Paraphrasing is an essential, and often misunderstood, element of documentation. Basically, "paraphrasing" refers to the use of any material or ideas that have been drawn from another source and reproduced in your own words. A common misconception about paraphrasing is that a successful paraphrase involves swapping out strategic words or rearranging the order of the words in a sentence. This strategy, however, undercuts the goal of research (which, despite what you may think, is not designed for your specific bibliographic torture), and that is to produce critical thinkers who can look at a mountain of information undaunted, evaluate it, identify its main idea, and then relate that idea and/or the language in which that idea is conveyed to the topic at hand. Consider how to "spin" the idea from the text and what connections it has to your argument.

The benefits of citing paraphrases:

To paraphrase Crichton's quote, consider what the quote is saying, as well as why that message is important to the rest of the book:

Oringinal Quote: "Life will find a way" (Crichton 45).
Paraphrase: In keeping with chaos theory, Ian Malcolm guesses that the dinosaurs will break free of the confines of Jurassic Park because biology always overcomes obstacles to its freedom (Crichton 45).

To paraphrase Hemstreet's cultural history of Bohemianism in New York, decide what it is the Bohemians believed and then how this version of the world caused them to behave.

Oringinal Quote: "They were real men and they made the world a real place, a place without affectation, without pretence, without show, without need of applause, and without undue cringing to mere conventional forms. These were the characteristics of the Bohemians, and Bohemia was wherever two or three of them were gathered together. Bohemia was the atmosphere they carried with them, and whether upon the streets or in Pfaff's cellar they were at home" (Hemstreet 213).
Plagiarized: The Bohemians were real men who saw the world as a real place without falseness or hypocrisy, and they didn't obey conventional forms. These were the elements of the Bohemians, and they had Bohemia whenever two or three of them met. Bohemia was the idea they carried with them, and whether in the streets or in the bar they were at home.
Paraphrased: Hemstreet characterizes the Bohemians as men who questioned social conventions and avoided hypocrisy and showiness; as a result, their world did not require ornate marble buildings or guards-- instead, the Bohemians brought it with them wherever they went (213).

To paraphrase Matthew Battles' description of the library, determine what the implications his description are.

Oringinal Quote: "The people who shelve the books in Widener talk about the library's breathing-- at the start of the term, the stacks exhale books in great swirling clouds; at end of term, the library inhales, and the books fly back. So the library is a body, too, the pages of books pressed together like organs in the darkness" (Battles 6).
Plagiarized: The book shelvers at Widener talk about the library breathing; at the beginning of the semester it exhales books in great puffs, and at the end of the semester, the library inhales, and the books all come back. He concludes that the library is also a body, the pages of its books pressed together like a person's organs in the darkness.
Paraphrased: Early in his book Matthew Battles grants the library an almost human quality, relating that Widener librarians liken the flow of books in and out of the stacks to the human circulation of breath (6). With this analogy, Battles attempts to create a sympathetic relationship between the library and the reader, to increase the sense of outrage readers will feel during the discussion of book burning and library destruction which follows.

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