User:CaroleHenson/Edited version of Close Paraphrasing

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Close paraphrasing is the superficial modification of information from another source. If the other source is public domain or compatibly licensed with Wikipedia, close paraphrasing is not a problem as long as the source is properly acknowledged. If the source is under copyright, close paraphrasing may violate Wikipedia's copyright policy, which forbids Wikipedia contributors from copying information directly from other sources except in limited cases and with attribution or from following sources too closely.

Editors should summarize source material in their own words, adding inline citations as required by the sourcing policy. Judicious quoting of non-free content is appropriate-so long as it is limited and does not breach copyright. Quoting (with or without quotation marks) or closely paraphrasing public domain source material is appropriate if properly attributed to avoid plagiarism. Compatibly licensed content can be closely paraphrased as well, if fully attributed (see Plagiarism - Sources under copyleft and Plagiarism - Public-domain sources). Content from copyrighted sources should generally not be closely paraphrased, although there are some exceptions.

The best way to prevent close paraphrasing is to understand clearly when it is a problem, how to avoid it, and how to address it when it appears.

Example[edit]

In this example, Wikipedia's article text is an attempt at paraphrasing the source. However, almost all of the original word choice, word order and sentence structure is retained. The example was taken from the Let's get serious about plagiarism, The Signpost, Wikipedia Dispatch.

Example Verbiage Comments
Source "A statement from the receiver, David Carson of Deloitte, confirmed that 480 of the 670 employees have been made redundant ... At least 100 Waterford Crystal employees are refusing to leave the visitors' gallery at the factory tonight and are staging an unofficial sit-in. The employees say they will not be leaving until they meet with Mr. Carson. There were some scuffles at one point and a main door to the visitors' centre was damaged ... Local Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Kelly, who is one of those currently occupying the visitors' gallery, said the receiver had told staff he would not close the company while there were interested investors."[1]
Unacceptable Paraphrased verbiage "A statement issued by the receiver, Deloitte's David Carson, confirmed that, of the 670 employees, 480 of them would be laid off. The workers responded angrily to this unexpected decision and at least 100 of them began an unofficial sit-in in the visitors' gallery at the factory that night. They insisted they would refuse to leave until they had met with Carson. Following the revelations, there was a minor scuffle during which the main door to the visitors' centre was damaged. Local Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Kelly was amongst those who occupied the visitors' gallery." Source: Wikipedia article 2008–2009 Irish financial crisis Analysis:
  • "A statement issued by the receiver, Deloitte's David Carson, confirmed that, of the 670 employees, 480 of them would be laid off" vs. "A statement from the receiver, David Carson of Deloitte, confirmed that 480 of the 670 employees have been made redundant". – The structure of Wikipedia's statement is essentially the same as the original. Changing a single word and slightly reordering one phrase is not enough to constitute a paraphrase.
  • "They insisted they would refuse to leave until they had met with Carson" vs. "The employees say they will not be leaving until they meet with Mr. Carson". – The structure of this sentence is the same.
  • "there was a minor scuffle during which the main door to the visitors' centre was damaged" vs. "There were some scuffles at one point and a main door to the visitors' centre was damaged". – The structure and language of the two sentences are the same.
  • "Local Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Kelly was amongst those who occupied the visitors' gallery" vs. "Local Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Kelly, who is one of those currently occupying the visitors' gallery". – This slight rewording does not change the fact that the underlying structure and language are the same. Minor changes, such as "was amongst those" --> "is one of those" and "occupied" --> "currently occupying", are not enough to constitute an original rewriting of the passage.

See below for an example of an unusable paraphrase repaired to become acceptable.

When is close paraphrase permitted?[edit]

There are a couple of specific situations when close paraphrasing is permitted. If information is gathered from the public domain or is free use content, close paraphrase may be acceptable. In some instances it is helpful to capture the verbiage as written, in which case the guidelines for Quotations apply. Lastly, there may be some instances where it's difficult to paraphrase because of the nature of the content, in such cases there are a couple of tips about how to limit the degree of close paraphrasing.

When using a close paraphrase legitimately, citing a source is in most cases required and always highly recommended.

