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Essay Writing & Academic Honesty


Plagiarism is a serious offence and is dealt with strictly in this School. It refers to the passing off of another person’s work as your own.  It includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Using an entire paper written by someone else as your own.
  • Taking sentences or paragraphs from other papers or texts and including them in your paper without placing quotation marks around them, together with the source, including page numbers. (While exact quotations of lines or paragraphs are usually appropriate within a paper, they should take up no more than a very small percentage of the entire paper.).
  • Paraphrasing lines or paragraphs from another paper or text without attributing the source of the ideas through use of references.
  • Handing in the same or a very similar paper to two separate courses also constitutes an academic offence.

Most students who plagiarize do so because they try to write their essays at the last minute. Good essay writing requires time. If students cannot get their work in on time, they should approach their professors for an extension.

Please note the following:

  • Familiar yourself with the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty
  • Test your knowledge of plagiarism and academic integrity with this online tutorial.
  • Students found guilty of such an infraction may have a permanent record of their receiving an “F” placed on their transcripts.
  • This “F” would remain on record even if the course is repeated and an additional course grade is received and recorded.
  • It will be clear to any reader of the transcript that the background to receiving an “F” being placed on a transcript in such a manner is one of academic dishonesty.
  • You not only jeopardize your passing of this course but you also may jeopardize your entire future by engaging in academic dishonesty.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

The following outline attempts to show you how to construct a good essay: it represents, in as simple a form as possible, the basic pattern to follow in putting together any “argument paper” whether this paper is a class essay, a dissertation, or an article designed for publication. An “argument paper” is best defined simply as a paper which states a thesis, or says something, and attempts to back up or support this thesis with evidence or arguments which tend to convince the reader of the truth and validity of this thesis; this kind of paper, we may say, is distinct from the kind of paper which merely presents information. (Also, the argument paper is more interesting, both to write and to read). These instructions are presented in outline form merely to make it more apparent that a good essay is put together step by step. If you are writing outside of class you will be able to follow this outline at your leisure; if you are writing in class, or answering an essay question on an exam, you still should mentally follow this outline to construct your essay before you start to write.

Form a good, strong thesis sentence, stating what you propose to show.

This is the most important part of the whole process, the foundation upon which your whole essay is constructed, and it must be the first thing done; until you have written the thesis sentence it is useless to try writing anything else. Given a topic, assemble your material and review it (mentally if in class or during an exam) until you are familiar enough with this material to form an opinion or judgment about your topic. This opinion or judgment is the stand you are taking on this particular topic and it will be the conclusion which your entire essay will try to establish and support. This is your thesis sentence; and this is why the thesis sentence has to come first when you start to construct an essay.

