4000 Word Essay How Many References For A Job

If those trips down to the demos in Westminster have left you behind schedule for your end-of-term assignment, you may well be forced to write in the small hours this week. Here's how to pull it off safely and successfully.

12am: Get as far away from your bed as possible

Before you begin, avoid warmth and soft furnishings. Propped up on pillows in the glow of a laptop may feel like savvy ergonomics, but your keyboard will start to look pillow-like by midnight, and 418 pages of the word "gf64444444444444444444" will detract from the force of your argument. You could try the kitchen. Or Krakow. But your industrially lit 24-hour campus library should do the trick.

12:25am: Take a catnap

Thomas Edison used to catnap through the night with a steel ball in his hand. As he relaxed and the ball dropped, he would wake up, usually with fresh ideas. "Caffeine and a short nap make a very effective combination," says Jim Horne, director of the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. "Have the coffee first. This takes about 20 minutes to work, so take a 15-minute nap. Use an alarm to wake up and avoid deep sleep kicking in. Do this twice throughout the night."

12.56am: Reduce your internet options

Temporarily block Twitter, Spotify, Group Hug, YouTube, 4od and anything else that distracts you. Constantly updating your word count on Facebook may feel like fun, but to everyone else you'll look like you're constantly updating your word count on Facebook.

1-3am: Now write your essay. No, really

You've widened your margins, subtly enlarged your font and filled your bibliography with references of such profound obscurity that no one will notice you're missing 3,000 words. It's time to brainstorm, outline, carve words, followed by more words, into that milk-white oblivion that taunts you. Speed-read articles. Key-word Google Books. Remember texts you love and draw comparisons. Reword. Expound. Invent. Neologise. Get excited. Find a problem you can relish and keep writing. While others flit from point to point, your impassioned and meticulous analysis of a single contention is music to a marker's eyes.

3-5am: Get lost in your analysis, your characters, your world Write like you're trying to convince the most stubborn grammarian about truth, or heartless alien invaders about love. Don't overload with examples – be creative with the ones you have. Detail will save your life, but don't waste time perfecting sentences – get the bulk down first and clean up later. "The progress of any writer," said Ted Hughes, "is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system." Outwit your own inner police system. Expect progress. Ted says so.

5:01am: Don't cheat

It's about now that websites such as easyessay.co.uk will start to look tempting. And you may sleep easier knowing that a dubiously accredited Italian yoga instructor is writing about Joyce instead of you. But the guilt will keep you up between now and results day. And you'll toss and turn the night before graduation, job interviews, promotions, dinner parties, children's birthdays, family funerals . . . you get the idea.

5.17am: Don't die

Sounds obvious, but dying at your computer is definitely trending. And however uncool it may seem to "pass on" during a five-day stint at World of Warcraft, it will be much more embarrassing to die explaining perspectivism to no one in particular. So be careful. Stay hydrated. Blink occasionally. And keep writing.

5.45am: Eat something simple

"There are no foods that are particularly good at promoting alertness," says Horne. "But avoid heavy and fatty meals in the small hours. Avoid very sugary drinks that don't contain caffeine, too. Sugar is not very effective in combating sleepiness." Fun fact: an apple provides you with more energy than a cup of coffee. Now stick the kettle on.

5.46am: Delight in being a piece of living research

If you happen to be "fatigue resistant" you should now be enjoying the enhanced concentration, creative upwelling and euphoric oneness that sleep deprivation can bring. If not, try talking yourself into it. "Conversation keeps you awake," says Horne. "So talk to a friend or even to yourself – no one will hear you."

6am: Console yourself with lists of writers who stuck it out

Robert Frost was acquainted with the night. Dumas, Kafka, Dickens, Coleridge, Sartre, Poe and Breton night-walked and trance-wrote their way to literary distinction. John and Paul wrote A Hard Day's Night in the small hours. Herman the Recluse, atoning for broken monastic vows, is said to have written the Codex Gigas on 320 sheets of calfskin during a single night in 1229. True, he'd sold his soul to the Devil, but you're missing out on a live Twitter feed, so it's swings and roundabouts.

7am: Remember – art is never finished, only abandoned

Once you accept there's no more you can do, print it off and get to the submissions office quick. Horne: "You're not fit to drive if you've had less than five hours sleep, so don't risk it. Grab some exercise." Pop it in with the breeziness that comes from being top of your marker's pile. Back home, unblock Facebook and start buffering The Inbetweeners. And then sleep. Get as near to your bed as you can. Euphoric oneness doesn't come close.

Matt Shoard teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.

