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Graduate Nursing Students: Paraphrasing & Synthesizing

Databases, tutorials, and websites for Graduate Nursing Students


Paraphrasing involves using your own words to convey information provided by someone else.

Information paraphrased from someone else must be cited!

Startegies for Paraphrasing 

  • Read the paragraph/section enough times to understand the meaning
  • Put the source aside and attempt to write the information in your own words.
  • Check your version against the original to be sure:
    • you have not borrowed directly from the source.
    • you have accurately presented the information you are paraphrasing.
  • Notate source information so that you can give credit to the original author for the information you have paraphrased.

Use the paraphrasing checklist below to check your work.

Synthesizing Sources

In a professional paper, you should be synthesizing information not just summarizing each source. Instead of summarizing, you should look  for ways in which your various articles agree/disagree and what unique points or insights appear in each so that you can combine (synthesize) the information to write much more robust paragraphs. If you only have one article which addresses a particular portion of your paper, you may need to find additional sources which discuss that part of the topic.

To view an example of synthesizing, open the sample article link below and look for the section labeled background. (Note that this paper does not use APA formatting). Notice how the authors often cite more than one source (this shows up as places where more than one number follows a sentence, the numbers refer to the position of the reference in the reference list). When the authors list more than one source after a sentence, they are paraphrasing a concept which appears in more than one source and citing each source they used for their paraphrase. Reading the background or literature reviews of articles from nursing journals can help you develop a sense of how authors use synthesizing (effectively or ineffectively!). 

To learn more about synthesizing and how to effectively synthesize, open up the link labeled "Instructions for Synthesis Matrix". Read through the handout to see how to organize the information from multiple sources and then synthesize that information. The third link is for a blank synthesis matrix if you would like to use one for your literature review.. The last link is for a synthesis checklist to check your work.