How To Make An Essay: References And Use Of Information

Background research can form the cornerstone of a well written essay or term paper. If you want to provide substantive support for your claims and your perspective, you must marshall the available evidence and present it in a manner amenable to your rhetoric. Unfortunately, many students do not know how to truly use research and references to bolster their writing and shore up support for their arguments.

When your writing is being analyzed and graded, you can be certain that your professors will examine the number and quality of your references, in addition the manner in which you use them. Imagine your use of references as akin to a lawyer bringing in evidence and witnesses in support of their court case. All perspectives and pieces of data should point toward your conclusions, and should disprove alternate viewpoints.

How do you use information and build a compelling list of references? Follow these steps.

  1. Write the majority of your paper, or at least a highly detailed and specific outline. You want to have an idea of how your paper will flow and what your primary points will be.
  2. Take a red or purple pen and circle all the claims or main points in your outline that will require empirical support from a reference of some kind.
  3. Open up a journal article database or visit your university's library and go down your outline, looking for evidence that supports each individual point, in order.
  4. Use smart reference searching tactics to locate peer reviewed, empirical results that support your position. Do not use unacademic sources. Consult with a research librarian if necessary.
  5. Organize your research results by point, or sort them by topic or subtopic.
  6. Print out or save every reference and review them in organized "chunks", with a copy of your paper or your outline at your side. When you find a reference that is a keeper, highlight or take notes on the relevant facts.
  7. Use post-it notes or highlight marks to indicate which facts and citations should be included in which parts of your paper. Take notes on your outline as well.
  8. As you write the paper itself, keep track of which references you will be citing and where you will be citing them. Insert all these references as you follow your outline, or insert them all at once after the paper is written.
  9. Use the citation list on your paper's outline to build your bibliography or reference list. Make certain it is exhaustive.

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