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 construction
semantics

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

3 thoughts on “Writing a Research Article: How to Paraphrase”

  1. Hello! Thank you for your comment. It really inspires me to write more. That’s actually my first article. And I’m glad to know that there is one who finds my article interesting.

  2. Thank you for such outstanding tips, I have never thought about some of the statements. In many cases, I’d prefer to ask for a help to paraphrase a text for me and don’t worry about the whole process myself. But thanks for your advice I’ve realized that with a sense of creativity you can paraphrase anything yourself. I loved the one about grammar structures. It is really easy to rewrite a text not only with synonyms but with specific grammar structures that haven’t been used. In the end, we’ll see an absolutely new sentence and as a result text. This is incredible that you very much for these ideas.

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