Tag Archives: how to write

10 Pointers from One of the Winners of a Research Paper Contest

How do you write  a competitive research paper? Here are 10 points that can guide you towards realizing your goal to win.

Getting awarded for a research paper I hurriedly prepared within a three-day period is something that confirmed my approach in research writing. Last Thursday, August 14, the paper I wrote based on a nine-month project completed in 2013 garnered the third prize in the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Contest under the professional category.

During the convention, I learned that a total of 31 entries were submitted from all over the country for a double-blind review by experts in the field of health. And only three research papers made it – mine included. More than 500 participants nationwide coming from the 17 regional health research consortia participated in the event.

A senior colleague and once the university’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs was instrumental to my success as she prodded me to join the contest although I had misgivings because the deadline was three days away. Despite my apprehension, I confidently nodded and said okay. I thought I might be able to glean useful data and information from recently concluded research project on the economic analysis of household adaptation options to climate change.

I summoned all I could muster to at least beat the deadline despite the limited time frame. I reviewed relevant literature and organized my thoughts as I write, guided by the theme of the celebration.

I did this kind of writing before mainly for compliance; but this time, I thought I’d aim to win — for a change. I’m giving research tips in this site and I’d like to put them to work. My intention was, if ever I win the contest, I would share pointers in writing it here. And that will make this site a more credible reference for colleagues and students in writing their research papers.

So here are  the 10 key points that helped me deliver a winning research paper despite the time constraint.

10 Key Points for a Winning Research Paper

1. Assess your capability and stick to the deadline.

Before writing anything, note the deadline of paper submission. Is it still possible for you to figure out a paper before the deadline ends? You have to assess your capability and resources at hand to deliver a paper within the prescribed period.

My typing speed of at least 60 words per minute helped me write the research paper with ease as my hands can cope up with what’s in my mind. That speeds up my composition as every idea that comes to mind rapidly goes on paper in real-time.

I like blogging and I’ve written hundreds of online articles for the past six years; so putting ideas into writing has not really become much of an issue. This is the reason I encourage colleagues to blog. This will hone their writing skills while at the same time earn something if they join free writing sites that pay their bloggers.

Back to the deadline issue, if the deadline is Monday, then by all means, submit your research paper on or before the deadline. Indeed, during the announcement of the winners, the chairman of the board of judges mentioned that research papers submitted beyond the deadline were no longer accepted. I submitted my research paper in the afternoon of the deadline date.

2. Make your research paper relevant to the theme.

I made sure that the paper I submitted adheres to the theme of the convention. The convention’s theme focused on the role of health research in disaster and emergency health management. Thus, I titled my paper “Climate Hazard Effects on Socio-Environmental Health and Adaptation Strategies in Two Coastal Communities in Palawan Island.” That’s about disaster’s effect on the health of marginalized communities and how two communities adapted to climatic threats. The communities explored “soft” and “hard” adaptation strategies to make their communities more resilient to the negative effects of climate change.

3. Keep to the rules. See the contest guidelines.

I followed the contest guidelines in its entirety. There is a prescribed format for writing the research paper as well as in the slide presentation. I followed the IMRaD format using my favorite word processor. The slides must not exceed 10, so I prepared 10 slides; no more, no less.

4. Do the writing in the morning.

I have fun doing my write-up in the morning. My mind works best from 4:30 to 11:30 am. After lunch, my brain goes into a slumber. There’s something in the food that makes me sleepy.

According to Ben Biggs, increased serotonin in the brain as a result of eating heartily is the culprit. To keep my writing momentum, I will either eat a small meal at lunchtime, or… sleep.

In that three-day writing spree, I took the latter approach, taking a one-hour nap after lunch. I’m alive after that brief trip to dreamland.

Surprisingly, I was able to sustain my writing from the usual drowsy 2 pm writing struggle. Somehow, the adrenalin push caused by the nearing deadline counteracted the effect of serotonin. At 4 o’clock, I regain back my writing momentum.

5. Have a good review of recent and relevant literature.

Many of the published literature on climate effects are in scientific journals that I have no access at the time of writing. Unfazed by this constraint, I resorted to online material that are both relevant and recent, and of course, free.

