The following winning essay was submitted in 2009 by a UK higher education student for an essay writing competition sponsored by the LearnHigher Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) network. The set title was ‘What is the point of referencing?’, and there was a maximum word limit of 1,500 words.
There is a tutor commentary on the points made by the student to the left of the essay.
The introduction to an essay is very important. Here the student immediately addresses the question.
What is the point of referencing?
The reasons why accurate referencing is essential for academic work are not immediately apparent, particularly for students new to higher education. This essay will, therefore, examine why referencing is an essential part of academic writing and in the process address the question: ‘what is the point of referencing?’
The student introduces the main reasons for referencing.
There are three main reasons for referencing. Firstly, referencing helps student writers to construct, structure, support and communicate arguments. Secondly, references link the writer’s work to the existing body of knowledge. Thirdly, only through referencing can academic work gain credibility.
Summarises the structure of the essay.
This essay will discuss these three aspects of referencing in detail, examine their validity, identify how referencing affects a writer’s writing style, and show how referencing helps students to present their own ideas and opinions in assignments.
Engages with the first of the reasons for referencing: construction of arguments. The student draws on the work of a published writer (Becker) in support of the four points made.
Note the systematic way the ideas are presented: ‘Firstly…; Secondly…; Thirdly…; Finally’.
The writing is descriptive at this point in the essay.
Becker (1986) believes the construction of arguments is the most important function of referencing systems. There are four dimensions to this. Firstly, drawing on existing literature, academic writers can construct their own arguments - and adopting a referencing system supports this process. Secondly, it helps to structure the existing information and arguments by linking published authors to their respective works. Third, referencing helps academic writers identify sources, gather evidence, as well as show the relationships between existing knowledge. Finally, referencing also provide a framework to enable writers to structure their arguments effectively by assessing, comparing, contrasting or evaluating different sources.
The word ‘However’, signals a change of direction: the writing becomes more analytical. It goes beyond the four points described in the previous paragraph to make a new contribution to the discussion.
The student illustrates the point made with a practical example (Barrow & Mosley).
However, merely describing existing research, rather than producing their own contributions to the discussion, is inadequate for most acade...