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Writing in your own words

Writing good assignments involves building a well structured argument with logical progression, using supporting evidence. Supporting evidence includes quotations taken directly from other sources, paraphrasing someone else’s writing, or referring to other published work.

Covered in this section

  • Quotes
  • Paraphrasing
  • Referencing
  • 20 mins to complete this section
  • Video (1)
  • Activities (1)

Including supporting evidence demonstrates that your work is rigorous – you show that you have read the relevant books and articles and that you can back up the assertions made in your argument. You do this by

  • directly quoting what another academic has said in a book or article (quoting)
  • describing that academic’s work but putting it in your own words (paraphrasing)
  • stating a fact or research finding and acknowledging where you found it (referencing).

Make it balanced and logical

If you are asked to make an argument for a particular theory or approach, make sure that you make a balanced use of evidence to support your argument. Don't select only those facts or pieces of evidence that support your argument and ignore competing material.

Understand the difference between fact and conjecture. If what you are discussing is only possibly true, not definitely true, you should make that clear with phrases such as: 'this suggests that ...', or 'it is possible that ...'. This is a requirement in all academic disciplines, but is particularly important in science and technology subjects.

In this brief video, OU tutor, Eulina, speaks about the importance of showing your understanding in assignments.

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