Photo by Kaitlyn Baker

Learning How to Paraphrase​

Once students begin writing research papers, they are expected to understand how to paraphrase. But often, this skill is not explicitly taught in school and students are left to guess at what constitutes proper paraphrasing.


One of my favorite writing resources is the Purdue Online Writing Lab. It has articles about everything you can think of related to writing, and its resources on paraphrasing are excellent.


I direct my students to the page linked above. It outlines six steps to take when paraphrasing to ensure that one isn't plagiarizing, and it also has side-by-side comparisons of a good summary, a well-done paraphrase, and an example of a plagiarized passage. Students can have this page up while they are writing and check what they are writing against this example, which will help them steer clear of common mistakes.


One trap students often fall into is to only change a few words while maintaining the original sentence structure. This is not enough to count as a true paraphrase. Instead, students must reword and rewrite the information. The bonus of paraphrasing is that it makes students engage with the material on a deep level that can help them understand it more thoroughly.


This is another skill that takes time and practice to learn how to do well. I am happy to assist students with this process.