Is Paraphrasing still Plagiarism? An Effective Guide

Plagiarism is the act of passing off the words or thoughts of others as your own. Essentially, paraphrasing means changing the words and phrases of the original text while retaining its ideas and meaning. You might be wondering, is it plagiarism if you paraphrase?

This article answers your question. Read till the end to find out if paraphrasing is still plagiarism and how you can paraphrase effectively.

Plagiarism vs. Paraphrasing

Plagiarism is presenting an author’s work as yours without crediting the source of the work or without proper citation. It is an act of using, without giving credit, the thoughts, writings, or expressions of another person.

Paraphrasing is a process that involves changing the wording of the original text without altering the patent ideas behind it. It involves taking fragments of someone’s work and placing them in a new context. When an individual paraphrases a work, they emphasize their interpretation of the work rather than copying the work directly from the original.

Is it Plagiarism if you Paraphrase?

The answer to this question is, “It depends.” You’re guilty of plagiarism if you paraphrase without acknowledging and referencing the original author. You might argue that you did use your words, and quoting would have been out of context. However, you’re still presenting someone’s idea, not yours. The only way paraphrasing isn’t plagiarism is when you cite the source correctly.

How Does Paraphrasing Avoid Becoming Plagiarism?

Paraphrasing is when you convey someone else’s words as your own in a manner not identical to their language. It is a process where a writer offers an interpretation or summary of another writer’s piece rather than a direct copy. This seems like an easy way to avoid plagiarism, but there is still some risk involved.

When you paraphrase what somebody else said, you are not precisely quoting them verbatim; a certain amount of freedom of expression is expected. While it is true that by paraphrasing, you transform an author’s words into yours without claiming their work, the original idea remains the same.

Paraphrasing isn’t plagiarism if there is no misrepresentation of the work and if the paraphrasing is acknowledged by citation. Paraphrasing a text and citing the source is seen as an act of credit.

You can paraphrase effectively by sticking to the following:

  • Check your version with the original to make sure it accurately conveys all the information in a new way.
  • Attribute the work to the original author by including proper references.
  • Provide a link to the original where necessary.
  • Use quotation marks to identify terms you used exactly from the source.
  • Cite the source from which you have paraphrased. Failing to cite your source can be considered plagiarism, a violation in professional settings.
  • Do not paraphrase to pass off an author’s work as yours – this is unethical.
person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

Plagiarism is the act of using another person’s words, content or ideas, without giving appropriate credit. On the other hand, paraphrasing implies using your words and language to convey someone else’s ideas.

Paraphrasing lets you preserve the original author’s ideas. When done correctly and effectively by citing the original author, paraphrasing is not considered plagiarism.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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