Writing Original Work

One of the challenges of good scholarship is to take what has already been done, said, or argued, and incorporating it into your work in an original way. To some students, this task may seem unnecessarily redundant: a student writing a paper on the benefits of stem cell research may ask, “If the positive aspects of this research have already been argued, why do I need to do it again?” The answer is that:

  • by doing research on your subject, you become more familiar with existing scholarly work, which in turn can provide models for your own writing

  • your way of presenting the information and arguing it will be different from that of others and is therefore valuable; and

  • as more recent information on your subject becomes available, you have the opportunity to bring this information into your report or argument, adding new dimensions to the discussion.

Sometimes the goals of academic writing may seem contradictory.

On the one hand, we ask you to: But also to:
Find what is written on a topic and report it, demonstrating you have done your research. Write about the topic in an original way.
Bring in opinions of experts and authorities. Do more than simply report them; comment on these opinions, add to them, agree or disagree with them.
Notice articulate phrasing and learn from it, especially if you are trying to enhance your capability in English. Use your own words to paraphrase accurately or quote directly when you incorporate this into a paper.

Academic writing is a challenge. It demands that you build on work done by others but create something original from it. By acknowledging where you have used the ideas, work, or words of others, you maintain your academic integrity and uphold the standards of the Institute and of the discipline in which you work.

(Adapted from: Overview and Contradictions, Purdue University OWL Online Writing Lab. Retrieved July 2019.