Module 9: Paraphrasing to Perfection

To understand the difference between an acceptable and an unacceptable paraphrase, start by reading this excerpt from an original source on the subject, a book called The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 167. Using the three characteristics of an acceptable paraphrase identified earlier, compare these two attempts at a paraphrase below to the original text. The first is unacceptable, but the second one is quite acceptable.

Original Excerpt: You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someone else's words or ideas but fail to credit that person. You plagiarize even when you do credit the author but use his exact words without so indicating with quotation marks or block indentation. You also plagiarize when you use words so close to those in your source, that if your work were placed next to the source, it would be obvious that you could not have written what you did without the source at your elbow. (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 167)
Unacceptable paraphrase: It is plagiarism, intentional or not, to use someone else's ideas or words without giving credit to that person. Even if you give credit to the author, it is plagiarism to use his exact words without quotation marks or block indentation. It is also plagiarism to use words so close to the original that if someone put your work next to it, it would be clear that you couldn't have written what you did unless you had the original there with you. (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 167)
Acceptable paraphrase: Booth, Colomb, and Williams warn against three types of plagiarism: 1) using the "words or ideas" of a source without identifying it; 2) giving credit to a source but copying its language, in whole or in part, without benefit of quotation marks; or 3) echoing the sentence structure and phrasing of the original so closely that anyone can see the writer was depending on it heavily as he wrote (167).

Can you explain why?