Have you ever read a page of a textbook, and only to realize within a few minutes that you couldn't remember what you just read? Most of us have done this at some time, but if you find that you often have difficulty describing what you've read, you may need to work on your reading comprehension skills.
One of the skills you need for reading comprehension and for research is the ability to paraphrase.
Paraphrasing is the act of using your own words to describe something you've read. You can practice paraphrasing by reading a few paragraphs from any book, and then summarizing a section at a time in your own words.
You may find it difficult to paraphrase at first. If so, you should start by crafting an outline of the major points. You can then fill in the supporting information "between the lines" of the outline.
Why Should You Paraphrase?
You must be able to paraphrase effectively when writing a research paper, to avoid plagiarism.
When you conduct research for a term paper, you collect information from several different sources, and synthesize the information into a single essay.
You can use quotation marks and a citation to quote certain passages word for word--but you have to quote others sparingly. It is much better to synthesize the information into a passage that contains your own words. You paraphrase when you restate the ideas you pick up from a source.
It is a good idea to read a source with a note card and a pen handy. Read over your source in small segments and take notes as you read. This way you can take care to avoid repeating the information word for word.
As you write your own essay, use the notes you've written to synthesize the source material. But remember that you still need to cite the source--even though you have paraphrased!