Public domain or free use content

In some limited cases, close paraphrase may be an acceptable way of writing an article. For example, many Wikipedia articles are based originally on text from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (see Wikipedia:1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica). If the source is public domain, such as work of the U.S. government, or available under a CC-By-SA-compatible free license, it may be closely paraphrased if it is fully attributed. Acknowledging the source in such instances may include accompaniment by in-text attribution that makes clear whose words or ideas are being used (e.g. "John Smith wrote that ...") or in some cases more general attribution (see Sources under copyleft and Public-domain sources).

Indirect quotation of non-free text

If a non-free copyrighted source is being used, it is recommended to use original language and direct quotations, to clearly separate source material from original material. This is in keeping with non-free content policy and guideline. However, brief instances of indirect quotation may be acceptable without quotation marks with in-text attribution. If the text is markedly creative or if content to be duplicated is extensive, direct quotation should be used instead. Extensive instances of indirect quotation are not generally acceptable; even if content is attributed, it can still create copyright problems if the taking is too substantial. To avoid this risk, Wikipedia keeps this—like other non-free content—minimal.

When there are a limited number of ways to say the same thing

Close paraphrasing is also permitted when there are only a limited number of ways to say the same thing. In general, sentences like "Dr. John Smith earned his medical degree at State University" can be rephrased "John Smith earned his M.D. at State University" without copyright problems. Note, however, that closely paraphrasing extensively from a non-free source may be a copyright problem, even if it is difficult to find different means of expression. The more extensively we rely on this exception, the more likely we are to run afoul of compilation protection.[2]

Why is it a problem?[edit]

Copying isn't the only way to violate copyright or plagiarize. Close paraphrasing can be a problem, too.

There are legal, ethical and organizational standard considerations regarding the use of close paraphrasing.

Copyright law

Wikipedia's primary concern is with the legal constraints imposed by copyright law; in many cases close paraphrasing of a non-free copyrighted source is likely to be an infringement of the copyright of the source. For example, in Macmillan Co. v. King (1914), a U.S. District Court found that an economic professor's notes, condensed and closely paraphrased from the textbook, constituted infringement. Close paraphrasing rises to the level of copyright infringement when taking is substantial. Depending on the context and extent of the paraphrasing, limited close paraphrase may be permitted under the doctrine of fair use; close paraphrase of a single sentence is not as much of a concern as an entire section or article.

Wikipedia's guidelines

But even when content is verifiably public domain or released under a compatible free license (see Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials), close paraphrasing may be at odds with Wikipedia's guideline related to plagiarism (see Wikipedia:Plagiarism). While in this context, too, close paraphrasing of a single sentence is not as much of a concern, if a contributor closely paraphrases public domain or freely-licensed content, he or she should explicitly acknowledge that content is closely paraphrased. (See above.)
Finally, close paraphrasing can also become problematic when a contributor closely paraphrases a source without understanding it; consequently, the contributor does not possess the ability to assess whether an article conforms to our policies, particularly Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, or to repair it if it does not. The result is frequently content that has a bias similar to the bias of the source.

How to write acceptable content?[edit]

To properly paraphrase content, you review information from reliable sources, extract the salient points, and use your own words, style and sentence structure to draft verbiage for an article.[3][4]

Take notes

One of the key factors in the creation of inadvertent close paraphrasing is starting with text taken directly from the source. The word choice and style can easily resurface since it is foremost in our minds. An approach to ensure that information is fully understood and formed into unique thoughts is to isolate the essential information by taking notes.
  • Start off by taking notes of essential information only, excluding the use of phrases.
  • Record the source for the citation.
  • Collect information from multiple sources. This will have several benefits: it promotes a tone with a neutral point of view and produces a well-rounded understanding of the topic. It also makes it less likely that your end result will follow too closely on any one source.
  • Gather short quotations when they powerfully illustrate a point for your article. Overuse can result in a disjointed article and may breach copyright. (Extensive quotations are forbidden by policy.)

Draft verbiage

  • Gather related items from the multiple sources and explain it to yourself: The point is to rephrase or summarize a body of information in your own words and sentence structure.
  • Add inline citations in accordance with the sourcing guideline.
  • Allow time between note-taking and drafting to clear your mind of the original verbiage and better paraphrase the content.
  • Don't paraphrase information in the same order it was presented from the source.

Review

After material has been written, return to the source to double check for content and properly paraphrased language.
  • Information has been gathered from several sources and distilled in your words.
  • Quotations are used appropriately and infrequently.
  • Words or ideas do not follow the same pattern and order as the source material.

