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Pitfall #2: Copying a source's sentence structure

Here is the same source paragraph from David Whitford's article on Martin Luther:

Original Source:
In July of 1505, Martin was caught in a horrific thunderstorm.  Afraid that he was going to die, he screamed out a vow, “Save me, St. Anna, and I shall become a monk.” St. Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners. Most argue that this commitment to become a monk could not have come out of thin air and instead represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened. On July 17th Luther entered the Augustinian Monastery at Erfurt.

Source: David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy,


Pitfall #2 - Copying a source's sentence structure
In July 1505, Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Fearful that he might die, he shouted out a vow to St. Anne, promising that if she saved him he would become a monk. Anne was the mother of Mary and the saintly protector of miners. Most people think this promise was not just created on the spur of the moment but rather was based on Luther expanding an earlier idea. After this experience, Luther entered the monastery of Augustinian monks at Erfurt on July 17th.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

This follows the source's language much too closely. Every single sentence is a paraphrase of one of Whitford's. It attempts to conceal the copying by substituting synonyms for many of the original words -- "terrible" for "horrific", "Afraid" for "Fearful", "shouted" for "screamed," etc. -- but the structure of the sentences is clearly taken from Whitford. Whitford's article should serve as a source of information, not as a model for sentence structure.

Pitfall #2 averted - Genuine paraphrase
Luther's entry into the Augustinian order in July 1505 was prompted by what he believed was a near-death experience. Less than a month before he entered the monastery at Erfurt, he had been caught in a fierce thunderstorm. The frightened young Luther had taken a vow to St. Anne, promising that if she saved his life he would become a monk.1

1David M. Whitford, “Martin Luther,” Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy.

This sentence structure is different enough to be a legitimate paraphrase of Whitford. A citation is still advisable here, since a little-known fact is being related (what Luther said in his vow), but no quotation marks are necessary.