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Paraphrasing Essay

Paraphrasing and summarizing are very similar. Both involve taking ideas, words or phrases from a source and crafting them into new sentences within your writing. In addition, summarizing includes condensing the source material into just a few lines. Whether paraphrasing or summarizing, credit is always given to the author. Below is a passage taken from Raymond S. Nickerson’s “How We Know-and Sometimes Misjudge-What Others Know: Imputing One’s Own Knowledge to Others.” Psychological Bulletin 125.6 (1999): p737. In order to communicate effectively with other people, one must have a reasonably accurate idea of what they do and do not know that is pertinent to the communication. Treating people as though they have knowledge that they do not have can result in miscommunication and perhaps embarrassment. On the other hand, a fundamental rule of conversation, at least according to a Gricean view, is that one generally does not convey to others information that one can assume they already have. Here is an example of what would be considered plagiarism of this passage: For effective communication, it is necessary to have a fairly accurate idea of what our listerners know or do not know that is pertinent to the communication. If we assume that people know something they do not, then miscommunication and perhaps embarrassment may result (Nickerson, 1999). The writer in this example has used too many of Nickerson’s original words and phrases such as “effective communication,” “accurate idea,” “know or do not know,” “pertinent,” “miscommunication,” and “embarrassment.” Also note that the passage doesn’t have an opening tag to indicate where use of the Nickerson’s material begins. A citation at the end of a paragraph is not sufficent to indicate what is being credited to Nickerson. Here is an example, in APA style, that is considered acceptable paraphrasing of this passage: Nickerson (1999) suggests that effective communication depends on a generally accurate knowledge of what the audience knows. If a speaker assumes too much knowledge about the subject, the audience will either misunderstand or be bewildered; however, assuming too little knowledge among those in the audience may cause them to feel patronized (p.737). Here the writer re-words Nickerson’s idea about what determines effective communication. The writer re-phrases “generally accurate knowledge” into “reasonably accurate idea.” In the second sentence, the writer re-words Nickerson’s ideas about miscommunication and embarrassment using instead the words “misunderstand,” “bewildered,” and “patronized.” Nickerson is given credit from the beginning as the originator of the ideas. This is an example of a successful paraphrase because the writer understands the ideas espoused by Nickerson, and is able to put them into her own words while being careful to give him credit. Here is an example, in APA style, that would be considered acceptable summarizing of this passage: Nickerson (1999) argues that clear communication hinges upon what an audience does and does not know. It is crucial to assume the audience has neither too much nor too little knowledge of the subject, or the communication may be inhibited by either confusion or offense (p. 737). Notice that the writer both paraphrases Nickerson’s ideas about effective communication and compresses them into two sentences. Like paraphrasing, summarizing passages is a tricky endeavor and takes lots of practice. If you’re ever in doubt about whether your summary or paraphrase might be accidental plagiarism, ask your teacher.

Example of Editing

Original: The novel Fight Club works to accomplish multiple things in terms of theme, for one thing it tries to show the destructive tendencies of humanity, how in many ways people are geared towards the destruction of themselves, but the movie also tried to reject this idea, to show that we can never embrace this aspect of ourselves, because if we do we’ll end up just like that, in destruction, and as the main character find out in the end, what’s more important is making connections with people and understanding others rather than living only for yourself and breaking any rules which disagree. Edited: The novel Fight Club work to accomplish numerous things thematically, for one it attempts to express the tendencies of mankind to devolve to embrace self destruction, and on the other it attempts to show how this can be nothing but futile. If we simply embrace self destruction then we fail to see the importance and value of the people around us, and we simply live to break rules, which is no way to live at all.

Effective 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.

Ineffective Paraphrasing Strategies
When paraphrasing, there are a few common mistakes you should learn to avoid: 1. Avoid switching out or changing around of a few words in an author’s sentence(s) for use in your paper. 2. 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. 3. 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.

