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Writing and Citations

This is a guide to resources to help with academic writing and citing sources.

What is paraphrasing?

In a paraphrase, you are taking someone else's ideas and thoughts and putting them into your own words. When paraphrasing, make sure to:

  1. Include a citation to the original source.
  2. Change the wording and sentence structure.

A paraphrase is not replacing words from the original source with synonyms. You want to capture the essence of the original idea, but the wording and sentence structure are fundamentally different. In short, you are “translating” someone else's ideas into your own words.

  • ORIGINAL: The dog jumped over the cat.
  • INCORRECT PARAPHRASE: The canine hopped over the feline. Why is this plagiarism? The sentence structure is exactly the same, with words substituted.
  • BETTER PARAPHRASE: Because the cat was in its way, the dog had to make a running leap. Why is this better? It reflects the meaning of the original, but shows the author thought about it for a little bit.

Source: Radford University Libraries Guide,

How to avoid plagiarism and build good academic practice

How to paraphrase?

  1. Read and mark up the passage (sentence or paragraph) until you understand it.
  2. Without looking at the passage, write down the main points of the passage.
  3. Use your written-down notes to write a coherent understanding of the passage in your own words.
  4. Now, look back at the original and confirm the original and paraphrase are sufficiently different from one another.
  5. Cite the original source.

Please note: paraphrasing is not the same as summarizing. Summarizing is a short passage sharing the main points, and usually involves a citation.

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