As a general rule, you should aim to use one to three, to support each key point you make. This of course depends on subject matter and the point you are discussing, but acts as a good general guide. It can be useful to have a best practice breakdown of your essay to help you work out how many references to use.
Here's a rough guide to help you get the balance right for any piece of academic work:. References aren't just used to give credit for quotations. They can be used to indicate that an idea, concept, fact or theory has come directly from a particular reference. Other instances when references must be used include:. How often should you reference?
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Why does referencing matter? How many references is too many references? You may want to use one or two references to define your topic in this section, depending on your word count. For example: In a word essay, you will have words to use. Each main point you make should typically use paragraphs, which should average around words in total.
This will give you room for around 5 key points, each supported by 2 or 3 references. Try and use direct or primary references where possible. You may wish to use references to lend authority to your concluding statements. Of course, it is really hard to suggest exactly how many references your essay should include.
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This depends totally on the subject matter and word count. A Philosophy essay, for example, may have a lot of critical thinking and be quite theory-heavy, and for this reason you may need more references than a typical English Literature Essay. When to use references References aren't just used to give credit for quotations. At Oxbridge Essays we've written thousands of academically referenced essays. We can work with your course's exact reading materials, or undertake our own research to help you create a perfectly referenced essay with the right amount of references, formatted using your university's chosen system.
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1. Why you need to have references
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