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Essay Writing Guidelines

Essay Writing Guidelines

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All essays MUST conform to the following guidelines. This is not an attempt to make your life miserable; being able to apply the standards of historical writing (such as a thesis statement or footnotes) to your own work is an essential part of a history degree. Attention to detail in the finer points of presentation and style contributes to the overall professionalism of an essay, and lends more credence to its contents. Here is a brief survey of some of the more important elements of a history essay. 1. The Writing Process 2. Format 3. Plagiarism and Referencing 4. Common Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes

Writing an essay is not just a matter of sitting down with a pile of books and a blank sheet of paper in front of you. It involves three main stages: 1. Pre-writing 2. Writing 3. Re-writing

1. Pre-writing
This stage is sometimes called the ‘planning stage’ of writing and most historians would argue that this is the most important part of writing an essay. With good planning and preparation, writing and re-writing are made much easier. What does planning to write an essay involve?


• As a student you are entitled to gain access to two on-line databases which are useful for tracking down material. you could try a ‘keyword’ search using the term ‘nationalism’. And finally. especially articles and book reviews. If you are doing an essay on Irish nationalists. You can also use your booklist to find additional books. the obvious place to start is your textbook.J. You will find lots of books this way. A chronology of Irish history since 1500 (Dublin. Use the index to find any relevant pages and read them first. 1989). A dictionary of Irish history since 1800 (Dublin. This is called a ‘class number’ search. but might be useful for definitions of nationalism or for European parallels. Doherty and E. because the computer simply looks for books with the same class number as the one you have been looking at. In Irish history the class number for journals is DA900. Idem.E.J. Hickey (eds). once you have found a specific reference which you have found relevant. Some entries will also give you the most important book or article concerning the subject. J. It will contain a list of all the books used in the preparation of the text. however. your textbook will have a bibliography at the back which you can consult. The Oxford companion to Irish history (Oxford. 1980). As well. Using these references you can check in the OPAC if our library has copies. • browse the shelves in the Irish history section of the library. Kate Newmann. • you can also use the OPAC itself as a finding aid.). the OPAC. 1993). [DA900] • browse the shelves in the section of the library which holds the Irish history journals.. as well as the computer cataloguing system in the library. places and events. Connolly (ed. you can also do ‘subject’ and ‘keyword’ searches. Dictionary of Ulster biography (Belfast. S. There are many dictionaries of Irish history which will give you brief summaries of important people. don’t forget the standard reference work. • don't forget. They are called ‘Web of Science’ and ‘FirstSearch’ and a user name and password can be got from the Information Desk in the library. 1998). There are.a. Not only can you hunt up specific titles. 2 . many other ways of finding relevant sources. Journals have several articles in each issue and one might have an article of use to you. there is a ‘find books on a similar subject’ option. doing research and finding sources of information Once you know what your topic or essay question is. most of which will not have a direct Irish connection. so it would be worthwhile to scan the indexes of several of these periodicals.

Look out for parallels or contradictions which are being made with other author's you have read. which you will find in a more specific work. you can start reading. 3 . Skim read. Don’t be afraid to be critical: just because arguments/evidence are in print doesn't mean they are well expressed or well-founded. Read the introduction. reading and taking notes Once you have found a source. looking at every word. However. • be selective in what you read: Use the table of contents and the index to help you focus on those sections which appear most relevant. Always keep track of the page number on which you got the information. Thus. In general. • take good notes: You should try to summarize the main arguments or ideas in your own words. they tend to lack detail and analysis.b. just keep reading. you should be reading critically and concentrating on the information which pertains to your topic. This will allow you to cite your sources accurately. Once you've ascertained the ‘background’ to the source. and supporting evidence. Any direct quotations which you think are relevant should be copied out word for word for future use (or else put a page reference in so you know where you found it). You need to balance the two. key ideas. You need to be aware of several things about your source before you even start reading: • be aware of the publication date: is this an old book? is it out of date? is the date a historically significant one? has it taken into account recent interpretations of the topic? • be aware of the author: is s/he an historian? a journalist? a clergyman? how will this affect their treatment of the topic? • be aware of the publisher: is this a book published by a big academic publisher (like Oxford. • read actively: When you are reading you should be consciously on the lookout for arguments. so you need to be careful about where your sources are coming from • be aware of the audience to which the publication is aimed: is this a textbook? is it a propaganda pamphlet? is it a scholarly monograph? textbooks tend to be easier to read than complex and involved monographs. skipping over bits you don't understand in order to get a general impression of the author's intent. Routledge or Macmillan) or is it published by a local historical society? the quality of the research will vary accordingly. looking for relevant keywords: don't feel the need to plough through every word and sentence. which will give you a general idea of the book's main arguments (and sometimes the main arguments of each chapter). don’t feel you have to read it through the whole way.

