Online Guide to Writing and Research

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity and Documentation

Avoiding Plagiarism

Managing Source Material

Paraphrasing Your Source

Some students think that paraphrasing a source is just rewriting the words of the source in a different order or substituting different words. In fact, you paraphrase by restating the ideas of the source material using your own syntax and words in about the same length as the original source. A good paraphrase shows that you have understood and assimilated the material enough to use it in your paper. By paraphrasing source material to incorporate it into your paper, you maintain consistency of style throughout your paper. Because paraphrasing expresses the source’s ideas in your own words, you have to cite the source of the idea.

To illustrate this point about paraphrasing, an example follows:

Original Source

Market segments, products or services and organization structure may need to change over time to ensure strategic directions continue to be observed. A business must respond rapidly under competitive, legislative or political pressure. To achieve this, many previously defined strategic decisions have to be made at a level lower in the organization than was done in the past. The strategic statements provide the overall direction, and the criteria for selection of appropriate markets and technology; that is, they provide a long-term focus (Finkelstein, 1993, p. 193).

Look at the plagiarized sentence below. A student who writes the first sentence of this original source, as in this example of rephrasing, commits plagiarism. Not only is the sentence not an effective paraphrase, but a citation won’t redeem it. This sentence is merely a restatement of the original material in the author’s words, not in the student's words.

Plagiarized Sentence

To guarantee that a company holds its strategic directions, the organization may need to change its market, products, or services, as well as its organizational structure.

Another example of plagiarism is to describe an author’s idea or line of thinking without acknowledgment. This may happen when you try to paraphrase the source.

Plagiarized Description of a Line of Thinking

Some experts agree that a company must be able to respond to the market changes in products or services by pushing down to the lower organizational levels the strategic decisions that were previously made at higher levels. The lower organizational levels, then, must provide the overall direction and long-term focus.

Appropriate Citation of Description of a Line of Thinking

Some experts agree that a company must be able to respond to the market changes in products or services by pushing down to the lower organizational levels the strategic decisions that were previously made at higher levels. The lower organizational levels, then, must provide the overall direction and long-term focus (Finkelstein, 1993, p. 193).