One of the essential skills in academic writing is the ability to paraphrase the work of other authors. This means to express their opinions or findings in your own words. Many lecturers prefer paraphrase to direct quotations as too many direct quotations can break up the 'flow' of your writing. Also, through paraphrasing, you can often express the information from your sources more concisely, by picking out the essential elements of the extract you are rewording. In this learning object you will be given the opportunity to practise paraphrasing and synthesising, which means using more than one source to support your arguments.
• To provide practise in using synonyms to write effective paraphrases
• To raise awareness of the essential elements of a good paraphrase
• To suggest useful techniques when paraphrasing from a published source
• To suggest ways that sources can be synthesised to support your arguments
Activity 1: Using academic synonyms for paraphrasing
For effective paraphrasing, it helps to have a good awareness of common academic synonyms. To begin with, you can try the following exercises to check your knowledge of these and practise using them at sentence level.
Finish all activities below. Click the "Next" button to the next activity after you finish one.
Activity 2: The essential elements of a good paraphrase
In this activity, you will explore the essentials of a good paraphrase. You will be using extracts from textbooks and encyclopedia definitions of management. However, before going any further, write your own definition of "management", which should include the most important roles of "managers", in the box below.
Now imagine that a student has been given the following essay title:
Compare and contrast what managers are supposed to do, according to textbook models, with what they actually do, according to empirical studies of management.
She decides that it would be a good idea to define the term "management" in her introduction and copies out the following definition from a business encyclopedia she consults in the library.
"Management is a process that is used to accomplish organizational goals; that is, a process that is used to achieve what an organization wants to achieve. An organization could be a business, a school, a city, a group of volunteers, or any governmental entity. Managers are the people to whom this management task is assigned, and it is generally thought that they achieve the desired goals through the key functions of (1) planning, (2) organizing, (3) directing, and (4) controlling."
Luft, R.L., 2000. entry on "Management". In MALONIS, J., ed.,"Encyclopedia of Business", 2nd. ed., Detroit: Gale Group
Now that you have read the original extract, read the three paraphrases that follow it. Choose which of the sentences that follow the extracts accurately describe the different paraphrases.
In Luft's entry on "Management", in the "Encyclopedia of Business" (Malonis J. (Ed.) 2000), he states that the way a group of people working together achieves its aims is through its managers. He then divides their responsibilities into four key roles: 'planning', 'organising', 'directing' and 'controlling'.
Luft in his entry on "Management" in the "Encyclopedia of Business" (Malonis J. (Ed.) 2000), states that management is the method that is used to achieve organisational aims; that is, the method that is used to achieve what an organisation wants to achieve. He makes clear that an organisation could be a business, a school, a town, a group of people working voluntarily, or any governing body. Managers are the people who this task is given to, and it is agreed that they achieve what they want through the key activities of planning, organising, directing and controlling.
Management can best be defined as the system that is used for any organisation to succeed in meeting its objectives. This organisation can take many forms and be large or small. The key people in the accomplishment of these objectives are the managers. Their most important roles in the process are, planning, organising, directing and controlling.
Now decide which of the following five sentences about the above paraphrases are true and which are false.
1. All the above paraphrases are acceptable because key vocabulary has been changed.
2. None of the above paraphrases is acceptable because the last four "key functions" have not been changed.
3. The second paraphrase is unacceptable because it is too close to the original.
4. The first paraphrase is unacceptable because it is shorter than the original.
5. The third paraphrase is unacceptable because it does not include a citation.
Sentences 3 and 5 are true, but sentences 1, 2 and 4 are false.
Although key vocabulary has been changed in all of the paraphrases, the second paraphrase is too similar to the original. This is the case in terms of vocabulary, sentence structure and the order of information.
It is not necessary to change the four last "key functions" in the paraphrases, as to do so would risk changing the original content of the source.
Although the first paraphrase is shorter, the essential information has been included, so this is not problematic.
Even though the third paraphrase is otherwise a good example of paraphrase, it is still very important to reference your original source so as to avoid accusations of plagiarism.
Activity 3: Synthesising from multiple sources
Synthesising refers to the process by which you refer to not one, but multiple sources, to support your argument when writing an essay or research paper. The best examples of synthesis lead into the author's own original work, which has been informed by the paraphrasing of multiple sources. In this activity, you will read a selection of definitions of the term 'management' and then you will write your own synthesis of these definitions.
Read some other definitions of management listed below.
1 [uncountable] the activity of controlling and organizing the work that a company or organization does
1 : the art or act of managing: the conducting or supervising of something (as a business)
2 : judicious use of means to accomplish an end
"management". In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved June 8 2009 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/management
We define management as the process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, accomplish efficiently selected aims.
Koontz, H., and Weirich, H. 1988 Management 9th international edition, Singapore: McGraw-Hill. p.4
Management is tasks. Management is a discipline. But management is also people. Every achievement of management is the achievement of a manager. Every failure is a failure of a manager. People manage rather than "forces" or "facts". The vision, dedication and integrity of managers determine whether there is management or mismanagement.
