What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing - presenting the ideas and information you have read in your own words - is an important academic skill. By translating content from your research into your own words, you demonstrate to your reader that you've understood and are able to convey this content.

It is important to be very thorough when you paraphrase. Paraphrasing is not simply taking what someone has written and changing a few words to make it your own. It is about translating another person's ideas into your own words and in reduced form. You must change the words a lot so they are no longer similar to the original. Even if you use an in-text reference to show where the idea came from, a lecturer may decide that what you have written is plagiarism if your wording is still too close to its source.

For example, look at the extract below that talks about film adaptations of books:


Now look at this paraphrase of the above passage:


This paraphrase would be considered too close to the original, and would be deemed plagiarism despite the correct referencing. This is because it's not enough to simply change a few words and/or turn sentences around, as the author does here, because you will still be copying the way the original author expressed their ideas.

The paraphrase below, however, is much better: