Literary Reviews: How to avoid Plagiarism with Quoting, Summarizing, Paraphrasing and Synthesizing

This semester I had a course on Academic Writing at Universitas Airlangga. My lecturer gave me a lesson about literary reviews — whose goal is to understand in what way we can avoid plagiarism. Today, I would like to share some of the information that I acquired from the course, along with some adjustments I made with the intention of presenting information that is extensive yet reader-friendly.

To think over, it has been quite a tendency for college students, especially those who are still in their early stages of education, to naturally have less understanding of how important the originality of a text is. Likewise, in the case of subject assignments, most of them naturally would use all the information they can get without making adjustments to their text. The open access to material and data on the internet makes it easy to copy and paste information. As the thing turns into a habit, in the meantime it slowly creates a terrible system within their mindset, which later lead them to the unbeneficial situations in real life. Let’s say they might pass the assessment of college on behalf of their subject assignment — notwithstanding, it will be a different story once when they get into the professional world, and their job demands them to generate somewhat new for the sake of the company. They most likely will face a problem due to lack of creativity, often might get caught for stealing other people’s ideas.

We don’t want this to happen.

While letting us work within such an unhealthy environment, by stealing other people’s ideas we could also be alleged for doing plagiarism. Well, so far, I have been talking about plagiarism in this whole introduction, but what does plagiarism mean actually?

According to University of Oxford:

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional. Under the regulations for examinations, intentional or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence.

In other words, we can define plagiarism as taking other people’s ideas and use them as ours. In this statement, the word “use” refers to the condition of using people’s ideas without their permission or through improper credit validation. When such information is not properly and accurately documented with appropriate credit given, then plagiarism occurs there. Although some academic traditions may not insist on credit validation by citing sources of words or ideas, the proper credit validation is a prerequisite in the global academic world. It is thus crucial for students and academics to increase their understanding of plagiarism.


There are several ways we can do to avoid plagiarism. Though there are various ways, the most common ways are through quoting, summarizing, paraphrasing; and synthesizing. They are used as reading comprehension and research strategies. Since four of them are different activites, it is important to recognize the significance between them. Each has different qualifications, process and end result.


Quoting is taking the exact words from an original source or text. Quoting means using direct quotation that brings the original words of an author into your work. You should quote material when you believe the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective means of communicating the point you want to make.

Quoting is effective in some situations, but must not be overused.

  • when the original words express and idea in distinctive way.
  • when the original is more concise than your summary could be
  • when the original version is well-known; and
  • when the original version ideas are hardly to put into different words


  • The author’s last name, any necessary background information, and a signal verb should be stated at the beginning. (according to APA guidelines, signal verbs should be written in the past tense, while in MLA, signal verbs should be present tense).
  • Direct quotes are placed within quotation marks



Summarizing is the action of creating a proper points based on a text using personal words. Summarizing is defined as the demonstration of an understanding of the overall meaning, in order to present a cursory meaning of what the original author wrote. Taking a lot of information and creating a condensed version that covers the main points, summarizing aims to reduce information to a suitable length and concise. To make it stronger and eligible, it should use in-text citation in the expected formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.).


  • Include the original’s essence of the text.
  • Use your own words, but never ever include your interpretation and analysis. The distinction between the original text and your wording must be clear and showed.
  • Always include an in-text citation in the expected formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.).


could be summarized into(in APA style):


Paraphrasing is the action of restating the wording of a text using other words so that it is significantly different from the original source. It aims to change form of the text without changing its original meaning. It should use in-text citation in the expected formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.).


  • has a different structure to the original
  • has mainly different vocabulary
  • retains the same meaning
  • keeps some phrases from the original that are in common use(e.g: ‘Industrial Revolution’ or ‘eighteenth century’)


  • Change the vocabulary by using synonyms.

example: argues > claims

  • Change the word class.

example: explanation(n.) > explain(v.)

  • Change the word order.


