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Paraphrasing

 

Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s ideas in your own words while providing proper in-text citations and references to acknowledge the original source, and let the readers know that the idea is not yours. It plays an important role in academic documents, legal documents, articles journals, etc. It requires crucial thinking, understanding and writing skills to rephrase a document in your own words.

        Unlike a summary, a paraphrased work is usually of the same length as the original text, but it has a completely different structure than the original text and has a different set of words. The paraphrased version of a text has a very few or no quotations. The reason behind it is the fact that paraphrasing reflects the understanding of a person rather than the writer who has presented the original work. Moreoever, a good quality paraphrased version of a work can be more concise and yet thorough than the original piece of writing.

Why Paraphrasing is Important?

The ability to paraphrase is a valuable skill for any person. Every writer is not capable of paraphrasing properly. Paraphrasing is an important practice that is globally used and in all sectors - wherever copyright content is available. It allows a person to present his understanding without copying someone else’s work.

         It helps in reducing the use of direct quotes, as they merely reflect the knowledge of the original writer rather than your own understanding. One of the biggest advantages associated with paraphrasing is it reduces/eliminates plagiarism if is properly done. Plagiarism is copying someone else’s work without providing proper references. In paraphrasing, a writer has to choose a different sentence structure and use of words before writing it down. It also reflects the importance of paraphrasing that a writer needs to have a good understanding of the words, their synonyms and antonyms too.

         The ability to paraphrase is an important skill. Even though changing the words of the original text does not necessarily mean that the person has to change each and every word of the sentence, but it is a convention that a person don’t use more than three words from a single row. This rule ensures that a writer will use his set of words without completely changing the idea behind the original passage.

Paraphrasing For Students

The chances of plagiarism increase if a student copy and paste entire sentences and paragraphs without paraphrasing them and sometimes even without any referencing. Paraphrasing skills help students to understand and write the idea in their own words while providing proper references to ensure that it was not their idea.

         Paraphrasing helps in fulfilling the ethical responsibility of a writer as well. It is the responsibility of students not to cheat in any sense. Whether it is cheating in the exams or cheating from someone else’s paper without referencing and re-wording his ideas. Another advantage associated with paraphrasing is it gives a sense of fulfillment of the ethical responsibilty as a student.

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting

Paraphrasing is considered better than quoting information as quoting the information from any source merely presents the idea of the original writer. Paraphrasing can reflect the understanding of the person paraphrasing and can also help him understand what is written.

Example of Paraphrasing

In order to have a better understanding of what paraphrasing actually is, the following example is considered. The first one is the original text quoted directly from Desmond Morris’s Article ‘Territorial Behavior”. The next paragraph after the original presents a wrong way to paraphrase this passage, whereas, the last paragraph shows how an acceptable paraphrasing is done.

Original Text

“Unfortunately, different countries have different ideas about exactly how close is close.  It is easy enough to test your own "space reaction":  when you are talking to someone in the street or in any open space, reach out with your arm and see where the nearest point on his body comes.  If you hail from Western Europe, you will find that he is at roughly fingertip distance from you.  In other words, if you reach out, your fingertips will just about make contact with his shoulder.  If you come from Eastern Europe you will find you are standing at "wrist distance."  If you come from the Mediterranean region you will find that you are much closer to your companion, at little more than "elbow distance" (Morris, 131, 1977)

Unacceptable paraphrasing

The paraphrased section below is unacceptable as it uses a lot of words from the original text; also, some sentences are entirely same as the original. The similar use of words is underlined.

         “Regrettably many nations do not have a clue about exactly how close is close. This you can test by yourself. For example; when you are talking to someone in street or in any open space, you can stretch your arm forward to find out exactly how close that person is standing. This distance changes from place to place. In Western Europe you will find that he is at roughly fingertip distance from you. However, in Eastern Europe this distance changes and the person comes a little more closer as now you can place your wrist on his shoulder. In Mediterranean you will find that you are much closer to your companion as now your elbow can touch his shoulders” (Morris, 131, 1977)

Acceptable Paraphrasing

The paragraph below is paraphrased properly as the there are fewer similar words and barely any similary sentence structure, unlike the above paraphrased version.

         Desmond Morris has presented a fine example of how different nations have a different understanding of the word ‘close’. He presented the example of people standing together sometimes stand too close or too far and this can be measured by the distance of your arm and his shoulder. People in Western Europe stand quite distant as merely your fingertips will reach their shoulder. On the other hand, people in Eastern Europe stand a bit close as your wrist can reach their shoulders. However, according to Desmond, people in the Mediterranean regions stand the closest as you can touch the other persons shoulder by your elbow while standing and talking. (Morris, 131, 1977)

 
   
 

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