Effective Paraphrasing Strategies

If you’re having trouble paraphrasing a text effectively, try following these steps:

1. Reread the original passage you wish to paraphrase, looking up any words you do not recognize, until you think you understand the full meaning of and intention behind the author’s words. 2. Next, cover or hide the passage. Once the passage is hidden from view, write out the author’s idea, in your own words, as if you were explaining it to your instructor or classmates. 3. After you have finished writing, check your account of the author’s idea against the original. While comparing the two, ask yourself the following questions: Have I accurately addressed the author’s ideas in a new way that
is unique to my writing style and scholarly voice? Have I tried to replicate the author’s idea or have I simply changed words around in his/her original sentence(s)? 4. Next, look for any borrowed terms or particular phrases you have taken from the original passage. Enclose these terms and phrases in quotation marks to indicate to your readers that these words were taken directly from the original text. 5. Last, include a citation, which should contain the author’s name, the year, and the page or paragraph number (if available), directly following your paraphrase.

Examples of Paraphrasing

Here is the original source an author might use in a paper:
Differentiation as an instructional approach promotes a balance between a student’s style and a student’s ability. Differentiated instruction provides the student with options for processing and internalizing the content, and for constructing new learning in order to progress academically. Here is an example of bad paraphrasing of the source. Even though the student is citing correctly, underlined words are simply synonyms of words used in the original source. You can also see how the sentence structure is the same for both the original source and this paraphrase. Differentiation is a way to encourage equality between the approach and talent of the student (Thompson, 2009). This type of instruction gives students different ways to deal with and grasp information, and for establishing new learning to move on in education (Thompson, 2009). Here is an example of a better way to paraphrase the source. In this example, the author has taken the essential ideas and information from the original source, but has worded it in her own way, using unique word choice and sentence structure. The author has condensed Thompson’s (2009) information, including what is relevant to her paper, but leaving out extra details that she does not needed. Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill (Thompson, 2009). –

See more at: http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/295.htm#sthash.EKKl31Ro.dpuf

Paraphrasing and summarising
In contrast to quoting directly, by summarising or paraphrasing an author’s ideas you are able to present your interpretation of an author’s ideas and
to integrate them more fully into the structure of your writing. Paraphrasing is generally used when you wish to refer to sentences or phrases in the source text. It is particularly useful when you are dealing with facts and definitions. Paraphrasing involves rewriting a short section from the source text in different words whilst keeping the same meaning. Summarising is generally used when you wish to refer to ideas contained in a long text. Summarising enables you to reduce the author’s ideas to key points in an outline of the discussion or argument by omitting unnecessary details and examples. Whether you summarise or paraphrase, you will still need to include a reference citing the source of the ideas you have referred to. A process for paraphrasing and summarising

Many students find the following process useful for summarising and paraphrasing information. Read the text carefully – you may need to read the text several times, and check the meaning of terms you do not understand in a dictionary. Identify and underline the key words and main ideas in the text, and write these ideas down. Consider these points as a whole and your purpose for using this information in relation to the structure of your assignment. You may be able to group the ideas under your own headings, and arrange them in a different sequence to the original text. Think about the attitude of the author, i.e. critical, supportive, certain, uncertain. Think about appropriate reporting verbs you could use to describe this attitude. Think of words or phrases which mean roughly the same as those in the original text. Remember, if the key words are specialised vocabulary for the subject, they do not need to be changed. (see Using synonyms below.) Using your notes from the above steps, draft your summary or paraphrase. When you have finished your draft reread the original text and compare it to your paraphrase or summary. You can then check that you have retained the meaning and attitude of the original text.

Using synonyms

To paraphrase a text, you can use a variety of techniques, such as synonymous words, synonymous word forms, or synonymous phrases. For example, the student text below has used synonymous word forms(scanners – scanner, use – using) (in bold), synonymous words (convert – recreates) (in bold italics), and synonymous phrases (their “eyes” – the scanner eye) (in italics).
Original source

scanners convert analog data into digital information… scanners use small electronic components (called CCDs, PMTs, or CISs) as their “eyes”… Student text
A scanner recreates an image such as a graphic using small electronic components referred to as the scanner’s eyes… Changing word forms
A common approach to changing the word forms in a sentence is to change the main verb into a noun, or less commonly to change the main noun into a verb. For example, compare the two sentences below: Original source

Scanners convert analog data into digital information.
Paraphrased sentence
The conversion of an image such as a graphic by a scanner occurs… Re-ordering main ideas
Another way of paraphrasing is to change the order of the main ideas in a sentence. One way of doing this is to change the active voice to passive voice or the passive voice to active voice. The active voice focuses on who or what is affected by a process or event, whilst the passive voice focuses on the event or process. For example compare the use of ‘ scanners convert’ and ‘ the conversion of’ in the examples above. For further information on the use of active and passive voice see the grammar tutorial.

