Putting yourself into your academic writing

One student's dilemma • 'Parrot writing' • Can you be 'original' in your university writing? • Using 'I' in your assignments • From the personal to the academic

Is the tutor interested in my ideas?

Do I have to simply leave myself out of my university writing?

I came to university to explore my own ideas - but are they interested in what

I think?

Can I use 'I' in my university writing?

In this chapter we take up work on the topic of the family begun in Chapter 2, to look again at the relationship between your own identity as a writer and the academic writing you do at university. In Chapter 1 and elsewhere we have suggested ways to help you to develop fluency and confidence in the process of writing and to think of yourself as a writer. We have talked about the importance of using your own words to help you to bridge the gap that may seem to exist between ways in which you have been used to thinking about the world and those you encounter in different fields of study and disciplines. We have explored how you can get into the kinds of writing that are appropriate for university, looking at ways of moving from descriptive to analytic writing and of developing an argument. Now we move on to think about the rather complex question of how you can get yourself, your own 'voice', into your assignment. Do you have a feeling of ownership about your university writing or are you floundering around trying to behave like a university student writer? What does 'putting yourself into an assignment' mean? Students are often concerned by their sense of the gap between what they are interested in and want to say, and the requirements of university writing that, in many subject areas, seem to expect students not to involve themselves personally at all. We will consider this issue in university writing with the following questions in mind:

• What is your relationship to your own writing? Can you have a sense of yourself in your writing even when you are trying to keep to the conventions of the subject you are studying?

• Can you bring your own ideas, opinions and sense of identity into university writing? How far will this show in your use of the first person in your work?

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