Using resources to find your voice

by Zoë Mahler

So it’s Week 4 and your first paper is coming up. You’ve gone to the Library Session and learned about the resources you’ll need to make your paper amazing. You went on JSTOR and found an article, and you’re feeling good! You’re reading this article with a highlighter in hand thinking, “How could someone write something so perfectly for me?! This is exactly what I needed!”

But then you sit down to actually write the paper. The article you read was so amazing and had everything you needed but… now you have to write something of your own. No matter how experienced you are as a writer, you know we’ve all been here at some point. Sometimes we just feel we could quote an entire article because it’s never going to be any better than that, right?

This, my friend, is why we go back to the databases and dig a little deeper. Though you may feel that the first article you found was a gold mine of information and you agree with everything that’s been written, maybe now it’s time to find an article that has a different perspective or words the subject a bit differently. When you’re reading multiple resources from multiple authors and publications, it’s easier to compile data in your own unique way. How do the articles coincide with one another? How do they not? Is there room for some comparing and contrasting?

This leads me to my takeaway message: The more sources you find, the more you actually find your own voice. Learning how to establish your voice by researching articles early on in the year will help you in the long run as you will be more and more practiced at finding your voice, as well as using databases as a resource! If you need any help finding more resources on your topic, or if you need a more in-depth lesson on how to use the databases, your tutors and librarians are here to help you! 


Zoë Mahler is a senior double majoring in art history and mass communication with a minor in religion. She is from Faribault, Minnesota, and plays on the beach volleyball team in the spring.

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