My references on the weather and disasters were obtained from mostly government-operated sites that I could rely on as these are public service sites. I gathered the most relevant ones and kept my writing concise, summarizing each report as succinctly as I could by applying the 5Ws and 1H technical writing strategy.

third place winner
My certificate of recognition and trophy for winning the third prize during the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week celebration.

6. Adopt the viewpoint of the reader.

I adopted the viewpoint of the one screening the research paper. I have had experience reading and evaluating the work of others so I tried to take the reader’s viewpoint while I read my own paper. This proved to be difficult because I have my biases. But thinking as if I am the judge myself and using the contest’s judgment criteria, I saw critical areas or arguments in my manuscript that need revision.

Asking colleagues would have been better, but the brief period to prepare the research paper would not allow it. I will certainly do this once another opportunity arises.

7. Be particular about your grammar.

In any contest where English is the medium of expression, a non-native English speaker like me has to rely on previous educational training, readings and references. I did good in English during my high school and college days. Further, I developed my writing skills by reading the composition of great writers as well as practicing the trade, mainly, through blogging.

For me, if it sounds right and not really awkward to read, then it’s probably written right. Further, a good word processor can point out obvious grammatical errors. I made good use of it.

8. Use short sentences.

A veteran research writer colleague reminded me once to keep my sentences brief and concise. This simple suggestion helped me all the way in my writing engagements.

Whenever possible, I see to it that each sentence I write contains one idea or a set of ideas that work harmoniously. This writing style simply works.

9. Provide relevant figures and tables.

Remember the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words?” I selected figures, graphs and tables that contribute to the message I want to put across. Just glancing at these complementary sources of information improves the readers’ understanding of the research paper.

Specifically, for the pictures to include in the research paper, show something controversial or intriguing that will spark a discussion. The picture should be socially relevant if the theme is about people.

As for the tables, I adopt three guidelines: 1) limit columns to a maximum of four as much as possible, 2) arrange the title of each column from the most important to the least important information, and 3) provide explanatory notes under the table for better understanding.

10. Direct your mind towards winning.

When I wrote the research paper, I thought of winning the contest. I didn’t try this mindset before. My write ups were not written to compete but just to comply with the minimum requirements for participation. I didn’t enter any contest for lack of a good reason to do so. I just don’t like to compete as a matter of choice.

How did a changed mindset help me write better?

Adopting a winning attitude forced me to bring my talents and creativity to the fore. One of those things that I determined within myself is the idea that I will not settle for anything less as much as possible. I will make my work as perfect as possible if I can afford it. My work should be more than just enough. It should be as excellent as it should, at least in my point of view. So I read and reread the paper many times over.

Of course, the time pressure did not really turn out the best in my research paper as I realized some loopholes when I read it again and when the panel of judges were asking questions. But during the time of writing, the composition was the best I could muster. And it worked, because it passed the initial screening. The research paper made it to the six finalists out of 31 submitted for review.

A proper mindset allows you to harness your talents and creativity. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck argues that people with a growth mindset see their qualities as things that can be developed through years of passionate practice and learning. And I believe I just did that.

Finally, connecting ourselves to the Supreme Being and having a noble purpose matters. All these things will not happen without blessings from the One who made it all possible. To Him all glory and honor return. After all, this toil is geared towards the betterment of humanity.

Try these tips and see how you perform. Or if you are a winner yourself, posting your thoughts below will be of great help to research writers.

© 2014 August 17 P. A. Regoniel

Five Time Management Tips for the Busy Faculty

Are you one of those who want to do research but find yourself too busy with your teaching tasks? Do you wish you can do more and improve your research performance? Here are five time management tips to help you out.

One of the four major functions of regular faculty members in the university is to do research. However, I always hear complaints among colleagues about their inability to deliver research outputs due to time constraints. There are just too many things to do with very little time to spare. For someone who has to prepare lessons for several subjects, writing a sensible research proposal for possible funding appears to be an impossible proposition.

How can you deliver despite these obstacles to your research writing engagement? I have found the following ways helpful which colleagues and anyone in the same plight may find handy:

1. Optimize.

Don’t work towards perfection. This doesn’t mean that you will write or do work haphazardly but set an acceptable standard that you can at least meet. It is better to do something than keep on griping that you can’t do anything other than teach.

