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Unit 8: Summarising, paraphrasing and referencing

Summarising/paraphrasing is a process of condensing or shortening a written text while preserving its overall meaning.

A summary is frequently made of a complete text (an article, or a chapter in a book), whereas a paraphrase is a short section (one or two sentences, or a paragraph) from the source text which is written in different words, or combination of words, whilst keeping the same meaning; it is a ‘translation’ of the writer's words into your own words.

Summarising and paraphrasing are essential skills in academic work. They involve extracting the key points from a source text, turning these key points into an abbreviated version (a summary) of the original, and, importantly, expressing this information in your own words. This is necessary to avoid plagiarism (using someone's words or ideas as if they were your own). It is important to note that texts which have been summarised or paraphrased still need to be referenced in your work; otherwise you may be accused of plagiarism.

For the rest of this unit, both summarising and paraphrasing will be referred to as summarising.

This unit is divided into the following sections:

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