How Paraphrasing is Helpful in Academic Work
Paraphrasing has a lot of different uses. It can be used by freelancers, bloggers, webmasters, and so on.
It can also be useful for students and professionals for taking help in academic writing.
In this post, we are going to look at what paraphrasing is, how you can properly do it, and how it can be helpful in academic work.
What is Paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing can be defined as the act of writing some content using different words but with the same idea and concept as the original.
In other words, paraphrasing is when someone takes an existing piece of text and changes its wording to make it look different while retaining the original context.
Funnily enough, you can see an example of paraphrasing in the above two paragraphs. We paraphrased the definition of paraphrasing for better clarity.
How is Paraphrasing Done?
Paraphrasing is usually done by replacing certain words in the original text with synonyms, and by rearranging the sentence structures.
It’s worth remembering that the idea of paraphrasing is to re-create a piece of content using different words and phrases to convey the same idea.
If anyone was to make an addition or subtraction from the idea of the original text, it would not be defined as paraphrasing. It would become plain editing.
So, for the changes to remain within the definition of paraphrasing, it is necessary that nothing of the original concept is subtracted or added to.
The Good and Bad Types of Paraphrasing
While we are on it, this is a good place to mention that paraphrasing can be categorized into two types: the good kind and the bad kind.
The good kind is that in which the paraphrased content does not look like a half-hearted job. The words and sentence structures are properly replaced and changed.
The bad kind, on the other hand, is the one in which just a couple of words are changed, and there is not a lot of difference between the original and paraphrased content.
These two types will be discussed further on in this article. For now, just keep them in mind.
Methods of Paraphrasing
There are two methods that you can use to paraphrase content i.e., manually or by using a tool.
Manually and Automated Paraphrasing
As the name pretty much indicates, manual paraphrasing is that which you do on your own (without taking the help of a tool or website).
Automated paraphrasing, on the other hand, is that which is done by a paraphrasing tool.
A paraphrasing tool is used to automate the paraphrasing process and is essentially a software that runs on a specific algorithm(s) to replace specific words and change the sentence structures in any given piece of text.
The advantage of manual paraphrasing is that you can make sure that there are no grammatical or contextual errors in the final text.
Since tools are automated, they can make different types of mistakes when rewriting the content.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of manually paraphrasing content is that it is time-taking.
While a tool only takes some seconds to paraphrase hundreds of words, doing it manually will take up a lot more time…like maybe half an hour.
How is Paraphrasing Helpful in Academic Work?
In theory, there is one main purpose that paraphrasing serves to fulfill for academic work.
And that is to help writers incorporate the words of another author in their work without losing credibility.
…let’s understand that a bit more in detail.
If a writer takes the words of another author and uses them in his own work without leaving any sort of citation or reference, it will be defined as plagiarism.
And plagiarism is very severely punished…especially in academic content.
So, in order to use another person’s words and sentences in your own work without getting hit by a plagiarism penalty, you can do some paraphrasing.
Mind you, you should not do this for the whole content. Paraphrasing is good only for a couple of sentences.
As we discussed earlier, there are two types of paraphrasing: the good kind and the bad kind.
When paraphrasing anything to use in academic content, you should always go for the good kind.
In other words, you thoroughly change the words and sentence structures to make the content completely different from the original text.
If you do a half-hearted job and only change a few words, it will still be recognized as plagiarism.
Is it Necessary to Add Citations or References After Paraphrasing?
Here’s the thing.
Once you properly paraphrase a piece of content, you are officially not plagiarizing anything.
Therefore, you don’t have to add a citation or reference that indicates the original author/source.
However, other than being technical, we do have to consider the dimension of integrity.
If you paraphrase any content and then later cite the original source as well, it will add credibility to your reputation as a writer.
But, since you are not directly copying anything but are instead paraphrasing, you don’t have to make a proper and detailed citation.
You could, for example, just mention the original author in the paragraph preceding or following the paraphrased bit by saying ‘According to so-and-so’ or ‘As shown by this source’ etc.
What Are Some Other Benefits of Paraphrasing in Academic Writing?
Apart from the main benefit of paraphrasing mentioned above, there are some other situations where it can be useful.
Let’s look at some of those in detail.
1. Making Your Writing Simpler
When writing academic content, you can also resort to paraphrasing as a simplification technique.
If you have come up with some sentences that are extremely difficult to read, you can try paraphrasing them using a tool to make them less complicated.
As we said, paraphrasing tools replace certain words in the given text with suitable synonyms.
A paraphrasing tool could change the needlessly complex words in your content and make it easier to read.
However, there is no certainty in this. It is very much possible that the tool could replace complicated words with even more complex synonyms.
We can just say that paraphrasing is something that you can try to simplify your content.
If it works, well and good. If it doesn’t…well, you can always try it again. You won’t get the same results every time.
2.Coming up With Similar Pieces of Text
In academic content, there can be different types of situations where you could need to write out the same type of text multiple times. For example, you may need to write out similar bits of text for introducing the different parts of your content. Paraphrasing can also be good for this purpose. You can simply write out the text a single time, and then use a paraphrasing tool to generate similar copies with different wordings.
This is yet another benefit of paraphrasing that you can enjoy when writing academic content. If your plagiarism report shows that there are some matches in your content from other sources on the internet, you can simply paraphrase the flagged portion to make it unique. This can be a bit difficult to do manually since you won’t have a big variety of synonyms to use in place of the existing words.
Using a tool, on the other hand, is much more suitable to remove plagiarism since there won’t be any limit to the words that can be used as alternatives.
Writing academic content can be a bit difficult since there are a lot of rules and regulations that you have to follow. But luckily, there are different writing techniques that you can use to make your job easier. One of those techniques is paraphrasing. Primarily, paraphrasing can be useful when you want to use the words of another author in your own work without resorting to direct copy-pasting. However, paraphrasing can also be a good way to make your content readable and remove plagiarism from it.