Academic Integrity: Writing in Your Own Words

Apr 5, 2017

This is the first in a two-part series about writing in your own words and citing sources.

Your assignments are an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you understand the concepts and ideas that you are supposed to be learning in your courses or modules. Pasting quotes from textbooks or other sources doesn’t allow you to demonstrate that understanding.

Instead, expressing the information in your own words provides you with an opportunity to truly solidify the information so that it becomes part of your knowledge.

In Your Own Words

You might wonder what “in your own words” means. It is more than replacing a few words in a passage with synonyms. Instead, it is synthesizing the information—producing your own version—and explaining it in a way that shows you understand the concept. For example, the paragraph below is provided in course materials:

Short-term risk-free real interest rate represents the underlying price of money at which the demand for loanable funds is equal to the supply of loanable funds. If more funds are desired than are available, interest rates will rise to the point where some borrowers are no longer interested. Likewise, if there are more funds available than required, the interest rate will decrease until some lenders are no longer willing to lend. Following the pattern of all supply-and-demand curves, the point at which supply equals demand will be the short-term risk-free real interest rate.

And the same concept, re-written by a student and demonstrating understanding:

The short-term risk-free real interest rate is the price borrowers expect to pay and lenders expect to receive for a short-term (i.e. maturity of one year or less) and risk-free (i.e. it’s certain that future payments will be made) loan, assuming no inflation. This is determined by where supply meets demand with regards to loanable funds – if there is a scarcity of funds (demand goes up or supply goes down), the rate will rise, and vice versa.   

Next week, we will cover how to appropriately cite sources.