Whenever you paraphrase, remember these two points:
- You must provide a reference.
- The paraphrase must be entirely in your own words.
- When you are at the note-taking stage, and you come across a passage that may be useful for your essay, do not copy the passage verbatim unless you think you will want to quote it.
- If you think you will want to paraphrase the passage, make a note only of the author's basic point. You don't even need to use full sentences.
- In your note, you should already be translating the language of the original into your own words. What matters is that you capture the original idea.
- Make sure to include the page number of the original passage so that you can make a proper reference later on.
- Convert the ideas from your notes into full sentences.
- Provide a reference.
- Go back to the original to ensure that (a) your paraphrase is accurate and (b) you have truly said things in your own words.
original passage is from Oliver Sacks' essay "An Anthropologist on
The cause of autism has also
been a matter of dispute. Its incidence is about one in a thousand, and
it occurs throughout the world, its features remarkably consistent even
in extremely different cultures. It is often not recognized in the first
year of life, but tends to become obvious in the second or third year.
Though Asperger regarded it as a biological defect of affective
contact—innate, inborn, analogous to a physical or intellectual
defect—Kanner tended to view it as a psychogenic disorder, a reflection
of bad parenting, and most especially of a chillingly remote, often
professional, "refrigerator mother." At this time, autism was often
regarded as "defensive" in nature, or confused with childhood
schizophrenia. A whole generation of parents—mothers, particularly—were
made to feel guilty for the autism of their children.
What follows is an example of illegitimate paraphrase:
cause of the condition autism has been disputed. It occurs in
approximately one in a thousand children, and it exists in all parts of
the world, its characteristics strikingly similar in vastly differing
cultures. The condition is often not noticeable in the child's first
year, yet it becomes more apparent as the child reaches the ages of two
or three. Although Asperger saw the condition as a biological defect of
the emotions that was inborn and therefore similar to a physical defect,
Kanner saw it as psychological in origin, as reflecting poor parenting
and particularly a frigidly distant mother. During this period, autism
was often seen as a defense mechanism, or it was misdiagnosed as
childhood schizophrenia. An entire generation of mothers and fathers
(but especially mothers) were made to feel responsible for their
offspring's autism (Sacks 247-48).
Most of these
sentences do little more than substitute one phrase for another. An
additional problem with this passage is that the only citation occurs at
the very end of the last sentence in the paragraph. The reader might be
misled into thinking that the earlier sentences were not also indebted
to Sacks' essay.
The following represents a legitimate paraphrase of the original passage:
"An Anthropologist on Mars," Sacks lists some of the known facts about
autism. We know, for example, that the condition occurs in roughly one
out of every thousand children. We also know that the characteristics of
autism do not vary from one culture to the next. And we know that the
condition is difficult to diagnose until the child has entered its
second or third year of life. As Sacks points out, often a child who
goes on to develop autism will still appear perfectly normal at the age
of one (247).
Sacks observes, however, that
researchers have had a hard time agreeing on the causes of autism. He
sketches the diametrically opposed positions of Asperger and Kanner. On
the one hand, Asperger saw the condition as representing a
constitutional defect in the child's ability to make meaningful
emotional contact with the external world. On the other hand, Kanner
regarded autism as a consequence of harmful childrearing practices. For
many years confusion about this condition reigned. One unfortunate
consequence of this confusion, Sacks suggests, was the burden of guilt
imposed on so many parents for their child's condition (247-448).