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Academic writing often requires you to synthesize or explain other people's ideas and arguments. Only in the process of putting these ideas into your own words, making them your own, will you really come to understand them. That is the main reason why as a student you will often be told to write using your own words. The more you can express an argument in your own language, the more you will understand it.
Another reason to ensure you use your own words is to avoid the possibility of plagiarism. Plagiarism means trying to pass off someone else's ideas or work as your own. Copying someone else's work word for word is an obvious example of plagiarism, but it is also unacceptable to use very close paraphrasing or fail to use references to acknowledge your sources.
Plagiarism can lead not just to a loss of marks but, in more serious cases, to disciplinary action. Clearly that's something everyone wants to avoid. On the positive side, demonstrating your understanding by writing in your own words is likely to lead to higher marks.
The following sections will enable you to practise writing in your own words and demonstrate good examples of how to achieve this. In exercise one you will read through an extract from Jamie Oliver's book "Jamie's Italy". You will then compare two suggested paraphrases of this extract.
Click Next to read through the extract.