Guide to writing history essays

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3. How to avoid plagiarism
3.1 Give yourself enough time to do your essay. Very rarely do students start out deliberately intending to commit plagiarism. Instead, they fall into the trap because they are desperate to meet an impending deadline and become careless or make bad choices. You can avoid this by getting started early and giving yourself sufficient time to research and write your essays.
3.2 Take full and accurate notes. One of the most common explanations from students who have made improper use of sources is that they mixed up their notes and could not tell the difference between their own thoughts and those of their sources. You should always take notes in a way that lets you distinguish at a glance your own thoughts from ideas and words that you have copied from others. For a start, put everything that comes directly from another source in quotation marks. Always write down the full bibliographical and page information for the sources of such quotations, so that the information is handy when you compile the references for your essay.
3.3 Learn how to cite evidence correctly. In history essays it is not merely expected but essential that you should draw upon the research and interpretations of other historians as you put together your argument. What is required, however, is that properly acknowledge the source of this material, via a reference such as a footnote or endnote. The best place to start is by carefully reading the sections in Part II of the History Essay Handbook on using quotations and on how and when to use footnotes and endnotes. If you have any doubts about how to refer to the work of others in your assignments, please consult your Tutor or Unit Coordinator for help.

The History Essay Handbook

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