Using information

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is writing something in your own words to show that you have understood what you are writing about: lecturers are looking for evidence of your own understanding.

This may seem difficult, especially if the information is complex and hard to understand, but there are good reasons for paraphrasing. The person who marks your writing will want to see evidence that you have understood the concepts sufficiently to be able to put them in your own words.

Paraphrasing also helps to give your writing a consistent style as you blend your own sentences with paraphrased information from other sources. This means putting the words and ideas of another author(s) into your own words. Guidelines:

  • a paraphrase is about the same length as the original text 
  • discipline specific terminology does not have to be changed 
  • the information presented is changed
  • a paraphrase is always referenced

This is the preferred method of including evidence in most disciplines.

Compare the following two paraphrases with the original text:

Despite continuing efforts to improve infection control measures, health care workers (HCWs) may unintentionally carry bacteria on their attire, including nurses’ uniforms and physicians’ white coats (Wiener-Well et al., 2011).

Summary 1:  Despite constant efforts to improve infection control measures, hospital staff may unintentionally carry bacteria on their clothing, including nurses’ outfits and doctors’ coats (Wiener-Well et al., 2011).

  • In this example, there is no change in the way the information is presented – only a few words are changed. This is not a good paraphrase.

Summary 2:  Health care workers (HCWs) may inadvertently carry bacteria on their uniforms.  This is despite their attempts to implement procedures for infection control (Wiener-Well et al., 2011).

  • In this example the information is presented differently, in fact reversed. Synonyms (or near synonyms) are used (e.g., attire - clothing; unintentionally - inadvertently, improve - implement), but key terminology is kept (e.g., infection control, bacteria, health care workers). This is a good paraphrase.

 

Compare the following paraphrases with the original text, and check why the examples might be considered to be plagiarism.

"As higher and higher speeds are used in wireless applications, error correction continues to pose a major design challenge. Recently, a new class of codes, called turbo codes, has emerged as a popular choice for third-generation wireless systems. Turbo codes exhibit performance, in terms of bit error probability, that is very close to the Shannon limit and can be efficiently implemented or high-speed use. A number of different turbo encoders and decoders have been introduced, most of which are based on convolutional encoding."  Stallings, W. (2005) Wireless Communications & Networks 2nd ed. New Jersey. Prentice Hall 2005 p220.

Paraphrase 1A new class of codes, called turbo codes, has become a popular choice for 3G wireless systems. The performance of turbo codes is very near to the Shannon limit and can be implemented efficiently for high-speed use

  • paraphrase 1 has no reference to the original author
  • although some words have been changed, the text is still in the author's voice not the student's voice.

Paraphrase 2A new class of codes, called turbo codes, has become a popular choice for 3G wireless systems. The performance of turbo codes is very near to the Shannon limit and can be implemented efficiently for high-speed use (Stallings, 2005, p220). 

  • although the student has referenced the author here, the text is too close to the original.  If there is no suitable way to paraphrase this information, a full quotation should have been used.
  • it is not clear that the first sentence of the student's work is also based upon the author's text.

Paraphrase 3: Stallings (2005, p220) states that turbo codes have become a popular solution to the problem of error correction for high speed wireless applications.This is due to their ability to operate close to the Shannon limit for transfer rate over a noisy channel.  

  • although paraphrase 3 is written in the student's own voice, and they have made an effort to reference this correctly, it is not clear that the second sentence is also partly based on the original text.

Paraphrase 4:  Stallings (2005, p220) states that turbo codes have become a popular solution to the problem of error correction for high speed wireless applications due to their ability to operate close to the Shannon limit for transfer rate over a noisy channel.

  • paraphrase 4 shows one way the original text can be correctly paraphrased. By writing this in their own words and choosing what information to include, what to leave out and what to add, the student has demonstrated that they understand the text.
  • this is clearly written in the student's voice rather than the author's
  • the student has credited the author as the source of the information
  • it is clear that all of the information has come from the author's original text.

 (Adapted from http://libguides.calpoly.edu)

8 steps to perfect paraphrasing: 

  1. Read the original text until the full meaning is understood
  2. Focus on the sentence/s to be paraphrased
  3. Circle any specialised words to include (e.g. important technical terms)
  4. Underline the key words or phrases that can be changed
  5. Find synonyms for key words or phrases (Synonyms/Thesaurus in Word)
  6. Put the original text away, and using the synonyms and specialised words, write the paraphrase. This way you will use your own sentence structure
  7. Compare your version with the original. Make sure that all words (except technical terms) and sentence structure have changed without losing the original meaning
  8. Add the referencing details.
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