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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab



Paraphrasing is when you use someone else's ideas and put them in your own words. Even though you are not using the original author's exact words, you must still cite the source. Paraphrasing and summarising ideas from the literature is preferable to quotes. By presenting the information in your own words, you demonstrate your understanding of the material that you have read.

Steps for paraphrasing

  1. Read the original text.
  2. Write down your version of it, changing the keywords and structure of the sentence(s). It is best to close the book so you do not copy word-for-word. It is important that the sentence structure and the vocabulary are different from the original.
  3. Complete citation process. Page numbers are generally not given in paraphrases.

Citing a paraphrase

Paraphrases are cited in a similar way to quotes, but generally do not include page numbers. Referencing details can be placed at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the citation.

Reference at the beginning

Cottrell (2008) noted that the skills students use when researching assignments can vary depending on their academic discipline and level of study.

Reference in the middle

The skills used by students when selecting references for assignments can vary depending on their academic discipline and level of study (Cottrell, 2008), but all students should develop a systematic approach to this task.

Reference at the end

Students need to develop a systematic approach to locating appropriate sources of information for use in assignment work, but the skills used can vary depending on the academic discipline and level of study (Cottrell, 2008).

For further information go to the Paraphrasing tutorial.

Using multiple sources

In academic writing, arguments are developed through discussing and critiquing what authorities or experts have already written/said about the topic. It is, therefore, important to be able to use multiple sources in your work. However, you must acknowledge where your ideas have come from through using paraphrases or quotes. Remember, all authors need to be cited otherwise it is considered plagiarism.