Last Updated on April 23, 2022 by Larious
What is Paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing is the act of rewriting/rewording someone else’s content in your own words without changing the meaning. It is commonly used to express an idea given by someone else in a style that is closer to your own. Paraphrasing is often used as an exercise in order to increase one’s grasp of the language.
There are a few types of paraphrasing, in fact, they can be called technique instead. A common tip for paraphrasing is to read an article, jot down the important points, and then try to rewrite the article in your own words without looking at the original. Recently paraphrasing has been used in order to avoid plagiarism. We will take a look at whether paraphrasing in such a way is legal or not.
Is It Legal to Use a Paraphrasing Tool to Paraphrase Content
There are two main categories in which paraphrasing can be employed, blog posts/articles and academic writing. Paraphrasing has different implications in each context, let’s look further into it.
1. Blogpost and articles
Blog posts and articles on the web are usually only retelling what is already known by the world in some capacity. They are usually retellings of things according to the author.
Keeping that in mind, it is considered alright to paraphrase someone’s content and use it in your own blog, essay or article.
However, there are some things to consider; paraphrasing can be generally divided into two types:
Thorough paraphrasing is when the content is understood well by the paraphraser and has no trouble expressing it in their own way.
Basic paraphrasing is when just a few words are exchanged with their synonyms while the sentence structure largely remains the same.
Blog posts are usually a congregation of ideas that are presented in an easy to digest manner by the author in order to convey some knowledge to the audience.
For that purpose, the author may use ideas given by other people and portray them in their own way, which might be easier to understand. Using a paraphraser to write a blog post like that is not considered illegal or unethical. Things are a little bit different when it comes to news columns. Columns basically are the views of an expert given on a certain topic.
Those experts have done appropriate research prior to writing those columns, you cannot use a paraphraser to use the contents of those columns in your own work without citation. That is considered illegal and unethical.
2. Academic writing
Academic writing refers to research papers and assignments written by students, professors and researchers. The various publishers are very strict when it comes to the uniqueness of content, and stealing of content. Research papers and assignments frequently have to cite other sources which they have used in order to do some research.
The cited content can be paraphrased in order to get its meaning across in a better way. It can be paraphrased to fit the style of one’s paper.In all cases, the citation of used and paraphrased content has to be done correctly, otherwise, it is considered illegal.
There is no leeway to use paraphrasing as a way to not cite a source in academic writing. It does not matter whether the paraphrasing was thorough or basic. If no paraphrasing was done, then it means the content was used verbatim and hence quoted; quoted content is always cited.
In summary, always cite your sources when writing an academic paper/assignment.
Tips for Thorough Paraphrasing
Now that we have established where paraphrasing is legal and illegal, let’s check out some tips on how to do good paraphrasing when writing an essay or a blog post.
1. Use a good Paraphrasing tool.
First off, you need to make sure that you use a good paraphrase tool. Paraphrasing tools are online resources that can change the given text and reword it using different synonyms without altering the original meaning.
These can save you an incredible amount of time and mental energy. Students will find writing essays much easier using such tools. A lot of paraphrasing tools online are A.I-based and offer very human-like results when used for paraphrasing.
A lot of these tools come with options such as “simple mode”, “fluency mode” and “creative mode”. These modes offer different skill levels for paraphrasing. These range from simply substituting synonyms, to changing the complete sentence structure. Some even offer a way to add the user’s input to modify the final result.
2. Proofread for Contextual and Grammatical Mistakes
Don’t rest on your laurels after using the tool, make sure to proofread the final result. The tools can provide a satisfactory result, but they are not perfect. You need to go through the output and make sure there are not any contextual and grammatical mistakes. Removing these mistakes will make the paraphrased text look and read much better.
3. Change Sentence Order and Structure
If you are using the basic option in these online tools, then go through the final output and manually change the sentence order and structure. This will go a long way in making your content look unique and improve its readability. Readability is an important aspect of writing, improving it using paraphrasers is a good option.
Paraphrasing, if done correctly, is not illegal. Paraphrasing can either be done thoroughly or it can be done improperly. In improper paraphrasing, only a few words in the given content are changed, and the overall look of the content remains more or less the same.
This is recognized as plagiarism, and this is not legal to do in any circumstances…unless you leave a proper citation referring to the original source. On the other hand, when paraphrasing is done properly, the whole look of the text is altered. It does not look like the original content except that it has the same idea and concept.
Majority of the words as well as the sentence structures are changed and thus, this is not recognized as plagiarism. In a nutshell, we can say that paraphrasing is legal when done thoroughly, but it is not legal if done haphazardly (or in the context of academic writing).