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jtye most important aspects of academic writing is making use of the ideas of other people. This is important as you need to show that you have understood the materials that you have studied and that you can use their ideas and findings in your own way. In fact, this is an essential skill for every student. Spack (1988, p. 42) has pointed out that the most important skill a student can engage in is "the complex activity to write from other texts", which is "a major part of their academic experience." For this reason, any academic text you read or write will contain the voices of other writers as well as your own.

In your writing, however, the main voice should be your own and it should be clear what your point of view is in relation to the topic or essay question. The object of academic writing is for you to say something for yourself using the ideas of the subject, for you to present ideas you have learned in your own way. The emphasis should be on working with other people’s ideas, rather than reproducing their words. If your view is not clear, you will be told you have not answered the question or something similar. It is essential therefore that it must always be clear whose voice is speaking.

There are two main ways in which you can show your view (Tadros, 1993):

negatively
lack of mention of any other writer
positively
first person pronouns ("I")
comments and evaluations ("two major drawbacks", "of no great merit", " as X insightfully states", ) It will always be assumed that the words or ideas are your own if you do not say otherwise. When the words or ideas you are using are taken from another writer, you must make this clear. If you do not do this and use another person's words or ideas as if they were your own, this is Plagiarism and plagiarism is regarded as a very serious offence.

The ideas and people that you refer to need to be made explicit by a system of citation. The object of this is to supply the information needed to allow a user to find a source.

You need to acknowledge the source of an idea unless it is common knowledge in your subject area. It is difficult sometimes to know whether something is common knowledge in your subject or needs acknowledging. In general, if your lecturer, in lectures or handouts, do not acknowledge the source you can assume that it is common knowledge within your subject.

The object of academic writing is therefore for you to present your ideas in your own way. To help you do this, however, you will need to use the ideas of other people and when you do this, you need to say where the words and ideas are from.

There are several reasons for this (See Thompson, 1994, pp. 178-187 for more information).

You need to show that you are aware of the major areas of thought in your specific subject. This allows you to show how your contribution fits in, by correcting previous research, filling gaps, adding support or extending current research or thinking. You need to support the points you are making by referring to other people's work. This will strengthen your argument. The main way to do this is to cite authors that agree with the points you are making. You can, however, cite authors who do not agree with your points, as long as you explain why they are wrong. Do not make a statement that will cause your reader to ask, "Who says?" If you are a student, you need to show that you have read and understood specific texts. You need to show that you have read around the subject, not just confined your reading to one textbook or lecture notes. You must not use another person's words or ideas as your own so you need to say where they are from. You usually do this by...
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