Citing previous findings is a standard convention of all scientific manuscripts. Unfortunately, concerns of plagiarism leave authors stuck between a rock and a hard place. While it is important to avoid plagiarizing another author’s writing, it is also crucial to accurately convey the previous findings. Who can say it better than the original author themselves?
Paraphrasing can be difficult, so there are a couple things to keep in mind for your initial attempts. First, identify words for which a synonym would be an acceptable substitution. “Enhanced” can usually be substituted for “increased.” “Attenuated” can often be substituted for “ameliorated.” Second, substitute less common punctuation to break up sentences, such as semicolons and colons, instead of conjunctions, or vice-versa. Finally, you can choose the contrasting voice to the original text, converting to either active or passive voice accordingly. Typically, the sentence you create with this approach will be adequately paraphrased. However, here are some additional approaches if you’re still having trouble:
- Rename experimental groups or conditions that are used in the original author statements. Often the designations are somewhat arbitrary identifiers and thus they can be changed.
- Shorten the sentence. You’ll find it easier to pass a plagiarism check if fewer absolute words are matched.
- Resort to direct quotes in instances where you cannot overcome a plagiarism check.