You’ve Got a License to Write

License-to-writeIt’s an all too common struggle for clever students who want to give credit to sources, to understand the process of in text citation. At some point, they ask the following: “But wouldn’t I have to cite everything every single sentence I write? Isn’t it all something I am just restating from someone else’s words?”

Summary-only is a stage nearly all writers pass through, but strong, college-level writers need to get to a stage where they write their own opinions, questions, and ideas. They need to be at a stage where they use the paraphrased words of others to support their concepts rather than just using their own words to explain others’.

Often when I get to this point of the explanation in a tutorial, I get the following response: “But I’m just a student. How can I have anything to say?”

It’s a response born of insecurity and the criticism of others, and it makes me intensely sad every time I hear it.

Your voice matters.

Whether you’re a brand-new student or seasoned professional, you have something to say that only you can say. The world needs to hear it. Even if you are the most beginner student, you are in school for a reason. To become an expert. Part of that learning process is trying out the expert role.

I hope most of you reading this already own your academic authority, but for those who need it, consider this a license to write, to take what you’ve learned and re-imagine it, interpret it, analyze it as only you can. Yes, you should still cite sources for a research paper, but you should be in charge, leading the paper, not following.

Now go and write!

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