Paraphrasing Reading Passages
There are two ways to incorporate sourceA person, book, article, or other thing that supplies information. material: direct quotationsAn exact copy of the words from a speech or text. These words are placed inside quotation marks to show that they are a perfect repeat of the original. and paraphrasingThe use of different words to express the meaning of an original text or speech.. When you use a direct quotation, you use the exact words from the sources within quotation marks. When you paraphrase, on the other hand, you put the information from the source into your own words. Both methods require proper citationA reference within a text to an outside source of ideas, quotes, or information. Citations can be placed within sentences or in a separate works cited or reference section, as specified by the style guide in use. in order to attribute sources to their original authorsA person who wrote a text..
Paraphrasing is also different from summarizingTo give a short version of the main points of a text.. When you paraphrase, you translate what you read into different words. You keep the information intact; paraphrasing is communicating the same information using different language than the language from the source. In contrast, summarizing condenses the information by providing only the main pointsThe most important idea in a paragraph. Main points support the main idea of a reading. and leaving out less important details. Summaries are shortened versions of the original work while paraphrases are focused on a particular idea or fact in the readingA piece of writing to be read. A reading can either be a full work (i.e., a book) or partial (i.e., a passage)..
In this lesson, you will learn the steps to paraphrase reading passagesA short portion of a writing taken from a larger source, such as a book, article, speech, or poem. so you can include information from them as supporting evidenceFacts, statistics, or expert testimony that supports a claim. in your own essaysA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. .
Here is a passage from a newsletter that you will learn how to paraphrase.
Community Hospital Newsletter
Issue 22 - September 23, 2013
By Heather Hewson
The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean people eat a great deal of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with fish, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets for weight loss, weight maintenance, and cardiovascular health. Unlike many diets, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle diet that imposes only a few restrictions. Followers should limit the consumption of refined sugars and should eat red meat only once or twice a month. Other integral parts of the diet include eating smaller portions and exercising daily to mirror the Mediterranean lifestyle. Research studies demonstrate the benefits of the diet: reduced cholesterol levels, decreased chances of falling prey to a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, and even depression. All in all, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most flexible and successful weight-loss solutions available today.
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Follow these steps to paraphrase the reading above.
Step 1. Understand the reading.
Read and reread the passage. It is impossible to paraphrase a reading that you do not understand. Think about what the passage means, and identify the subjectThe people, places, things, or ideas being discussed or described. and main ideaThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about.. In this case, the subject is the Mediterranean diet, and the main idea is along the lines of, “The Mediterranean diet is healthful, effective, and easy to follow.” Be sure to read the passage as many times as you need to in order to fully understand the information in the passage.
Step 2. Consider the reading.
Put the original passage aside, and give yourself some time to think about the material. If you try to paraphrase the information too soon after you read the original source, you may unintentionally "borrow" the author's phrasing instead of using your own words.
Step 3. Draft the paraphrase.
Return to the original passage and, in a notebook or on an index card, write down what you think the original author meant to say.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the food that people who live near the Mediterranean Sea eat. It is a diet rich in fresh and natural foods, such as garden produce, fish, olive oil, and nuts. This diet helps people lose weight and stay healthy, and has been shown to reduce risk for certain diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. Unlike most diets, the Mediterranean diet has more to do with lifestyle choices than calories, and it makes few restrictions. Followers must limit refined sugars and red meat. It is recommended that people on the diet also eat less and exercise more. It is no wonder that this diet has helped many people lose weight and attain better health.
Step 4. Compare the paraphrase with the reading.
Double-check your version with the original version to check the accuracy of your paraphrase and to make sure your paraphrase does not copy the words in the original. The paraphrase should be in your own words, but it must retain the meaning of the source text.
Step 5. Edit the paraphrase.
Here is another attempt at a paraphrase that is closer in meaning to the original, but does not use exact language from the original.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the food that people who live near the Mediterranean Sea eat. People who eat a diet rich in fresh and natural foods, such as garden produce, fish, olive oil, and nuts lose weight, stay healthy, and have a reduced risk for diabetes and Alzheimer's, among other health problems. It is recommended that people on the diet eat less and exercise more. When compared to a majority of weight-loss plans, the Mediterranean diet is easier for people to follow. Instead of counting calories, people should limit how much they eat of both red meat and processed foods that are high in sugar. It is no wonder that this diet has helped many people lose weight, reduce their risk for disease, and attain better health.
Step 6: Record the source.
Record the necessary information needed to citeTo give credit to the source of ideas or information. the source. Note the author, title, publication, volume and issue (if included), website (if applicable) and page number, as in the citation below.