Paraphrasing is the process of presenting another author’s content in your own words, while maintaining the meaning of the passage. It is useful when the author uses difficult-to-understand language and structure, when you want to focus on a different element of the passage or when your audiences are different (for example, the author wrote an academic paper, and you are a newspaper reporter). However, paraphrasing can also lead to plagiarism (using another author’s work or ideas as your own) if your sources are not appropriately and explicitly cited.

Other People Are Reading

How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing
Types Of Paraphrases
Instructions

1
Change the voice of the sentences from active to passive voice and vice versa. For example, “Educators prefer teaching lower grades” can become “Teaching lower grades is preferred by educators.” This is helpful when you want to focus more on the object rather than the subject of the sentence. 2

Change the wording of a passage using synonyms. A thesaurus can prove quite useful for this task. “Children develop their language by interacting with those around them” can become “Kids acquire language skills by communicating with people close to them.”

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Change the verb of the mood to subjunctive if you want to paraphrase a wish, a request or an unrealistic situation. You can also change subjunctive mood to indicative. For example, “The minister requested that his assistant bring the documents,” can become “The minister asked his assistant to bring the documents.” 4

Change the order of the sentence’s elements — without altering the mood of the verb of the voice — to stress the most important part for your work. For instance, “John Day (an imaginary person) was a successful writer, politician and businessman,” can be “John Day is famous for his success as a businessman, politician and writer.” 5

Use nicknames or colloquial terms to change a passage’s wording. You can change “New York City” to “the Big Apple,” for instance, or refer to “night shift” as the “graveyard shift.” However, this technique is not acceptable when writing a formal paper.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8759404_easily-paraphrase.html#ixzz2jBcfjEac

Paraphrasing correctly can prevent plagiarizing. When you paraphrase, you simply express someone else’s ideas in your own words. Unlike a brief summary, a paraphrase contains more detail, according to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). Although you have reworded the original, you must use in-text citations, parentheses containing the source of the information, in the required format. Paraphrasing may involve changes in vocabulary, length, parts of speech and sentence structure.

How to Write a Paraphrase
How to Teach Students How to Paraphrase
1. Synonym Replacement
At its simplest level, paraphrasing involves replacing original wording with synonyms. Consider this original sentence from Claudia Kalb’s “Newsweek” article, “Painkiller Crackdown,” “While the DEA says OxyContin is a ‘valuable’ drug, it is ‘concerned’ that many doctors who are prescribing the medications don’t ‘know’ enough about it and are not ‘conveying’ the dangers to patients. . . . ” If a student made only these replacements — “useful” for “valuable,” “worried” for “concerned,” “know” for “understand” and “explaining” for “conveying” — some paraphrasing would result, but much of the original would remain, resulting in partial plagiarism. Reduction of Clauses

Another method of paraphrasing involves changing clauses to phrases. For example, the clause, “while the DEA says OxyContin is a valuable drug” could become a more succinct phrase, “claiming Oxycontin’s value.” If a student combines this approach with synonym replacement, more effective paraphrasing occurs.

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Parts of Speech
Changing parts of speech may assist in paraphrasing. Consider another original sentence from Kalb’s “Newsweek” article: “Last week the ‘spotlight’ on OxyContin ‘intensified’ as the Drug Enforcement Administration ‘announced’ a national strategy to ‘combat’ the painkiller’s ‘illegitimate’ use. . . .” If a student restructured the sentence, changing parts of speech, some paraphrasing would occur: “The Drug Enforcement Administration last week ‘spotlighted’ OxyContin more ‘intensely’ and made an ‘announcement’ of a national strategy, which combats using the painkiller ‘illegitimately.'” However, this paraphrasing lacks originality and again results in partial plagiarism.