when you can’t think of what to say next. and don't go off onto tangents. Polish this.c. in point form. scribble down the general headings you think the information falls into (background. scribble them down on another piece of paper and include them in the relevant spot later on. point a. trying to pull more major points together. and not to wander off on a tangent. Others like to sketch out. Your plan/outline can be as rough or as elaborate as you wish. and relevant source books nearby. you can start to write. 4 . if you need to. Make sure you introduce your characters properly. in your head (and roughly on paper) what the essay will look like from start to finish. Draw circles. It will help you to avoid writer’s ‘block’. making sure that you are expressing your ideas clearly. preparing an outline Once your reading is done and your notes taken. At this point you should be concentrating on your style and expression. and that you give basic explanations of relevant events. there are several techniques you can adopt: • try brainstorming: Scribble down on a rough sheet of paper any key words. To help you with your organization. then. because they have all the details in their heads. and that they logically follow on from each other. All of this should be decided BEFORE you sit down to write out a first draft. the basic structure of each paragraph. most of the hard work is already done. ideas. This will help you find information quickly. Some simply put down the main points. You need to find a system that works for you and which you feel comfortable with. It will also help you to remember which sources you plan to use and where. • try writing the question out at the top of the page. You can take this outline one step further by listing the books/notes you will use for each section on the same page. with your plan in front of you. This will help you to stay on track. now is the time to compile your ideas and evidence into a skeleton structure of how your essay will be written. Writing Once you have a fairly detailed plan. If ideas occur to you as you write (which often happens). Then. With your plan/outline in place you already have. underneath. boxes around and connecting these ideas. Try to stick to the point as outlined in your plan. The object in this stage is to get a reasonably coherent draft together which can then be worked on in the final stage. point b. You have already thrashed out where you are going to discuss point A and whether point C would be better off coming before point B. 2. while you are writing. Thus. lines.). stray thoughts that you have. etc. write out your thesis statement.

and show your reader exactly WHY you feel that this piece of evidence is relevant to your argument. ‘The emergence of an independent and assertive Church did not bode well for the future of religious tranquillity in nineteenth-century Ireland. Try to end on a strong note: with a stylistic flourish. ‘The very public and political activity of parish priests in the campaign for Catholic emancipation represented the emergence of the Catholic church as a self-confident and influential institution. written it down). Try to link your arguments together using ‘signposts’ or ‘transition signals’. The practical stylist (New York. the Catholic church was still living under the legacy of the penal era. or with a relevant quotation. A common technique is ‘the funnel approach’.e.1 Start the essay with a general statement concerning the subject under discussion (e. It sets up the thesis and tries to capture the reader's attention. Then move away from this narrow focus to the wider implications of your thesis (i. Such statements are generally made at the end of a section or paragraph. • conclusionThe best way to conclude an essay is to use the inverted funnel’. 24. so it should be written with that intention in mind: • introduction An introduction is an essential part of a good essay. This is a very important point. Restate your thesis in different words and allude to the main points you used to support it. Each one has its own purpose and function. but that you have explained why it is relevant to your argument. with a good.g.’). 1 Sheridan Baker. not the other way around. strong point. • body An essay is the exposition of a reasoned argument to support a point. p. 5 .’) and then lead gradually into a narrower. It is in the body of your essay that you should use the factual details and events which you have discovered in your research to give your arguments strength. Your arguments need to flow logically on from one another and together they should provide a coherent whole. body and conclusion. A decent introduction should be at least 5-8 sentences long. more specific description until the thesis is stated (e. You must be explicit. ‘In the early nineteenth century.’). It is not a recitation of facts nor is it a summary of events. Analysis and your opinions should be the driving force behind the narrative.g. A brief outline of the main points supporting this thesis should then follow. 1983). Make sure that you have not only explained your evidence (that is.Your essay should have three main sections: introduction.

