Summarizing,paraphrasing, andsynthesizingSelf-study Version
Summarizing, paraphrasing, andsynthesizingWhen working on an academic text it islikely that you are going to work with avariety of text. You will also need to selectmaterials that are relevant for your work.Once you have selected the materials youwant to work with, you need to make someadjustments before you can include them inyour work.
Summarizing, paraphrasing, andsynthesizingBefore you can include other people’s ideasin your work you need to do one or more ofthese things:• Summarize• Paraphrase• Synthesize
Summarize• A summary is a shortened version of theoriginal text.• It should contain the main points of theoriginal text but in a condensed version.• It should be written in your own words.• The source should be acknowledged.
Points to help you summarize1. Make sure you understand the original text.2. Think about your purpose in using this text.What is your purpose in writing thesummary?• Are you summarizing to support yourpoint?or• Are you summarizing so you can criticizethe work before you introduce your mainpoints?
Points to help you summarize3. Select the relevant information. Thisdepends on your purpose.4. Find the important ideas (words andphrases) and mark them in some way or listthem elsewhere.• Distinguish between main and subsidiaryinformation.• Delete most details, and examples,unimportant information, anecdotes,examples, illustrations, data, etc.
Points to help you summarize5. Find synonyms or alternative phrases for thosewords. You do not need to change specializedvocabulary.6. Change the structure of the text. This includes:• changing adjectives to adverbs and nouns toverbs• breaking up long sentences and combiningshort sentences• identifying the relationships between wordsand ideas and expressing them differently.
Points to help you summarize7. After having completed the above steps, beginrewriting the main ideas in complete sentencescombining your notes into a piece ofcontinuous writing. Using conjunctions andadverbs such as ‘therefore’, ‘however’,although’, ‘since’, to show the connectionsbetween ideas.8. Check your work.
Points to help you summarizeWhen checking your work, make sure:• your purpose is clear• you have not copied any text (unless you arequoting)• you do not misinterpret the original• the length of your text is shorter• the style of writing is your own• you acknowledge other people’s work.
Now do the exercises on summarizingon your worksheet.
ParaphrasingSometimes summarizing is not appropriate orrelevant and you may want to maintain a closerlink with the original but you do not want toquote word for word. In that case you maychoose to paraphrase. It is a good idea to limitparaphrasing to short bits of text. You need tochange the words and the structure of theoriginal but keep the meaning the same. Again,when you paraphrase someone’s work you needto acknowledge it.
Points to help you paraphrase1. Make sure you understand the original text.2. Find the important ideas (words and phrases)and mark them in some way or list themelsewhere.3. Finds synonyms or alternative phrases for thosewords. You do not need to change specializedvocabulary.
Points to help you paraphrase4. Change the structure of the text. This includes:• Changing adjectives to adverbs and nouns toverbs• Breaking up long sentences and combiningshort sentences• Identifying the relationships between wordsand ideas and expressing them in a differentway. (Be careful not to change the meaning.)4. Once you have completed the above steps,rewrite the main ideas in complete sentencescombining you notes into a piece of continuouswriting.
Points to help you paraphrase6. Check your work.When checking your work, make sure:• you have not copied any text• the meaning is the same as the original• the style of writing is your own• your paraphrase is the same length as theoriginal• you acknowledge other people’s work throughappropriate referencing.
Now do the exercises on paraphrasingon your worksheet.
SynthesizingWhen you synthesize you combine several textsinto one, usually shorter, piece of writing. Afteryou have selected the sources you want to use,you need to use your summary andparaphrasing skills to rewrite the information inyour own words. The information from all thesources needs to fit together and form onecontinuous text. The sources need to beacknowledged and properly referenced.
Points to help you synthesize• All the points for summarizing andparaphrasing are relevant when you synthesize.However, the following point can be added tothe summarizing points.• Organize the information you have fromsummarizing the different texts. You couldgive all the similar ideas in different texts thesame number or color to help you group themtogether.