Change of Structure

Changing the sentence structure adds to the value of the paraphrase, reflecting the writer’s interpretation of the author’s thoughts. Consider this original wording from the “Newsweek” article: “OxyContin was developed to do good: relieve debilitating pain. But since the powerful drug debuted in 1996, it has become increasingly known for a dangerous side effect — the potential for serious addiction.” By beginning with a phrase and changing the structure, a writer could create the following: “First appearing in 1996, Oxycontin claimed to relieve unnecessary suffering. Today, however, experts know it can pose an ‘addictive’ threat (Kalb 38).” These restructured sentences also include synonym replacement (“appeared” for “debuted”) and changes in parts of speech (“addictive” for “addiction”). With the Modern Language Association (MLA) in-text citation, this paraphrasing avoids any trace of plagiarism by combining multiple forms of paraphrasing.

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How to Teach Students How to Paraphrase
By Hilary Riepenhoff, eHow Contributor

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Teaching students to paraphrase takes time and practice.
Paraphrasing is an essential skill for students to obtain. Without paraphrasing, students are at risk for plagiarism. It is important to lay the ground work for successful instruction of paraphrasing through explanation of key concepts, modeling and practice of the skill. Only through practice and constant feedback will a student’s paraphrasing ability grow.

Activities for Paraphrasing Information
Difference Between Summarizing & Paraphrasing
Instructions
1.
1
Teach the key differences between retelling, summarizing and paraphrasing. Author of “Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling,” Emily Kissner suggests, the three concepts are similar, but are different in development, formation, and final product. Summaries contain main ideas, some supporting details and are in chronological order, yet shorter in length. Retelling is orally sharing information, while recalling important information from the text. According to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, successful paraphrasing puts the information from the passage in your own words, while attributing the original source. It is shorter in length because you abbreviate the information. 2

Remind students that although paraphrased material is not in quotes, one must credit the original source. Explain that making small changes in wording, rearranging the original quote or failing to cite the source is plagiarism.

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3
Indiana University of Bloomington’s Writing Tutorial Service suggests teaching several key strategies, including to rewrite using your own words while covering the quote you are paraphrasing to avoid the urge to copy; also check your paraphrased work to ensure you have not accidentally written anything word for word from the original and that the information included is correct. 4

Begin small by introducing paraphrasing with sentences instead of lengthy paragraphs. Ensure students understand information stated in each sentence. Consider a student’s ability levels in reading. 5

Model the concept of paraphrasing to students. Show students what good paraphrasing looks like. Give examples based on appropriate change in words and structure. Prepare examples and have students explain their reasoning on whether the paraphrasing is correct or not. 6

Provide students the opportunity to orally paraphrase sentences in their own words. Work as a group to recognize what works with a student’s paraphrased responses and what does not. Instant feedback guides students toward correct paraphrasing. Independent practice then evaluates student progress and growth.

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Paraphrasing and Summarizing Exercise
This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource contains the practice exercise on paraphrasing and summarizing to help you learn how to apply the guidelines in this section to your own writing. Take a look at the text below (excerpted from “Expert: Wikipedia Won’t Go Away, So Learn How to Use It” by Maggie Morris) and the following attempts at paraphrasing and summarizing. The first four are not adequate, but the last one is. Look at each of the four inappropriate attempts, and decide what exactly makes each inappropriate. The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research rather than as the final word, says a Purdue University communications expert. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. “But Wikipedia is here to stay and, despite penalties, people are likely to continue using it.”

Version 1: The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication.

Version 2: The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication (Morris).

Version 3: Wikipedia is popular, which makes it vital that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, “and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use” (Morris).

Version 4: “Wikipedia is popular, which makes it necessary to learn using the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. ‘Students are addicted to Wikipedia,’ says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, ‘and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use’” (Morris).

Version 5: Sorin A. Matei of Purdue University says that because students are “addicted to Wikipedia” and will continue to rely on it, it is important for teachers to help them to use Wikipedia as a place to begin research, rather than as a final source. Matei also says that penalties are unlikely to be effective (Morris).

