Paraphrasing means putting another person's ideas into your own words and must include acknowledgement of the source of the information. Paraphrasing is more valued by lecturers than quoting directly because it requires more intellectual effort on your part and when done successfully demonstrates an understanding of the material you have read.
When you paraphrase, try to work at the paragraph level rather than individual sentences. Read the paragraph that contains the idea you think will be useful to explain or illustrate your main point, put the text aside then write out the idea without referring to the original. Refer to the Referencing Style Guide for your course (e.g. Harvard AGPS or APA) for advice on citing references within the text of an assignment.
The following paragraph illustrates the use of paraphrasing by a student:
(Note: the in-text citations below are shown in Harvard AGPS Style)
Mandatory sentencing aims to reduce crime by preventing offenders from continuing to offend but critics claim it is ineffective. Mandatory sentencing is based on the assumption that individuals who have already committed a crime are most likely to offend in the future. Imprisoning known offenders is therefore one way to prevent them from continuing with their criminal behaviour (Sherman et al., 1998). However, high rates of repeat offending show that imprisonment does not have a significant reforming effect (Forer 1994, p. 72). In terms of reconvictions, a custodial sentence is no more effective than a non-custodial sentence (Walker 2000, p. 44). Further, critics of mandatory sentencing argue that if imprisonment is to be pursued as a sentencing policy, judges are in a better position than politicians to identify offenders who will continue to offend because judges can make a prediction based on evidence about an individual offender's background and the circumstances of the offence (Roche 1999, p. 3).
- the first sentence contains the main point, which is in two parts
- the main point is written in the student's own words and does not use paraphrasing or direct quotes
- subsequent sentences draw upon the research literature to add to the idea that mandatory sentencing is a way of reducing crime. All the ideas in this part of the paragraph are referenced
- paraphrasing has been used instead of direct quotes:
- where a particular idea has been taken from a particular page, the page number is supplied with the reference
- where a more general finding has been included the page number is omitted.
- at no point were the exact words or phrases used so quotation marks were not necessary.