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.
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.
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- Referencing and plagiarism - the OU Library's page on how to cite the original material you refer to in your assignments
- Developing Good Academic Practices - gives invaluable advice on writing in your own words
- Dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopaedias - OU Library webpage leading to useful online dictionaries and thesauri, some of which are subject-specific.
- Dictionary Link - brings together many dictionaries and thesauri.