We need to have a critical eye for errors and to have the courage to trash rubbish and start over. You have to tell them what you mean. Think about writing the essay for your friend who is not taking history. Try to ‘connect’ your sections together. leave it alone for a few days (ideally. of course). it is difficult to bin sentences that took hours to construct. Because our minds run on ahead of our hands. and insist that they are TOTALLY honest with you if they find a passage muddled or confused. In order to ‘see’ our mistakes. You’ll be amazed at what you can see wrong with it. not even John Grisham. Try to avoid slang expressions and too much use of the first person. get someone else to read your essay. Be especially watchful for unfinished sentences. Now is the time to change your essay. It always amazes me how hard it is to actually say in words what we are thinking in our minds. Yes. Aim the 'tone' of the essay at an intelligent reader who is not an expert in this field. it is always easier the second time. Be merciless. Re-writing This stage is sometimes called ‘editing’ or ‘proof reading’. How would you explain this topic to him/her? • when working out your plan. how?’ 6 . Once you've got a first draft. the reader can only read what is in print on the page in front of her/him. where the idea isn’t expressed clearly enough. and not left to the reader to infer. They can’t read your mind and can’t infer what you were TRYING to say. After you've written a section. Remember. ‘Does this section relate to the question? If so. If you want to be even more rigorous. to string your argument throughout the whole essay. Some Basic Writing Tips • use a dictionary to clarify your understanding of the meaning of any terms you are unsure about • use a relatively formal style of writing. Make sure the point that you are driving at is made CLEARLY. gets it right the first time. just to make sure that you've understood it properly and that you are still heading in the right direction. Thankfully. we need to practice our editing skills. re-read the question and ask yourself. to make sure that what we are saying is comprehensible to the outside world. but if they don't make sense then sometimes it is better to just start over. Watch out for assumptions. Tidy up references and footnotes. Check spellings and sentence structures ruthlessly.3. The important thing to remember is that no one. it is important to go back over what we've written. keep reading and re-reading the question. Then go back and read it over. You cannot assume that people will ‘know what you mean’.

• at the end of a section. 1998). 1982. As well. in order to keep the thread of argument going. 1979). If a sentence sounds kind of ‘wordy’ or awkward to you. The history student's writer's manual (New Jersey. 1996). One final word of advice. and dissertations (var. If you are really interested in improving your writing. Scott. you might think about purchasing or borrowing from the library one of the many books which have been published in this area. Kate. others are on order. Isn't that a lot more manageable? While it may seem petty to approach writing this way. In fact. that means only 450 words per section (or about 1 and a half pages). A couple are in the library now. • when you go to start writing. A manual for writers of term papers. Hellstern. the 'official' voice of Irish nationalism). edns. You don't have to write it first. A short guide to writing about history (3rd ed. A student's guide to history (3rd ed. Gregory and Garrison. and how to best introduce it. Marius. 1983). and say you have 4 sections. [the classic text] Turabian. Benjamin. change or reword. Don't be afraid to chop. if all else fails. This will make the 2000 words seem much less intimidating. New York. give his first and last name and a brief explanation of who he was (the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party which was. Move the words around. it does help you get over the psychological barrier of a rather intimidating word limit.html. • try to write in a clear. and assign a word limit to each section. Some of them are of a more general focus whilst others are specifically directed to History students.. include a sentence or two of summary in which you reiterate what your thesis is and how this section has worked to support it • always remember that prose can be manipulated. New York: Longman. 7 . The elements of style (3rd ed. try to find alternatives which are more concise.• once you have a plan. start over. Richard. do you always get stuck? To avoid this. Thus. 1998). in 1914.edu/writing/Handbook/DocChicago. Now you've only got 1800 words left. Remember the golden rule: 1 idea = 1 paragraph • always introduce new characters fully when you first mention them. New York. Don’t just start telling the reader about Redmond's enthusiastic support for the First World War. assign 100 words each to the introduction and conclusion. it might turn out better if you leave it to the end. or using a similar metaphor in both paragraphs. then you'll have a better idea of what the essay looks like.. you can get it to ‘match’ your conclusion by using similar constructions. Jules. Mark. Stephen. direct style. try to rephrase it. Chicago Manual of Style: www. or. 1973. Strunk and White. write your introduction last. break down the total word limit. theses..wisc.