2. Outline your planned composition.

Outlining before writing anything  can be a great motivator. Thirty minutes will be more than enough to prepare an outline.

I created a mind map to help anyone come up with a research proposal. Writing your proposal in chunks of activities at a given period can help you check your progress.

3. Use a pocket note.

Ideas crop up in your mind in the middle of the night or at unexpected times of the day. It’s difficult to capture these fleeting ideas unless you have a pocket note ready for this purpose. Keep one that is easily accessible in your pocket or stash in your handbag or waist bag.

busy personI advise against using electronic storage such as an android phone, tablet, or similar gadget. It is easy to lose files and even the whole thing. When you do lose it, it becomes a distraction because you feel bad having lost something valuable.

Besides, pocket notes are very cheap. After you have finished writing about those ideas in your notes, tear off the page and dump that in the garbage bin. That gives you a sense of accomplishment as your pocket note becomes thinner.

4. Identify your best writing time.

Set aside a specific time each day to write about research-related tasks.

My best time in writing about anything is the first four hours of the day. My mind is fresh especially after I have made my usual six to seven kilometer run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

After lunch, I’m useless as my eyes start to droop. I call that the “after lunch phenomenon.” A 15-minute nap will perk me up to work once again, albeit, with difficulty.

Unless something really needs to be done, I resolve to spend the afternoon on household chores or light tasks such as buying groceries, shopping, taking leisure time, and similar activities.

5. Be consistent. Practice makes perfect.

I know I am one of those rare guys out there who can keep on doing things I have set out to do. I find that writing each day gives me unexplained pleasure. Now, I can’t count the online articles I have written since I started off in 2008. I lost count but I am pretty sure I wrote at least 600 articles on different topics.

While consistently writing a lot of short articles for many years, I noticed that my writing skills improved and I do it with much less effort than before. I find my writing activity handy in writing research-related tasks.

Things happen when you do something about your plan. Nothing will happen unless you act NOW. I like that Nike slogan “Just do it.”

© 2014 June 30 P. A. Regoniel

4 Elements of a Good Abstract

How do you write a good abstract? Here are four elements of a good abstract.

Abstracts are important references for scientists or students working on their research proposal; particularly, in preparing their review of literature.  The abstract describes an unpublished or published research study in capsule form. It is a brief overview of the investigation so that researchers are able to comprehend the content of the research quickly.

The information provided in the abstract must be sufficient to help the researcher decide whether the work is relevant to his interest or not. It should be brief but not lacking in important elements necessary for understanding of the research conducted. The abstract will also help the researcher decide whether to read the research paper in its entirety or not.

So how should the abstract of a research paper be written so that maximum benefit is derived from it?

Four Elements of a Good Abstract

Specifically, you should write the abstract to meet its intended purpose. The abstract should:

  1. state clearly the objectives of the study;
  2. concisely describe the methodology or method employed in gathering the data, processing, and analysis;
  3. summarize the results, and
  4. state the principal conclusions of the research.

Generally, an informational abstract should give a brief summary of the main sections of the research paper, i.e., the introduction, the materials and/or methods used, the findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations.

In some academic institutions or scientific journals, however, recommendations are not incorporated in the abstract. That is because anyone can make recommendations based on the conclusion/s of the study.

The conclusion, in particular, should be given attention in writing the abstract. The conclusion should be well supported by the findings of the investigation; not a sweeping statement without any valid argument based on the findings to back it up. This is what really matters to the researcher trying to find gaps in knowledge that he can fill in.

Number of Words

Normally, abstracts should not exceed 250 words but this number could vary depending on the prescribed number of words, say, when you would like to submit your research paper to a popular scientific journal. Brevity is emphasized.

The limited number of words required for the abstract means that every word included in the abstract is necessary and that this should be presented in a coherent manner.  Important information should fit into one paragraph so this requires a little bit of thinking challenge and practice to the beginning researcher.

Tense of the Abstract

In what tense should the abstract be written?

The abstract should be written in the past tense because the investigation has transpired. However, statement of facts in, say, the results and discussion and the conclusion, must be in the present tense.

