>> You know whenever you use a source in something that you’re writing, whether that source is a journal article, a website, a book, or whatever, you have two choices in terms of how you use that source. You can either quote from it using the author’s direct words and putting them in quotation marks or you can paraphrase from it. Let’s talk about this word paraphrase. You’ve probably heard it explain to you as quote, putting it in your own words.
Well that’s about half right. Sometimes less, sometimes more. You see whenever you paraphrase you can’t really put something completely in your own words. You can put it into your own phrases, your own sentences because you will have to repeat certain keywords. Let me give you an example.
Let’s look at this. The great Mississippi flood of 1927 which covered large portions of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee under 30 feet of water is considered the most destructive river flood in United States’ history. Citation Fatal Flood. Now, if you’re going to paraphrase that, you can’t put it entirely into your own words.
How else are you going to say Louisiana or Mississippi or Kentucky or flood or 1927? You have to use certain keywords. So the issue is not putting something 100% into your own words, the issue is putting it into your own voice, your own phrases, your own sentences.
Let’s take a look at a good paraphrase of that quotation. In 1927, the great Mississippi flood drowned sections of six states including Louisiana and is still considered as the worst our country has ever known. Citation Fatal Flood.
So as you see, I repeated a certain keywords and that’s just fine because I put it into my own sentence, my own phrases, my own voice. Now another question. Why go to all this trouble of paraphrasing something? Why not just quote everything? Well, there are two answers. One, by paraphrasing it, by putting it into your own voice, your own sentences, it’s going to flow better into your paper.
And your reader is going to be able to better follow what you’re saying. And the second reason, of course, is that you must limit the number of quotations that you use in your paper or else it’s going to sound like somebody else wrote it. That you just copied and pasted and that’s not a good thing.
Now final point. Whether you quote something or whether you paraphrase it, putting it into your own phrases, you always must cite it in order to give credit to the original source. Do those things and you’ll be in great shape.