Version 5 is correct. Here the student combined her own paraphrasing with a quotation of striking language of the original text. She made certain her words and those taken directly from the source fit together; she quoted accurately and cited her source. Some of the information is consolidated, and the specific kinds of penalties given by teachers—a minor detail—are left out.

Answers for Paraphrasing and Summarizing Exercises
This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on November 5, 2008 .

Summary:
This resource contains the answers for the ESL exercises on paraphrasing and summarizing. Paraphrasing and Summarizing
The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research rather than as the final word, says a Purdue University communications expert. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. “But Wikipedia is here to stay and, despite penalties, people are likely to continue using it.”

Version 1: The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication.

This version would be considered blatant plagiarism. The text is excerpted almost word for word without using quotation marks appropriately, without giving credit to the original author. Some words have been cut out, but the original author’s language is still quite obvious.

Version 2: The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication (Morris).

Credit is given to the original author (Morris), but quotation marks are still not used, and the language still closely resembles the original writing.

Version 3: Wikipedia is popular, which makes it vital that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. “Students are addicted to Wikipedia,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, “and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use” (Morris).

The original author is given credit, and technically the passage is correct, but the writer suggests that Morris’ main point is teachers’ reactions. In fact, Morris is emphasizing the importance of Wikipedia, and talks about teachers’ reactions as a secondary point.

Version 4: “Wikipedia is popular, which makes it necessary to learn using the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. ‘Students are addicted to Wikipedia,’ says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, ‘and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use’” (Morris).

The quotation is essentially accurate, quotation marks are used, and Morris is given credit. The bigger problem is that the writer made no attempt to use his or her own language, to integrate the quotation into their own words. The smaller problem is the lack of ellipses (. . .) to indicate where the writer took out part of the quotation.

Version 5: Sorin A. Matei of Purdue University says that because students are “addicted to Wikipedia” and will continue to rely on it, it is important for teachers to help them to use Wikipedia as a place to begin research, rather than as a final source. Matei also says that penalties are unlikely to be effective (Morris).

Version 5 is correct. Here the student combined her own paraphrasing with a quotation of striking language of the original text. She made certain her words and those taken directly from the source fit together; she quoted accurately and cited her source. Some of the information is consolidated, and the specific kinds of penalties given by teachers—a minor detail—are left out.

Paraphrasing & Summarizing Exercise
This is the last part of Wallace’s Copyright & Plagiarism tutorial.Please read the following passages to garner an understanding in the art of paraphrasing. More practice is available via Web links on the Student Guide to Copyright .

Original passage:
Nobody called him Abe–at least not to his face–because he loathed the nickname. It did not befit a respected professional who’d struggled hard to overcome the limitations of his frontier background. Frankly Lincoln enjoyed his status as a lawyer and politician, and he liked money, too, and used it to measure his worth. By the 1850’s, thanks to a combination of talent and sheer hard work, Lincoln was a man of substantial wealth. He had an annual income of around $5,000–the equivalent of many times that today–and large financial and real-estate investments. Oates, Stephen B. Our Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, and the Civil War Era. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979. p. 65 Incorrect paraphrase:

No one used Lincoln’s nickname, Abe, because he detested it. It didn’t go with a lawyer and politician who had worked to get away from the restrictions of his country heritage. Lincoln liked his new position, and his wealth, and used it to gauge his status. By mid-century, his skill and labor had made him a fairly wealthy man. He had a yearly income of approximately $5,000 – equal to several times that now – and hefty business and land commitments. ** This is incorrect because it uses the same basic structure as the original with some word changes and does not credit the author. Correct paraphrase:

By the middle of the century, Lincoln enjoyed life as a well-respected lawyer and politician, having acquired a position of status and wealth that was well removed from his early “frontier background”. He now was bringing in $5,000 a year (this translates to $87,500 in 1997 dollars [Derks, 2]), and had substantial “financial and real estate investments”. As a consequence, he disliked being called Abe because of its association with his rural heritage. (Oates, 65) ** This is correct because it portrays the ideas of Oates’ passage and gives Oates credit for his ideas. The writer has used his own words to present those ideas and has used quotation marks for those phrases that are from Oates. The writer has also included additional research on the value of the income and has sited the source for that as well.

