Paraphrasing and Synthesising
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
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.
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.
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
"management". In Longman English Dictionary Online. Retrieved June 8 2009 from http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/management
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
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.
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..."
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.
© William Tweddle, Queen Mary, University of London, 2009, photo used under the terms of an attributive CC license: courtesy of Nenyaki