The information contained in this handout was adapted from an assignment created by a professor at Walden University.
Application 2: Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing is an essential skill you will use throughout your Argosy program and professional career. Paraphrasing, and correctly citing the original author for his or her ideas, allows you to take the ideas of others, summarize them, and incorporate them into your own thinking. When summarizing the ideas of others, it is important to paraphrase and to not plagiarize (copy the words and ideas of others as though they were your own); sometimes the difference is subtle.
To prepare for this assignment:
• Think about the sometimes subtle difference between plagiarizing and paraphrasing. • Read the following paragraphs, which were written by Patricia O’Conner:
“A good writer is one you can read without breaking a sweat. If you want a workout, you don’t lift a book—you lift weights. Yet we’re brainwashed to believe that the more brilliant the writer, the tougher the going.”
“The truth is that the reader is always right. Chances are, if something you’re reading doesn’t make sense, it’s not your fault—it’s the writer’s. And if something you write doesn’t get your point across, it’s probably not the reader’s fault—it’s yours. Too many readers are intimidated and humbled by what they can’t understand, and in some cases that’s precisely the effect the writer is after. But confusion is not complexity; it’s just confusion. A venerable tradition, dating back to the ancient Greek orators, teaches that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, just ratchet up the level of difficulty and no one will ever know.”
“Don’t confuse simplicity, though, with simplemindedness. A good writer can express an extremely complicated idea clearly and make the job look effortless. But such simplicity is a difficult thing to achieve because to be clear in your writing you have to be clear in your thinking. This is why the simplest and clearest writing has the greatest power to delight, surprise, inform, and move the reader. You can’t have this kind of shared understanding if writer and reader are in an adversary relationship.” (pp. 195–196)
Source: O’Conner, P. (2003). Woe is I: The grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English. New York: Riverhead Books.
• Paraphrase O’Conner’s passages using no more than 75–100 words. Remember that paraphrasing means summarizing the essence of an original short text. It does not mean creating a thesaurus-like revision of the author’s original words or copying the piece, or any part of it, word for word. For this assignment, do not use any direct quotes.
• Begin your assignment with the words: O’Conner (2003) argued that . . .