Academic writing

In academic writing, paraphrasing is a necessary skill as it allows you to convey existing ideas and concepts in your own words. You can take inspiration from previously published content, and then paraphrase it so that it is not recognized as being copied or duplicated.

True, you can simply use quotes instead, but too many quotes can end up making your arguments look weak. That’s because over-quotation leaves the impression that you haven’t properly understood the concepts and are relying on the expositions given by other people.

By paraphrasing instead of quoting you can avoid that hassle completely. Paraphrasing also has the added benefit of helping you to remove plagiarism from your work. It also allows you to explain concepts and ideas in a better way.

So, how can you reap the benefits of rephrasing in your own academic writing? That’s what we are here to find out.

A Few Things to Note Before Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing can cause more harm than good if it is used incorrectly. So, here are a few things you need to avoid if you don’t want to hurt your write-up.

  • Always cite your sources, even if you are paraphrasing the content. Not citing sources (or citing them incorrectly) are both considered plagiarism.
  • You do not need to cite a source if you are paraphrasing material from the public domain.
  • Never change any important terminologies when you are paraphrasing academic content.

Just remember these things, and you won’t have any problems when you start paraphrasing

Paraphrasing Tips for Improving Quality of Academic Writing

These are some tips for rephrasing content to improve your academic writing.

Replace Words and Phrases with Synonyms

This is the simplest paraphrasing technique, but it is very useful. In academic writing, repetitive text can easily pop up. That’s because when writers have to refer to a previously discussed term or concept, they unconsciously write it the same way.

This can make your academic writing very poor in quality. Repetitive text is one of the hardest things to read because it is quite boring. It also reflects poorly on the writer.

By using the paraphrasing technique of synonym replacement, you can ensure that similar terms do not keep popping up unnecessarily.

An alternative solution to doing it manually is to do it via a tool. A free paraphrasing tool can help with this kind of task.

If you are worried that a paraphraser may change things other than words, then don’t worry. Most tools have a mode for changing words only.

Alter the Sentence Structure

Sentence structure is an important part of paraphrasing. You don’t have to resort to using synonyms all the time. Simply changing the order of the words in a sentence can make a lot of difference. Of course, you do have to make sure that the change in structure does not alter the meaning of the sentence because that can easily happen.

Take this example;

“He ate a cut fruit with a fork.”

An incorrect change would be like this:

A fork cut a fruit he ate(nonsensical meaning)

The correct way would be as follows:

“With a fork, he ate a cut fruit” (same meaning as original)

Changing the sentence structure and word order also allows you to emphasize different parts of a statement. You can use this paraphrasing technique to put focus on the parts that help your arguments. This also makes your paper more persuasive.

If you find altering the sentence structure difficult to do on your own, you can use an alternative solution. A sentence rephraser can do the same job quite reliably.

You can start off by using a rephrasing tool to get help, but don’t become too reliant. In the end, human judgment is better in a majority of situations. Not to mention, tools can’t help you with the “emphasizing favorable parts” tactic.

Change the Order in Which Ideas are Discussed

This is a paraphrasing technique because you are essentially moving around different passages and rephrasing parts of them to make sure they are coherent.

This technique is great for changing the flow of the original source and matching it with your writing.

This also allows you to guide the reader’s train of thought through ideas in a better way. You can discuss the ideas that form the base of your arguments first and then move on to more intermediate and advanced ideas that build upon that base.

This makes your write-up more convincing and it improves its reception as well. Academic papers are all about teaching your audience what you know in a manner they understand. And the ultimate goal is to make them agree with you.

With proper use of this technique, you can write very persuasive academic papers and articles.

Conclusion

Paraphrasing is very useful for all kinds of writers. Its most common advantage is that it can help reduce the reading difficulty of a write-up. If it is used to paraphrase information and ideas that are “commonly known”, then it can also help avoid plagiarism.

We have seen how paraphrasing techniques can be used to improve an academic write-up. With time and practice, you will be able to apply these techniques like they are second nature.

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