Writing in your own ‘voice’

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The need to provide evidence to support claims made in assignments means it is easy to focus on reporting other scholars’ work at the expense of your own ideas or responses to what you read. However, in most pieces of writing you will need to present your position on a topic or comment on what you describe. Your lecturer will want to know what you think based on what you have read, and what conclusions you draw as a result of your research.

You do this by developing your own academic ‘voice’ in which to speak to your reader.

Activity

Compare Paragraph 2 with Paragraph 3, below. While each is based on the same facts, the writers clearly have different viewpoints.

Paragraph 2

Australia has one of the highest numbers of endangered animal species in the world, with 71 species listed as critically endangered [1]. However, a species is not considered to be critically endangered unless 90% of the population is lost in one decade, or until no more than 50 animals remain [1]. If we also count species classified merely as ‘endangered’, the number of species in very real danger of extinction more than triples to 228 [2]. Nevertheless, it was only in 2015 that the Australian government  introduced a Threatened Species Strategy [3]. The fact that in 2016 the number of endangered species had grown to 96 [4] suggests the initiative may be less than is needed.

Paragraph 3

In Australia over 200 animal species are listed as endangered or critically endangered [1]. Unfortunately, this is one of the highest numbers of endangered species in the world [1]. To address this problem, in 2015 the Australian government introduced a comprehensive Threatened Species Strategy [3] encompassing four umbrella projects and numerous partnerships aimed at saving endangered birds and mammals. Although the number of endangered species grew slightly in 2016 [4], the trend will likely begin to reverse when the programs have had time to take effect.

Activity

The degree to which you can indicate your personal opinion varies between disciplines and according to the purpose of the assignment. Each of the paragraphs in this activity is suitable for a different type of assignment. Read each paragraph and identify the assignment it is most likely to come from.

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References for Paragraphs 1-3

1. Department of the Environment and Energy 2017, EPBC Act List of Threatened Fauna, Australian Government [online] available:

https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=fauna

2. Australian endangered species list 2014, National Geographic, [online] available: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2014/06/australian-endangered-species-list

3. Department of the Environment and Energy 2015, Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Report, Australian Government [online] available: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/threatened-species-strategy-year-one-report

4. Department of the Environment and Energy 2017, Listings since commencement of EPBC Act: Threatened species listing, Australian Government [online] available:

http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-tmp/publiclistchanges.17a4572b13bc386e313d.html