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Examples of Paraphrase

Of course, direct quotations require quotation marks and citations, but even paraphrases—rewordings of text—need to be cited. Paraphrasing without providing a citation is plagiarism. Even paraphrases with citations can be instances of plagiarism if they are so similar to the original that the paraphraser claims credit for the original author's language.

A paraphrase that avoids plagiarism:

  • cites the source of the material being paraphrased.
  • differs enough from the original that it doesn't require quotation marks.

Following are two examples of paraphrases, one that is plagiarism and one that is not. The original is taken from Maguelone Toussaint-Samat's A History of Food (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992. 263).

Original:

Wines drunk at Greek tables did not always come from Greece itself. The wine snobbery of the time extolled the merits of wines from the slopes of Mount Lebanon, from Palestine, Egypt and Magna Graecia-Greater Greece, i.e., southern Italy. The ten litres a day drunk by the famous wrestler Milo of Croton was a wine famous in Calabria, where Milo lived: this wine, Ciro, is still made.

Plagiarism:

Wines drunk by Greeks were not always made in Greece itself. The wine snobs of that period celebrated wines from Mount Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt. The famous wrestler Milo of Croton, who consumed ten liters of wine a day, drank wine made in Calabria outside of Greece; this wine, Ciro, is still made.

This paraphrase fails for two reasons:

1. By having no citation, the paraphrase misleads readers into believing that the ideas, facts and sense of the passage are a result of the author's own research and knowledge.

2. The language of the paraphrase is too similar to the original. Even if the author had provided a citation, some instructors would consider this plagiarism.

Not Plagiarism:

Although Greeks were picky about their wine, they enjoyed wine from outside Greece. Upstanding Greeks enjoyed wine from many of Greece's local trading partners—including Palestine, Egypt and southern Italy. One story tells of the famous wrestler Milo of Croton, who consumed ten liters of foreign wine daily (Toussaint-Samat 263).

This paraphrase cites the original and rephrases its words to create an original construction.

 

Example of a paraphrase with a citation that is still plagiarism

The original is by Thomas Childers (Wings of morning: the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in World War II, Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. 1990. 83.) The use of the original is by Stephen E. Ambrose (The wild blue: the men and boys who flew the B-24s over Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster, c2001.164.)

Original:

Up, up, up, groping through clouds for what seemed like an eternity....No amount of practice could have prepared them for what they encountered. B-24s, glittering like mica, were popping up out of the clouds all over the sky.

As used:

Up, up, up he went, until he got above the clouds. No amount of practice could have prepared the pilot and crew for what they encountered-B-24s, glittering like mica, were popping up out of the clouds over here, over there, everywhere.

(There later followed a citation to the original quotation).

Ambrose cites but does not quote Childers' original work, and therefore he claims responsibility for the beautiful prose. Because the prose and imagery is Childers,' Ambrose is plagiarizing. Ambrose should have either used Childers' passage as a direct quotation or modified his own passage so that it consisted of his own language.

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