A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley

Founder
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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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.

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham

Editor-in-Chief
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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