e.g., if the source uses “we examined” you might use “the researchers studied...” or “the purpose of the study was to...”).
  • Discuss the ideas in relation to your paper’s topic.

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