When paraphrasing, there are a few common mistakes you should learn to avoid:
- Avoid switching out or changing around of a few words in an author's sentence(s) for use in your paper.
- Avoid failing to acknowledge (through an in-text citation or direct quotes) the outside source from which you obtained your information or ideas.
Exception: When paraphrasing, you do not have to directly cite common knowledge. Common knowledge is information that is widely known and can be found in multiple places. For example, writing that Ronald Reagan was a U.S. Republican president would be considered common knowledge, so it would not need to be cited. However, when in doubt, it is always better to cite than run the risk of plagiarism.
- Avoid acknowledging the author in an in-text citation but failing to include quotation marks around any terms or phrasing that you have borrowed from the author.
Note that any of the unsuccessful elements of paraphrasing are considered plagiarism in your essay, even if these paraphrasing missteps are unintentional. Learn more about inadvertent plagiarism and its connection to insufficient plagiarism via the plagiarism videos below or visit our Plagiarism Prevention Resource Kit.