Peck. If the excerpt is longer than 30 words it should be separated from the main body of text by a blank line. 1999). it should be placed in quotation marks and kept within the flow of text. p. typed essays should no longer be impossible. essays can be hand-written. Look at the following example. and the passage is less than 30 words. • sufficient margins The standard practice is to leave 1” on all four margins. then indented and single spaced. • typed In the computer age we all live in. 6-7 pages). In neither should the quotation be bolded. using every line and one side of the page only. The use of computers is available free to everyone in the university. • using direct quotations in your text If you are quoting directly from a book or article. They are the standard rules of practice within the historical establishment.500 words long (approx. If. You should leave 1” margins on all four sides (this is so your tutor has room for comments). • double-spaced The text should be printed on every other line and on one side of the page only. practice varies. 64: 8 . John and Coyle. Page numbers are commonly placed in the top right-hand corner or are centered at the bottom of the page. The student’s guide to writing (London: Palgrave. In both cases the quotation must be footnoted. however. For HIS101 and HIS307 the word limit is 2000 words. They must be written neatly. • page numbers Here. PART 2 ESSAY FORMAT Essays must follow the following format. without quotation marks. taken from Michael Laffan's book The partition of Ireland. • length Standard undergraduate essays are generally about 2-2. italicized or otherwise highlighted in any way. Martin. you cannot use a computer. in ink.

registration number. or not to be. your name.. 14 Feb.”’2 How can it be avoided? Plagiarism among students is usually inadvertent.. Plagiarism includes both using the words or phrases of another person and restating another’s thoughts in slightly different words.. In order to give credit to your sources. you should use a reference (sometimes called a ‘citation’) when you want to: 2 Sara Cormeny. For instance. or not to be: That is the question.. simply because they did not know how to ‘cite’ their sources of information properly. whether they wanted it or not. and the blessed refusal of the Sinn Feiners to take the oath of allegiance in 1918. which tells the reader where you got your information from.com [4 Jan. course name.washingtonpost. Thus. tutor name. it is plagiarism to take credit for Shakespeare’s "To be. The removal of responsibility for all local affairs to two home rule parliaments would ease the lives of British politicians and end what Balfour described as all the troubles which we have had at Westminster during the forty years between the advent of Parnell on the political stage in 1878. • title page It should include the title of the essay. date of submission.5 Behind the government's decision to impose selfdetermination on all sides. you must use a system of referencing. lay its constant anxiety to be free of Irish problems.” It’s also plagiarism to modify his sentence without credit to “The question is: to be.Arguing against holding a plebiscite Balfour later remarked that 'Ireland is not like a conquered state. ‘A word on plagiarism’ in Washington Post. 1999]. so that he/she can check your sources and verify the accuracy of your information. 9 . • footnotes/endnotes (see below) • bibliography (see below) PART 3 PLAGIARISM and REFERENCING What is plagiarism? ‘Any time you take another person's words and claim them as your own. 1996.. which we can carve up as in Central Europe'.6 The unionists had never sought a separate parliament and had always wanted Ulster to remain an integral part of the United Kingdom with her status quite unchanged. Available [Online]: http://wpl. . you are plagiarizing.

feel free to use it on two conditions: that you are CONSISTENT and that you include all the required basic information. but you will see it in some history texts. like so4) and number the references consecutively (1. 4 Don’t forget. Superscript the number (raise it slightly above the text. 1996. p. 2. numbers should increase consecutively throughout the text. Information in references The basic format for footnotes/endnotes is that they should read like a sentence. pp 95-6. In arts and humanities subjects it is accepted practice to use a system of numbers (arabic). 1983).• indicate the source of a direct quotation (when you use someone else's words exactly) • indicate the source of particular or specific information. not full stops. Many scholars dislike this style because of several illogical rules. like modernizing all spellings and abandoning capitals except on place names. for undergraduate purposes. it is. Moody in a 1975 issue of the journal Irish Historical Studies. This is more common in the sciences and social sciences.W. The differences between a footnote and an endnote are minimal: • footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page • endnotes are listed at the end of the essay or chapter The style which is recommended here is a modified version of the style which is most commonly used in Irish history. Each number should correspond to a matching endnote or footnote which contains details about the source used. or statistics) • to provide additional information which you can't fit into your text easily3 Format for references There are several ways of referencing your sources. It was developed by T. and it should be listed in the following order: Margot Northey. 10 3 . These are called ‘styles’. Some styles place the source of the reference directly in the text. an easy style to learn and use. but which you got from someone else (like specific details about a government policy. which you put at the END of the sentence. in which you make your reference. Despite these drawbacks. 43). or at the END of the phrase. 3 and so on). Information should be separated by spaces or commas. If you are familiar with another style. which you have used in your own words. and separated by brackets. like so (Holmes. Making sense: a student’s guide to writing and style (Toronto: Oxford UP.