Finally, the references (e.g. name of author and date) should not be cited in the abstract unless the research paper involves an improvement or modification of a previously published method used by a researcher.

For more information and tips in writing the abstract of your research paper, visit the online writing lab of Purdue University.

©Patrick A. Regoniel 19 May 2014

How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction: From General to Specific

How do you about writing a thesis introduction? Is there a way to do it to ensure that you put across the message more effectively? This article discusses one of the ways to make the introduction a logical explanation of the contents of a thesis. Writing the introduction follows a deductive approach. Read on how the general to specific method works.

My previous tip on how to write the introduction explained the importance of and provided an example of how to write a good hook. A good hook prompts the readers to go on and read the thesis. This time, I will detail another feature of a good thesis introduction that works well with the hook, that is, writing from general to specific.

Writing a Thesis Introduction: General to Specific

Many seasoned writers or researchers adopts writing from general to specific as the way to go.  Although this may seem common sense to those who write a lot and who have a way with words, professors or mentors need to guide their students or mentees. Mentoring provides at least the basic skills required for better composition.

If you are a student just finding your way in the scientific world for the first time by engaging yourself in thesis writing, writing a thesis introduction is quite a challenge. If you believe this is so, then you must go on and read my attempt to clarify this approach more fully.

The Inverted Pyramid Approach to Writing a Thesis Introduction

Let me illustrate the deductive writing method using an illustration to guide your thinking. I call this the inverted pyramid of writing a thesis introduction. It follows the general to the specific approach.

I figured out the situation in class while evaluating students’ interpretation of the inverted pyramid writing method. Incisively looking into draft compositions submitted to me, I thought that the concept at best gives just a gist or the tip of the iceberg. Many students find themselves at a loss on how to do it. Concept wise, it’s easy to understand, but applying it is another thing. There is a need to explain the idea further to make it more systematic.

So here it is. I will make the inverted pyramid or general to specific writing approach more detailed and doable. I present below my inverted pyramid concept.

writing a thesis introduction

As you will see in Figure 1 at right, there are three stages to be considered as you write from general to the specific concerns of the phenomenon.

Three Stages of the Inverted Pyramid Approach

1. Contextualization

First, there should be a contextualization of the situation or phenomenon. Contextualization provides details about the phenomenon being investigated or researched on. A simple way to do this is by applying the 5Ws and 1H technical writing approach. You will not miss important details using that method as you address the What, When, Where, Who, Why, and How questions. Make it as brief as you can.

2. Conceptualization

You should do some conceptualization based on the issue or concern at hand that you have introduced in the contextualization stage. Conceptualization is a product of reflective and analytical thinking. And thinking is best done when you have gained a lot of experience about the phenomenon you are trying to understand. The primary purpose at this stage is to point out the gap in knowledge about the event in question.

Further, notice that as you figure out the specific items in your study, there are many unknowns. Realize the limits of the mind. Many questions start to crop up in your head. There are many other important things to know.

The following questions can help clarify issues:

Some Questions to Clarify Issues
  • What things are already known about the phenomenon? 
  • Where will I get more information about the phenomenon?
  • How will I ensure that I am not duplicating another person’s work?
  • Have I read enough?
  • Do I have enough experience to say I am already thoroughly familiar with the subject?

Now, how will you go about this quandary? If you are asking some of these questions, this just means that you are not yet well-informed about your subject of inquiry. This situation requires more readings or a thorough review of literature.

Thus, it makes sense that many veteran researchers prefer or opt to write the introduction later, after a thorough review of the literature. Some researchers even defer writing the introduction at the end of the study.

It is during the conceptualization stage that you attempt to explain the phenomenon by presenting your hypothesis – your thesis or main argument. The hypothesis reflects what you believe is the best explanation of the phenomenon based on what you have read so far and your own reflective, analytic thinking.

Thus, the hypothesis is called an “educated guess.” It is here where theories as explanations of phenomenon come into play. You will need to be familiar with what plausible explanations there are available that you might want to adopt or modify.

3. Resolution

The last stage is an attempt at resolution, meaning, after formulating your hypothesis to explain the phenomenon. How will you go about it?