Recent research into brain functioning by Ragini Verma’s team at the University of Pennsylvania has used brain scans to compare 428 men and 521 women. They tracked the pathways of water molecules around the brain area, and found fascinating differences.


Brain scans has been used for recent research into brain functioning by Ragini Verma’s team at the University of Pennsylvania to compare 428 men and 521 women. Facinating differences have also been found as they tracked the pathways of water molecules around the brain area.


  • Read — Read the text you intend to paraphrase carefully.
  • Understand — Make sure that you sucessfully comprehend the wording as well as the content.
  • Draft— Based on your understanding, write the paraphrase using your own words and phrases without mentioning the original wording. Rely on the techniques. You can change the word order, word class, and use synonyms or words that have equivalent meaning.
  • Evaluate— Adjust your paraphrase in the final step. Read the source once more and compare it with your paraphrase. Your version must bring the message of the original text as well as to be easier to read. Make sure the format of the citation style you use is written in the correct form.


could be paraphrased into (using an APA style in-text citation):


As an advanced reading style, synthesizing is the style of combining ideas and allowing an evolving understanding of text. It pulls together information to highlight the important points and to draw your own conclusions based on that combination. At basic purpose, this involves looking for similarities and differences between your sources.

Organize information by ideas

The most basic understanding of synthesizing is that it focuses on the organization of information by ideas, not authors or sources.

Synthesize when:

  • you need to organize your article
  • you need to record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.


There are couple of different ways you can organize this. But I’ll mention the most common one.

Synthesis Matrix


  • Themes = filled cell — the main ideas of the study/source; the point of paragraph/topic.
  • Studies = the sources of information; the reference(usually is written with the title of the source, along with the name of the author)
  • Trends = the ideas that are repeated or shared; ideas from your sources.
  • Gaps = blank cell — the ideas about which sources seem to differ or conflict, which are simply not addressed; it can mean as the flaw of your synthesizing.

Synthesizing principally uses a framework of organizing that is called synthesis matrix. The synthesis matrix is a chart that helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other. It allows a researcher to sort and categorize the different arguments presented on an issue.

A synthesis matrix can take many different formats. In the example table above, list sources of information in the left column, and the main ideas or themes about the topic along the top of the table.



  • In this matrix, It is important to remember that gaps exist. The blank cells are called gaps. It shows if there are conflicts in your matrix. Sometimes gaps also considered as flaws, making your research need to be evaluated.

After we finished the matrix above, then we can write a paragraph that sourced out of it. The paragraph below is focused on the point of eye fatigue according to information in the matrix:

Human eyes may suffer physical injury from a reading environment that is not optimized for their benefit. Although computer screens do not damage vision, eye fatigue can still be experienced by e-book users. One of the disadvantages of reading an e-book on a backlit computer screen or other LCD or OLED device is that, over time, it places stress on the eyes and becomes fatiguing. For example, the longer one stares at a monitor, the slower the blinking rate. The failure to blink reduces the moisturization of the eyes and leads them to be more easily subject to irritation. Cushman (1986) found that visual fatigue is significantly higher when reading texts on a screen than on paper. In the current stage of technological development, the display of text on computer screens has been found to have a negative impact on surface legibility (Dillon, 1994). Texts and documents on screen have a lower surface legibility than printed documents. Macedo-Rouet et al. (2003) noted that students felt much more tired when reading on screen; this may be because of the display contrast and resolution of an e-book. Kang et al. (2009) conducted an experiment to measure students’ eye fatigue and found that reading a p-book caused less eye fatigue than reading an e-book. In their study, the authors concluded that the eye fatigue from an e-book was due mainly to the low display contrast and resolution of the on-screen text.


Avoiding plagiarism is difficult because it requires the skills of wording and critical thinking. The most significant skill is presenting the importance and essence of the text while delivering with different wording and style.

Copyright, 2020.

A student seeking for knowledge and truth. Affection and kindness are fundamental as it represents the way human appreciate life. Write in English and Bahasa.