Magoosh GRE

How to Paraphrase Essays and Dissertations

| April 26, 2012 | 2 Comments

Paraphrasing – i.e the rewording of ideas and passages from other sources – is a means to negate plagiarism in essays. However, it is imperative that the referencing is done properly or else you still risk being accused of actively plagiarising work.

If I change the words, do I still have to cite the source?

Anyone considering altering quotes or passages from other texts slightly in an attempt to avoid plagiarism should be aware that copying the structure of a sentence, even though you may have changed several words, is still considered plagiarism.

To successfully paraphrase a source, you must make sure that when you are paraphrasing or summing up someone else’s ideas in your own words that you do document the source of the idea. If you paraphrase an author’s ideas, put the author’s name and the page number of the article. You can, however, include paraphrased material in parentheses at the end of your sentence; this is called “parenthetical documentation”. You should always paraphrase acknowledging the author; for example = “According to…”.

Another way to avoid plagiarism is, when taking notes from an article, to only record the essential points of an article. In this way when you write up your notes you will be forced to expand on the points in your own words. This ensures that you will not repeat word-for-word the original article and secondly it tests whether you fully understand the points that you are making.

Remember, changing only the words of an original source is NOT enough to completely prevent against plagiarism.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when checking your essay for plagiarism. When in doubt about whether or not you are fringing on having plagiarism in your work, ask your tutor for help. You can also make use of websites such as and to help check your essay to ensure that you are not inadvertently plagiarising someone else’s work.

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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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