Ways to Write an Effective Summary and Paraphrase
Effective summary and paraphrase are essential tools in writing. It is crucial to learn these skills for two reasons. First, until you are able to summarize and/or paraphrase the material you read, you haven’t really understood what the material says. And secondly, ineffective summary and paraphrase technically constitute plagiarism. Here are some basic rules that you need to know:
• Plagiarism is the conscious or unwitting representation of someone else’s ideas and expression as your own. “Expression” means vocabulary and syntax/sentence structure.
• A summary is shorter (often much shorter) than the original passage/excerpt/source, and it expresses the main idea(s) of that material in your own vocabulary and your own sentence structure.
• A paraphrase follows the original much more closely, because it involves a shorter passage (usually one to three sentences). But once again, a paraphrase expresses the main idea(s) of each sentence in your own vocabulary and your own sentence structure.
• Technically, if you simply drop synonyms into the original sentence, you’re still plagiarizing, because you have retained the original author’s/source’s syntax, which is part of the original expression. If you use words or phrases from the original material in your summary or paraphrase without quotation marks, you’ve represented that material as your own—and that’s plagiarism.
• Paraphrases require a parenthetical citation (author + page number). If you refer to the author in your sentence, you need not include the author’s last name in the parenthetical citation, but you still must provide a page citation.