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1 Writing with Ease: Paraphrase and Summary To view the recorded workshop, please click this link: Before the presentation, there will be two polls asking participants to a) identify themselves in relationship to KU (undergraduate, graduate, fac/staff, other) and b) share how they learned about the workshop (KU Campus, instructor , Facebook). During the pre-workshop discussion, we will introduce what challenges we face when it comes to paraphrasing. 1

2 When writing a research project, it seems like quoting is the easiest way to go. You put in the direct words, use quotation marks, include the parenthetical citation, and you re done. It s so fast and easy, you might wonder why you can t just quote your way through your research. The problem is that quoting sources without ever paraphrasing or summarizing can lack critical thinking. You have to think carefully about why a particular piece of information from a source should be in your paper at all by asking yourself the question, How are you using the source s information to advance your own thesis statement or central argument? Oftentimes you will want to emphasize something about a piece of information in such a way that requires your own words, which means that you can demonstrate critical thinking by paraphrasing or summarizing. Another point to consider is the root of the word authority, which is another word for power, is author, which is another word for a writer or creator. If you are to be the author of your paper, you have to be in control of your writing by using your own voice as much as possible. That means keeping quotations to a minimum. Now, there are some situations where you would not want to paraphrase and summarize. These ideal quoting scenarios can be boiled down into one simple question: Do you need the source s exact words to critique the source, build dialogue, or preserve the beauty or accuracy of the source s phrasing? I would never paraphrase a great public speaker like Martin Luther King; instead, I would want to quote his words so that I could preserve his eloquent use of language. Of course, I also have to talk in the paper about how King is using 2

3 language eloquently, in as little as a phrase of my own or even an entire paragraph. If I were going to challenge the exact words of an outspoken public figure like Fred Phelps, the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church who leads controversial protests at soldiers funerals, I would want to quote him so that I could really critique his words and give my responses along with the responses of other sources, thus creating a back-and-forth dialogue. 2

4 We are all familiar with quoting a source for our research in discussion board posts and projects. What are paraphrasing and summarizing, though? Well, quoting is borrowing someone s ideas by using their exact words in quotation marks, right? Paraphrasing is then borrowing someone else s ideas but using your own words. We have all paraphrased someone else s words before in casual conversation. For instance, I m very close to both my mom and to my grandma. I live far away from them, so I have to call them individually to talk with them. First I usually talk to my grandma, then I talk to my mom. Inevitably, I wind up hearing my grandma say something about what my mom said. Grandma never quotes Mom directly; instead, she paraphrases Mom. My mom will say to my grandma, Molly is planning a trip to the South to present at the University and might have time to visit with family part of the time. Those would be her exact words. Then my grandma will say to me, Your mother says you are thinking about visiting us when you come down South. See how Grandma didn t use Mom s exact words, but she paraphrased the information she wanted to cover? Notice that she mentioned Your mother says? Do you have any conversations like that with your relatives, where one is paraphrasing information from the other person to have a discussion with you? Grandma in this case made sure to credit her source by using the words Your mother says, just like we use a signal phrase to introduce information from an outside source by saying According to this source, and she took the idea that my mom brought up but used her own words. We ll look at an academic example of 3

5 paraphrasing in the upcoming slides, but I just wanted to give an idea of how we already use paraphrasing in our everyday lives. We paraphrase a source by rephrasing the same idea in our own voice highlighting the information we want to share with our readers. We also summarize in our daily lives. Summarizing is borrowing the main ideas from a larger piece of text, like a paragraph or a newspaper article, and using only a sentence or two of your own words. You are boiling a large piece of text into a smaller piece of text to get the main points across using your own words. We do this all the time when we talk about our favorite television shows with friends, right? I m a huge fan of Downton Abbey, and that is a show where so many things happen in one episode that it is hard to keep track. I ll talk with a friend who has not seen all of the episodes, and I ll have to ask which episode was the last she had seen so I don t spoil anything for her when she catches up to me. She ll say, The last episode of Downton Abbey I saw was the one where Mr. Carson learns how to use the telephone and Lady Cybil gets the red-headed housemaid a secretary s job. Now, that isn t all that happened in the episode, but those are the main points. Notice that she gave credit to the source by mentioning the show s name, and she took the ideas of the episode without using any of the show s words she used her own words in describing things like the red-headed housemaid. So summarizing takes the best of or greatest hits of what you want to share from a source with your readers. 3

