Academic writing is a balance between your own thoughts and ideas and the words and ideas of others. When you incorporate the work of others into your own work, you must alert your audience so they can distinguish between the two.
You can alert your audience by using one of these options:
- Quote directly: put quotation marks around the words and identify the source.
- Paraphrase: put the information into your own words and identify the source.
- Summarize: take the main points, paraphrase them, and identify the source.
When you quote the exact words of the original source in your own writing, you must:
- Cite the source
- Use quotation marks (or indent for passages longer than three lines)
- Consult the style guide you are using for further instructions.
When writing a paper, you should not have too many quotations. Your instructors will expect you to incorporate others' ideas into your own writing using paraphrase and summary.
Paraphrasing and summarizing are very similar. Both involve taking ideas, words or phrases from a source and crafting them into new sentences. Whether paraphrasing or summarizing, you must always give credit to the original author.
Paraphrasing is expressing an author's ideas in your own words, by changing both the language and the sentence structure.
Paraphrasing is not easy. It is especially impossible to paraphrase something you do not really understand. If you don't understand it, you will be overly dependent on the words of your source. REMEMBER - when you paraphrase, you must cite the source. Even if you have not used the same words, you have borrowed ideas.
Summarizing also involves putting the author's ideas into your own words, but summaries omit much of the detail. A summary allows you to condense a significant amount of information into one or two sentences, using your own words. REMEMBER - when you summarize, you must cite the source. Even if you have not used the same words, you have borrowed ideas.