Now comes the point where you will ask the research questions that will serve as your guide in verifying your hypothesis. You must then present a systematic approach to testing your hypothesis – the method, which you will write in a separate chapter.

Now, I do hope that writing a thesis introduction is no longer an issue. You can now write with greater confidence. Develop your style.

© 2014 March 7 P. A. Regoniel

How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction: The Hook

How do you write a good introduction such that your readers will read the rest of your paper? You need to have a good hook. What is a hook and how is it used? This article explains this concept and provides an example.

After reading a lot of articles, essays, narrations, accounts, among other things, I would say I have had a good deal of experience to say how good introductions must be written. I say this not only in reference to writing a thesis, but for any other composition for that matter.

I encountered many tips on how to write introductions. All those tips make sense, but the bottom line of it all is that the one concerned has to develop his or her own style of writing the introduction. A common goal is such that the reader of the introduction should be able to thoroughly understand and appreciate what the researcher wants to do.

So, what really matters in writing the introduction, in this case, to be specific – the thesis introduction? I’m fond of simplifying things so I set forth the vital elements of a good introduction based on introductions I have read that catch my attention. I will start with those elements that really matter. Foremost among those that researchers must consider in writing the introduction is how to write a good “hook.”

How to Write a Good Hook

Have you ever read something that holds your attention after reading just a few lines of words? Things that push you to read on to find out what’s next?  And even read it all the way to the end?

If that’s the case, then you’re hooked! You have read an introduction that has a good “hook.” The “hook” is the writer’s way to attract your attention. It’s not an empty hook. It is something that pulls you around to follow what the author wants you to follow closely, i.e., without you consciously knowing that you were captivated by what you have just read.

Well, how do you write a good “hook?” It’s a matter of style. You can start with something that’s intriguing or an issue that is timely and appealing to people so that they would want to know more about it.

Examples are good ways to demonstrate how things work so here is an example of a “hook” just to give you an idea to help you get started. This is about a true case that occurred about a decade ago. I often use this example in my environmental science class to illustrate the link between the use of pesticides and human health.

Example of a Good Hook

Here is an example of how a good hook should be written:

The high rate of albinism among newly born babies in a mango-growing community alarmed concerned young mangogovernment agencies. A task force from the Department of Health was dispatched to the area to find out the reason behind the occurrence of such condition. Initial queries among the affected families revealed that all mothers who gave birth to albinos ate young mangoes while they were pregnant. Is there something wrong with the mangoes? The group explored further and tried to see if mango consumption is a good lead to undertake an investigation. They asked questions about anything related to mango production.

Several key informants noted that the abnormality started to occur since the mango farmers switched to a new pesticide formula introduced by a well-known manufacturer of consumer chemicals to their community. Is there something in the new pesticide that caused albinism among children in the recent years?

After this hook, you may then proceed and introduce what you intend to do to verify if indeed there is a link between pesticides and albinism.

Don’t you think the above account will spark your curiosity to go on and read what’s next? Well, I hope you do agree with me because the reason there was a high rate of albinism is quite interesting. What did the researchers find in the more rigorous investigation that followed the scoping or exploratory survey?

To cut the story short, the culprit of albinism among children are the contaminated young, green mangoes which pregnant mothers crave to eat while conceiving. In our local vernacular, we call this “paglilihi sa hilaw na mangga.” As a result, mothers consume mangoes laced with pesticide, which, incidentally, has an ingredient that prevents the production of melanin. Melanin is a natural substance produced by the body that gives color to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye. It is produced by cells in the skin called melanocytes.

Now, that’s something that will make you think. If you are quite mindful of your health and consume lots of fruits and/or vegetables, you need to make sure that those are free of pesticides that can be harmful to your health. It is disturbing to know that many of the common fruits and veggies that we eat have pesticide residues in them.

Is this a good hook for writing a good introduction? Did it spark your curiosity to know more? Write your thoughts below.

Read a related article that I wrote in Ezinearticles for more tips on writing the introduction by clicking the link below.

5 Tips For Writing Introductions For Research Papers

© 2014 March 1 P. A. Regoniel

Paraphrasing Passages in Research Writing: How Is It Done?

