■ There is no set length, as it depends on how much of a writer's work you want to refer to, and in how much detail. In some cases, paraphrasing may simply involve reducing, or summarising, what the original writer has said into a single sentence:
The first published professional response to ape language studies was an article by Jacob Bronowski and Ursula Bellugi (1970). They argued that although chimpanzees might be able to use reference, they could not break grammatical units down to their units and recombine them (a process they called 'reconstitution').
■ It may give a more detailed description of a writer's argument, consisting of a paragraph or more:
Levins (1968) used fitness sets to identify the optimal genetic strategy in response to environmental variation. The optimal genetic strategy is not determined solely by the nature of the environmental heterogeneity but partly by the perception of that heterogeneity. For example, it is very unlikely that The general conclusion of these analyses of fitness sets was that fine-grained species would evolve a strategy of monomorphism, whereas coarse-grained species would maintain polymorphism.
(Note: for brevity, the dots indicate that 5 sentences are omitted; these provide the detail of the writer's argument.)
■ You may want to give your opinion, or commentary, on the writer's ideas at the same time as paraphrasing them:_
When Freud begins to discuss 'lapses of memory' in terms of repression, he seems to move on less firm ground. He does not, of course, claim that all lapses are due to repression. His concern is to show that at least some are and, to this end, he gives examples in which a name or a word is unexpectedly forgotten and proceeds to demonstrate that the forgotten item is associated either directly or indirectly with unpleasant circumstances. Here we may cite two of his most convincing examples ..
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