What is a Paraphrase?
A paraphrase is simply a restatement of a source's words or ideas into your own words. It's really that simple! A paraphrase will typically restate a fairly brief portion, say a paragraph or so, of an original source and may be structured similarly and of a similar number of words.
You might prefer a paraphrase to a direct quotation when you can state an idea more clearly or concisely or in words more consistent with your own writing style than the original source. You have to follow the same cardinal rules as you do for quoting. Your paraphrase must be accurate and it must be consistent with the intent of the source.
How Do I Paraphrase Correctly?
It's not enough to simply change a few words around, or replace words with synonyms to constitute a paraphrase. You literally have to rewrite the material using your own words. One good way to be sure that you're paraphrasing fairly is to follow these steps:
Make sure that you make it clear to the reader where your paraphrase begins and ends and where your own ideas or comments are included. Don't be afraid to put the original source's unique terms or phrases in quotation marks as part of your paraphrase. In all cases, remember to identify that you are referring to an outside source in the body of your paper and to provide a complete source at the appropriate place in your paper.
It is not inappropriate to abbreviate the paraphrase from the original source if the material that is left out is not essential to the point you're making or to understanding the paraphrase. This is similar to using ellipses to leave out irrelevant or unimportant material, but you don't have to indicate what has been left out.
Some Examples of Incorrect and Correct Paraphrasing
From the Original
Although the high court declined to extend its Apprendi reasoning to strike down minimum mandatory sentencing schemes in a related case also announced Monday, the court's ruling in the death-penalty case is expected to trigger a fresh barrage of appeals in state and federal courts nationwide. (Richey 2002, p. 2)An Incorrect Paraphrase (not different enough from the original)
Richey (2002, p. 2) reported that the Supreme Court didn't extend the reasoning of Apprendi to strike down the sentencing laws in another case reported a couple of days ago, but that the new case will probably result in a number of new appeals in state and federal courts across the country.