The example above on this page illustrates a common way in which people closely paraphrase content; this one demonstrates how to properly synthesize and paraphrase information.

Example: close paraphrasing repaired

Consider the following example for ways a "close paraphrase" (unacceptable version) and ways to correct the verbiage to make an acceptable version:

Example Verbiage Comments
Source Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time. Born in Slavery was made possible by a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation. Source: Born in Slavery, Library of Congress
Unacceptable version A collection of more than 2,300 accounts of slavery taken directly from former slaves and 500 black-and-white photographs make up the Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. In the 1930s these narratives were compiled in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). They were aggregated and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection is a united effort of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress. Citigroup Foundation made the Born in Slavery possible by a major gift. The structure of this version is essentially the same as the original. Changing a few words and slightly reordering phrases is not enough to constitute a paraphrase.
Correcting issues - step 1) Bring in other source(s). The Slave Narrative Collection provides a unique and virtually unsurpassed collective portrait of a historical population. Indeed, historian David Brion Davis has argued that the voluminous number of documented slave testimonies available in the United States "is indisputably unique among former slaveholding nations." In addition to the substantial number of life histories it contains, the most compelling feature of the collection is the composition of the sample of people who made up its informants. Although not a representative sample of the slave population, they were a remarkably diverse and inclusive cross-section of former slaves. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from one to fifty at the time of emancipation in 1865, which meant that more than two-thirds were over eighty when they were interviewed. Source: A Collective Portrait Bringing in other sources helps to ensure that there's a good understanding of the topic and a neutral point of view.
Correcting issues - step 2) Read source information, preferably taking notes to extract essential points, and write a summary in your own words, thereby producing an acceptable version. In the 1930s a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, called Federal Writers' Project, was conducted to capture the history record of people born into slavery. At the time of the project 2/3rds of the more than 2,300 men and women interviewed were over the age of eighty, having been one to fifty years of age when they obtained their freedom in 1865. Over 500 black and white photographs were taken of interview subjects. The Library of Congress Manuscript and Print and Photograph Divisions assembled a seventeen-volume collection from the set, called "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938." David Brion Davis, a historian, claimed that the large collection "is indisputably unique among former slaveholding nations." This version brings together information from two sources, without maintaining the previous sentence structure or style.

How to detect and deal with close paraphrasing?[edit]

Detect

Unlike straightforward copyright violations, close paraphrasing is notoriously difficult to detect; frequently the contributor will add wiki syntax and write in the style of a Wikipedia article. Here are some ways you might detect it:
  • Look for disjointed and sudden changes in the tone, vocabulary, and style of content introduced by the same contributor. For example, "The cat is a small predatory carnivorous species of crepuscular mammal. Housecats like to kill mice and bats."
  • Look for redundant content; this may be a sign that two or more sources were closely paraphrased. For example, "The cat is a small predatory carnivorous species of crepuscular mammal. Like many pets, domestic cats are carnivorous."
  • Look for content that resembles content included in a quotation.
  • Examine the talk pages of major contributors and other pages where they have written in their own words, and determine if their article contributions substantially differ in tone, structure, and vocabulary from these discussions.
  • Take short phrases from the article and put them in a search engine. Take a look at the results and see if they closely resemble the article.

Deal with close paraphrase concerns

Your approach may vary depending upon the severity of the concern. Here are a couple of ways to manage close paraphrase concerns:
  • Communication — It is important to discuss your concerns with the contributor. Many people who paraphrase too closely are not intentionally infringing, but just don't know how to properly paraphrase. It might help to point them to this essay or to the references and resources listed here, which include some pointers for proper paraphrasing.
  • Insert a close paraphrase template — If you encounter an article or section using close paraphrasing, you can use the {{Close paraphrase}} template, which can be customized to identify the source and to indicate if the source is public domain, to mark it for cleanup:
  • Follow copyright infringement instructions — However if you believe that the close paraphrasing in question is so close that it infringes copyright, instead follow the instructions at Template:Copyvio, which may require removing the paraphrasing content until it can be repaired. Unless close paraphrasing is immediately obvious, it is good practice to cite specific passages alongside the corresponding passage from the source on the talk page to highlight their similarity; this will provide objective evidence of close paraphrasing.

