Using Quotations, Paraphrases and Summaries in Essays
Learn how to paraphrase correctly
As I wrote this warrant, I looked at two things: the claim I am making and the piece of evidence I am using to support that claim. In fact, my eyes were darting back and forth between the two statements as I was writing the warrant. With the warrant, I try to bring together the claim and evidence, demonstrating to readers how and why the evidence logically supports the claim. In this case, I have even used in my warrant a few words from the claim and from the evidence to help clarify the relationship. In the warrant, I use the word "preoccupied," recalling my claim, and the word "commerce," recalling the evidence. Notice as well that the phrase "how [people] are living" from my warrant recalls an important phrase from my claim, "what is important in life," and an important phrase from my evidence, "'whether we should live like baboons or like men." With the warrant, I should not simply paraphrase the claim or the evidence but instead demonstrate how the evidence supports the claim.
Paraphrasing Samples Here are several examples of paraphrases
Student A is the writer of the better paraphrase. They...
removed or replaced unusual (and possibly distracting) words
reduced the content of the paraphrase to keep it as simple as possible
expressed the main idea concisely
reformulated the main ideas in their own words
used a suitable reporting verb and provided an in-text reference detail
Student A did not:
adopt the same sentence structure as the source writer
use the same words as in the original
copy useful pieces of the original text
Student A provided a reference to the source and used a suitable reporting verb: 'Wartick and Wood (1998:103) point out that...' They included a page reference for the original source as well as the author's name and year of publication. Some referencing systems do not insist on the inclusion of a page reference when paraphrasing, while others always recommend the inclusion of one.
Student B's paraphrase also contained a source reference (without a page reference): 'According to Wartick and Wood (1998)...' However, their paraphrase suffered from a number of weaknesses:
• It is too similar to the original text
• The student writer does not try to express the main points in their own words; instead they keep more of the unusual words ('nourished', 'sustain') and simply replace a few other words. This does not make the text any easier to understand.
• Student B tried to keep too much of the original text, including the final sentence about centralisation (which Student A omitted).
• Student B did not link this final sentence with the earlier sentences, so the final sentence does not seem to form part of the argument, creating a 'fragmented' effect (this is typical problem when writers try to use too much of the original text when paraphrasing instead of focusing on reformulating the main idea).