Although it is a common misperception among students, rephrasing something taken from another person’s work without properly citing it does not clear the writer of plagiarism. If the original source is not cited, the rearrangement or rewriting of it still constitutes plagiarism. Such text manipulation accounts for a significant amount of plagiarism, much of which is unintentional.
Paraphrasing is rewriting an author's work into your own words. Although the information is in your own words, it is still the original author's work. You have merely rephrased it. Summarizing is writing out the main points of someone else's work in your own words. Once again, because this is not information which you have created, it must be properly cited.
Unacceptable and Acceptable Paraphrases
Here's the original text from page one of Lizzie Borden: A Case Book of Family and Crime in the 1880s by Joyce Williams, et al.:
The rise of industry, the growth of cities, and the expansion of the population were the three great developments of late nineteenth century American history. As new, larger, steam-powered factories became a feature of the American landscape in the East, they transformed farm hands into industrial laborers and provided jobs for a rising tide of immigrants. With industry came urbanization, the growth of large cities (like Fall River, Massachusetts, where the Bordens lived) which became the centers of production as well as of commerce and trade.
Here's an UNACCEPTABLE paraphrase that is considered plagiarism:
The increase of industry, the growth of cities, and the explosion of the population were three large factors of nineteenth century America. As steam-driven companies became more visible in the eastern part of the country, they changed farm hands into factory workers and provided jobs for the large wave of immigrants. With industry came the growth of large cities like Fall River, where the Bordens lived, which turned into centers of commerce and trade as well as production.
What makes this passage plagiarism?
The preceding passage is considered plagiarism for two reasons: The writer has only changed a few words and phases, or changed the order of the original passage's sentences, and the writer has failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts. If you do either or both of these, you are plagiarizing.
Here's an ACCEPTABLE paraphrase:
Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. Steam-powered production had shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, and as immigrants arrived in the U.S., they found work in these new factories. As a result, populations grew, and large urban areas arose. Fall River was one of these manufacturing and commercial centers.3
Why is this passage ACCEPTABLE?
This is acceptable paraphrasing because the writer accurately relays the information in the original use of the writer's own words AND the writer lets the reader know the source of the information.
Here's an example of quotation and paraphrasing used together, which is also ACCEPTABLE:
Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. As steam-powered production shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, the demand for workers "transformed farm hands into factory workers,"7 and created jobs for immigrants. In turn, grown populations increased the size of urban areas. Fall River was one of these manufacturing hubs that were also "centers of commerce and trade."8
Why is this passage ACCEPTABLE?
This is acceptable paraphrasing because the writer records the information in the original passage accurately, gives credit for the ideas in this passage, and indicates which part is taken directly from the writer's source by putting the passage in quotation marks and citing the page number.