Example approaches to discussing with other editors[edit]

Note: All text in these examples is dedicated by its authors to the public domain

The following examples can be copied and pasted directly from this page, although you will need to fill in your own examples as well as supplying the article's title and the source url. The messages strive to avoid accusations while at the same time pointing to clear instructions on how to fix errors of this sort. The spaces for examples from the editor's inappropriate text are provided because even experienced or good faith editors may not recognize where the issues lie without them. If there is a passage of several consecutive sentences which is a continuous close paraphrase, this may alone be a sufficient demonstration. Otherwise, showing the pattern in several separated sentences is typically better than offering one, brief example.

Example approaches to explain the problem
  • The following example was engineered for cases when the paraphrasing is close enough to require blanking of the article and listing at Wikipedia:Copyright problems. It would not be appropriate for situations where the {{close paraphrasing}} template is used, since rewriting can be done on the spot rather than in a temporary page.

Hi. I'm afraid the [[ArticleName]] article you wrote may be a copyright infringement of [source], since the text is very [[WP:close paraphrasing|closely paraphrased]]. While facts are not copyrightable, creative elements of presentation - including both structure and language - are. For an example of close paraphrasing, consider the following:
:*example from source
The article says:
:*example from article
There are other passages that similarly follow quite closely.

As a website that is widely read and reused, Wikipedia takes copyright very seriously in order to protect the interests of the holders of copyright as well as those of the Wikimedia Foundation and our reusers. Wikipedia's [[WP:C|copyright policies]] require that the content we take from non-free sources, aside from brief and clearly marked quotations, be rewritten from scratch.

The article has been replaced with a notice of these copyright concerns that includes directions for resolving them. If the material can be verified to be [[Wikipedia:Compatible license|compatibly licensed]] or [[Wikipedia:Public domain|public domain]] or if [[WP:IOWN|permission is provided]], we can use the original text with proper attribution. If you can resolve it that way, please let me know if you need assistance with those directions. Otherwise, so that we can be sure it does not constitute a derivative work, this article should be rewritten; there is a link to a temporary space for that purpose in the instructions which now appear in place of the article. The essay [[Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing]] contains some suggestions for rewriting that may help avoid these issues. The article [[Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-04-13/Dispatches]], while about plagiarism rather than copyright concerns, also contains some suggestions for reusing material from sources that may be helpful, beginning under "Avoiding plagiarism".

Please let me know if you have questions about this.

  • This example was engineered for cases when the paraphrasing is not enough of a concern to require blanking and listing and the {{close paraphrasing}} template is used instead.

Hi. I'm afraid the [[ArticleName]] article you wrote may be a copyright infringement of [source], since the text is very [[WP:close paraphrasing|closely paraphrased]]. While facts are not copyrightable, creative elements of presentation - including both structure and language - are. For an example of close paraphrasing, consider the following:
:*example from source
The article says:
:*example from article
There are other passages that similarly follow quite closely.

As a website that is widely read and reused, Wikipedia takes copyright very seriously in order to protect the interests of the holders of copyright as well as those of the Wikimedia Foundation and our reusers. Wikipedia's [[WP:C|copyright policies]] require that the content we take from non-free sources, aside from brief and clearly marked quotations, be rewritten from scratch. So that we can be sure it does not constitute a derivative work, this article should be revised to separate it further from its source. The essay [[Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing]] contains some suggestions for rewriting that may help avoid these issues. The article [[Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-04-13/Dispatches]], while about plagiarism rather than copyright concerns, also contains some suggestions for reusing material from sources that may be helpful, beginning under "Avoiding plagiarism".

Please let me know if you have questions about this.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Staff protest over Waterford Crystal closure". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  2. ^ In Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service, the United States Supreme Court noted that factual compilations of information may be protected with respect to "selection and arrangement, so long as they are made independently by the compiler and entail a minimal degree of creativity," as "[t]he compilation author typically chooses which facts to include, in what order to place them, and how to arrange the collected data so that they may be used effectively by readers"; the Court also indicated that "originality is not a stringent standard; it does not require that facts be presented in an innovative or surprising way" and that "[t]he vast majority of works make the grade quite easily, as they possess some creative spark, 'no matter how crude, humble or obvious' it might be."("Decision". Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991). )
  3. ^ Purdue OWL contributors (2010-04-21). "Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words". The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  4. ^ "How to Paraphrase Without Plagiarizing". Colorado State University. Retrieved 2011-06-28.  Unknown parameter |years= ignored (help)

External links[edit]