Correct summarization:

When we think of Abraham Lincoln, the image of a wealthy lawyer is not the first that comes to mind. A man, who worked hard, struggled and came from a less than ideal background is often the picture we invoke. However, it is an incomplete portrait. Mr. Lincoln was successful both professionally and financially even by today’s standards. (Oates, 65) ** This is also correct. It summarizes Oates’ ideas completely in the writer’s own words, but gives Oates credit for the ideas.

Chapter Objectives
To understand and applying critical reading strategies.
To develop the understanding of summary in various rhetorical modes such as narrative fiction, personal essay, and technical writing (figures and tables). To define and instruct students on the three skills of incorporating research into their writing: summary, paraphrase, and quotation. To review models and apply concepts of summary, paraphrase, and quotation through practical applications and exercises. To understand the concept of plagiarism and learn techniques to avoid it through various examples and exercises. Although the papers you write will be your own—your own voice, your own purpose, your own thesis statement, introduction, conclusion, and topic/transition sentences—there will be times when you will want to integrate source material to help you support your assertions. Integrating sources such as information from books, newspapers, magazines, interviews or websites, is done in one of three ways: summary, paraphrase, and quotation. The purpose of this chapter is to teach you these three basic concepts of writing, so you can incorporate research into your writing without plagiarizing. These skills are addressed first because you will need them in all college writing you produce no matter what the course subject. In fact, this process will begin with synthesis and analysis essays which appear later in this book.

What is a Summary?

A summary is a brief restatement, in your own words, of the content of a passage. You should focus on the central idea of the passage, and, in a condensed form, relay the passage’s main points reflecting the order in which they occur. In most situations a summary is approximately one quarter the length of the original passage. A summary will not include minor details, repeated points, or any of your own opinions and conclusions. You will use summary when you want to present the main points of a lengthy passage in order to develop or support the discussion of your essay. How to Write Summaries

Read the passage carefully.
In order to summarize information, you must first be able to understand it. This requires careful critical reading. Read the passage completely the first time to gain an overall understanding of the piece, as you re-read the piece, begin making margin notes that identify important points, shifts in thoughts, and questions you may have. You will also want to consider at this point what the significance of the whole piece is, what the parts of the essay that fit into the whole are, and how the points are organized to support the whole. Finally, you will want to divide the passage into stages of thought, which you will later develop into the body paragraphs of your rough draft. A section or stage of thought in a passage is usually several paragraphs in length. You can identify these more easily by looking for transitional sentences at the beginning or end of paragraphs thatsummarize what has come before or set the stage for what is to follow. Write one-sentence summaries of each stage of thought.

Once you have identified the stages of thought in the passage, create a one-sentence summary for each stage of thought. This sentence must be in your own words, and it must illustrate your understanding of the passage. This is often the most difficult part of summary writing because you may be tempted to use the writer’s words or structure, which would be plagiarism. It is always a good idea to put the original passage aside at this point and summarize what you have read in the section using your own understanding and thinking skills. Write a thesis: a one- or two-sentence summary of the entire passage. Now look over all the sentences you have created for your stages of thought. Once again, you will work to condense information as you summarize the essence of the passage in one or two sentences, thereby creating your thesis statement for your rough draft. Another hint is to remember that the thesis will be the first sentence of the summary draft, and it includes the passage’s subject and the claim that the author is making about that subject. Write the first draft of your summary.

At this point you are ready to draft your summary essay. Depending on whether you have been assigned to write a short summary or a longer summary, you can structure your summary in one of two ways: combine the thesis with your list of one-sentence summaries (short summary) or combine the thesis with your list of one-sentence summariesplus significant details from the passage (longer summary). Check your summary against the original passage.

After completing your draft, you will want to make sure the content of your information has completely and accurately summarized the passage without plagiarizing or adding any of your own personal opinion. Now, return to the original text and compare your draft against it. Revise your summary.

In revising your summary, combine sentences and insert transitions where necessary to make your summary clear and coherent. Edit for grammatical correctness. Compare the length of the summary to the original.

Summaries, as general rule, should be no longer than one-fourth of the original passage, although they could be much shorter, depending on your purpose in summarizing the original.

What is a Narrative?

