If you’re writing a paper or assignment, you’ll soon realise that there are many rules to citing and referencing. Following our recent post on using quotations in your academic writing, here we aim to answer some of the most common questions about paraphrasing.

So, what do we mean by paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is when you use your own words to describe another author’s ideas.

Why might I paraphrase someone else’s work in my assignment?

Paraphrasing is a key part of academic writing as it demonstrates to the reader your understanding and analysis of the sources you have read.  Paraphrasing is therefore seen as more appropriate than quoting as it demonstrates your own interpretation of the work.

So, if I change a few words around of the original text, will that be ok?

No! There is a lot more to paraphrasing than just word substitution.  This would be classed as plagiarism as it will be too similar to the original text.

How do I paraphrase correctly?

To paraphrase well, you will need to pull out the most important points and write them in your own words.  Rather than just summarising the author’s ideas, try to be selective about what you include and link it into the argument you are making. This will allow your writing to flow and demonstrate that you have understood what you have read. Remember, if you write something too similar to the original, it would count as plagiarism.

Here’s an example:

According to Belbin (1993), individuals can be categorised by nine types of roles, each of which can bring a distinct contribution to team performance. If all nine roles are represented, the team is considered balanced and is predicted to be high performing.

What about my in-text citation?

Anywhere in your work where you have referred to another author’s work, you must include an in-text citation.  As shown in the example above, this should include the author’s surname and the year of publication in brackets.  Because you are not quoting, there is no need for a page number. As always, you’ll also need to add a full bibliographic reference to the source at the end of your work. Remember to always allow enough time to check through your references.

If you have any questions about referencing, please get in touch with MIRC and the Kings Norton Library.

Public domain image by Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/en/office-startup-business-home-office-594132/CC0