Paraphrase to Eliminate Plagiarism

Updated Oct 8, 2021

How to Eliminate Plagiarism by Paraphrasing

By Matthew

Plagiarism is not something people frequently intend to do. Few people go into a class or even a writing task with the intention of plagiarizing, since they get no value from the experience other than learning how to cheat themselves out of an opportunity to practice the skills of research and communication.

So Why Do People Plagiarize?

The main reason people plagiarize is that they see no intellectual path into an assignment, be it for work or school, and too little time or confidence to develop such a path. Courses that workshop papers find very little plagiarism, since students don’t have to produce an interesting piece of writing from the outset; it’s okay to fail and iterate, creating a safer intellectual environment than a traditional writing course.

How Can Paraphrasing Eliminate Plagiarism?

There are three ways that paraphrasing can help eliminate plagiarism, and only the first two are ethical. We’ll go over each in detail.

  1. Properly paraphrasing and citing material from a third party
  2. Paraphrasing to synthesize information, remove redundancy, and gain clarity
  3. Paraphrasing to seem like you are the content’s originator

I. Properly Citing Paraphrased Content

  • a. How to cite a paraphrase in MLA?

    • In MLA, you need to create in-text citations, using the last name of the author and the page number where you found the paraphrase or quote. For example, if the text uses page numbers, you could cite a paraphrase with (Guggenheim 29); otherwise, you should leave out the number, as in (Guggenheim).
  • b. How do you cite a paraphrase in APA?

    • In APA, you need to include both the author and the date in your in-text citation, but where in the sentence the paraphrase citation occurs will affect what form it takes. For example, if you are citing at the beginning of a sentence, the citation could look like this:

    • Williams (2020) has said the most important way to cite a paraphrase is with a guide such as this one.

    • If the citation will be in the middle of the sentence, you can structure it as follows:

    • Rewriter tools, according to D’angelo (D’angelo 2014), are great for giving you new ways to phrase your own thoughts.

    • And finally, if the citation comes at the end of the sentence, you can structure the sentence as follows:

    • There are few good books such as that of Martina (Martina, 2003) that really articulate what is paraphrase or how to paraphrase effectively; even fewer provide abundant examples of paraphrasing.

II. Paraphrasing to Synthesize Information, Remove Redundancy, and Gain Clarity

  • Although a tool paraphrasing your text may not clearly identify synthesis, conciseness, or clarity as some of its operations, it will often improve texts in exactly these ways. Below are some example paraphrases:

  • Original: As part of his paper on Climate Change, Abortion, and Gun Laws, he was in a search for synonyms for important, an experiences synonym, and synonyms for show, as using a thesaurus is a common way to achieve diversity in vocabulary words.

  • Reworded Sentence: As he was writing a paper on climate change, abortion, and gun laws, he wanted to vary his vocabulary, so he looked for synonyms for the following words: important, show, and experience.

III. Rephrasing to Avoid Plagiarism, seem like the original author

  • Often students and others struggling to write a paper at the last minute will turn to using someone else’s work without properly citing it. One thing they will do is try to change, rearrange, or rephrase the words so that it may sound original. This is obviously not an acceptable practice, and the writer gains little from it. The reality is that nothing reliably good comes without a proper investment of time and intellectual energy. A better way to incorporate the thinking of others into your own is to summarize what they are saying, making it no simpler than can remain true to the meaning, and assess how it fits in with your own thinking on the subject, assessing what is true, what is consistent, what resonates with you. Only by thoughtfully ingesting the writing in this way can you rephrase it with true originality.

To learn more, check out this paraphrase how to guide; it's always good to see examples of paraphrase, so you know what to expect.