Within the text, only the author’s name(s), publication date, and –in case of direct quotations- page numbers, are presented. Below, you see examples and explanations of the various forms of partial references.
In example 6, there are more than two authors. For space reasons, only the first author, Boyle, is named, the others are referred to with ‘et al’. Their names are listed in the Reference List.
In your Masters programme, you will have to write assignments for most modules, as well as a dissertation of 15,000 words at the end. The type of writing that is required at Masters degree level in the Social Sciences may be different from the writing you have done either professionally, or in a previous degree course. These guidelines offer information on the characteristics of academic writing in the Social Sciences.
Academic writing requires a clear structure, an objective and relatively formal style, precise language, and the acknowledgement of all sources that you used. These features are discussed in sections 2, 3, and 4. You also have to stay within the set word limits for the various assignments and the dissertation (these are stated in the Programme Handbook).
Make sure that you focus on the literature that is relevant to your topic and point out where the literature leaves knowledge gaps for your context. Again, this chapter offers you the opportunity to show that you are making a contribution to knowledge in your context. Do not just summarise your sources, rather select and discuss the themes that are relevant to your topic and the current discussion of the topic.
In this chapter, you need to justify why you chose certain methods of enquiry, and why your methods are capable of answering your research questions. For this justification you may have to link back to the Literature Review (for instance by saying that previous quantitative research did not find in-depth explanations, and therefore you are choosing different methods, such as interviews).
In addition to the choice of methods, you have to discuss the following issues in this chapter:
The term ‘argument’ is referred to in different ways in academic writing. On the one hand, it means a claim that is based on a warrant (see 5.4.), rather than an opinion that is not supported by any evidence. In an academic paper, on the other hand, it means the way in which you explain and develop your topic. In this sense, ‘argument’ encompasses: (1) a logical structure of your paper in which –sometimes- contradictory claims are discussed, and which enables the reader to follow, through signposting and headings, how you deal with the topic, (2) your critical analysis of existing literature from the viewpoint of your own experience and/or research, and (3) the development of your own stance, based on your literature review and your own experience/research. Considering the range of possible topics, there is no template for developing an argument, but the following steps may help.
Reading critically means first that you approach your sources with clear questions in mind, i.e. that you are constantly questioning the relevance of the text to your own topic (see 5.3.). Secondly, it means that you critically analyse the authors’ arguments. Wallace and Wray (2006) explain what distinguishes an argument from an opinion.
Much literature is now available online (e-journals, access to print journals electronically – see 5.1.). There are powerful search engines (i.e. Google Scholar) that direct you to downloadable files. For internet sources such as Wikipedia or any other sites to which individuals can contribute without peer review see 4.2.
It is important to learn how to use library facilities and internet search engines efficiently. You must always make notes of where you found information and always acknowledge your sources properly.
It was emphasised earlier that you must not just report what you have read in the literature, but take a critical approach towards the claims made by the authors you cite. This critical stance means that you need to carefully examine the arguments and evidence with which authors support their claims. Next, you need to bring together, compare and evaluate the –often contradictory- claims of various authors.
Academic study is always based on the thorough analysis of previous work in the discipline, and your argument in your assignment/dissertation will build on what other authors have previously written. As a student, you will often feel that other experts in the discipline have expressed their ideas in a way that you cannot match. You need to decide whether to paraphrase or to quote these authors directly (see 4.4.). In any case, you must make it absolutely clear through referencing where the ideas come from. You will have to sign a Cover Sheet with a plagiarism statement for your assignments/dissertation to make sure that all your sources are acknowledged.
Citations of more than 20 words are formatted differently from the rest of the text. They are indented and single spaced. Quotation marks are not needed in this format, as the example shows: