Exam essentials: Using reliable sources

This article was first published on 10 May 2019

How to write an original essay

Writing an essay is hard enough! But when you need to reference sources and are up against a deadline, how do you make sure you don't plagiarise by mistake?

To keep your writing original, you need to know how to:

  • Use sources and reference materials properly

  • Be able to judge the reliability of reference material

  • Reference the sources you have used correctly

Derin and Jack give advice on the best way to write an original essay

How to use your sources correctly

When creating original content, it is expected that you will use and build on other people’s work and ideas to support your own.

However, you need to acknowledge when an idea is not yours and reference it properly. If you don't, you may be in danger of plagiarising.

Plagiarism is when you use other people’s ideas or words and pass them off as your own.

Choosing the right source

Not all sources are created equal. Reference materials can come from all sorts of places including libraries, newspapers, journals and the internet.

When using online sources it is especially important to ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you recognise the website?

  • Who is it written by?

  • Is the author trustworthy and reliable?

  • Is it out of date?

  • Is it biased?

Remember to always use several sources to cross-reference your information.

How do I reference?

When writing an essay, check with your teacher how they would like you to reference your sources. See if they can give you an example of good referencing to use as a model.

You might also need to create a bibliography.

This is a collection of all the sources you have used, including the source title, author and publication date. A bibliography is normally found at the end of any essay.

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