Okay, here’s the deal:
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You hear an interesting story and think, “Wow, I need to tell this one to my friend!”
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You listen to a speaker and decide to share his professional advice with colleagues at work.
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Or, you write an essay on If by Rudyard Kipling and want to introduce its plot in the first paragraph.
The question:

What tactics will you use, given that you can’t quote every sentence or represent a story word for word? You’ll use own words to convey an idea of the original, won’t you?

Known as paraphrasing, this tactic is the most popular one among students to represent while writing essays and other academic papers: they repeat versions of the source, not its exact words.

That’s where the difference between quoting and paraphrasing hides:
Quoting VS. Paraphrasing

Including identical wording from the source in your work, using quotation marks to specify the quoted text, and citing this material (in footnotes, text, or endnotes)

Including the idea from the source in your work, rephrasing it with own words, and citing it. The fewer words you use from the source, the better.

Is It OK to Use Paraphrase in Academic Writing?

When used right, a paraphrase is a valuable skill for students to have. It’s better than quoting information all the time, and it helps to understand rather than copy the meaning and ideas from the source.

Let’s face it:

Paraphrasing is the best and legitimate way to borrow others’ thoughts.

Efficient strategies to use it in academic writing include:
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Changing parts of speech, active to passive voice, and overall structure of sentences.
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Using synonyms wherever appropriate.
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Changing phrases to clauses, or paraphrasing single sentences.
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Supporting original ideas with additional information.
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Paraphrasing in your writing style and tone.
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Referencing the author.
But here’s the catch:

This writing tactic has its dark side. When used wrong, it becomes an accidental plagiarism and sets a stone rolling to problems in college: low grades, reputation loss, and even expulsion.

How Do Plagiarism Checkers See It?

The problem is, students might not to know how to paraphrase writings. They use quotes without reference, forget quotation marks, don’t cite the source, and believe that poor rewrite is okay to use in essays. As a result, plagiarism and accusations from educators appear.

Plagiarism check software, if reputable and reliable, determines such poorly paraphrased passages as duplications. Let’s see how it works.

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We took a passage (source) and asked PlagiarismCheck.org to scan it.

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It’s 100% plagiarism. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) And now, let’s see what happens if a student tries to paraphrase this passage for his essay but does it wrong.

The checker still considers it plagiarism, which is remarkable: scanning your academic papers through it before submission, you’ll see the problematic passages to paraphrase and cite them right to avoid accusations of plagiarism and get higher grades for your writings.

Why PlagiarismCheck.org sees your paraphrase as duplication

A paraphrase is about taking facts/opinions and rewording them. If you believe you’ve done it right and represented the views from sources with your own words but PlagiarismCheck.org still considers your text a poor copy, make sure you avoided the following tactics while paraphrasing:

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You maintained the author’s sentence structure and tone of voice. In other words, you repeated his method of expression.
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You changed the structure, but those changes were slight.
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You didn’t use quotation marks to indicate the phrases coming from the author directly.
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You mixed up paraphrasing with synonymization which, when overused, is considered plagiarism, as well.
To get the idea behind confusing synonymization for paraphrasing let’s take a look at the comment section here:
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A user does nothing but takes synonyms for most words in this passage. Yes, it will be difficult for a common plagiarism checker to find duplications here because of too many word substitutions; however, it will be wrong to consider the given passage an efficient paraphrasing.

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If we scan the original text through PlagiarismCheck.org, it’s clear the software will see it as 100% plagiarism.

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And here’s what happens when scanning that synonymized passage. Still finds duplications. Good job, sir!

In the aforementioned comment section, another user proposed the alternative variant of paraphrasing for that passage. It’s a good one, and plagiarism checkers don’t see any duplications here; yet, it would sound more legitimate if it referred the source.

Who knows, maybe it did. We didn’t scan the whole essay with this passage. Chances are, a student would decide to refer in footnotes or endnotes of his work.

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Long Story Short…

Feel free to use paraphrase in your academic writings, but make sure to do it right. Write in own words, don’t forget quotation marks when citing the author, and don’t ignore references.

Notwithstanding the fact it remains the most challenging type of plagiarism for corresponding tools to detect, those reliable and complemented with high technology can recognize it anyway.

But it’s not that bad, huh?

Given that your goal is to write a well-crafted essay rather than cheat plagiarism checkers with tons of word order manipulations changing the essence of your message, scanning a text through PlagiarismCheck.org before submitting it to your professor can help to uncover weak points of your writing and edit it accordingly to create a truly original academic paper.