Faculty of Social Sciences
Writing in Your Own Words
Writing in Your Own Words
Prepared by Peter Redman
Writing in your own words: an overview
What is meant by ‘writing in your own words’?
Why is writing in your own words so important?
How to ensure that you have written using your own words
Writing in your own words: a worked example
Why is writing in your own words so important? Some further advice
Exploring writing in your own words in greater depth
How can you ensure that you have written using your own words? Some further advice
What tutors are likely to do if they find material that is copied or closely paraphrased
Levels 3 and 4 and postgraduate study
NB: Please file this booklet for future reference.
Copyright © 2003 The Open University
SUP 74166 4
At some point in their studies most students will have read or been told that they must write ‘using their own words’, or will have been warned about ‘plagiarism’ (that is, deliberately attempting to pass off someone else’s work as your own). The problem is that, particularly at the start of their studies or when returning after a long absence, students are not always sure what ‘writing in your own words’ means. Sometimes they are even unaware of the fact that they have copied or very closely paraphrased the academic material from which they are working. If you are a student who is at all unsure about these issues, then Writing in Your Own Words is for you. Writing in Your Own Words has been produced by the Faculty of Social Sciences to help you get to grips with the sometimes difficult task of producing academic material that is based on a thorough understanding of your sources and which you have thereby ‘made your own’. As you will see, one of the reasons this is so important is that, when work is produced in this way, it avoids the danger of being either copied or closely paraphrased from those sources.
The booklet is divided into three main sections:
Section 2 provides you with some quick reference summaries that identify what is meant by writing in your own words; why writing in your own words is important; and how to ensure that you have written using your own words.
Section 3 takes you through a worked example, demonstrating what it looks like to write using your own words. This section also discusses in more detail why writing in your own words is important and how to ensure that you achieve this.
Finally, section 4 tells you how tutors (sometimes referred to as Associate Lecturers or ‘ALs’) are likely to respond to copied, closely paraphrased or plagiarized work at different levels of Open University study.
Clearly, you will not necessarily have to read this booklet from cover to cover. Depending on your needs, you may want to refer only to the quick reference section or to section 4. Alternatively, you may feel that you want to explore writing in your own words in more depth, in which case you will probably choose to read section 3 with some care. However, whatever you decide, it is possible that you will have to refer to Writing in Your Own Words at a future point in your studies. Indeed, your tutor may explicitly ask you to do this. In consequence, you are strongly recommended to file this booklet so that it can be easily retrieved.
2 Writing in your own words: an overview
Learning to write using your own words is an important part of an academic education. However, as was noted in the Introduction, it is sometimes difficult to grasp exactly what ‘writing in your own words’ involves. In order to help you in this task, you will find below some quick reference checklists identifying: what is meant by writing in your...