Paraphrasing, on the other hand, involves rearticulating someone else’s ideas. As a student, you routinely paraphrase your instructors’ lectures and the contents of textbooks.
Exams, in one sense, are one large paraphrase in that they require you to review and restate material from assigned readings and lectures. Of course, when you paraphrase, you want to be careful that you do not alter the author’s original message, eliminate any significant background information, misrepresent the author’s intentions, or copy the original wording too closely. To help you distinguish effective paraphrases from faulty paraphrases, consider how the following paragraph from Russell Mokhiber’s “Crime in the Suites” is handled:
Original passage: The full extent of the corporate crime wave is hidden. Although the federal government tracks street crime month by month, city by city through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, it does not track corporate crime. So the government can tell the public whether burglary is up or down in Los Angeles for any given month, but it cannot say the same about insider trading or illegal polluting.
Faulty paraphrase: In “Crime in the Suites” Mokhiber has noted that the full extent of the corporate crime wave is hidden. The federal government does not track corporate crime, yet it does track street crime month by month, city by city through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. So the government can tell the public whether burglary is up or down in San Francisco for any given month, but it cannot say the same about insider trading or illegal polluting.
The “faulty paraphrase” is a good example of academic dishonesty—that is, plagiarism. While a few words have been changed and the structure of the second sentence has been changed, this passage as a whole has not been revised in the paraphraser’s own words.
Effective paraphrase: In “Crime in the Suites” Mokhiber has noted that we lack information about the prevalence of corporate crime. While the FBI monitors crime statistics for the federal government on a monthly basis, it fails to do so for corporate crime. Consequently, we may know that violent crime is up by 10 percent in Manhattan, but we can’t be sure that less insider trading is occurring this year on Wall Street.