p. Paul Cullen and his contemporaries (5 vols. 1961-77). p. p. In ‘pure’ IHS style. followed by date of publication in parentheses page number of the reference FOOTNOTES/ENDNOTES: EXAMPLES BOOK BY ONE AUTHOR Books should be listed with the author. placed in round brackets (or 'parentheses') date of publication: usually found on the back of the title page page number of the reference: 'p. BOOK WITH SEVERAL VOLUMES Note that the volume number is placed after the publication information. 1996).' is used for one page. pp 10-15 For articles: • • • • • author's name: first name then last name title of article: placed in single quotation marks title of journal: underlined or italicised volume number. and that it is in Roman numerals. Naas: Leinster Leader. BOOK BY TWO AUTHORS Paul Bew and Gordon Gillespie. and 'pp' for several pages. OR Sean Connolly. as long as you are consistent. 1985). place and date of publication (in parentheses). 11. 12. 24. and issue number. Religion and society in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dundalk: Dundalgan. The Northern Ireland peace process 1993-1996: a chronology (London: Serif. Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Dundalk: Dundalgan..For books: • • • • • author's name: first name then last name title of book: underlined or italicised place of publication: along with publisher’s name and date. only the first word of the title is capitalised.). like so: p. Sean Connolly. all the rest are in lower case. II. that is acceptable. pp 2-4. 12. Peadar Mac Suibhne (ed. title (underlined or italicised). 3 11 . If you prefer capitals. 1985).

1994). or Daniel O'Connell).S. page numbers. A QUOTE FROM A PERSON QUOTED BY SOMEONE ELSE 7 F. 1993). Then. Studies in Irish history presented to R.BOOK WITH SEVERAL EDITIONS 4 D. 258. there is no need to copy out all the same information over and over again. 45. 25. p. volume number. They usually relate to a single theme (like the famine. issue number. that the author of the article itself is placed first. H. Lyons quoted in J.G. ‘The government and the Church of Ireland’ in Irish Historical Studies. Dudley Edwards (Dublin: UCD. Lee. below). 1992). 12 . when citing an article in an anthology. 24. Nationalism in Ireland (3rd ed. title of article (in single quotation marks). Edward Carson (Dundalk: Dundalgan. use a shortened version of both the author's name and the title of the book (see 5. but they can also be conference proceedings or essays written in memory of a particular person. ARTICLE IN AN ANTHOLOGY An anthology is a collection of essays. pp 169-71. written by different people and edited by one or more individuals. Ireland 1912-1985 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP. church and state (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. It is important. Beckett. 4 J. 2 (1941). Mathew: apostle of modernisation' in Art Cosgrove and Donal McCartney (eds). 'Fr. Boyce. then followed by the title of the article (and not the title of the collection). therefore. O'Connell: education. pp 281-4. p.. year of journal (in parentheses). just use a shortened version of the author's name followed by the relevant page number.J. 'The colleges bill 1845-9' in Maurice O'Connell (ed.).L. followed by the title of the anthology and its publication details. Kearney. for instance. Edward Carson quoted in Alvin Jackson. the editor(s) of the collection is listed. 1989). ARTICLE IN A JOURNAL Articles should be listed with the author.C.F. 8 SUBSEQUENT REFERENCES If you are referring to the same book or article several times. For second and subsequent references. p. title of journal (underlined or italicised). 1979). Dublin: Routledge. If you are using two books by the same author. Geraldine Grogan. p.

