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Using Footnotes: The Dos And Don’ts

In university, your ability to reference sources correctly will have a considerable impact on the mark you receive. The rules you must follow can be tricky to grasp initially, but if you do ever need a quick recap then Oxbridge Essays are always happy to help and give your work a going over to pick up any tiny errors.

The difference between a footnote and a bibliography

Mistakes with footnotes are common. Some students choose to use footnotes without having a firm grasp of how they should be used, or what they should be used for. As a general rule, if you’re not 100 percent sure how a footnote should be used, it’s best not to use one at all.

Footnotes should be included to provide the reader with additional information about the content. The footnote is found at the bottom of the page, and is referenced through a superscript number within the main body of your copy.

The bibliography page is the last section of your essay or dissertation and includes the full citation information for any source cited or referenced through the course of your work. The information contained within a bibliography will provide the reader with full details of the work, including when and where the source was published. A footnote might only include the title of the source.

How to use footnotes correctly

Write your footnotes last – A footnote is commonly, but not always, a shortened version of a citation contained in your bibliography. Whatever content you choose to include, it’s usually best to leave your footnotes until the essay is finished and your bibliography is complete. Place a short reminder in the form of a comment or even a brief footnote to prompt you to fill these in later.

You still need a bibliography – With the occasional exception found in the Oxford referencing system, the use of footnotes does not replace the need for a bibliography at the end of your essay, despite the fact that extensive footnotes can make them seem superfluous. Remember that your bibliography should include all of your reading, and everything that has informed your essay, even if they are not directly referenced. Doing so will prove you’ve done your research too.

Double-check footnotes can be used – Different universities and referencing styles all have their own take on footnotes, so before you start listing footnote citations, check they are actually allowed. Typically, British universities prefer the use of in-text citations.

Footnotes and different referencing styles

Using the Harvard system, which is the predominant form of referencing at universities in the UK, sources are cited in short, parenthetical notes within the text. Footnotes are not allowed. Citations within the text should include the name of the author, the date of the source, and, if necessary, the page numbers you used. The rest of the information, such as the title and publication details, should be included in the bibliography.

Using the Oxford system, citations in the text usually consist of a superscript number which relates to a footnote at the bottom of the page. If you write full bibliographic information in the footnote, you may not have to include a bibliography. However, it’s well worth checking with your tutor before hand.

When you reference a source in a footnote for the first time using the Oxford system, you must provide full bibliographic information, which includes:

1Author’s initials and surname, title of the article, book or journal, editor (if applicable), publisher name, location and year published

The Chicago citation style, established by the University of Chicago Press, is probably the most commonly used footnote format. Guidelines to help you avoid mistakes with footnotes include: always include a full citation the first time you reference a source; cite author’s names as they appear with texts; don’t replace names with initials; and if no author is listed, organise the entry by title.

A Chicago style footnote citation will take the following form:

1Author’s first name and last name, title in italics, city of publication, publisher and year, page number if relevant.

Don’t forget footnotes

It’s easy to get caught up in the act of writing your essay, but it’s imperative that you include full footnotes and proper referencing whenever possible, as that is what separates academic writing from opinion. At Oxbridge Essays, we know a thing or two about how to use footnotes. And if you have an essay you need a little help with, we can provide full referencing in your chosen style, so get in touch for help.

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Weird Grammar Rules That You Might Not Know

Weird Grammar Rules That You Might Not Know

Are you a stickler for good grammar? Perhaps you’d even go as far as to call yourself a grammar geek? Well, whether you’re the sort of person who prides themselves on their flawless grammar, or a hapless essay writer looking for a trick or two, this post will introduce you to some of the more unusual grammar rules you should know.

Below are six common grammatical mistakes we see routinely, not just in undergraduate essays, but also in professional publications like newspapers, magazines and even best selling novels. With that said, here are some weird grammar rules you might not know.

Which and That

This is a common mistake that even professional writers regularly make. You might think these two can be used interchangeably, but you’d be wrong.

‘That’ is a restrictive pronoun, so it’s vital to the noun to which it’s referring, e.g. I don’t trust second hand cars that aren’t nearly new. So in this instance, I trust all second hand cars that are nearly new.

‘Which’ introduces a relative clause that allows non-essential qualifiers, e.g. ‘I only trust second hand cars that are nearly new, which come from the Ford or Renault garage.’ So while ‘that’ restricts, ‘which’ is used to add more detail.

