As you find, evaluate, and analyze evidence for your mentorship paper, practice articulating how your understanding of the topic is evolving, integrating your voice throughout your notes – questioning, interpreting, summarizing, paraphrasing, comparing and contrasting, critiquing, etc.
In addition, consider writing reflections about this evolving understanding at whatever intervals make sense to you (e.g., weekly, biweekly, monthly).
By developing these habits, you will likely find it easier for your voice to emerge clearly in the final paper without being drowned out by your sources. This requires both skillful source integration, such as effective paraphrases/summaries and judicious use of direct quotes, and a writing style fitting for the paper.
To support your appropriate use of evidence while maintaining your academic voice, here are two resources from the University of Melbourne (the second one is valuable but lengthy, so skim section headings to find portions useful to you):
- Voice in Academic Writing (succinct and practical with useful examples)
- Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism
Once you draft the body paragraphs, consider coding the supporting evidence for each main point in a different color. This provides a visual sense of how well you’ve supported each point and how much text is left in your voice. You can then study the text in your voice for consistency, tone, diction, and other traits.
When you read the paper aloud (perhaps recording it and playing it back), do some details sound out of place? Many writing teachers suggest creating a reverse outline to evaluate your paper’s structure.
Set aside time for steps like these designed to help you strengthen and polish your paper. Academic writing takes study, time, and practice, but you CAN do it. Good luck!