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Paraphrasing and Summarizing Exercise

This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:

This resource contains the practice exercise on paraphrasing and summarizing to help you learn how to apply the guidelines in this section to your own writing.

Take a look at the text below (excerpted from “Expert: Wikipedia Won't Go Away, So Learn How to Use It” by Maggie Morris) and the following attempts at paraphrasing and summarizing.  The first four are not adequate, but the last one is.  Look at each of the four inappropriate attempts, and decide what exactly makes each inappropriate.

The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research rather than as the final word, says a Purdue University communications expert. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use," says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. "But Wikipedia is here to stay and, despite penalties, people are likely to continue using it."

Version 1:  The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use," says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication.

Version 2:  The popularity of Wikipedia makes it important that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a starting point for their research. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use," says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication (Morris).

Version 3:  Wikipedia is popular, which makes it vital that users learn to use the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia,” says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, “and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use" (Morris).

Version 4:
  “Wikipedia is popular, which makes it necessary to learn using the online collaborative encyclopedia as a beginning point for their research. ‘Students are addicted to Wikipedia,’ says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, ‘and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use’” (Morris).

Version 5:  Sorin A. Matei of Purdue University says that because students are "addicted to Wikipedia" and will continue to rely on it, it is important for teachers to help them to use Wikipedia as a place to begin research, rather than as a final source.  Matei also says that penalties are unlikely to be effective (Morris).

Version 5 is correct. Here the student combined her own paraphrasing with a quotation of striking language of the original text. She made certain her words and those taken directly from the source fit together; she quoted accurately and cited her source.  Some of the information is consolidated, and the specific kinds of penalties given by teachers—a minor detail—are left out.

Click here for execise answers.

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