How do you paraphrase passages? This article explains and provides examples to illustrate how it is done.

This is a sequel of an article entitled, “Writing a Research Article: How to Paraphrase” in which the steps are explained on how to paraphrase sentences. But, how about when you paraphrase a passage? Will the steps be the same?

Yes, all the steps previously discussed can be used in passage paraphrasing. To start with, I will present a passage taken from the article of Dr. Regoniel entitled, “How to Conduct a Focus Group Discussion”. This particular passage is under the sub-topic, a trained moderator or facilitator.

“The moderator may not necessarily be the researcher himself but someone familiar with the issues to be discussed. Hence, he should confer with researcher before conducting the FGD process. He should have a good background knowledge of the participants and must not involve himself in the discussion, such as arguing with the participants. His main role is to introduce and explain the questions, clarify the issues raised, confirm responses, encourage the expression of ideas, among other related functions. He summarizes the process at the end of the discussion”.

So, how can we do it?

Since that passage is taken from a reliable source, your next step is to get the key words. From there, you can get the main idea and the supporting details. The use of T-chart can help you figure it out. Please see the sample below:

Use Key Words

The key words are focus group discussion (FGD), trained moderator (though the word trained is not present in the passage, it is part of the key word because the passage described not only a mere moderator but a trained one, and it is stipulated in the sub-topic), qualities and roles of moderator.

 Get Main Ideas

The main idea of the passage is the qualities and roles of a trained moderator in focus group discussion. But, we can chunk the main idea into two: the qualities and the roles of a trained  moderator.  Below right are the illustrations:T chart

Use Synonyms When Appropriate and Have your Own Grammatical Structures

The passage below has been paraphrased for you. Can you guess the synonyms being replaced and the grammatical structures used?

“The moderator does not need to be the researcher himself but someone who is aware of the issues to be presented. So, he should discuss first to the researcher the process for focus group discussion before conducting it. Likewise, he must know the background of his participants so that he can have a meaningful interaction with them. It is also suggested that the moderator must avoid discussing and arguing with the participants. His main role is to introduce and explain the questions, clarify issues raised, confirm responses, encourage expression of ideas and summarize the process at the end of the discussion”.

One of the ways to have your own grammatical structure is the change the sequence of information.  This was not discussed in my previous article because I believe that this is more appropriate in passage rather than in sentence paraphrasing.

Cite the Author or the Source of Information and Change the Sequence of Information

 In order to have a legitimate paraphrase and not a plagiarized version, the possible paraphrase of the original passage would be the following:

According to Dr. Regoniel, the moderator must avoid discussing and arguing with the participants. His main role is to introduce and explain the questions, clarify issues raised, confirm responses, encourage expression of ideas and summarize the process at the end of the discussion.

 It is also suggested that he need not be the researcher himself but someone who is aware of the issues to be presented. In this case, the moderator should discuss first with the researcher the process for focus group discussion before conducting it. He must also know the background of his participants so that he can have a meaningful interaction with them.

Therefore, the plagiarized version of a paraphrase is when you failed to acknowledge the author or source; when you directly translated the words from one form of English wording to another, when you used the same sequence of information or in some cases, the same words and phrases.

References:

1. Jameson, J. (2004). Researching and reporting.  Saudi Arabia: University English Program King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

2. Purdue OWL. Paraphrase: write it in your own words. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/619/

© 2013 October 17 M. G. Alvior

Writing a Research Article: How to Paraphrase

Whenever you write a research paper, you need to paraphrase passages or articles from different sources in order to make the article more credible and scholarly. But, what is paraphrasing? Why is it important? And how can you make a good one?

Paraphrasing is a way of retelling another person’s idea in your own words. This means that you must keep the original meaning being conveyed by the writer while rewriting it using your own style and grammatical structure.

It is also important that you tell the readers where your information originated. If you are unable to do so, you will be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism means using someone’s ideas without acknowledging him/her properly – whether it is intentional or unintentional. Plagiarism is like committing a crime. Thus, you must be careful in paraphrasing the work of others anticipating the legal implications of your actions.