6 Paraphrasing can be very challenging! How do we keep the same idea but change it to our own words? Don t you need a source s words to keep the idea? Well, not necessarily. Think about the goal of bringing in a source to your paper, which is to help prove your thesis statement. A source might say that 60% of graduating seniors in the U.S. feel that standardized testing was not helpful in preparing them for college, but your thesis statement might argue that we need to find alternatives to standardized testing in public schools. How do you rephrase that statistic to fit your argument while keeping the same main point? We ll look an example like that in the upcoming slides. One other point to keep in mind is to think of your source as a guest star in your paper. I like the really in-depth interviews that I see on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart does such a great job when he talks with his interview subjects, especially those who write about history. When we see an interview, we see paraphrasing take place, because a guest star might say something like We have seen an improvement in employment for women in the past two generations, but there has been slower improvement in cultural attitudes toward the role of women in the workforce. Jon might respond, So we re happy with women working, but not necessarily out of the home? Now that s a joke that he s cracking, but he s rephrasing the original words to keep the same idea in order to emphasize a related point, that we as a culture are still getting comfortable with the idea of the reality we already see of women working outside the home. 4

7 Now that we get the basic concepts of paraphrasing and summarizing, we should think a little bit about how we can make paraphrase and summary work for us before we even write a draft! I want to share with you a writing concept and exercise that changed my life when I was in graduate school, and after I benefitted from this lesson I swore I would pass it on at every opportunity to writing students in my classroom. Okay, let me start by asking you this: what are the steps to the writing process? Can we think of all of them? The five official steps of the Writing Process are pre-writing/brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing/proofreading, and submitting/publishing. Now, which step is where we typically start to paraphrase and summarize our sources in a research paper? If I rewind six years or so and find myself just out of college, I would say that I brought sources in no earlier than drafting, which is the second step of the writing process. Now, I want you to think about how your whole experience of writing a research project would change if you thought of bringing in the research before even starting that first draft. For some of you the idea seems very natural, and you might already have been using research while brainstorming your topic for years to you, I say kudos for being smarter than I was! For others who might be looking for a change, a way to improve the experience of writing a research paper, the notion of doing research while brainstorming a topic might feel weird or oddly counterintuitive. How do you know what you want to research before you know what you are focusing on in the paper? That s a good question, but let s flip it over and ask this: How do you 5

8 know what you are focusing on in the paper before you know what research is out there? Research and brainstorming can go hand-in-hand, because as you brainstorm or pre-write, you can also get a better idea of what it is you d like to focus on in the paper. We do this kind of writing to learn all the time in our daily communications. Raise your hand if you have started an to someone about one thing, like an upcoming family reunion, but your wound up being about something entirely different, like remembering a dearly departed loved one. Since what you wound up writing about was so deep and thoughtful, you might decide to delete or make shorter the first part of the , right? The same thing can happen when we are thinking through what we want to write about in a paper, research or other. Here s the life-changing advice I got are you ready? Take some notes while you are researching. It helps you in two ways. First, by reading and noting points from sources, you can help focus your thoughts on what you want to write about. Second, by taking notes to get the main points from the source, you can determine whether or not the source will be useful to you. Start with the abstract or the introduction to an article or book; that way, you can tell right away what to expect from the rest of the source and whether or not you feel like you can use the information. The best way I have ever found to take notes on a source is via Double-Entry Journaling, which I will show you now. You might want to grab a piece of paper and a pencil if you haven t done so already! 5

9 This is an exercise that I hope will help you gather sources for your research and balance figuring out your focus while also evaluating how useful the source is going to be. This is a hypothetical example of an Double Entry Journal. To make a DEJ, you simply draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, or you can build a table in Microsoft Word. (I m old-fashioned and like the sheet of paper and a pencil, myself.) On the left side of the line write down Quotation, summary, or paraphrase from source and on the right, write My questions, agreements, disagreements, and other comments. (Obviously you can make this shorter as you need.) Then start putting down anything that you think could be useful to you as you think about your research project. See a quotation you might want to use? Write it down, or even just part of it, and make sure to include the page number, since you ll need that for your citations if you do decide to use the source. Then on the right side, just across the line from the quotation, write down your response. What do you think of when you see these words? Why include them? Feel free to jot down questions, too, as they can help you think on paper and write to learn. This way, you can balance those dual purposes of thinking through your thesis statement and evaluating the source and its usefulness to you in your writing. You don t have to directly quote the source; instead, you could start practicing (ta da!) paraphrasing and summarizing points from the source! If you are not 6

