Referencing and bibliography

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  路 Have you answered the question? Be聽specific. Say exactly what your conclusion will be.
  路 Have you explained how your argument is going to develop in the main part of the essay? What are the main steps you will go through?
  路 Have you explained聽exactly聽what you will say at each of your main steps?
  路 Is there any ambiguity in the question? Is there too much to cover? If so, explain what you will be focusing on and why.


Defining your terms

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路 Have you defined any keywords or concepts which might be ambiguous or controversial?

路 Avoid using definitions from dictionaries or encyclopaedias for political concepts. We want you to engage with academic debates, so try to find a definition from an article/chapter/book you read.

路 You don鈥檛 need to define all terms 鈥 if they are not the focus of the essay you can often assume that your reader knows what basic terms mean (e.g. 鈥榩olitics鈥 or 鈥榯heory鈥). You will need to use your judgement.

路 In some cases, e.g. where the essay question concerns a key concept, you might do this in the main part of the essay and at length (it might even be the focus of the essay). In other cases, if a shorter explanation is needed, you might do it in the introduction.

  路 Are these definitions clearly referenced?
  路 Is there disagreement about these definitions or concepts? If so, acknowledge this and say which definition will you be using.


Main body

  路 Does each paragraph help you support of your answer to the question?
  路 Are the links between each paragraph clear? Have you provided 鈥榮ignposts鈥 which make clear its role in your argument? Good links and signposts could include:

路 鈥楢nother important question to consider is鈥︹

路 鈥楾he account of [e.g. hegemony] offered above helps us to understand that鈥︹

路 鈥榃hile the previous section focused on [e.g. realist understandings of war] further insights can be gained from considering [e.g. the post-colonial perspective] …鈥

  路 Does the arrangement of the paragraphs correspond to the plan you outlined in your introduction?
  路 Is each paragraph roughly the same size? Does each correspond roughly to one topic or sub-topic?
  路 By the end of the main body have you provided a clear explanation of your position/answer to the question?
  路 Does your argument include critical analysis of key sources and theories?



  路 Does your conclusion provide a clear summary of your argument?

路 Are equally clear statements of your position contained in your Introduction and the Main Body of the essay? If not, go back and insert them.

  路 Does your conclusion introduce any new ideas, concepts or examples that are聽not聽explained in the main body of the essay? If it does, go back and explain them.



  路 Are all your sources relevant and of good quality?

路 As a starting point, use relevant key readings and link them to the subject of your essay.

路 Next, use the module reading list to find further sources.

路 Are there any important sources mentioned by the authors you have identified so far? If so, take a look at some of these.

路 Find other sources using the Library website or Google Scholar

路 News sites etc. might be useful for evidencing a point you are making but should聽not聽be used for analysis.

  路 Have you avoided unsuitable sources?

路 Wikipedia is聽not聽appropriate for an academic essay!

路聽Avoid聽blogs, unless they contain material by reputable researchers (even in this case there will usually be articles you can read instead).

路聽Never聽use essay help websites.

路聽Never聽use the student essays on These are clearly identified on the website.

  路 Are you using a good range of sources?

路 Relying too heavily on one or two sources is problematic. There is no magic number, but it is hard to write a good essay with fewer than five good quality sources (and this is a bare minimum).


Referencing and bibliography

  路 Have you read over and understood the聽Harvard聽referencing guide or the referencing information in the PIR Red Book? Check all your references and bibliography entries against one of these guides.
  路聽Is every point, quotation, or paraphrase referenced, usually with a page number?

  路 Have you consulted the source you are referencing yourself? If not, you should also include where you found the information. For example: (Smith 2009: 41; cited in Jones 2015: 59)
  路 Have you included a correctly formatted bibliography?

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