May and Might

Again, most people assume these two words can be used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference in their meaning.

‘May’ implies a possibility, whereas ‘might’ implies far more uncertainty. For example: ‘I may fall over if I drink all that wine’ implies a good chance of falling over, but ‘I might start singing once the karaoke begins’ implies it’s not that likely to happen.

Fewer and Less

This is an excellent example of one of the grammar rules in essay writing which is commonly broken. Thankfully it’s actually a very simple one to remember.

‘Less’ is reserved for hypothetical quantities, whilst ‘few’ and ‘fewer’ are reserved for items you can actually quantify. For example, ‘the firm is less fun to work for now we have fewer than five employees’.

Affect and Effect

This one is not so much an example of a weird grammar rule, but one you absolutely must know. Both of these words are extremely common, but it’s amazing how many people get them wrong. However, it’s actually very easy to differentiate between the two.

‘Effect’ is almost always a noun, and ‘affect’ is almost always a verb. So ‘the effects of alcohol can be damaging’ describes the result or outcome of drinking alcohol. Affect is used to describe the influence or cause of an impression i.e. ‘alcohol’s affects can be damaging’.


This doesn’t fit into the bracket of weird grammar rules. Instead, it’s just a word that’s not a word, born and bred in the corporate jungle. Please don’t use it, no matter how ‘impactful’ you want to be.

Comma Use with Adjectives

- Use commas to separate coordinate adjectives as in the following: ‘The unkempt, brilliant man was always unhappy.’

- Do not use commas to separate cumulative adjectives: ‘The long yellow car circled the factory.’

- Do not use a comma when the adjective modifies both the noun and the other adjectives modifying it: ‘The late humorous and generous Mr Welby will be sorely missed.’

- Comma use with descriptive adjectives can also be determined by the class of adjective, i.e. age, size, colour, shape, material, origin and general. If multiple adjectives from the same class appear, separate them with a comma: ‘The sad, broken man fell into the smelly, murky lake.’

Great Grammar

At Oxbridge Essays, we pride ourselves on the use of well known and lesser known points of grammar. So, if you’re worried about the weird grammar rules in essay writing, we’ll be happy to help you out by giving your essay a thorough going over, so you can be assured that it says exactly what you intended it to.

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How To Write A Thorough Dissertation Proposal And Get Off To A Great Start

We all know how depressing a bad start can be, and we all know how good it feels to get started on a project with a positive outlook. This guide is all about getting your dissertation off to a brilliant start with a thorough, persuasive dissertation proposal, based on information and tips from the expert academics of the Oxbridge writing team.

Why your dissertation proposal matters

The primary reason for starting your dissertation with a good proposal is that it gives you a solid foundation on which to build your final piece of work. However, for some students, dissertation proposals actually contribute to their final grade, equating to 5-10% of the overall mark. Hence, taking the time to craft a good proposal will not only help you write a better dissertation, it could also help you attain the maximum possible marks.

Your dissertation proposal will give you a solid structure for creating your dissertation. If you can write a clear plan now, you’ll find researching and writing the essay far easier, more logical, and infinitely less stressful!

That’s why we’re taking some time to share our top dissertation proposal writing tips – to get you off to a flying start. A bit of effort at this stage will make the not-so-insignificant task of writing your dissertation easier, and you’ll be thankful for it.

Do I need to write a proposal?

Requirements for dissertation proposals vary widely depending on which university you attend, which course you are on and what module you are taking. Many universities will require you to write a proposal, some will include your proposal in your marks and others will not require a proposal at all.

However, even if you do not technically need to write a proposal, going through the steps outlined below and writing a thorough plan will help you to create a dissertation, with a strong logical framework, evidence of smart research, and a compelling argument which will really impress your markers.

What should my proposal include?

There are many elements which should go into your dissertation proposal. We’ll explore each section in more detail later on, but the general framework should feature:

  1. A title
  2. An introduction
  3. Your aims & objectives
  4. Your methodology
  5. A literature review
  6. Your scope & constraints
  7. Your resources
  8. An outline of sections or chapters
  9. Your timetable
  10. Your references

Step 1: Writing your titleh

Settling on a title can be the trickiest part of starting your dissertation. The title you choose at this point will dictate how you spend your next few months, and can make or break your final dissertation.

As future employers may be interested in the title of your dissertation, if you have some idea about your future career choice, you might want to factor this into the topic you choose to ensure it interests and impresses in interviews.