10 quoting directly, you won t have as much of a need to keep track of the page number where you found the information, as long as you get it down correctly in your notes. And think of how nice it will be once you have thought through these sources to have paraphrases and summaries ready to plug in to your paper as you write instead of having to interrupt the flow of your writing to look through the source and get the information! 6

11 Let s try out an example together. Jane is a student writing about education in the U.S. Her thesis is Long-term writing projects are a better measure of student learning than multiple-choice exams. She has a source that says this sentence: 52% of instructors responded that students demonstrated a better understanding of the course material in their research projects than in traditional midterm examinations (p. 152). I have a challenge for you. Pretend that you are Jane and that you want to paraphrase the information from the source quotation using your own words to prove your thesis statement that writing is better than multiple-choice testing. Take a moment and then type your paraphrase in the chat area and we ll take a look at them. I realize this is on the spot, so don t feel like it has to be perfect. Just give it a try. Try to include APA citation as well, but don t stress over it. The focus should be on paraphrasing. How can you rephrase this quotation to fit the thesis statement? 7

12 Now that we ve tried our hands at paraphrasing, let s tackle a related challenge: summarizing. In some ways, summarizing can be less difficult than paraphrasing, because you are turning a large amount of text into a small amount, and for me that makes it somewhat easier to change the wording to my own. For other folks, though, summarizing is more difficult than paraphrasing, because you have the same challenge of using your own words to rephrase a source s original idea, but instead of changing a source s sentence into a sentence of your own, you are now changing a whole paragraph or more of a source into a sentence of your own! If thinking of our sources as guest stars was helpful with paraphrasing, then I suggest we think of our sources as a garden of information when we summarize. You only want to pick the information that is ripe and ready to share with your readers, right? Think of your source as having fields of information with lots of good ideas, but only a few are going to be the very best for you. Again, think back to the original purpose of bringing in a source. Why do you bring a source into your paper to begin with? The goal of bringing in outside research is to support your central argument or thesis statement, right? So what pieces of information from that source support your thesis? Let s try another example. 8

13 Tom is writing a research paper about how colleges should accept certifications and training for transfer credit from soldiers, nurses, and other professionals with field experience. He has found a paragraph that could be very useful to him, but he needs to boil it down to just one or two sentences. Pretend that you are Tom and that you are using this longer excerpt to prove your thesis statement, but you need to summarize what the source says in just a sentence or two. Again, try to include the proper parenthetical citation, but focus most on how you will put the source s ideas into your own words. 9

14 The best time to do a paper review in the Kaplan University Writing Center is after you have written your first draft. When you come to us early, we can help you the most by helping you with the structure of your paper. Many students send papers at the last minute because they want us to simply proofread their paper. However, KUWC writing tutors do not simply proofread the paper for you; we want to help you learn to write and proofread your own papers. Since you can come to the Writing Center 6 times a term, you can submit a first draft, then submit a later draft if you need further help on an assignment. If you need help before you write the first draft, you can use live tutoring. During live tutoring, you can ask questions and brainstorm with a tutor. Live tutors can help you with other stages in the paper writing process as well. Come visit us. We can be found under the My Studies tab, then under Academic Support Center. 10

15 On the main Academic Support Center page, you will see the Writing Center links. These include Live Tutoring, Paper Review Service, the Writing Reference Library, Citation Guidelines, Workshops, English Language Learner, and Fundamental writing help. Notice, you can access the Kaplan Guide to Successful Writing on the right hand side in both print and audio form. Come visit us. 11

16 12

17 Here are two wonderful resources that can help you with paraphrasing and summarizing. The first is our Basic Citation Guidelines, a helpful text resource courtesy of our Writing Reference Library in the Kaplan University Writing Center. The document outlines the most common kinds of citations and some common sense guidelines for how to incorporate outside sources using quotation, paraphrase, and summary. The second link is to an Effective Writing Podcast given by Kurtis Clements, a wonderful member of our Writing Center team. For those of you who like learning by listening as well as by reading, please take ten minutes to sip on some tea or coffee and take notes on this podcast. I hope you will explore other resources in the Writing Center, too! 13

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