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The University of Northern Colorado Writing Center: How to Summarize and Paraphrase Source Material This presentation provides methods for constructing.

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Presentation on theme: "The University of Northern Colorado Writing Center: How to Summarize and Paraphrase Source Material This presentation provides methods for constructing."— Presentation transcript:

1 The University of Northern Colorado Writing Center: How to Summarize and Paraphrase Source Material This presentation provides methods for constructing accurate paraphrases and summaries

2 The Basics of Summarizing A summary is a concise restatement of the main ideas of a longer work – Reasons to summarize: To provide an overview of a text To change prose that is technically or grammatically difficult into understandable language for your audience To allow more room for your opinion – What to summarize: Books, Movies, Television Programs Entire articles/essays The arguments of others (literature review)

3 Criteria for a Good Summary: It reflects the intent of the original passage without distortion of ideas It reflects your word choices and style It credits the original author and tells the location of the original passage It severely condenses the larger work into only main ideas

4 Sample Summaries: A Biased Summary: Original passage from “Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing, or Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research” by Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford College Composition and Communication, Vol. 39, No. 4, (Dec., 1988), pp Published by National Council of Teachers of English. From page 407. In spite of open admissions, in spite of radical shifts in the demographics of college students, in spite of the huge escalation in the population percentage as well as in sheer numbers of people attending American colleges, freshmen are still committing approximately the same number of formal errors per 100 words they were before World War One. In this case, not losing means that we are winning. A Biased summary: Connors and Lunsford note that because of problems with open enrollment and unprepared college students, first-year students are making a greater number of writing mistakes then first-year students did during the turn of the century (407). Although the material is cited correctly and condensed, it misrepresents the original by providing an unsupported and incorrect inference of the original ideas.

5 Sample Summaries: A Plagiarized Summary: Original passage from “Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing, or Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research” by Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford College Composition and Communication, Vol. 39, No. 4, (Dec., 1988), pp Published by National Council of Teachers of English. From page 407. In spite of open admissions, in spite of radical shifts in the demographics of college students, in spite of the huge escalation in the population percentage as well as in sheer numbers of people attending American colleges, freshmen are still committing approximately the same number of formal errors per 100 words they were before World War One. In this case, not losing means that we are winning. A plagiarized summary: Connors and Lunsford note that in spite of the sheer numbers of college students, first-year students are still committing the same number of formal writing errors “per 100 words” that first- year students made prior to the first world war (407). Although the material is cited and condensed correctly, it uses phrasing and structure that is too close to the original.

6 Sample Summaries: An Acceptable Summary: Original passage from “Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing, or Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research” by Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford College Composition and Communication, Vol. 39, No. 4, (Dec., 1988), pp Published by National Council of Teachers of English. From page 407. In spite of open admissions, in spite of radical shifts in the demographics of college students, in spite of the huge escalation in the population percentage as well as in sheer numbers of people attending American colleges, freshmen are still committing approximately the same number of formal errors per 100 words they were before World War One. In this case, not losing means that we are winning. An acceptable summary: According to Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford the amount of writing mistakes “per 100 words” made by first- year students remains the same as in the early 1900’s, despite college entrance policies and student demographic changes in United States’ higher education institutes (407). This summary correctly captures the original’s main without copying phrasing or sentence structure too closely. It is cited correctly.

7 The Basics of Paraphrasing A paraphrase is a concise restatement of the ideas in a passage – Reasons to paraphrase: to capture the sentence-level ideas of a short passage to assimilate the ideas into your own argument and writing style – What to paraphrase: Passages of text that are a paragraph or less in original length The paraphrase should be close to the same length as the original.

8 Criteria for a Good Paraphrase: It reflects the intent of the original passage without distortion of ideas It reflects your word choices and style It credits the original author and tells the location of the original passage It captures the main idea within individual sentences in the passage

9 Techniques for Writing a Good Paraphrase 1.) Read the passage you want to paraphrase and make sure you understand it completely. 2.) Put the passage aside and write your paraphrase without looking at the original. 3.) Rearrange the order of the material, putting the last idea first in your paraphrase. This can help test your understanding of the passage as well. 4.) The paraphrase length should be about the same length as an original. Your goal is to capture the ideas of the passage line by line.

