Right Ways To Avoid Paraphrasing Plagiarism

This article will provide extensive tips and strategies to help writers paraphrase effectively without crossing the line into plagiarism.

Alen Walker - Published on - 2023-09-12 , Last-Mod: 2023-11-10

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Paraphrasing summarizes source material in your own words. It is an important skill for research writing. But you must paraphrase correctly to avoid accidental plagiarism. 

Any kind of plagiarism is unethical, and can damage anyone’s reputation. It can be illegal as well. 

This article will provide extensive tips and strategies to help writers paraphrase effectively without crossing the line into plagiarism.

What is Unsafe Paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing without citations is plagiarism. Even if you change some words, you must credit the original source. This makes it look like someone wrote it.

More specifically, plagiarism occurs when an author:

  • Only changes a few words or synonyms rather than thoroughly rewriting the passage
  • Keeps the same overall sentence and paragraph structure as the source
  • Does not apply their own unique writing voice and style
  • Fails to cite the original source appropriately
  • Misrepresents the paraphrased content as their own ideas

Changing a few words but copying phrasing, order, and ideas is still paraphrasing plagiarism. Simply shuffling words and phrases around is not enough. 

The paraphrased version should transform both the language and structure significantly. Additionally, citing the source material is required but this alone does not make it proper paraphrasing.

To ethically paraphrase, you must extensively rewrite the material in your own unique voice and cite the source.

Students plagiarize paraphrasing due to lack of understanding, rushing, and ignorance of rules. But it is still dishonest with serious results. Writers must be very careful when paraphrasing to do it properly.

3 Reasons to Avoid Paraphrasing Plagiarism

Plagiarism is unethical and harmful. It can damage the reputation and get anyone in legal trouble. The consequences range from failing grades to loss of credibility and public trust. 

Knowing these reasons shows it's important to learn how to paraphrase the right way without plagiarizing.

This section outlines key reasons to avoid paraphrasing plagiarism.

1. Unethical and Dishonest

Paraphrasing plagiarism is wrong because you are taking credit for others' work. It is a form of lying and stealing. 

Proper paraphrasing shows respect for authors by citing them. Plagiarized paraphrasing fails to give proper credit.

2. Academic Integrity Violations

In school, paraphrasing plagiarism goes against honesty and integrity. It makes it seem like a student knows more than they really do. This harms learning. 

Getting caught paraphrasing plagiarism can ruin a student's academic future. Proper paraphrasing supports high-quality education and scholarly values.

3. Legal and Professional Risks

Paraphrasing plagiarism can lead to legal trouble for breaking copyright, especially of published material. It can ruin a professional's reputation. 

Properly paraphrasing sources shows professionalism and avoids legal problems. The serious outcomes mean people must avoid paraphrasing plagiarism.

7 Ways to Avoid Paraphrasing Plagiarism

Effectively paraphrasing source material without plagiarizing requires strategic effort. This section outlines key tips writers can employ to ethically incorporate research through paraphrasing

1. Understand the Source Material

Understand the source material before paraphrasing. Find the main points and how they are organized. Strong comprehension enables proper paraphrasing in your own words.

2. Take Effective Notes and Outline

Take notes paraphrasing key points in your own words and style. Outline the content highlighting main ideas to refer to rather than copying source text. Detailed notes help ethical paraphrasing.

3. Use Citation Management Tools

Tools like reference managers make properly citing sources easier. They create formatted citations to include with paraphrased content, helping avoid plagiarism.

4. Change Words, Phrasing, and Sentence Structure

Paraphrasing should make it sound like you wrote it. This level of revision at multiple levels avoids closely copying the original text.

5. Apply Your Own Style and Voice

Add your own views, opinions, and writing style into the paraphrased passage. This further makes your version different from the original source by adding your own ideas.

6. Cite Sources Properly

Always cite sources with in-text citations alongside paraphrased content and full references. This attributes ideas properly when reworded in your own style.

7. When in Doubt, Quote Directly

If unable to thoroughly paraphrase a passage, use direct quotes around the source text. Quotes paired with citations clearly indicate content from sources.

What to Do If Paraphrase Unsafely

Here are some tips on what to do if you commit plagiarism:

  • If caught in an academic context, be honest. Admit your mistake and take responsibility. Avoid excuses or blaming others. Show you are responsible.
  • In a professional context, also admit the mistake in judgment immediately. Taking ownership shows integrity. Make every effort to correct and apologize for the plagiarism.
  • Review any institutional or employer rules about plagiarism and the punishments connected to it. Follow the procedures they have for dealing with cases of plagiarism.
  • For academic plagiarism, determine if you need to redo the assignment or if other disciplinary action will occur. Ask the instructor for guidance.
  • If you plagiarized something you published as part of your job, ask for the plagiarized parts to be removed or fixed. Work hard to make things right.
  • Figure out why you plagiarized by paraphrasing instead of properly citing. Find any gaps in your knowledge or skills that led to this, and improve those areas. Learn from what happened.
  • Refresh your understanding of proper paraphrasing principles and citation practices so it does not happen again. Study guides and attend training.
  • Let this situation help you grow as a person. Show that you are committed to being honest in your school work or job from now on.

The most important thing is to fully admit you did wrong and find an ethical way to fix it. If you respond properly, getting caught paraphrasing and plagiarizing can help you become more honest.


Paraphrasing source material is crucial but can lead to plagiarism if not done carefully. To paraphrase properly we should fully understand the source.

Also transform the language and structure. Applying your own words is also included in it. Paraphrasing requires effort to avoid plagiarism.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you avoid when paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing requires rewriting ideas completely in your own words, not just substituting terms. Avoid copying sentences, overusing a thesaurus, and mimicking the original text structure too closely.

What is the biggest mistake in paraphrasing?

Two common characteristics of incorrect paraphrasing includes when the paraphrased version: Has the same sentence structure as the original and. Has key words from the original that the author simply rearranged or replaced.

What are three reasons to avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism is unethical, damages your reputation. It can lead to failing grades or legal action. Always cite sources and paraphrase properly.

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