Drucker, P.F. 2007 Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices London: Transaction Publishers.p.xiii
Management is a process that is used to accomplish organizational goals; that is, a process that is used to achieve what an organization wants to achieve. An organization could be a business, a school, a city, a group of volunteers, or any governmental entity. Managers are the people to whom this management task is assigned, and it is generally thought that they achieve the desired goals through the key functions of (1) planning, (2) organizing, (3) directing, and (4) controlling.
Luft, R.L., 2000. entry on "Management". In Malonis, J.,ed.,"Encyclopedia of Business", 2nd. ed. Detroit: Gale Group
The following synthesis is quite a demanding activity, especially if English is not your first language.
Remember linking words help you to show transitions between sentences: 'whereas' for contrast, 'therefore' and 'consequently' state the result of the first clause, and 'finally' can be used for the last in a list of different definitions.
Useful language for citing sources includes: 'make(s) reference to', 'maintain(s)', and 'to define sth. (something) as'.
Finally, you might like to begin with: 'Both the Longman and Merriam-Webster online dictionaries define management as...'
Now write a synthesis of the definitions given above. You may use direct quotation for isolated words or phrases, but these should be sparing and appropriate. Be careful to cite the sources in the paragraph.
Two suggested syntheses of these various sources are given below:
Both the Longman and Merriam-Webster online dictionaries define management as the act (or art) of 'controlling', 'supervising' and 'organising' the work undertaken by a company or organisation. Whereas, Koontz and Weirich (1988: 4) make reference to the environment in which those working together achieve their 'efficiently selected' aims and emphasise the maintenance and design of this environment. Luft (2000), having noted that the way a group achieves their aims is through management, divides managers' responsibilities into four key roles: 'planning', 'organising', 'directing' and 'controlling'. Finally, Drucker (2007: xiii) maintains that the human element of management is paramount. Therefore the human qualities of 'vision', 'dedication' and 'integrity' are more crucial for success or failure of allotted tasks than other factors.
The concept of "management" is complex, and is defined as "controlling and organizing" (Longman English Dictionary Online) or, "conducting or supervising" (The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Koontz and Weirich (1988:4) define management as the act of creating and controlling the place where individuals, who effectively combine their efforts and skills, achieve objectively chosen goals. However, in contrast, Drucker (2007:xiii) writes that management can be defined as activities, a school of learning and furthermore, as human beings themselves. He asserts that each accomplishment of 'management' is, in actual fact, the accomplishment of the person who has done the managing. Each inability to reach a goal is, in reality, the inability of the person in charge, to reach that goal. Drucker concludes by stating that the clarity of sight, commitment and honesty that people in positions of responsibility possess, determines whether or not there is good or bad management. The final proposed definition of management is proffered by Luft (2000). He claims that management is the act of achieving institutional targets. More specifically, the act of attaining company defined goals. Managers attain their clearly defined targets through the primary factors of preparation, organization, direction and control (Luft, 2000).
Activity 4: Your own definition of the term 'management'
In this activity, you will use the definitions that you have looked at so far to revise and improve on the definition of the term 'management' that you wrote at the beginning of activity 2.
Now conclude with your own preferred definition. How has it changed after synthesising your sources? Write your new, improved, definition of 'management' in the box below. You might like to begin, "The definition of management that I will use is..."
One possible definition...
The definition of management that I will use is the planning, organisation and control of allotted tasks to further an organisation's goals, to be achieved through the design of an environment best suited to this aim. The manager's vision, sincerity and industry are consequently critical to the successful accomplishment of the company's targets.
Activity 5: Referencing appropriately
In this final activity, you will list the references that you have used in your definition of management.
Finally, list your references as you would do at the end of your essay in the text entry box.
Check your list of references against those in the "Review" section at the bottom of this page, which have been compiled according to the Harvard system of referencing.
Would you like to review the main points?
When paraphrasing, a wide vocabulary and especially a good knowledge of academic synonyms, is extremely helpful. A good thesaurus can prove invaluable in this context. However, it is not sufficient to just change a few words. Alteration of sentence structure and order of information also assist in the rewording of the original. Care must be taken though, to ensure that you do not misrepresent your source and remember that after paraphrasing, it is still essential to cite the authors of your sources within your paragraph and to reference them correctly at the end of your assignment.
There follows one possible version of the references you would need to include after synthesising the definitions of management in Activity 5 above.
Drucker, P.F. (2007) Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices London: Transaction Publishers.
Koontz, H., and Weirich, H. (1988) Management 9th international edition, Singapore: McGraw-Hill. Longman English Dictionary Online, entry on "Management". Retrieved June 8 2009 from [http://ldoceonline.com/dictionary/management]
Luft, R.L., (2000). entry on "Management". In Malonis, J., ed., Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd. ed. Detroit: Gale Group, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, entry on "Management". Retrieved June 8 2009 from [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/management]