Available [Online]: http://www. 1989). One excellent. 1848-1918 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. [This reference to Lee is from Ireland 1912-85 and NOT Modernisation] 4 5 Lee. just like the books and articles that you use.nationalarchives. Lee.] David Burnett. ENTIRE WEBSITE Author. 1996). 1892-1914?' in Richard English and Graham Walker (eds).J. Available [Online]: http://rest of address [date you looked at the information].html Here are some examples of the most common internet sources. ARTICLE WITHIN A WEBSITE If you have used a particular article (or ‘page’) within a bigger website. 'The modernisation of Unionism. you need to cite it. 2002]. 92.html [18 Sept.edu/~mcrouse/elcite.J.J. 60. Lee.1 J. it means that the source used here is exactly the same as that quoted in the footnote directly preceding it.people. 3 J.] 7 CITING INTERNET SOURCES Information that you have obtained from the Internet/WWW must be cited.edu/~mcrouse/elcite. 54. Ireland 1912-85 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 25.. ‘Chief Secretary’s Office’ in The National Archives of Ireland (30 Aug. Available [Online]: http://rest of address [date you looked at this article]. 359. Burnett. ‘Title of article’. p. In a footnote. Because this is a relatively new area. The modernisation of Irish society. Ireland. ['Ibid. 2002). Author of article (if relevant). [This means that both the source AND the page number are exactly the same as in the preceding reference. 2 Ibid. p.ie/cso. and exhaustive guide can be found at: http://www. 457.' means 'in the same place'. p. Maurice Crouse. p. p.memphis.people. and how to cite them (using Crouse’s style). and its specific address. 1973). Citing electronic information in history papers (25 October 2001). 13 . Title of Website (last date site updated). Available [Online]: http://www. 92 of J. Unionism in modern Ireland (Basingstoke: Macmillan. in Author of Website. p. the source was p. In this case.. Title of Website (last date website updated). there isn’t really one definitive ‘style’ for citing websites or URLs. 6 Ibid.html [18 September 2002].memphis. Lee's Ireland 1912-85.

'The government and the Church of Ireland' in Irish Historical Studies. based on the sources used in this guide: Bibliography Beckett.ie/cso. Nationalism in Ireland (3rd ed. page numbers should not be listed • if the source is an article.virginia.. Dublin: Routledge. You should include only those books which you read. Gordon. Graham (eds).html> [18 Sept.‘Robert Whyte's The Ocean Plague: The Diary of a Cabin Passenger. Richard and Walker. D. 2002]. 1846-1850 (2 May 1996). Interpreting the Irish famine. pp 281-97. G. BIBLIOGRAPHIES A bibliography is different from a footnote or endnote in its function and style of referencing. 1996). look at this sample bibliography. 1996). Unionism in modern Ireland (Basingstoke: Macmillan. or which gave you information relevant to the essay. David. 2 (1941). even if you did not quote directly from them.. Available [Online]: http://www. Available [Online]: <http://www. Boyce. 'The modernisation of Unionism. 2002). you list the page numbers on which the article starts and finishes] Bew. Paul and Gillespie. 1994). This is not an excuse to ‘pad’ your bibliography with books you did not read.people. J. The information contained in these references is pretty much the same as for footnotes/endnotes except: • the sources are listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name • the punctuation used in the references are not commas. pp 48-65. 1892-1914?' in English. 2002]. 1847’ in Liz Szabo. ‘Chief Secretary’s Office’ in The National Archives of Ireland (30 Aug.. The Northern Ireland peace process 1993-1996: a chronology (London: Serif.C.nationalarchives. It is an alphabetical listing (by last name) of all the books or articles which you read while preparing the essay. but full stops • if the source is a book. 14 .html [18 Sept. there should be page numbers which refer to the pages on which the article starts and finishes For example.edu/~eas5e/Irish/Whyte. Burnett. [NB: when citing an article in a bibliography.