Remember, your initial title isn’t set in stone and typically you’ll have lots of chances to discuss it with your tutor. However, it’s important to begin with a clear and focused idea to avoid a jumbled up dissertation which lacks coherence.

Title writing tips:

  1. Select an area which really interests you, this will help you maintain focus and interest throughout your dissertation.
  2. Take some time to look through previous dissertations in this area written by successful graduates. This will give you lots of inspiration, show you example titles with real potential, and help you find an inventive topic which hasn’t been covered before – originality can be a huge plus point.
  3. Make the most of your tutor’s feedback. Use their guidance as a sounding board for your ideas. Tutors will be able to advise you whether your idea has potential, or whether you’re covering the same old ground.
  4. Once you’ve found your title, stick to it. Have confidence in your choice. This will keep you focused and on track throughout your dissertation. Minor changes will inevitably happen, but having a clear goal is essential.

Step 2: Writing your introduction

This section of your dissertation proposal will give you and your tutor a clearer idea of your planned direction and expectations. It’s also your opportunity to explore your original idea and think more deeply about what you hope your dissertation will achieve.

Your introduction should include:

  • An outline of the problem posed by your title – what are the key issues involved?
  • An explanation of why you think this is worth investigating
  • A description of how you will conduct your research and what you hope your research will reveal
  • A summary of what you hope your dissertation will ultimately achieve

Introduction writing tips:

  1. This is a great opportunity to think through your dissertation. Make sure you raise any possible issues you think you might confront and discuss them with your tutor to tackle them before they arise in the writing process.
  2. Think carefully about the wider impact of your dissertation. A great topic will give you the opportunity to research and write about something which has implications beyond your degree. This is the very best type of dissertation, so be sure to highlight the potential for academic, societal or theoretical impact.
  3. If you struggle to complete this section, then you’re not ready to get started, and may want to rethink your title. Be sure to discuss this with your tutor to get their expert input.

Step 3: Presenting your aims & objectives

After a short introduction, your section on aims and objectives is an opportunity to closely scrutinise your goals and expectations – then consider how you will achieve them. There is a clear difference between aims and objectives which you should make clear in your dissertation proposal:

  • Aims should be broad, summing up what you hope to achieve with your dissertation in a general sense
  • Objectives should be more specific, honing in on the smaller steps towards your overall aims and how you will achieve them

Your objectives section should also start to outline how you will measure the success of your aims. Some universities suggest using the SMART acronym to help you do this systematically:

  • Specific – Are your objectives specific enough to succeed?
  • Measurable – How will you measure whether or not you achieve your goals?
  • Achievable – Are your objectives possible given your current circumstances?
  • Realistic – Do you have all the resources you need to make this happen?
  • Time-constrained – Is there enough time for you to achieve your objectives?

Aims & objectives writing tips:

  1. There’s no set number of aims you should have. You may have one big, overarching aim, or several. As long as they are clearly expressed and your objectives explain how you will work towards them, you will be doing well.
  2. Use strong, confident language to express your aims and objectives. This is not the time to be vague. Avoid using words like “perhaps”, “consider” and “possibly”. Instead use dynamic, active verbs which clearly describe your goals and your approach. Verbs like “develop”, “construct” and “measure” are all helpful.

Step 4: Writing your methodology

Your methodology is an absolutely fundamental part of your dissertation proposal. In this section, you will explain exactly how you will meet the objectives in order to achieve the aims of the work. It’s a great place to set down a plan you can follow as you get stuck into your actual essay. You’ll need to cover:

  • The methods you will use as you research and develop your dissertation
  • The conceptual frameworks and philosophies that underpin the essay
  • How you will access information and find sources
  • How you will collect data (if your dissertation is data-based)
  • How you will analyse your data (see above)

Methodology writing tips:

  1. Carefully explain how you will find your sources. It may be as simple as using the university library, but your approach should be systematically laid out to give readers confidence that your research will not be at random.
  2. Don’t be afraid of sounding silly, take things back to basics and explain your method step-by-step.
  3. Don’t include things like questionnaires and transcripts here – these belong in the appendix of your dissertation.
  4. Be sure to discuss your approach with your tutor, particularly if you’re taking a more original approach to your dissertation. They may be able to offer advice and best practice for your methodology – or spot flaws in your plan

Step 5: Writing a literature review

It’s incredibly important to have a clear idea of the research and literature which already exists in your field of study. Failing to recognise leaders in your field could leave your dissertation looking patchy and amateur.

