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Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

How do I paraphrase?

Below is an original passage and a paraphrase. Observe how the writer first identifies the key ideas in the source and then synthesizes these ideas into a different order using synonyms.

Two steps for drafting paraphrases:

  1. Identify key ideas using synonyms 
  2. Draft a paraphrase using a different structure and synonyms

Original passage

Plagiarism has always concerned teachers and administrators, who want students’ work to represent their own efforts and to reflect the outcomes of their learning. However, with the advent of the Internet and easy access to almost limitless written material on every conceivable topic, suspicion of student plagiarism has begun to affect teachers at all levels, at times diverting them from the work of developing students’ writing, reading, and critical thinking abilities.

Source: Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2003). Defining and avoiding plagiarism: the WPA statement on best practices. Retrieved from

Step 1: Identify key ideas from the passage, using synonyms

Idea 1: Instructors care about plagiarism because they want to know that students’ work truly reflects their own learning.
Idea 2: The internet makes a vast store of information available for students.
Idea 3: High school and college teachers alike are increasingly worried that students are copying information rather than doing their own work.
Idea 4: Policing plagiarism distracts teachers from other teaching and learning goals.

Step 2: Draft a paraphrase with new structure and synonyms

Example of a paraphrase

The Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) points out that efforts to police plagiarism can take teachers’ focus away from more important teaching and learning goals (WPA, 2003). In particular, they note that the rise of the internet is an increasing source of anxiety for instructors in a variety of contexts. The concern for instructors, according to the WPA, is that students are simply copying content rather than demonstrating their own thinking and learning.

What did the writer do?

Notice how the writer has

1. Restructured the passage:

  • Ideas are presented in a different order
  • Ideas are combined differently

2. Used a variety of synonyms:

  • “Police plagiarism” replaces “suspicion of plagiarism”
  • “Rising use of online sources” replaces “advent of the Internet”
  • “Distraction” replaces “diverting”
  • “Demonstrating their own thinking and learning” replaces “representing their own efforts”

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