When researching and planning a college essay, many students are unsure if they are allowed to search for an essay online. While it is true that plagiarizing someone else's work can result in you being awarded zero marks, or even being kicked out of college, reading a few online papers does not automatically mean that you will be guilty of plagiarism.Reading things that other people have written can be very constructive, as long as you go about it the right way.
Step one of your essay-writing process will be to select a question, and as soon as you have done this, it is time to start researching and reading around the subject. Whatever your subject is, you will probably be referring to primary sources (observations and statistics you have made and gathered yourself, or a source written directly by an author or important figure) and secondary sources (observations gathered by others, or pieces written analyzing primary sources). If you use anything directly from either of these types of sources, you will need to formally acknowledge and reference to show where you got the information from. Do not forget that it is not only quotations that must be referenced - many students forget to reference when paraphrasing, but using someone's ideas, even if you're not using their words, is still plagiarism.
However, you may find sample essays online and that the best way of using an online essay is to read it as part of your initial research, and use it to help generate ideas of your own, or even to refine or adapt your essay title. If you do use a paper in this way, to lead you into areas of thought and research that you had not previously considered, then you do not need to reference it, but it would be wise to include it in your bibliography. You will have a references list comprising all of the sources that you have referred to directly, but it is also a very good idea to have a separate bibliography which will allow you to demonstrate evidence of wider reading. This is where you can include any relevant reading that may have inspired you, but to which you have not directly referred.
Once you've had a bit of time to think over your essay and read around the subject, try to come up with some key arguments, making each the basis of a paragraph. Any essay should have at least 5 main points in it, but longer ones should contain more. When you have your central arguments in mind, this is when you can find evidence to back them up. Remember that if you're using something that someone else has said, you should not use this as the basis of your argument, just as supporting evidence, and the same goes for online essays. Pieces you read online can also be helpful to allow you to get an idea of how other people view a situation, and then you can disagree with them or find a new angle on it.
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