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Are you feeling overwhelmed by the phrase ‘in your own words to avoid plagiarism?

Here are some valuable tips on paraphrasing! Paraphrasing is an essential academic literacy skill (reading and writing). It helps you to refine or improve your understanding of an idea. Paraphrasing is also a strategy to bring ideas from a text you have read into your own writing without copying large chunks of information from the original text. Thus, paraphrasing is when you take the main idea from an original text and rewrite it with your own wording. However, it is important that you do not change the original text’s meaning while illustrating your understanding of someone else’s idea(s).

According to Palmer (2022), paraphrasing can help students apply metacognition (thinking about thinking) and comprehend the text that they are paraphrasing. When you rephrase another person’s idea, it forces you to think about what the author conveys to the reader. However, paraphrasing or “writing in your own words” might be challenging for some students. Therefore, this blog will offer effective paraphrasing strategies that you can use to become better ‘paraphrasers’ to avoid (accidental) plagiarism. These strategies might help you pass assessments successfully.

Paraphrasing tips:

The 5R paraphrasing strategy (Read, Restate, Recheck, Repair, and Reference) may seem straightforward, but writing an idea different from the original text can be challenging. Therefore, applying the 5R paraphrasing strategy can help you paraphrase effectively;

1. Read: Did you understand the passage? If not, read the text several times to fully understand the meaning. Suppose you do not understand the meaning of certain words; in that case, use a dictionary to look up the word’s meaning. Remember, a dictionary can help develop reading and writing skills and improve vocabulary. You can access Collins’ free online English dictionary here. Then, while you are reading, also note down keynotes.

2. Restate: Did you restate important points in your writing? A helpful tip is to close your eyes and think about what you have read. Then, write your version without looking at the original text. According to Gahan (2021), the following tips might help you when you restate the information. – Start your first sentence at a different point from that of the original text. Thus, you have to mention the key information points in a completely different order. – Use synonyms (words that are similar in meaning). Remember, a dictionary can be a helpful tool if you find it challenging to think of synonyms. However, please do not overdo it! It is acceptable and often necessary to use the exact words as the original text. This example would be unnecessarily confusing to use synonyms for words like “literacy”. – Change the sentence structure. For example, if the sentence has initially been in the active voice, change it to passive. The active voice is when a sentence is led by the subject (the thing doing the action). When the object (the thing receiving the action) leads the sentence, that sentence is written in the passive voice. An example of active voice: The dog was chasing the cat. In this sentence, ‘the dog’ is the subject, ‘was chasing’ is the verb, and ‘the cat’ is the object. Thus, the passive voice will be: The cat was being chased by the dog. – Break the information into separate sentences. Although paraphrasing will usually result in a word count roughly the same as an original text, you may be able to play with the number of sentences to make the text different.

3. Recheck: Did you include all the important points in your paraphrased text? You should compare your paraphrased text with the original passage to determine if you had included all the important points.

4. Repair: Did you correct the misinformation? It would be best to make minor adjustments to phrases that remain too similar.

5. Reference: Did you insert an in-text reference? When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism. This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to reference the paraphrased source properly. Once you have perfectly paraphrased your text, you need to ensure you credited the author. To make sure you have appropriately paraphrased and referenced all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your work. Grammarly’s plagiarism checker ( scans your writing and compares it to a vast database of sources. It highlights your paraphrased text that is too similar to another source. Thus, it detects plagiarism.

To conclude, this blog provided helpful information regarding paraphrasing and the 5R paraphrasing strategy. When you understand the concept of paraphrasing and apply the 5R paraphrasing strategy, it will play a significant role in your understanding abilities (cognitive process). Therefore, applying the 5R paraphrasing strategy might contribute to your academic success.

Reference list:

Gahan, C. (2021). How to Paraphrase in 5 Easy Steps | Tips and Examples. [Online], Available: [accessed, 9 February 2022]. Palmer, R. (2022).

Morgan Library Research Guides. [Online], Available: %20help%20you%20prevent, that%20person%20is%20really%20saying [accessed, 9 February 2022].

Author: JC Rademeyer


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