Plagiarism is a serious concern in academic and professional contexts, with severe consequences. Inappropriate paraphrasing can involve merely substituting a few words with synonyms without altering the original text’s structure or meaning. 

This article aims to guide readers on proper vs. improper paraphrasing techniques for avoiding plagiarism. It covers the appropriate use of direct quotes and synonyms and the importance of accurately conveying the author’s ideas while still expressing them in one’s words.

What Is Improper Paraphrasing?

Improper paraphrasing is considered plagiarism when it involves using someone else’s ideas, language, or sentence structure without giving proper attribution. While paraphrasing is a valuable writing skill, it is essential to properly cite the original source and refrain from repeating the original content word-for-word

Improper paraphrasing can occur when a writer uses close matches of the original content with slight changes, such as changing a few words but keeping the sentence structure the same or summarizing a large portion of the original text without proper citation. 

It is crucial to understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing and always to provide appropriate citations when writing a research paper. When paraphrasing, using one’s own words and sentence structure to convey the original idea is best.

Here is an example of improper paraphrasing.

What Is Proper Paraphrasing?

Proper paraphrasing is a critical skill in academic writing, where writers restate the original author’s ideas in their own words while retaining the original meaning. 

To paraphrase correctly, writers should fully understand the original text, take notes, summarize the ideas in their own words, and compare the result to the original text. This demonstrates the writer’s comprehension of complex material and ability to communicate it effectively.

When paraphrasing in academic writing, it’s crucial to use quotation marks appropriately and sparingly for direct quotes. Preferably, writers should use paraphrasing to integrate the original author’s ideas. 

Properly citing the original source is essential for maintaining academic integrity. Citations should include relevant information such as the author’s name, publication date, and work title. Failing to cite sources can result in accusations of plagiarism, which can have severe consequences for one’s academic and professional career.

This example demonstrates proper paraphrasing, which involves using one’s own words and sentence structure to restate the original idea.

Proper & Improper Paraphrasing: Side by Side

The table above shows an original passage, an acceptable paraphrase, and an unacceptable paraphrase. Acceptable paraphrases use different sentence structures and keywords to keep the original meaning. In contrast, unacceptable ones either use the exact words or change the sentence structure to change the meaning. 

Only information that is common knowledge does not require paraphrasing or citation. Proper paraphrasing involves rewording the original sentence and citing the source, while improper paraphrasing uses the exact words or alters the sentence structure.

6 Steps To Avoid Improper Paraphrasing

Here are a few tips to help writers avoid common pitfalls while paraphrasing.

1. Check the Source of the Original Content

Before paraphrasing any content, individuals should check the validity and recent publication of the source to avoid outdated or invalid sources that may result in inaccurate paraphrasing and unintentional plagiarism.

2. Fully Understand the Meaning of the Content

To paraphrase accurately, it’s essential to fully comprehend the meaning of the original content by reading the text several times and researching any unclear terms.

3. Use Quotation Marks for Unique Words or Phrases

If a phrase or group of words is unique to the original content, individuals should use quotation marks to indicate a direct quote and rephrase the surrounding text to convey the same meaning.

4. Compare Your Paraphrasing With the Original

After drafting the paraphrased content, individuals should compare it with the original to ensure the uniqueness and accurate conveyance of the original text.

5. Cite All Sources, Every Time

Writers must give proper credit and attribution to the original author or source using in-text citations and a reference list when paraphrasing content.

6. Use a Plagiarism Checker

Individuals should also use a plagiarism checker to double-check their work for any types of plagiarism and ensure proper credit and attribution have been provided using in-text citations, a reference list, and quotation marks when necessary.

Plagiarism Checker for Peace of Mind

Proper paraphrasing is vital for maintaining the original meaning of source material in one’s own writing. Improper paraphrasing is a form of plagiarism that can result in significant consequences. 

To avoid inappropriate paraphrasing, writers should use direct quotations when necessary and provide proper citations for all source material. Using a plagiarism checker like Quetext can help writers ensure their work is original and free of plagiarism by scanning for improper paraphrasing.