How many references

posted about 12 years ago
I'm currently writing up my undergrad dissertation so feel free to ignore this as it's not strictly PhD related. But was wondering if there is a minimum/maximum for number of references you should have. At the moment I have 35 and about 4,500 words, my word count at the end can't be more than 6,000. Is there a point when I should stop or does it not really matter. (It's a science diss btw)
edited about 16 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
Asking how many references to use is like asking how long a piece of string is. The number of references depend on several things-
1. The popularity of your area (if there are tons of papers in this area, then you will inevitably find more references)
2. How in depth you are going (as its an undergrad dissertation with a 6000 word limit, you will not be going as in depth as if you were writting a PhD literature review, or a critical review paper)
3. Its not the reference list that earns you marks, its the quality of your work, so don't just add references to make the list get longer.
posted about 12 years ago
I also agree with Stu. But on the other hand, I can understand your concern. I recommend reading a few dissertations from past years to see how they used references. You should be able to have access to the selected ones at your Institution's Library. It is also important to refer to journals related to your subject; not only books. Good luck with your work.
posted about 12 years ago
My undergrad dissertation of 20,000 words contained 76 references. Most of these were very relevant but others were simply acknowledgements that several authors had come to same conclusion on some issue.

I tend to find review articles a good benchmark as to the amount of knowledge/literature there is in an area (obviously depending on how closely the review article matches your topic). Hence, if they find only a few references you can safely assume that you're not going to do much better than them.

The best advice I can give is that relevance is they key here rather than the trophy-hunting!
edited about 8 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
I always tried to put my OWN ideas in. Tended to get a good reception as opposed to the students that went for endless pages of references.
posted about 12 years ago
I personally found there tended to be very little development of students own ideas in written work, with rather a complete reliance on regurgitating someone else's ideas. In my experience students can be quite scared of putting their own ideas down if someone else hasn't said it first. I am obviously proposing this as an alternative academic lifestyle as opposed to the usual student methods [e.g. More is better re references]. Thought that was obvious.
posted about 12 years ago
That helps a lot! Thanks. Most of my references are from my intro where I'm setting up the idea etc, and a few from the disscussion where I'm criticising other papers that did the sameish expereiment but came to different conclusions. Another quick question, is it bad to have references that are quite old? I have the obvious historic ones from 1960s but also a lot are from 1990's. I do have recent ones as well, just not the majority
edited about 18 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
Not necessarily bad to have old references, but you must check that the research has not been superseded in the meantime. This is where review papers give some steer.

Alternatively, why not stick the said article's title and author into Google Scholar and see who has more recently cited that article and what they were talking about.
edited about 12 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
Katq, in my field, I need to refer back to the first works in the area, and so some references are old (1950's) but this is the 'story telling' of research, using principles and theory that have been around for ages, whereas 95% of the references are from the last few years. You shouldn't base your research entirely on old references (i.e. your reference list shouldn't be predominantly pre 2000).

Golfpro, you are still missing the point. If you are going to put your own ideas about, you need to substantiate them with references (which argue your point) and if possible actual experimental data.

Katq, your introduction should really be an intro to the work, and a review of the current literature, so nearly all the references will be here. So you don't need to worry about that.
edited about 15 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
No I got the point Stu. I am just very against disserations-by-numbers. Agree with you re experimental data btw.
edited about 15 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
Well, I'd pretty much never reference a review, only ever original papers. I know what you mean about undergrads taking all their ideas from references because if you find a well written review it's very difficult not to take the ideas on as your own if you don't know much else(which is kind of the purpose of a good review surely?). But if you are only referencing original papers you need to have drawn your own conclusions/ideas from them anyway.
posted about 12 years ago
I'm not saying you quote the review (unless that review makes conclusions itself). Of more interest are the papers that they read and making sure you read them for yourself. The review is merely an opening into the topic and the state of current knowledge.

I focus my effort on those reviewed papers which have direct relevance to my dissertation.

I'm not boasting about the 76 papers I read over 15 months, but what did appreciate was that reviews frequently quote articles wrongly, or miss the point of the paper, or selectively use those parts which support their own point of view and disregard those whioch don't.

It's also common for a review to be less than comprehensive. I was amazed that a recent review in my field completely ignored a very emminent piece of research that was very relevant. Why? Because that article was written by a competing research group (who themselves were ignoring the first research group's research).

Who said academics were thorough?
edited about 19 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
onwards&upwards yes your wrong. MSc with dist [2005].

edited about 30 seconds later
posted about 12 years ago
We all shouting about our qualifications now? I can swim 10m unaided
posted about 12 years ago
No sorry if I came across as a little abrassive there O&U. You make a very valid important point. Notwithstanding that it's nice weather for swimming isn't it. Wouldn't it be super in this weather to go to one of those huge open air pools they have in London?
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