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What does it mean to paraphrase?

When paraphrasing, a writer uses his or her own words to restate someone else’s ideas. The borrowed idea should be presented in the writer’s own voice but must remain true to the message of the original text. A paraphrase should clearly and accurately communicate the most important points of a text without integrating outside ideas.

How can the source’s ideas be preserved when paraphrasing?

  • Read the text closely and carefully to ensure clear understanding.
  • Without looking back at the original text, paraphrase the idea(s) of the passage in your own words.
  • Compare your paraphrase with the original passage.
    • Have you accurately communicated the message of the original text?
    • Have you used your own words instead of copying those in the original text?
    • Have you included information or opinions that are not part of the original text?

Let’s look at an example:

Original text: "Women with dependent children are most likely to take up measures such as part-time working and other reduced working-hour arrangements, and school term-time working (where it is available, mostly in the public sector) is almost exclusively female. A number of barriers appear to limit men’s take-up of such measures: the organization of the workplace (including perceptions of their entitlement, that is, perceptions that men’s claims to family responsibilities are valid), the business environment and the domestic organization of labour in employees’ homes (including the centrality of career for the father and mother and their degree of commitment to gendered parenting, both closely class-related)" (Gregory and Milner 4-5). [1]

Paraphrase: Gregory and Milner explain that men are less likely than women to pursue part-time and alternative work schedules that compliment home life responsibilities. The authors propose that this pattern is due to conceptions about gender at the workplace, where men are viewed as responsible for their families’ needs, and at home, where views of traditional parenting roles and socio-economic conditions affect expectations for division of household labor between parents (4-5).

Note: The paraphrase captures Gregory and Milner’s ideas about men’s and women’s likelihood to participate in part-time work situations, and the reason behind these choices, without copying the authors’ original language and voice.

For more information about paraphrasing: