Writing this post has come about as a result of seeing many students who need help with paraphrasing, particularly in academic writing. If you have read something useful for your assignment and you want to put it into your own words, whilst avoiding plagiarism, this will help you.

P Paraphrasing is putting a passage of writing into your own words. The purpose of this is to share the work/research of others and show its relevance to your study or essay. It also demonstrates that you understand the work of others.

A Acknowledging the source of the writing is fundamental to give the original author credit and to avoid plagiarism. You do this by citing the author’s name and year of the source. Sometimes include the page number.

R Read the passage several times in order to understand the meaning as a whole. Paraphrasing is about re-stating the words as you understand them.

A Academic writing requires you to analyse the work of others and re-arrange it for your purpose.

P Pick out the key points and sub-points of the text so that you can express and present the meaning.

H How do you paraphrase? You may start the sentence at a different place, change the sentence structure, alter the voice from active to passive or vice versa and use synonyms.

R Reference the source correctly, according to your guidelines.

A Avoid plagiarism by doing the above. You may add information to your paraphrase to explain the meaning.

S Be selective and summarise if this is appropriate. Be aware of the difference. Use synonyms – a word or phrase with the exact or nearly the same meaning. If ESL check if this makes sense. Some specific terminology should be kept.

E Explain the meaning and emphasise how you interpret the text. Using evidence from research and other valid and reliable sources is essential in academic writing.

Some useful sources (most universities will have their own guidelines for this – usually noted under ‘Avoiding plagiarism’. Check yours out).