Paraphrasing and more

Three students sitting and talking at a table

Since academic writing always builds on previous research, you must learn how to indicate your sources clearly in your work. Different fields of study have different customs. Be attentive when you read academic articles and books within your subject. Note how the authors include the work of other researchers in their texts. The way you work with quotations etc. depends on your field of study.
The examples of quotation, paraphrasing and general references below come from: Giger, Peter (2010). Conversation and figuration from the horizontality of the 2.0 decade. Diss. Karlskrona : Blekinge tekniska högskola, 2010


A common way of referring to a text is to paraphrase, which means that you summarize and rewrite (synthesize) a text in your own words.

Use your own words and expressions when you paraphrase, otherwise you may risk to plagiarize.

Here are some tips which will help you to paraphrase with your own words.

  • Make sure that you fully understand the text before you start writing
  • Take notes while you read and base your summary on your notes
  • Imagine that you want to explain the text for someone who does not understand the original text

Paraphrasing example:

My view is mainly based on the writing of the Swedish intellectual historian Sven Eric Liedman. In his book I skuggan av framtiden (In the Shadow of the Future) (Liedman, 1997), he draws the line back to the enlightment, seeing the hard and the soft as two parallel, simultaneous enlightment projects. Hard knowledge is the rational empiric paradigm, or the Sciences, including statistics and ”quantitative” methodologies from the social sciences giving ”hard results”.

It is important that you name the source from where you got the information for your paraphrase.

You can find another example of how to paraphrase in the anti-plagiarism tutorial Refero. You find it in the section on paraphrasing. (Open the guide, switch to English and use the Table of contents to find the section)


In most subjects, direct quotes are used sparingly. It is usually better to paraphrase with your own words. One exception is literature studies, where it is common to work with quotes that are commented on.

When someone has expressed something very well or striking, or if you risk altering the meaning by rephrasing it, there may still be reason to use a direct quotation with the exact same wording as in the source. A shorter run-in quotation should be placed within quotation marks, and can be part of the text. Example of a run-in quotation:

A plateau in this sense is ”any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superficial under-ground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 22).

Longer quotations, or block quotations, often do not have quotation marks, but are placed separately, and with both left and right indentations. Sometimes you can also choose a slightly smaller font for the text quoted. Example of block quotation:

Cyborg reality is both Kevin Warwick’s cyborg project and the fictional cyborg in the Terminator movies.

Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs – creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted. Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality. (Haraway, 1991, p. 149f )

Most people living in the western world are cyborgs in the sense that our bodies are partially regu-lated by medical technology.

You use quotes to support your own ideas and arguments. Look at the examples above and see how the author uses the quotes together with his own text.

General references

When you want to give a broader picture of a research question, you can refer to one, or several, more important sources that you used, without using a direct quotation or a paraphrase. Also in such cases, you must state clearly what you are referring to.

There is plenty of secondary literature about using the rhizome as a representational figure. Nick Mansfield has a chapter about Deluze and the rhizome in Subjectivity: Theories of the self from Freud to Haraway (Mansfield, 2000). The rhizome is both a metaphor for the “self”, the person, and the connection between persons, in what could be called ‘conversations’. In other words, conversations are rhizomes and they grow or evolve rhizomatically. Dan Goodley uses the rhizome concept to discuss parenting disabled children (Goodley, 2007). Others have used it as a representation to understand a particular academic discipline, discourse or conversation (e.g. Seijo, 2005 or O’Sullivan, 2007). Another popular subject for the rhizome metaphor is the Internet (Hamman, 1996).

Avoiding plagiarism

You will plagiarize if you pass of the work of others as your own. If you don’t show clearly where you have found the information you are using, you can be accused of plagiarism. This applies to published and unpublisheds works and even ideas. You must show where in your text you use the materials of others, it’s not enough to only add a source in the list of references. To avoid unintentional plagiarism, it is important that you make clear references to your sources, whether you make a direct quote from a source, or if you write a paraphrase in your own words.

When you paraphrase a text, it is important that you use your own words. If your paraphrase is too close to the original text, it is plagiarism. Also remember that you plagiarize if you include a quote that is several pages long, even if you name the source.

Your own texts from previous courses are also considered to be sources. If you don’t quote or paraphrase them correctly, with a reference, it is self-plagiarism.

Already from the beginning of your work you should make sure that you note which sources you use and where in the text you need to add a reference to a source.

Watch a film about plagiarism from the SLU University Library.

Refero is a web based guide which was developed to help you, as a student, to understand what plagiarism means. You also get tips on how you can quote and paraphrase correctly, in order to avoid plagiarizing.

You can read more about copyright here in the Writing guide.


A short quiz on plagiarizing and paraphrasing

Welcome to your Quiz on Plagiarizing and Paraphrasing

When must you give a reference to a text that you quote from in your paper? (One or more answers may be correct.)

Turning in the same paper to two different courses, without express permission, is regarded as academic dishonesty.