1846-1850 (2 May 1996). 1992). The modernisation of Irish society. J. Peadar (ed. Available [Online]: http://www. O'Connell: education..e. 15-36. 1848-1918 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. 1989). church and state (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. PART 4 COMMON GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION MISTAKES • sentence fragments Sentences without the proper subject/verb combination. Available [Online]: <http:// www. Stood on streets where 50 years ago a Catholic couldn’t walk.html> [18 Sept.edu/~mcrouse/elcite. Kearney.). ‘I’ve given a number of priests’ and parish retreats along that west coast of Scotland.edu/~eas5e/Irish/Whyte. Lee. Citing electronic information in history papers (25 October 2001). 2002]. Maurice. Dudley Edwards (Dublin: UCD.F.memphis. i. 1847’ in Liz Szabo.). 1996. pp 165-87. 22 Sept. 1961-77). Religion and society in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dundalk: Dundalgan. ‘Robert Whyte's The Ocean Plague: The Diary of a Cabin Passenger. 'The colleges bill 1845-9' in Maurice O'Connell (ed.Sunday Tribune. The middle sentence is missing both a subject and a verb.. Grogan. 1979). H.J. 15 .’ . Paul Cullen and his contemporaries (5 vols.] Mac Suibhne. Sean.html [18 September 2002]. ['Idem' means 'the same author'.people. while the last is missing a subject. Interpreting the Irish famine. you are saying here that the author of Modernisation is exactly the same as the author directly preceding it.people. in this case J. p. Naas: Leinster Leader.J. 'Fr.virginia.. Thus. Crouse. Lee.. 1985). Studies in Irish history presented to R. Geraldine. 1973). Idem. To Catholics who had just learnt to hold their heads high. In this excerpt it is the last two sentences which are problematic. Ireland 1912-85 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP.Connolly. Mathew: apostle of modernisation' in Art Cosgrove and Donal McCartney (eds).

16 .’ • avoid use of the passive voice The passive voice is an indirect way of expressing action in a sentence and it is easily recognized. our. It is generally a weak construction because it tends to obscure the doer of the action or the action they describe. their) do not use an apostrophe. your. its. Think of the slogan for Senator's Amber Sherry: ‘Made its way .e. Emmet Larkin calls the changes in the Catholic church a ‘devotional revolution’. Instead. her.e. Try separating the clauses with a semi-colon or start an entirely new sentence. • trouble with tense Historical writing is conducted primarily in the past tense. It turns the direct object into the subject of the verb. The Third Home Rule crisis began in 1912. the government’s plans use an apostrophe. i. The verb contains some form of the verb ‘to be’. assertive language.e. Avoid the common error of writing ‘it’s’ (a contraction for ‘it is’) instead of ‘its’ (possessive). For example: i.e. the farmer’s land. In Britain and Ireland. For a quote within a quote. politicians’ efforts NB: Possessive pronouns (like his. • quotation marks Marks should be placed around passages quoted directly from another source. the common usage is to use single quotation marks ( ‘’ ). It occurs when independent clauses are run together without any punctuation or conjunction.the way it’s made.e. they are sentences trying to express too many ideas. Fenians were criticised by Cullen because of their commitment to physical force nationalism. use double quotation marks ( “” ). be careful to avoid the present tense.• run-on sentences Fairly self-explanatory. i. Cullen critcised the Fenians because of their commitment to physical force nationalism. with no following ‘s’ i. followed by a past participle and the conjunction ‘by’. • using an apostrophe Apostrophes indicate the possessive case. unless stating the opinions of a living historian or writer i. try to use more direct. This means they indicate ‘belonging to’ singular nouns plural nouns use apostrophe ‘s’ i.e.

Alice Oshima and Ann Hogue. better: As a result. Kingston: Queen’s UP.• avoid using the first person The use of constructions like ‘I intend to prove’ or ‘I will argue that’ or ‘This essay will show’ are awkward and unsightly.). eliminate them and express your ideas in a more detached fashion. Colin Norman. ©Janice Holmes. Writing academic english (2nd ed. Making sense: a student's guide to. I believe that I have shown that the rapid growth in Belfast’s population led to a rise in sectarian tensions within the city. poor: Therefore.. Assignments (UUJ handout.d. New York. 1978).. If possible. September 2002 Acknowledgements Colin Harper. the rapid growth in Belfast’s population led to a rise in sectarian tensions within the city. 17 . 1983). 1997). Writing essays: a short guide (2nd ed. n. writing and style (Toronto: Oxford UP. Margot Northey.

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