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Communication Disorders 6315: Research in Communication Disorders

Research in Communication Disorders

Paraphrasing Basics

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing involves a detailed rewriting a passage from source material into your own words.  Essentially, a writer will paraphrase when they want to incorporate someone else's idea into a paper without directly quoting (using quotation marks) them.  A paraphrase will typically be of similar length to the original source.  A paraphrase must be credited to the original source.

When should I paraphrase?

Paraphrasing is, perhaps, the most common way to legitimately incorporate someone else's material into your writing.  You should consider paraphrasing when the wording of the original source is less important than the source.  This will allow you to maintain a smooth continuity in your writing.  Paraphrases are typically more detailed than a summary (discussed below).

Consider parapharsing to:

  • change the organization of ideas presented in the original source
  • >simplify material
  • clarify technical or specialized information into language that is appropriate for your reading audience.
  • avoid the temptation to quote too much.

Note:  When parapharsing, avoid keeping the same same structure of the original material or merely just changing some of the words.  Be faithful to stay true to the meaning of the original material and avoid adding your own ideas into a paraphrase.

This material has been adapted from the University of Houston Victoria: When to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize.

What does paraphrasing look like?

Original Material

In The Sopranos, the mob is besieged as much by inner infidelity as it is by the federal government. Early in the series, the greatest threat to Tony's Family is his own biological family. One of his closest associates turns witness for the FBI, his mother colludes with his uncle to contract a hit on Tony, and his kids click through Web sites that track the federal crackdown in Tony's gangland.


Fields, Ingrid Walker. “Family Values and Feudal Codes: The Social Politics of America’s Twenty-First Century Gangster.” Journal of Popular Culture 37.4 (2004). Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Mar. 2012.


In the first season of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's mobster activities are more threatened by members of his biological family than by agents of the federal government. This familial betrayal is multi-pronged. Tony's closest friend and associate is an FBI informant, his mother and uncle are conspiring to have him killed, and his children are surfing the Web for information about his activities (Fields).

This example is from Duke Libraries' Paraphrasing.

How do I paraphrase?

  1. Read over what you want to paraphrase carefully until you understand it's full meaning.
  2. Set the original passage aside where you won't look at it.
  3. Write the meaning of the passage in your own words (i.e., explain it to yourself).  Be sure to give proper credit to the source.  (Write down the required citation information.)
  4. Check the paraphrase against the original to ensure you haven't accidentally used the same words or phrases and verify that the information you wrote is accurate.
  5. Set the material aside and work on something else for a few minutes.
  6. When you return to your work, reread your paraphrase and modify as necessary.  Setting yourself apart from a paraphrase will allow you to return with a fresh perspective and the words of the original source will have faded.  This will allow you to revise and polish your own sentence choices.

Note:  The materials presented in this section have been adapted from Purdue OWL's: Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words, Colorado State University's: How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing, and Duke Libraries': Paraphrasing.