This is a reposting of a blog from last year with a refreshed URL.
By Cally Guerin
Doctoral students are often told they ‘must find their own voice’ in their writing, and they must explain the literature ‘in their own words’. Even if the literature they are reading is beautifully expressed, they can’t just copy it: they must find another way of explaining the same ideas. But – and it’s a big but – they have to do this in a way that is recognisable to others in their discipline. Their work needs to match the expectations of their disciplinary community (for example, they need to demonstrate that they can use the ‘correct’ structures, the ‘correct’ citation conventions, the ‘correct’ vocabulary, the ‘correct’ genres and forms) (Eira 2005). Confusingly, they must ‘be original, but not too original’ (Picard & Guerin 2011).
I’m fascinated by the slippery concept of ‘voice’. It seems to me that everyone talks about it as if they know what it means, but if you start to ask them ‘So, how do I demonstrate my voice in writing?’, I’ve noticed some scholars start to look a little shifty and change the subject. Continue reading