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Using Sources


When you paraphrase, you are taking the words of another source and restating them in your own words. A paraphrase is usually about the same length as the original text. You keep the meaning of the original text, but use your own vocabulary to describe the idea. Paraphrasing is most useful when you want to present an author’s idea or argument, but don’t feel their original words merit direct quotation.

Tips for Paraphrasing:

  • Use synonyms for all words that are not generic. Words such as world, food, or science are basic vocabulary and difficult to find synonyms.
  • Change the structure of the sentence.
  • Change the voice from active to passive and vice versa.    
  • Change clauses to phrases and vice versa.
  • Change parts of speech.

How to Paraphrase:

  • Read the text several times to be sure you understand it.
  • Restate the source's ideas in your own words and sentence structures. It helps to write it down and break the passage down into smaller parts by asking yourself, "What are the main points of the passage?"
  • Be careful not to distort meaning. Don't change the author's original meaning or misrepresent information. Be sure to check your writing against the original to ensure the meaning is the same. 
  • Be careful not to plagiarize. Even though you are not using the author’s exact words, you are using the author’s ideas, therefore you should always remember to include a citation.


Original text

Such intuition is even making its way, albeit slowly, into scholarly circles, where recognition is mounting that ever-increasing pressures on ecosystems, life-supporting environmental services, and critical natural cycles are driven not only by the sheer number of resources users and the inefficiencies of their resource use, but also by the patterns of resource use themselves. In global environmental policymaking arenas, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the fact that the overdeveloped North must restrain its consumption if it expects the underdeveloped South to embrace a more sustainable trajectory.

Paraphrase of source

Scholars are coming to believe that consumption is partly to blame for changes in ecosystems, reduction of essential natural resources, and changes in natural cycles. Policy makers increasingly see that developing nations will not adopt practices that reduce pollution and waste unless wealthy nations consume less. Rising population around the world does cause significant stress on the environment, but consumption is increasing even more rapidly than population.

(Princen et al., 2002, p. 4)