10 Techniques for Writing a Good Paraphrase, continued 5.) Return to the original and check your word choices and order. You’ll probably find some of the same words. Use synonyms, if applicable. 6.) Use a thesaurus if necessary, but be sure you know the meaning of the word you are choosing. Also, double check the word spelling that the computer thesaurus gives you. 7.) Retain any odd or unique phrasing from the original and place it in quotation marks. 8.) Remember that you should try to write the paraphrase using as much of your own wording as possible, but not every word has an equally good synonym. Use your common sense. 9.) You must include documentation for the paraphrase, usually the author’s name and a page number or date. This documentation should frame the source’s words, showing where they begin and end.

11 Sample Paraphrases: A Plagiarized Paraphrase: Original Passage: Bell, James and Nicole Lim. “Young Once, Indian Forever: Youth Gangs in Indian Country.” American Indian Quarterly. summer & fall 2005 /vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 pg. 630 Although youth gangs (like all institutional entities) constantly evolve, there are many basic structural components that remain the same. One such constant is some form of initiation ritual, which usually takes the form of a spontaneous criminal activity. Such initiation procedures function as a test of loyalty that can range from a physical beating of a potential member to a drive-by shooting that an initiate must perform. Another typical structural component of gangs is a set of clearly defined rules. Although these rules may vary from gang to gang, and may even change over time within a particular gang, there tends to be a clearly delineated, formal structure to gangs’ organization. Inherent to this structure is a strict hierarchy of leadership, which must be deferred to and respected by members. A plagiarized paraphrase: According to Bell and Lim in their article “Young Once, Indian Forever: Youth Gangs in Indian Country,” gangs have a leader who is respected by members, and a set of clearly defined rules that govern their actions. Such rules may be in place during initiation procedures such as physical beatings of potential members or drive-by shootings that an initiate must complete. These rituals are part of a basic structural component in gangs, even when the gang itself evolves (630). This paraphrase is cited correctly with both a lead-in and a parenthetical citation. However, the highlighted portions are evidence of patchwork plagiarism—the wording and structures are too similar to the original.

12 Sample Paraphrases: An Acceptable Paraphrase: Original Passage: Bell, James and Nicole Lim. “Young Once, Indian Forever: Youth Gangs in Indian Country.” American Indian Quarterly. summer & fall 2005 /vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 pg. 630 Although youth gangs (like all institutional entities) constantly evolve, there are many basic structural components that remain the same. One such constant is some form of initiation ritual, which usually takes the form of a spontaneous criminal activity. Such initiation procedures function as a test of loyalty that can range from a physical beating of a potential member to a drive-by shooting that an initiate must perform. Another typical structural component of gangs is a set of clearly defined rules. Although these rules may vary from gang to gang, and may even change over time within a particular gang, there tends to be a clearly delineated, formal structure to gangs’ organization. Inherent to this structure is a strict hierarchy of leadership, which must be deferred to and respected by members. An acceptable paraphrase: In their article “Young Once, Indian Forever: Youth Gangs in Indian Country,” Bell and Lim (2005), in their discussion of gang organization, refute the idea that gangs are unorganized and in flux. For example, gang members must revere and adhere to the channels of leadership. Consequently, gang structure is often very rigid, though codes may differ both between and among gangs. Frequent gang activities, such as physical violence toward a possible member or “drive-by” shootings are designed to test a pledging member’s commitment. The adherence and respect for gang codes and leaders and the participation in illegal actions are all similar features of youth gangs (p. 630). This paraphrase is cited correctly with both a lead-in and a parenthetical citation. The sentence structures and phrasing have been changed to reflect the style of the writer, as noted in the highlighted sections.

13 Resources The information given in this presentation provides a knowledge base for creating summaries and paraphrases. For further information, always consult an up-to-date handbook, your instructor, or contact the UNC Writing Center at with questions Refer to a list of resources available on our web site: index.html


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