Your literature review (also known as a literature survey) is your opportunity to thoroughly research and document the most important sources in your area of study. This won’t just help you write a seamless dissertation which will impress the experts, it will also give you a fantastic starting point for your research.

Methodology writing tips:

  1. Make sure your literature review clearly shows how your dissertation fills a gap in the existing literature and offers a significant contribution to the field
  2. Ensure you reference resources included in your literature review carefully in step 10 of this guide. This is good academic practice and will help your research later on

Step 6: Writing about your scope & constraints

It can be difficult to write about your scope without covering the same topics you tackled when writing about your goals and objectives. The key here is to set the limits of what you will do within the boundaries of what you hope to achieve. Your scope needs to be broad enough to achieve your goals, but narrow enough to be possible in your given time frame.

Time frame is one of your biggest constraints and this must be acknowledged. Other constraints can include availability of data, access to literature, cost of your project, etc.

Scope & constraints writing tips:

  1. Make sure you don’t give yourself too wide a scope. Your dissertation needs to be achievable otherwise you will fail to reach your goals
  2. Equally, don’t limit yourself too much. This can be perceived as lazy or unambitious. Be realistic above all, but make sure you push yourself where possible

Step 7: Compiling your resources

Like your literature review, this section will help you to identify the resources you will need to complete your dissertation. Again, this will be a helpful thing to have once you start researching and writing in earnest.

From something as simple as your university’s IT facilities (noting any particular applications you will use), to more unusual resources like rare transcripts of interviews with historical figures held at specific libraries, make sure you include everything you’ll need to complete your dissertation here. This is a great bit of forward planning you’ll benefit from later, and it illustrates your ability to plan ahead and apply that in a tangible sense to your work.

Step 8: Outlining your sections & chapters

This section is pivotal to writing your dissertation – and it will give your tutor a good idea of the overall structure (and where you may want to make changes!). Include a brief summary of introductory sections and concluding sections, but go into more detail about the bulk of your dissertation, including sub-headings which give yourself and the reader a clear road-map of how your dissertation will progress.

You may want to include 1 to 2 paragraphs of 200 to 300 words that summarise the following sections of your planned dissertation:

  • Introduction
  • Literature survey
  • Methodology
  • Results (if your dissertation is data driven)
  • Discussion (include 1-2 paragraphs for each major point)
  • Conclusion

Step 9: Creating your timetable

A rigid timetable will prevent you from getting behind, or scurrying to catch up with your dissertation deadline. Make sure you include realistic time-frames for your research and writing, and incorporate key academic dates and any departmental deadlines you may be working towards. If you will need to take time out to retrieve resources, make sure you include this in your schedule. Allow a bit of leeway for each stage too, as problems and unforeseen changes will inevitably pop up, so having the time to adjust to these is crucial.

Step 10: Including references

There’s nothing too unusual to get to grips with here. Simply include full references for all of your resources. Make sure you use your university’s style guide to complete them and, tah dah! – your systematic, thorough and just-plain impressive dissertation proposal is complete! Now it’s time to take it to your tutor – and get to the library! Good luck!

Support from Oxbridge

If you’re struggling to create a thorough dissertation proposal because you feel you’re not getting the support you need, then get in touch with us. Our expert writers and academic consultants can provide guidance and offer suggestions, as well as write up a full proposal to get you on your way to dissertation success. Check out our services for 100% guaranteed original writing for the grade you want.

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How To Write An Excellent Business Studies Essay

At university level, despite a common seam which unites essay structure, every subject has its own specific requirements that students must meet. Business studies is no different, presenting its own distinct challenges for students trying to write a killer essay. In this post we’ll take a look at a few of the components you should include to bag a top mark.

Make relevant and supported arguments

The good news for all you business studies undergraduates out there is the formulaic approach you can take to your essays, which gives you a very precise framework to follow. Whether it’s marketing, HR, economics or management you’re trying to tackle, your most important consideration should always be the presentation of relevant content you can support with strong references and examples. So, for every point you make, back it up with a theoretical reference or direct quotation from a text book, journal, case study or other academically accepted source.

Reference cases studies

If you’re writing a business studies essay at undergraduate level then you’ll already know just how important case studies are to the construction of your essay. A case study is simply a real world example of a piece of theory or a model put into practice. As the essay writer, there’s no better way of strengthening your argument than referencing a real world example. Case studies provide an insight into the context within which business works. Exploring what can be difficult concepts through real world examples is also a highly effective method of demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the subject area.