How to Paraphrase

Now, how can you write a good paraphrase? As a neophyte, you should start first with sentences and apply the following steps:

1. Get a sentence from a credible source.

Your source may be a book or online document that comes from a reliable website. Then, read and re-read the sentence until you get the main idea. Find the key words. If you are not familiar with the words, use a dictionary or a thesaurus.

2. Find the synonyms of words that are not familiar to you.

Make sure that the synonym is appropriately used in the sentence and to a given context. A dictionary may give you synonyms but not all of them can be used interchangeably.

For example, the words commence and begin. These words are synonymous but during graduation exercises, you cannot alter the word commencement by using the word beginning. In the same manner, the terms value and importance are synonyms. But in Mathematics, it is not appropriate to say, find the importance of X.

Another way of using the synonym is to change the forms of the content words. Content words are the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. If the word used by the writer is a noun, you may change it into an adjective and the sentence construction will eventually change.

Why don’t you try the exercises below? You may check your answers using Merriam-Webster‘s online dictionary and thesaurus.

a. Change beautiful (adjective) into noun, verb, and adverb.
b. Change determination (noun) into verb, adjective and adverb.
c. Change decide (verb) into noun, adjective and adverb.
d. Change determinedly (adverb) into noun, verb, and adjective.

3. Have your own grammatical structure.

Simply changing the vocabulary is not considered paraphrasing. You should have your own writing style. Use your own words.

Some ways to have your own grammatical structures are:

a) change the active verbs into passive,
b) change the word order,
c) change the phrases into single word or adjective,
d) reduce a clause,
e) expand a clause,
f) combine clauses, and
g) make two sentences out of one.

Exercises to Practice Paraphrasing

Observe the difference between the original statements and the newly constructed sentences after applying the different ways to change the grammatical structure in the following examples:

1. Change active to passive constructionsemantics

Original: The researcher can measure the giraffe’s neck in two different habitats.
Ans.: The giraffe’s neck can be measured by the researcher in two different habitats.

2. Change the word order

Original: The researcher can measure the giraffe’s neck in two different habitats.

Ans.: In two different habitats, the researcher can measure the giraffe’s neck.

Original: Recently, lobsters served in restaurants are smaller.
Ans.: Recently, smaller lobsters are served in the restaurants.

Original: Recently, lobsters served in restaurants are smaller.
Ans.: Smaller lobsters are served in the restaurants recently.

Take note that in sentences 2 and 3, you have to make changes on the following:

a. change the pattern of the words by placing the adjective before the noun (smaller lobster), and
b. change the word order by placing the adverb at the end.

3. Change the phrase into single word or adjective

Original: A researcher with so much passion in his work will likely become more successful than others who are not.
Ans.: A passionate researcher will likely become more successful than others who are not.

4. Reduce clause

Original: Knowledge is something that we need not only learn in school but by self-study and passionate interest in discovering more than what is made available to you.
Ans.: Knowledge is something not only learned in school but by self-study and passionate interest in discovering more than what is made available to you.

5. Expand clause

Original: One of these excellent writing tools that can help you focus on your writing is FocusWriter, a distraction-free word processor.
Ans.: One of these excellent writing tools is FocusWriter which has a distraction-free word processor that can certainly help you focus in what you write.

6. Combine clauses

Original: If the researcher is confident that he has sampled randomly and that the sample approaches a normal distribution, then a t-test is appropriate to test for difference.
Ans.: If the researcher is confident that he used random sampling to come up with a normal distribution, then a t-test is appropriate to test for difference.

7. Make two sentences out of one

Original: Younger people tend to recall things better than aging researchers who spent most of their time studying and narrowing their frame of mind as a result of specialization. If you are a professor, choose a student who performs well in class.
Ans.If you are a professor, choose a student who performs well in class because he is young and have a good memory to recall things.

The steps given are only appropriate for sentence paraphrasing but are very important in paraphrasing the passages which will be discussed in the next article.

References:

  1. Jameson, J. (2004). Researching and reporting.  Saudi Arabia: University English Program King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
  2. Purdue OWL. Paraphrase: write it in your own words. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/619/

Note:

Original statements in examples 1, 2, and 4-7  are used with permission from Patrick Regoniel.

© 2013 October 14 M. G. Alvior