How to paraphrase - transcript
[CAPTION: A QUT Library Study Hack. Study help at the Library! By Lauren Woodlands - Academic Skills Adviser.]
How to paraphrase, or in other words, taking someone else's words and ideas, putting them in your own words (while keeping the meaning) and citing the source.
In this presentation, I'm going to show you three ways of paraphrasing. The wrong way to do it, a way that's acceptable, and the best way to paraphrase.
To paraphrase, we start with a source or information. You may have found an awesome article for your assignment. For example, I might be writing an assignment on sustainability in the fashion industry in Australia and I have found this great article by Alice Payne. Within it, I located the perfect quote about how designers have an impact on the industry. My quote is: "there are opportunities for Australian designers to have a positive effect through selecting textiles and finishes with a lower environmental and social impact". While I could just use the direct quote, I want to paraphrase this so I keep the direct quotes in my assignment to a minimum but still have excellent sources for my argument.
Firstly, I will show you how not to paraphrase, and let you know why this is a bad way of doing it. Some people can get the impression that paraphrasing is simply modifying the words. You might be tempted to use a thesaurus and find a synonym. Let's see what happens when I do this to my quote. The words that are underlined in the first paragraph have been modified and are shown as underlined in the second paragraph, but with new words.
[EXAMPLE SHOWN: Original quote: "there are opportunities for Australian designers to have a positive effect through selecting textiles and finishes with a lower environmental and social impact." Paraphrase: There are many ways for Australian designers to have a good effect on the industry through selecting fabric and finishes with less harm on the environment and society.]
This isn't paraphrasing, as my new version is too similar to the old quote. You can compare the words and see that there's not much change. In fact, here you can see that at least half of the words are still the same as the original quote. These small phrases are still Payne's original words so I can't use this as a legitimate paraphrase. I would be better off keeping the original quote.
One of the main problems with using a thesaurus is that you need to be careful with how the meaning can change when a new word is used. Often, a reader can tell that you have just 'right clicked' and selected a synonym, because it just doesn't sound right in your assignment.
[EXAMPLE SHOWN: Some synonyms for flourishing - growing (good), thriving (good), mushrooming (bad), luxuriant (bad).]
Secondly, I'll show you a way that is acceptable to use. Remember, it is an ok way of paraphrasing but it isn't sophisticated. A good tip for trying to paraphrase a quote is to change the sentence structure. When doing this, you'll need to modify some of the words and phrases so little combinations of words don't match the original quote. This is what happens when I apply this method to my quote.
EXAMPLE SHOWN: Original quote: "there are opportunities for Australian designers to have a positive effect through selecting textiles and finishes with a lower environmental and social impact." Paraphrase: Through choosing finishes and materials that are less harmful for society and the environment, Australian designers have the opportunity to positively affect the fashion industry.]
It's ok - I could use it in my assignment. To compare between the two versions you can see that I have changed "selecting textiles and finishes" to "choosing finishes and materials". You can see that this bit of information is at the start of my paraphrase, whereas it was previously near the end of the quote. I have modified "lower environmental and social impact" to "less harmful for society and the environment" and again this information has moved in my paraphrase from where it was positioned in the original quote. I have modified "there are opportunities for Australian designers to have a positive effect" to "Australian designers have the opportunity to positively affect" and I've put this information near the end of my paraphrase.
Lastly, I will show you a great way to paraphrase. It builds on the techniques for OK paraphrasing. The biggest tip is to use your own words. Try and explain the information in the quote to someone else and how it relates to your assignment. This will help keep the style of your writing consistent so that it reads clearly and flows well. Next, take some time to really think about what the author meant. That quote probably sounds great because the information is clear and concise. A great strategy is to map out the information. Here I've taken Payne's quote and made a mind map of concepts so I can reflect on the information rather than worrying about moving the words around in the quote. Let's take a look at what happens when I paraphrase using this method.
[EXAMPLE SHOWN: Original quote: "there are opportunities for Australian designers to have a positive effect through selecting textiles and finishes with a lower environmental and social impact." Paraphrase: There are positive flow-on effects for the environment, industry and textile consumption practices when Australian designers incorporate sustainable materials and processes into their work.]
It's much more sophisticated than the previous way of paraphrasing because I have really considered the meaning of Payne's information. I have combined different bits of information in Payne's quote into the first part of my paraphrased sentence. The last part of my paraphrased sentence elaborates on the simple phrase "selecting textiles and finishes" from Payne's original quote. What's great about my paraphrase is it opens up the topic for my writing and it is clear for the reader that I'm going to discuss what these positive flow-on effects are.
There are two options for citing the author within my paraphrase. I can make the author an active part of the sentence and start with "Payne (2011, 241) suggests" or maybe "Payne (2011, 241) argues" or potentially "Furthermore, research by Payne (2011, 241) indicates that". Alternatively, I can leave the author in brackets with the year and page number at the end of the sentence. Both of these methods are acceptable as I am attributing the information with a citation. You may like to make use of both of these methods in your writing to vary the way your sentences begin.
Remember, it's okay to use to use technical terms, job titles or roles and common vocabulary without quotation marks in your paraphrase. However, unique phrases and special terms must be quoted.
Great paraphrasing takes time and you'll need to have a few goes to get it right. Make sure you leave enough time when drafting your assignment to incorporate sophisticated paraphrasing.
[CAPTION: Credits - This video features the instrumental "Happy Whistling Ukelele" https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1189923/happy-whistling-ukulele by Seastock, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercia-NoDerivatives licence http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0]
[CAPTION: Credits - Concept and words: Lauren Woodlands, Post-production: Ellen Thompson]