Hewson, Heather. "The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet" Community Hospital Newsletter 22 (23 Sept. 2013): 3-5. Print
When writing an essay, you will use paraphrased information primarily as evidence in your supporting paragraphs. It will help if you apply the MEAL conceptAn acronym that describes a method of organizing the paragraphs in an essay. Under this plan, each paragraph should have a Main point, Evidence, Analysis, and a Link to the next paragraph.: main idea, evidence, analysisTo analyze is to make a thoughtful and detailed study of something. An analysis is the end result of analyzing., linkTo connect ideas together within a paragraph or to create a transition from one paragraph to the next, as well as back to the thesis.. After you come up with your own main idea, you will gather information from sources and paraphrase the information to use as evidence to support your main idea. Paraphrases should be used only to provide support; they cannot stand in for the main idea or topic sentenceA sentence that contains the controlling idea for an entire paragraph and is typically the first sentence of the paragraph. of an essay.+ PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Paraphrasing is a necessary skill for both college writing as well as writing in the workplace. When writing research papers, you will gather a great deal of factsA piece of information that can be proven. Something that is true and indisputable. from original sources. Then you will need to paraphrase the information in order to maintain the style, focus, and organization of your essay.
When you write essays, you need to develop your main ideas with evidence. The stronger the evidence, the more convincing your writing will be. Integrating expertSomeone who is very knowledgeable about a topic. sources as evidence in your essay helps you build credibilityDescribes a person who is trusted and able to be believed; reliable. with your audience.
It is important to research and locate evidence, but it is just as important to learn how to give credit to the author of the original sources. If you do not learn how to incorporate your sources properly, you risk plagiarizingTo take someone else's ideas, words, or work and pass it off as your own; copying without giving credit. your sources, which has serious consequences in both academic and professional settings.
Paraphrasing is often a better strategy to incorporate sources since using too many direct quotations can make it seem as if your essay depends on what others say and not on your own main idea. In the workplace, you may need to paraphrase information from reports, articlesA non-fiction, often informative writing that forms a part of a publication, such as a magazine or newspaper., and other sources in order to use the information for a particular purpose.
Notice how the following passage is paraphrased for use in an essay on reggae music.
March 24, 2013
By Marcus Ruben
Reggae: The Trench Town Heartbeat
Reggae is a type of music first developed in Jamaica in the early 1960s. It is distinctive because of its offbeat rhythms and staccato guitar chords. Sometimes the beat is called a heartbeat because the tempo is slow and steady. According to one source, the Jamaican English dictionary, the word "reggae" derives from a word that means "rags." The musicians who pioneered the sound were primarily from a part of Jamaica's capital, Kingston, in a neighborhood called Trench Town. They wrote lyrics to address important subjects such as love, poverty, injustice, and equality, and these subjects continue to be central to reggae. Reggae music continues to evolve and today is performed all over the world.
Here is a paraphrase of the passage.
The reggae music genre was born on the island of Jamaica in the mid-twentieth century. Reggae is inseparable from its roots in Trench Town, Kingston; even the name, which comes from a word that means "rags," reflects urban grit. The unique reggae sound, with its heartbeat tempo and short, syncopated rhythms may have a laid-back feel, but reggae lyrics tend to be socially conscious and deal with universal themes. This may explain its popularity and endurance.
Source: Reuben, Marcus. "Reggae: The Trench Town Heartbeat" Technobeatz Blog (24 Mar. 2013) www.technobeatz.com
Paraphrase the following passage, keeping in mind that it should all be written in your own words. Also, remember to record the source.
American Dance Magazine
Issue 37 - June 21, 2012
By Carl LaMonte
Harlem's Dance Inspiration
In 1969, Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded The Dance Theatre of Harlem. Mitchell was the first African-American principal male ballet dancer to perform in the United States. Shook was a ballet master who wanted to inspire children; he wanted to give them the opportunity to learn about dance and the arts. Now the Harlem Dance Theater performances are legendary for their energy and commitment to the art form. In 2009, the company celebrated its fortieth anniversary after overcoming some years of financial troubles. The Dance Theater of Harlem is also known for its amazing costumes and innovative new forms of artistic expression. The ballets performed include traditional classical ballet and contemporary interpretation that are choreographed to address current social issues. The Dance Theatre of Harlem was one of the first to perform in South Africa when apartheid ended in that country. After the company's performance, Nelson Mandela expressed his appreciation by saying, "Thank you for helping me forget my problems for three hours."
Paraphrase the passage.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded by two history-making American dancers: Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Mitchell held the distinction of being the first African-American principal male dancer to perform in an American ballet, while Shook was a ballet master. Their goal was to bring art and dance to underprivileged children. Amazingly, the company overcame many challenges and has survived more than forty years. They continue to offer arts education, perform internationally, and astound the world with incredible costumes, continually evolving dance styles, and a repertoire that includes traditional and modern pieces. The company's historic post-apartheid performance in South Africa inspired Nelson Mandela.
Now, cite the source.
Source: LaMonte, Carl. "Harlem's Dance Inspiration" American Dance 37 (21 June. 2012): 5. Print
What is the difference between a paraphrase, a summary, and a direct quote?
A paraphrase restates information from an original source in different words. A summary condenses information from a source, and gives only the main points. A direct quote gives information from a source using the exact language that was in a source.
What are the benefits of including paraphrased material in your writing?
Using paraphrased materials is a way to provide strong supporting evidence and build trust with my audience.
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