Answer the question

This point is not merely applicable to business studies essays, but the whole spectrum of subjects at university level. At GCSE or A Level, you might have gotten away with a well written piece of work that skirting around the edges of a question without ever answering it directly. At university, you won’t. We’re often asked how to write a business studies essay, and our answer is always the same: “make sure you answer the question!”

This is actually a very common mistake and one we’re probably all guilty of at one time or another. When you’re writing a business essay, there’s a good chance you glance at the title initially, form an idea of what you think the question is asking for, then shoot off to the library in search of the right books. Often, it’s not until a couple of thousand words in that you take another look and realise, to your horror, that you haven’t answered the question.

The lesson is that it’s absolutely essential to keep referring back to the question. Once you have a good understanding of the question you can think about the end goal of your essay. Then it’s a simple case of filling in the gaps. Spend time forming an answer and full analysis up front, paying close attention to the question.

Help is at hand

If you’re really struggling to get to grips with writing a business studies essay, the professional essay writer at Oxbridge Essays are always happy to provide the advice and assistance you need. So please get in touch if you need help crafting that excellent business studies essay, or for any other topics or subjects that you want to excel at.

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Common Grammatical Errors To Look Out For In Your Essay

Some might say that technology has a lot to answer for. With an increasing number of distractions vying for our time, children’s reading is being ‘pushed out’ by other activities. The result of course, is that the standard of writing here in the UK is actually on the decline.

Thankfully, unless you’re studying English or a creative writing degree, the occasional grammatical blunder will be forgiven, but consistent grammatical mistakes will hinder your chances of securing top marks. So, with a view to improving the accuracy of your work, let’s take a look at a few of the grammatical errors in essays you should really avoid.

1. Your vs. You’re

Let’s start with the basics. This is a grammatical mistake you should not be making at undergraduate level. However, even some of the better essay writers are guilty of this grammatical faux-pas, simply because they do not proof their work. For reference:

  • Your is a possessive pronoun
  • You’re is just a shortened form of ‘you are’

If you’re ever struggling to decide which to use, simply expand the shortened you’re. For example, ‘you’re garden is beautiful’, is incorrect (it actually means you are garden is beautiful).

2. Effect vs. Affect

This is a really common grammatical mistake many people do not even realise they are making. The real difference between the two is that, generally speaking, effect is a noun, and affect is an adverb.

  • If you’re referring to a result or consequence, use effect. For example, “the effects of this weather are damaging.”
  • Affect should be used when indicating the action or influence. For example, “this weather affects how quickly I walk.”

A quick tip to remember this rule: If you can insert good or bad in front of the word it’s a noun, and therefore you use effect.

3. There vs. Their

This is one grammatical mistake that should have been wiped out at secondary school. The rule itself is commonly understood, so this mishap appears most regularly as a typo.

There can be used in many ways: as a reference to a place ‘let’s go there’, or as a pronoun ‘there is no chance’. Their is a plural possessive pronoun, as in ‘their cakes’ or ‘their opinions’. So, if you’re talking about more than one person and something they possess, use their every time.

4. Hypothetical Situations

When discussing hypothetical situations, which you frequently do when putting forward theories and opinions in university essays, always use the words were and would. Although a little more advanced than our previous examples, this is still a common mistake that could adversely affect the readability of your essay. Gwen Stefani and Beyonce have done all they can to help us remember this important rule with their songs ‘If I was a rich girl’ – incorrect, and ‘If I were a boy’ – correct.

5. Tenses

Tenses are a common grammatical mistake in essays regardless of the level of study. As a general rule, if you’re referencing an individual’s opinion (who’s still alive) make sure you use the present tense i.e. ‘Fleming says’ rather than ‘Fleming said’, as the latter makes their views sound more dated.

Some undergraduates also tend to write the introduction to their essay in the future tense i.e. ‘in this essay I will…’ rather than ‘in this essay I am going to…’ which makes the essay sound more confident and assertive.

6. Parallel Lists

For the sake of readability, items in a list should always be in parallel form, which means each entry in the list is structured in the same way. For example:

  • ‘He was happy with his running, shooting, and his dribbling’ – Incorrect
  • ‘He was happy with his running, shooting, and dribbling’ – Correct
  • He was happy with his running, his shooting, and his dribbling – Correct

Maintaining consistency in this way will make your essay read more fluently and encourage you to think more clearly about the construction of every single sentence you write.

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