Key Takeaways:

  • Paraphrasing text and giving credit where credit is due is usually not seen as plagiarism.
  • When paraphrasing, referencing the original source helps prevent claims of plagiarism.
  • Simply swapping a few words or rearranging sentence structure is not enough; the meaning must be reworked.
  • Accurate citation and attribution are required to distinguish between original and borrowed work.

In today’s digital age, creating original content while drawing on external sources is a fundamental aspect of writing. However, many wonder, “Is paraphrasing considered plagiarism?”

Developing strong paraphrasing skills is essential for writers to effectively integrate external sources into their work while avoiding plagiarism.

With advanced knowledge and refined writing skills, writers can understand the fine line between paraphrasing and plagiarism.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of paraphrasing, discuss when it crosses the line into plagiarism, and provide tips to enhance your paraphrasing abilities.

Paraphrasing vs. Plagiarism

paraphrase and plagiarism

Two prevalent ethical problems in writing are paraphrase and plagiarism. It is unethical to steal someone else’s work without giving due credit, which is what is meant by plagiarism.

It can happen accidentally or on purpose, depending on how it’s done.

Contrarily, paraphrasing is a viable writing approach that entails rewriting the original material while maintaining its sense and providing credit to the original source. Its objective is to comprehend and make the piece of content clear so that it may be incorporated into new work, in besides preventing plagiarism.

The key difference lies in acknowledgment and originality. Plagiarism ignores the original source’s contribution to the subject, whereas effective paraphrasing acknowledges it.

Is Paraphrasing Considered Plagiarism?

Paraphrasing is the act of restating someone else’s ideas or information in your own words.

As long as the information’s source is appropriately cited and the text’s meaning is retained, it is not deemed plagiarism. However, if one simply changes a few words or phrases but retains the original structure and sequence of ideas without giving due credit, it can be considered as a form of plagiarism known as patchwriting or mosaic plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work or ideas without giving them credit.

When paraphrasing, make sure the original source is correctly attributed and credited. This means acknowledging the original author and providing a citation in the appropriate format, whether it be in-text or in a bibliography. Failing to do so can lead to allegations of plagiarism.

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When Does Paraphrase Turn Into Plagiarism?

Paraphrasing becomes plagiarism when it involves copying someone else’s ideas, language, or original insights without adequate attribution, even if the words are changed.

paraphrasing becomes plagiarism

Here are key points where paraphrasing can cross into plagiarism:

Insufficient Modification: When the original text is only slightly altered, changing a few words or simply rearranging the sentence structure, but the essential meaning and form remain too close to the original.

Lack of Attribution: Not giving credit to the source of the information or ideas is a fundamental aspect of plagiarism. Even if the text is paraphrased, if it’s derived from someone else’s work, that source needs to be acknowledged.

Too Close to the Source: Even with some alterations, if the paraphrased text closely mirrors the structure, key points, or unique terms used in the source, it may be considered plagiarism. Effective paraphrasing should involve rewriting the ideas into genuinely new expressions and adding one’s own interpretation or analysis where applicable.

Misrepresenting the Source: If the paraphrase distorts the source’s meaning or intent, it can also be viewed as a form of plagiarism, as it misrepresents the original author’s ideas.

Claiming Ownership of Ideas: Presenting someone else’s ideas or concepts as your own, even in paraphrased form, constitutes plagiarism. 

Lack of Originality: If your work primarily consists of paraphrased material and lacks significant original input or insights, it might be viewed as plagiarism.

How Can I Paraphrase Well Enough to Prevent Plagiarism?

Paraphrasing effectively to avoid plagiarism involves more than just altering a few words in a sentence.

It requires a deep understanding of the original material and presenting it in a new form while still crediting the original author.

Here are some steps to help ensure that your paraphrasing efforts steer clear of plagiarism:

  • Read and Understand: Before you begin paraphrasing, read the original text thoroughly until you fully understand its meaning. This comprehension is crucial to be able to explain the concept in your own words without misrepresenting the original intent.
  • Take Notes: After reading, jot down key points without looking at the original text. This helps you focus on the main ideas rather than the specific language used in the source.
  • Use Your Own Words: Rewrite the ideas in your own words and style. Avoid using the same phrases or sentence structure as the original. This may involve changing the form of information from a detailed example to a summarised statement, or vice versa.
  • Change the Sentence Structure: Alter the structure of the information. For example, if the original sentence is passive, change it to active voice, or combine several short sentences from the source into one complex sentence in your paraphrase.
  • Compare your paraphrased version with the original to make sure that you’ve accurately conveyed the essential information and haven’t added any of your own opinions or misinterpreted the original text.
  • Use Quotations for Specific Phrases: If there are specific terms or phrases that are difficult to change because they are technical or uniquely phrased by the original author, use quotation marks around those phrases and cite the source.
  • Cite the Source: Even if you paraphrase, you must still cite the original source. Include an appropriate citation according to the required or preferred citation style guide (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). This acknowledges the original ideas of the author and provides a reference for your audience to locate the original material.
  • Make sure your paraphrased material incorporates your own thoughts and ideas, either by building on the original argument or drawing on your own research. This makes your work more creative.
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What’s Next?

In the process of writing, it’s essential to understand the importance of proper citation. Whether using direct quotations or paraphrasing, failing to cite original passages can lead to online plagiarism. While popular citation tools can simplify the citation element, improper paraphrasing remains a risk.

Even paraphrasing tools, despite their paraphrasing capabilities, may not always produce quality content. Bytescare plagiarism checker offers a reliable solution to ensure plagiarism-free content.

By acknowledging sources properly, writers not only avoid plagiarism but also uphold academic integrity. Remember, when in doubt, always cite. Book a demo with Bytescare plagiarism checker today to ensure your content is original and plagiarism-free.


Is it plagiarism if you paraphrase and cite?

Paraphrasing, when done correctly and accompanied by proper citation, is not considered plagiarism. Proper citation acknowledges the original source and demonstrates academic integrity.

Does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

Paraphrasing can count as plagiarism if done improperly—specifically, if it’s too close to the original text and lacks adequate citation. Effective rephrasing involves significantly transforming the original text and properly citing the source.

Is patchwriting plagiarism?

Yes, patchwriting is a form of plagiarism. It involves rephrasing a source’s original text without proper citation, making it appear as one’s own.

Which three phases make up the paraphrasing process?

Yes, patchwriting is a form of plagiarism. It involves rephrasing a source’s original text without proper citation, making it appear as one’s own.

When paraphrasing, what are the red flags?

Red flags when paraphrasing include keeping the original sentence structure, using too many similar words, and failing to properly cite the original source.

What should you change when you paraphrase?

When paraphrasing, you should change the sentence structure, replace words with synonyms, and ensure the overall meaning remains the same while avoiding the use of the original phrase.