Suppose, I need to write something about the "Relationship between literacy and social status".

I arrange my essay as follows:

  1. what is literacy?
  2. what is social status?
  3. How does social status affect literacy?
  4. ...

While searching for (1) I found that there are numerous well-written papers that defined "literacy" in detail. So, the problem for me is: I don't have anything to add to the already existing information base.

So, the only option left for me is to paraphrase or rearrange the text/information which is available in the articles.

What should I do now?

How can I write something which is already written?

  • You write it in your own words to support the direction of your essay.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:14
  • 5
    Is this for a school assignment? If so, the goal isn’t to “add to the existing information base”, but to show that you understand the existing texts and have interesting (and hopefully somewhat unique) thoughts about what they’re saying
    – Dan Romik
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    @DanRomik, that solved my problem. Post it as an answer. I will accept.
    – user366312
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:43
  • I don’t think it’s substantial enough for an answer, but glad I could help.
    – Dan Romik
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:44
  • 1
    The first section should probably be related work and you summarize the sources only briefly and cite the sources that are relevant to the reader and releated to your field.
    – allo
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Do not try to rearrange or paraphrase, but write in your own words.

How do you do it:

  • Read what you need to read.
  • Think about it.
  • Write it down again (without looking at the original source).

It takes more time than paraphrasing/rearranging, but it is worth the effort. You see if you really understood the topic and also you may discover that you have something new to say.

  • Draw on your own thoughts, not the papers you have seen, unless you want to critique them.
    – Buffy
    Mar 24, 2020 at 15:42

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