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Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a useful skill in academic writing. The skill is used to turn someone else's words or text into your own words, within an academic honesty framework.

Original text or quote to be paraphrased

Children who develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion – often through empathetic perspectival experience – understand what their aggression has done to another separate person, for whom they increasingly care. They thus come to feel guilt about their own aggression and real concern for the well-being of the other person. Empathy is not morality, but it can supply crucial ingredients of morality. As concern develops, it leads to an increasing wish to control one’s own aggression; children recognize that other people are not their slaves but separate beings with the right to lives of their own. (Nussbaum, 2010, p.37)

Reference:

Nussbaum, M. C. (2010). Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [APA style]

Nussbaum, M.C. (2010) Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [Harvard style]

Nussbaum, Martha. Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010. Print. [MLA style]

Nussbaum, Martha. Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010. [Chicago style for a bibliography entry]

 

The text in italics above has been written by Martha Nussbaum. I want to paraphrase it so I can use it in my own work. Here are some examples, showing the stages or drafts. 

Stage or draft 1

Children who develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion – understand what their aggression has done to another separate person. They feel guilty about their own aggression and real concern for the well-being of the other person. As concern develops, it leads to an increasing wish to control their own aggression. Then children recognize that other people are separate beings with the right to lives of their own, and not to be ordered around. (Nussbaum, 2010)

 

 

Explanation: this example of a paraphrase shows what happens when you cut and paste text, i.e. you tend to just change words. If you compare it to the original text, you can see it is not that much different. This is a poor paraphrase, and would be likely to be regarded as plagiarism, if submitted to a plagiarism detecting service. *

Stage or draft 2

Nussbaum (2010, p. 37) considered that children need to ‘develop a capacity for sympathy or compassion’, sometimes through experiencing common events or feelings. When they do this, they can better appreciate what their actions have done to another person, for whom they may feel more affection. In fact, children may feel guilty and this helps them to change their behavior and views about other people, who they see more as individuals, to whom they need to relate, rather than issue peremptory orders to people, without reference to the other person’s feelings. 

 

Explanation: in this example of paraphrasing, there is more evidence of thinking about the original text (rather than just cutting and pasting) and a good attempt has been made to put it into different words. The same order of the original text remains, and a good tip is to quote a memorable phrase, i.e. a section you might find difficult to put into other words. 

Stage or draft 3

Nussbaum (2010) concluded that children begin to see other people as separate living entities, with their own emotions and activity, rather than simply beings that only exist in relation to children. This process of emotional development and change may occur through experiencing similar events to another person and guilt, when reflecting on their initial, selfish reactions. 

 

 

Explanation: in this example, not only has paraphrasing happened, but the original text has been summarized too, which results in less words being used. Note that the order of the original text has been changed, so that a conclusion has been made, followed by a justification or reason.

For all paraphrasing, the original source needs to be cited in the text, and the source included in the bibliography of your work.

In this version, because you've used your own words, you just need to acknowledge the source, but you might like to also record the page number in the parenthetical citation. 

Tip: it is far better to look at the text and understand what is being communicated, then write your understanding in your own words, rather than copy someone else's text and 'play around' with the words. 

Note to readers

Paraphrase vs Plagiarism

* Content was created by Anthony Tilke, Head of Library Service at the Dover Campus of UWCSEA for use in an Extended Essay seminar with IBDP students in August 2014. The paraphrased versions were used to illustrate what to do and what not to do when paraphrasing text written by another person. It should be emphasised that the first version of paraphasing is not acceptable, and should not be seen as a model for paraphrasing.