A narrative is a story, a retelling of a person’s experiences. It can be imaginary, in which the narrator is a created character (fiction), or it can be biographical (non-fiction), in which the narrator is actually the author. Note: non-fiction narratives are referred to as essays, or personal essays. Summarizing a narrative will be slightly different from summarizing an expository essay because it will most likely not have a direct thesis statement, and its stages of thought will be developed through descriptive events or time periods rather than through factual evidence or logical explanations of the subject. In summarizing a narrative, you will give a synopsis or overview of the story’s events and relate how these events affect the central character. However, the steps of reading/rereading, dividing stages of thought, writing one-sentence summaries, writing a thesis, drafting, and revising will be primarily the same.

Summarizing Figures and Tables

Figures and tables are in essence summaries themselves; they present a pictorial overview of material and are often used because they communicate information more clearly and quickly. Below are different types of graphic devices: Pie Charts show relative proportions or percentages.

Graphs relate one variable to another. They are effective in showing trends or cause-and-effect relationships. Tables present numerical data in rows and columns for quick reference and are most effective when the writer wants to emphasize numbers, particularly when a great deal of data is being displayed.

What is a Paraphrase?

A paraphrase is very similar to a summary in that you use your own words to communicate to your reader what the original passage has stated; however, an important difference between the two is that the paraphrase is approximately the same length as the original rather that one quarter of its length, as a summary is. In a paraphrase, instead of only restating the writer’s main points, you will follow the progression of the writer’s ideas sentence by sentence. In other words, each sentence in the paraphrase corresponds to a sentence in the original, the main difference being, of course, you have replaced the language of the original with your own language. Paraphrasing is used most effectively when you want to present material written in language that is abstract, archaic, or highly technical, and you feel your audience will better understand the material in your words.

What is a Quotation?

A quotation records the exact language in a source. You should use quotations sparingly, because every quotation contains the voice of the writer who composed the text. Using too many quotes obliterates your voice and is a clear indication that you have not successfully synthesized your source material with your own writing. It is often a red flag to your audience that either you may not have completely understood the source or you have not taken the time paraphrase the information for them. Used wisely, however, quotes can add credibility and interest to your paper.

When to quote

Use quotations when another writer’s language is particularly memorable and will add liveliness to your paper. Use quotations when another writer’s language is so clear and economical that to make the same point in your own words would, by comparison, be ineffective. Use quotation when you want the solid reputation of a source to lend authority and credibility to your own writing. Incorporating quotations into your sentences

Quotations should never stand by themselves without an attribution. Work the material into your sentence as naturally as possible, using appositives to identify the speakers or authors of the quote. Always credit your sources with an attribution in the text or in a formal citation, depending on the level of formality of your assignment. Use ellipses (three spaced periods) to indicate that material has been omitted from the quote. If you are deleting the end of a quoted sentence, or if you are deleting entire sentences of paragraphs before continuing a quotation, add a period before the ellipsis. Use brackets whenever you need to add or substitute words in order to clarify meaning for your audience.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is generally defined as the attempt to pass off the work of another as one’s own. At any time in your writing if you are using the thoughts or words of another source, you must document where you read or found the information by giving credit to its author; this is done by using parenthetical citation and a works cited page which will be discussed in further detail in chapter seven. With the ease of the Internet for research and the ability to cut and paste information from websites, plagiarism can become quite tempting, especially if procrastination haunts your life and you find that your unwritten paper is due the next morning. However, most plagiarism is unintentional. Poor note taking skills and synthesizing of source material can lead you to overlook placing parenthetical citations where they are necessary. Unfortunately, most professors treat unintentional plagiarism the same as intentional plagiarism because the student is ultimately responsible for his/her own work.

Avoiding Plagiarism

You can avoid plagiarism by being aware of the follow rules of thumb and by practicing using sources appropriately. Remember summaries, paraphrases, and quotes all receive documentation because all are the thoughts or words of another person. Remember when writing summaries and paraphrases you must communicate the source information into your own words (your own language and sentence structure). Always check your summary or paraphrase against the original after writing it. If you find four words in a rowidentical between the two, then you know you have not properly summarized/paraphrased the information, and you would be guilty of plagiarism.


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