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Slavery (A-level History NEA): Using sources in your work

Making notes

How to make notes

You must develop a methodical system. Acquire a large notebook to act as your research log. Remember that you must keep a precise record of the pages you have used and what you discovered on those pages. If you do this, you will find you actually need to make fewer notes because you can always quickly return to the original text if you need to clarify something [Librarian's note: But don't assume that a Library book can always be borrowed again at short notice - someone else may have it!]. If you find a page or two that are ‘pure gold’, photocopy them and stick then into your notebook!

You might wish to organise your notes on a computer. Just make sure that you have a good back-up! Computer notes can be easily re-organised and added to…..but they can also be lost [as can a notebook!]. Librarian's note: Microsoft OneNote is great for organising notes - and lives in 'the cloud' so is automatically backed up and available on any computer you use.

Keep a record of when you made the notes as well. This is very useful when you come to review your notes and plan your essay.

The key measure of how good your notes are is whether you can quickly access the key points you have made and the evidence that relates to those points. Dense, copied notes are of very limited use and can lead to unintentional plagiarism. You must translate everything into your own words: even when you are making notes in class [from the board] it is essential that you don’t just lift phrases provided by your teacher [what if there are four other people in the set who do the same thing and then use the same phrase in their final essay?]

Accurate Referencing

When keeping a log of your research you need to record the following:

  1. The name of the resource or book you have used.
  2. The author or editors of the book/resource.
  3. Its publisher and its date of publication.
  4. If it is from an academic journal, a careful note of which journal and its date.
  5. The web address of a place you have found useful material on the internet.

There is nothing wrong with using online resources as long as they are genuine, scholarly or educational sites. [The British Library or National Archives are fantastic. Wikipedia is not!]

You do not need to reference the primary sources from the booklet that will be provided. Just provide the details of the source [the provenance of the source as provided in the booklet].

Footnote referencing

The Library generally offers support for the school 'house referencing style' of APA, however this is an in-text style and for this coursework you would be penalised on your word count for using it, so the History Department has chosen to use a footnote style and they will support you with that. The guidance from your booklet is copied below, but this only refers to books.

For further guidance, we recommend the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab), which offers guidance on:Purdue Owl logo

and many other types of source (go to one of the above pages and browse the page headings on the left under CMOS Formatting and Style Guide).


NOTE: while all the information you need is contained in the citations given for all the sources throughout this guide, DO NOT copy and paste them directly into your work. The format for your footnote references and your bibliography is different so it would not be possible to give you the references in the exact format you need them. Follow your style guide carefully and use the information given in my references to construct your own. Make sure you remove any hyperlinks from titles - only URLs should be hyperlinked in your work.


Academic integrity is central to the History Investigation [NEA]. You need to keep careful records so that you can authenticate your research. You must not attempt to pass off someone else’s work as your own. Even copying handouts and worksheets is plagiarism. The penalties for plagiarism are severe and include being disqualified by the exam board. Please note that even reading the draft essay of another student is not permitted. If in doubt please ask for clarification.

Normal term-time Library opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 08:30-21:15
Sat: 08:00-16:00
Sun: 14:00-18:00