University of Pennsylvania
 

 

Home

Code of Academic Integrity
Violations of Academic Integrity: What are the Consequences?
Doing Original Work at Penn
Plagiarism-what is it?
 
Citing Sources
 
Common Knowledge
 
Using the Internet
 
arrow
Evaluating Internet Information
 
Citing Electronic Sources
 
Quoting
 
Paraphrasing
 
To Quote or Paraphrase?
 
Summarizing
 
Writing Computer Code
Collaboration
Copyright
Good Work Habits
 
Study Tips and Resources
 
Style Guides
     
   
 
Other Links
Weingarten Learning Resources Center
Research Basics
Office of Student Conduct
University Honor Council
Tutoring Center
Writing Center
arrow Penn Library






  Penn Home Penn A-Z Directories Calendar Maps
   

 

Avoiding Plagiarism:  Paraphrasing


Plagiarism is sometimes unintentional. It can occur when you try to put information from a source into your own words, but fail to do so completely. Sometimes plagiarism occurs not because a student is trying to cheat, but because he or she has not been taught how to paraphrase accurately. Paraphrasing takes skill and practice.

In writing papers, you will paraphrase more than you will quote. For a report or research paper, you may need to gather background information that is important to the paper but not worthy of direct quotation. Indeed, in technical writing direct quotation is rarely used.

Exactly what does “paraphrase” mean?

It means taking the words of another source and restating them using your own vocabulary. In this way, you keep the meaning of the original text but do not copy its exact wording. For the benefit of students who may not have had practice paraphrasing from sources, the following guidelines may be useful.

What strategies can I use to paraphrase?

When paraphrasing, the material must be sufficiently changed so that it is clearly your own and not the original author's work. A good paraphrase combines a variety of strategies. Be very careful not to use only one. And, remember to cite the source.

Examples of Acceptable Paraphrasing:

Original source Plagiarism Paraphrasing

Because of their unique perspective, Americans fear globalization less than anyone else, and as a consequence they think about it less than anyone else. When Americans do think about globalization, they think of the global economy as an enlarged version of the American economy.

Thurow, L. (1993).
Fortune Favors the Bold (p. 6).
New York: Harper Collins.

According to Lester Thurow (1993), Americans fear globalization less than people from other countries and as a consequence spend less time thinking about it. Indeed, Americans see globalization as an enlarged version of their own economy.

Why is this plagiarism?

The writer has used Thurow's exact words without enclosing them in quotation marks. S/he has only substituted synonyms here and there. Even though Thurow is credited with a citation, this would be considered plagiarism.

Lester Thurow (1993) maintains that because Americans see globalization simply as a bigger form of their own economy, they are less concerned about it than is the rest of the world.


Why is this acceptable?

The writer has kept the meaning of the original passage without copying words or structure. Words like globalization and Americans are generic terms (i.e., terms that are commonly used for the concept they illustrate - it is difficult to find synonyms for them). Thus you may use these words without placing them in quotation marks.

(Complete Thurow reference appears in bibliography)



Original Acceptable Paraphrase #1 Acceptable Paraphrase #2

We do not yet understand all the ways in which brain chemicals are related to emotions and thoughts, but the salient point is that our state of mind has an immediate and direct effect on our state of body.

Source: Siegel, B. (1986).
Love, Medicine and Miracles (p. 69).
New York: Harper and Row.

Siegel (1986) writes that although the relationship between brain chemistry and thoughts and feelings is not fully understood, we do know that our psychological state affects our physical state.

Why is this acceptable?
What did the writer do?

  • Used synonyms
  • Changed sentence structure
  • Changed voice
  • Cited source

Words like brain are generic and do not need to be changed.

Siegel (1986) writes that the relationship between the chemicals in the brain and our thoughts and feelings remains only partially understood. He goes on to say, however, that one thing is clear: our mental state affects our bodily state.

Why is this acceptable?
What did the writer do?

  • Used synonyms
  • changed the sentence structure (use two sentences instead of one)
  • Changed voice
  • Changed parts of speech
  • Cited source

Words like brain and chemicals are generic and do not need to be changed.

An example of unacceptable paraphrasing:

Original Unacceptable Paraphrase

We do not yet understand all the ways in which brain chemicals are related to emotions and thoughts, but the salient point is that our state of mind has an immediate and direct effect on our state of body.

Source: Siegel, B. (1986).
Love, Medicine and Miracles (p. 69).
New York: Harper and Row.

Siegel (1986) writes that we still do not know all the ways in which brain chemistry is related to emotions and thoughts, but the important point is that our mental state has an immediate and direct effect on our physical state.


Why is this unacceptable?

  • The writer has kept the same exact sentence structure
  • The writer had only substituted synonyms in certain places; in others the wording is exactly the same as that of the original.

Even though the writer mentions the original source in the introductory phrase, the result is plagiarism.

  Office of the President Home Page Penn A-Z Directories Calendar Maps
   
   

This guide has been adapted from one produced at MIT entitled Academic Integrity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:  A Handbook for Students.  We are grateful for their permission to use and revise the work for students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Written by Patricia Brennecke, Lecturer in English Language Studies
Edited by Professor Margery Resnick, Chair of the Committee on Discipline, and Joanne Straggas, Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education.  Prepared with the support of Professor Robert P. Redwine, Dean for Undergraduate Education at MIT.

Adapted in Fall 2006 for use by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania and published as the Handbook for Students, Ethics and Original Research by Professor Barbara Fuchs, Romance Languages, Dr. James B. Lok, Professor of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Linda Meiberg, graduate student and Karen Lawrence, Assistant Director of Education.

This edition edited, amended and produced by:

The University Honor Council and the
Office of Student Conduct
University of Pennsylvania
Fall 2008