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Using Evidence

When writing an academic essay, the main voice should be your own and it should be clear what your point of view is. However, you will need to strengthen your argument by referring to the ideas and findings of others.

Referencing relevant sources demonstrates to your reader that you have invested time researching the topic and selecting and synthesising your findings in order to construct a well-informed, logically-reasoned discussion.

Discursive, academic writing typically consists of claims that are made and then examined, elaborated on, and either questioned or supported so as to build up an argument.  By interpreting or evaluating other people's work, it is possible to demonstrate your ability to identify links or associations between their and your own ideas. Additionally, by referencing the work of others, you are showing that your opinions are based on valid sources.

  • Quotations

    Quotations are using someone else's exact words, and must be referenced so that it is clear the words were not written by you. If you fail to acknowledge the original author, you are guilty of plagiarism.

    • "Quotation marks" must be used to indicate the words are attributed to someone else.
    • They should be used to underpin an idea or to support your argument and not as a substitute for it.
    • You should frame quotations within your argument. You may need to explain or elaborate their significance. They may stimulate further discussion.
    • Show your understanding of the context you found your quotation in.
    • Take care not to change its meaning when you make use of it.
    • Try to keep quotations concise. They are often more effective when they are short and to the point.
    • Keep the use relevant and consistent to the point you are making.
    • Validate your sources carefully (especially if using the Internet).
    • You must attribute the source of your quotation.
  • Paraphrasing
    • When you paraphrase, you explain another person's ideas in your own words. Just changing a word here and there is not effective and often results in altering the meaning.
    • You must attribute the source of the idea if it is not your own, even if it is in your own words. See the UCA Harvard referencing guide to ensure you format your citations correctly.
  • Referencing

    You may reference different sources to support your argument. These could include:

    • Texts (any written document).
    • Illustrations (including but not restricted to images from books, the Internet, films, videos or plans/architectural drawings/maps).
    • Data (including but not restricted to facts and figures, graphs and questionnaires).
    • Your appendix (where you may have collected transcripts of conversations or interviews by email, tape, telephone or video or other detailed information that you wish to reference).
    • Exhibitions.
    • Archives.
  • Illustrations

    Only include an illustration if you are going to make use of it, this could be by:

    • Analysis.
    • Comparison.
    • Deconstruction.
    • Interpretation.
    • Extrapolation.

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