Research Databases for Students: How to Paraphrase
|1. Consult more than one source. You're much more likely to copy words if you only have one set of words to copy from. Look the answer up on three or four websites, or in several encyclopedias or reference books. Think about the different ways these sources express the same ideas. Does each one bring a new idea or approach? Which one do you find easiest to understand? If you're not able to understand it at all, keep looking for more helpful sources, or ask a teacher or parent for help.
|2. Jot down a few ideas. Picking from all your sources, jot down some key words and ideas that have to do with the question you're trying to answer or the subject you're researching. Don't use complete sentences or phrases, just individual words or groups of no more than three words. You want just enough to jog your memory of what you learned and understood about the material. Names and dates and places are fine, but not opinions or fancy language. If you can't understand it, don't include it in your notes.
|3. Close down your sources. Hide your browser window, or close your books. Get that original material out of your sight. You're on your own now, working from your notes and your brain. You may want to keep the sites or the pages marked if you need to refer to them for further clarification, but don't keep them open when you're writing, and NEVER cut and paste unless you're using NoodleBib.
4. Talk about what you have learned with a parent, advisor, friend or teacher. Using your notes and what you have learned from the original material, discuss the information you've found with an adult, including any opinions you may have formed for yourself. If you've really understood the material, you should be able to do this -- maybe not in as much detail or fancy words as the original, but in your own language and understanding. If you can't, or are still confused by the material, ask for help. Then close the material down again and start the writing process.
|5. Write down what you've just said. When you have an understanding of the material you've read and have formulated ideas that sound right to you and sound original to the adult who's helping you, write it out on paper. You should have something that draws its facts from research material you've found, but filters it through your own thoughts and understanding and language abilities. Your teacher will be far happier with this than with a more knowledgeable passage you copied directly from somebody else. Your ideas, directly from you, are what's important.|
article adapted and used with permission ~ Terri Mauro @about.com