It’s no secret: college students are intimidated by writing assignments. Hate is a strong word that we’d only use in radical cases. It’s safe to say that if you ask a student how they feel about the academic writing aspect of education, they will use it.
Some students hire academic writers, who teach them how to cope with the challenge. That’s a good idea; you could learn through experience. Others decide to find random online sources and paraphrase them into a “new” essay. That’s not a good thing to do.
In an academic context, paraphrasing is acceptable. However, it always has to be accompanied by appropriate references. Let’s discuss how you can implement paraphrasing and citation into the academic writing process.
What are citations?
Citations, also called references, indicate the source of information that inspired your writing. Their purpose is to enable the reader to learn more about the background of your arguments.
As a student, you’re expected to include references to academic or scientific sources. Books, journal articles, newspapers, and relevant interviews are also acceptable. It’s not recommended to include Wikipedia, blogs, and online articles as support for your arguments.
When used in a proper way, citations enrich your style. They prove that you’ve conducted thorough research on the topic, and your arguments are based on facts. Academic writing is not just about personal opinions. It’s about research, and the references must prove it.
What is paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing is putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. In education, paraphrasing is often misunderstood as plagiarism.
If you don’t reference your sources, then paraphrasing is the shadiest type of plagiarism there is. The content can run clean through plagiarism detection engines, since they are designed to identify only copied, not paraphrased content. But professors can still recognize the sources you’ve used. They do their research, too. If they notice an idea that you stole from another author and “forgot” to mention their name, they will consider this a plagiarised paper. The grade won’t be high.
But if you paraphrase another author’s ideas while providing references, you’re good. Paraphrasing is an effective tool that makes the content more interesting to read. If you provide quotations from other sources, they might not fit your style. With paraphrasing, you’ll make them suitable for the paper you’re writing.
How to use paraphrasing and citations for writing papers
The main rule is: always include your references!
Now that we got that out of the way, you can follow these steps to make paraphrasing and citations easy:
- Use citation-generator software for proper references
Students are overwhelmed by citation guidelines, simply because there are too many rules to follow. Your teacher may have asked you to use Harvard, MLA, APA, MHRA, Turabian, or another referencing style. You can’t master all those styles, so citation-generator software will be very useful. The MHRA citation machine will deliver clean references that you can immediately paste as footnotes. You can adjust the style you need, and you’ll provide basic information for the source you’re using. You’ll immediately get a properly formatted citation to include in your paper.
This will save you a lot of time. After the first two or three references provided by an automated generator, you’ll intuitively understand the formatting rules.
2 Your arguments are essential
This is a common mistake that students make: they rely on citations so much that they forget about the main purpose of academic writing. It’s all about presenting your point of view. The teacher is mostly interested in the things you learned and the opinions you formed during that process.
The paraphrased parts shouldn’t consume too much of the content. As a basic guideline you can follow, 3-4 references are enough for an essay of 1000 words. The paraphrased parts should only take a few sentences, and they should always be accompanied by your personal viewpoints.
Writing is easier than you think
Not everyone was born to become an exceptional writer. But you know what? You don’t have to become the best writer in the world. You only need to develop basic writing skills, which would take you through the educational process. Academic writing makes you a better researcher. The projects also help you learn how to express your thoughts and support your arguments with facts. That’s a skill that you can use in any career. Paraphrasing and citations enrich your writing, but you have to be careful with them. Follow the tips above and you’ll do just fine!