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Using Evidence: Paraphrase

Basics of Paraphrasing

A successful paraphrase is your own explanation or interpretation of another person's ideas. Paraphrasing in academic writing is an effective way to restate, condense, or clarify another author's ideas while also providing credibility to your own argument or analysis. While successful paraphrasing is essential for strong academic writing, unsuccessful paraphrasing can result in unintentional plagiarism. Look through the paraphrasing strategies below to better understand what counts as an effective paraphrase.

In order for a reader to understand the impact of a direct quotation or paraphrased source material, you should work to integrate your evidence into your paragraph's overall discussion. A strong way to integrate source material is to use transitions. As you integrate sources, you will also often begin analyzing the evidence

Citing Paraphrases

  1. Paraphrased material must be cited. Even though paraphrasing means that you are restating information in your own words, you must give credit to the original source of the information.
  2. Citations for paraphrased material should always include both the author and the year. In-text citation can be placed within the sentence or at the end:

Example: According to Johnson (2012), mirror neurons may be connected with empathy and imitation.

Example: Mirror neurons may be connected with empathy and imitation in human beings (Johnson, 2012).

Note: Be sure to consider the frequency of your source citation when you are paraphrasing.

Integrating Paraphrases Into Your Paragraphs

Paragraph With Paraphrased Material Not Integrated

The causes of childhood obesity are various. Greg (2005) found that children need physical activity to stay healthy. One study found that the amount of time spent in front of the television or computer had a direct correlation to an individual's BMI (Stephens, 2003). Parsons (2003) debated whether nature or nurture affects childhood obesity more. Scientists have linked genetics to obesity (Parsons, 2003). Parents often reinforce bad lifestyle habits (Parsons, 2003).

Here there is a list of paraphrased sentences, but again they seem to be missing any links or connections to show how the different ideas are related. Rather than simply using a list of paraphrased sentences from these sources, the author of the next example integrates each piece of information from the sources by using extra explanation or transitions.

Paragraph With Paraphrased Material, Revised (Revisions in Bold)

The causes of childhood obesity are various. Greg (2005) found that children need physical activity to stay healthy. However, children's inactive lifestyles and the time they spend in front of a screen seem to consume the time they could otherwise spend playing outdoors or involved in physical activities. In fact, this lack of physical activity has a direct effect on body fat index (BMI). One study found that the amount of time spent in front of the television or computer had a direct correlation to an individual's BMI (Stephens, 2003). While screen time is correlated with high BMI, Parsons (2003) still debated whether nature or nurture affects childhood obesity more. Though Parsons admitted that scientists have linked genetics to obesity, he also explains that parents often reinforce bad lifestyle habits (Parsons, 2003).

Adding transitions allows the author to make connections while still presenting the paraphrased source material.