  1. Build your argument to support this thesis sentence.
    Return to your assembled material. Go through it again, and this time copy down every argument, every bit of evidence, or every reason you can find in it which will support your conclusion. After you have done this you should be able to tell whether your conclusion is valid or not. If you cannot find enough support to convince you yourself of the validity of your own conclusion, you should discard your thesis sentence and form a new one. Never attempt to argue on behalf of something which you yourself do not believe; if you do, your paper will not be any good.
  2. Arrange your argument to produce the maximum effect upon the reader.
    Go through the evidence on separate arguments you have copied down and arrange them in the order of their strength. Usually it is best to start with the weakest and end with the strongest; this arrangement is not always possible, but when it can be done your argument will accumulate more force as it progresses. If this type of arrangement cannot be used, merely arrange the arguments in the order in which they will appear in your paper. Along with each argument, list any contrary arguments. You must state these fully and fairly, but show that on balance your viewpoint is to be favoured. If you ignore them, your essay will be weak, one-sided and unconvincing.
  3. Write your outline.
    Begin with the thesis sentence. Always write complete sentences. A brief introduction is needed if any questions or terms have to be defined before you start your argument; otherwise it is optional. Roman numeral “I” will be the first argument or reason in support of your conclusion. Roman numeral “II” will be the second argument – and so on – as you have already arranged these arguments in order. Just as the Roman numeral entries must support your conclusion, so must the subhead entries under each Roman numeral support that particular argument. (usually by clarifying, explaining, or the citing of examples). Copy your thesis sentence word for word as the conclusion at the end of your outline. (this may seem a bit of an insult to your intelligence, but if your outline has gone astray you will find that your thesis sentence will no longer fit in the position it was originally created to occupy. Thus, but doing this you can sometimes save yourself time and wasted effort.)
  4. Check your outline.
    • Are there any self-contradictory concepts in it?
    • Is any of your material irrelevant?
    • Does each argument follow logically from everything preceding it?
    • Are there any gaps in your reasoning?
    • Are there any terms which need to be defined?
    • Have you made any dogmatic statements?
  5. Write the paper itself.
    About three fourths of your work should be done before you reach this step. If steps 1 to 5 are done well and carefully, the paper should just about write itself.
  6. References.
    Use the APA style for references (reproduced following this).
  7. Proofread your paper and do it at least twice before submitting – more times if possible.
    Do not rely on a spell checker.
  8. Never write anything which will be read by others unless you proofread it to the best of your ability.
    This is one rule that is rigidly observed by all mature scholars and authors who have been writing for years.) Proofread for thought and style, and again check the list in section V. Also, does your paper read smoothly and easily? (Read it out loud, if possible, and you will find out.) Proofread for mechanical errors. Check all questionable spellings. Check all the minimum standard requirements.

*Major portion of the above has been reproduced with permission from the Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario.

For further assistance:

Pre-Writing Tutorial and Quiz

The Writing Department – refer to P.  59

APA Style Guide

6th edition APA Publication Guide   (WARNING: This sheet shows some common reference list entries in APA style. It does not cover every type of entry. The absolute authority for APA style is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition, available at most libraries or for purchase at most bookstores and the APA Website.)

Paper Sources

Book with one author:[title in italics]

Doe, J. (2002). Human study of inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.

Book with more than one author:[title in italics]

  • List all the authors – by last name & initials. Use & (not and).
  • If more than 6-authors, list the first 6, then et al. (Latin for and others).

Spock, D. & Kirk, C. (2001). Outer space travel: facts and myths. Washington, DC: Outthere Publications.

Book with an editor:[title in italics]

Gibbs, J.T. & Huang, L.N. (Eds.). (1991). Children of color: psychological interventions with minority youth.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Book by an organization or group as author:[title in italics]

When the author & the publisher are the same, list the word Author at the end of the citation.

American Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Census Bureau extrapolations for Tampa, Florida. Washington, DC: Author.

Encyclopedia or dictionary:[title in italics]

Williams, B. (1990). Babylon. In The new grove dictionary of music and musicians (Vol. 33, pp.56-60). London: Macmillan.

An article in a scholarly journal:[journal title in italics]

Jones, E. (2004). The mating habits of anorexic minnows. Journal of Creative Fish Watching, 60, 534-544.

A magazine article:[journal title in italics]

Density, A. & Manioto, C. (2003, January). How much does a beggar make? Psychology Tomorrow, 66, 23-25.

A newspaper article with an author:[newspaper name in italics]

Mullins, M.B. (2003, November 23). The health care crisis. The New York Times, pp. A3, A5.

A newspaper article without an author:[newspaper name in italics]

Study finds less money for grades. (2005, September 19). Los Angeles Times, p. 14.

Electronic Sources

An Internet article based on a print source:[source name in italics]

Wertheimer, R. (n.d.). Revisiting Florida’s chads, seeking lessons and jokes.[Electronic Version]. Journal of Voting. Retrieved September 15, 2005, from

In the above example, no date was given in the work and (n.d.) is used.

An article in a searchable database:[source name in italics]

Nosnoozy, D.R. (2002). Sleep is for sissies. Nation’s Business, 76, 34-38. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from WilsonSelectPlus database.

A Web page:[title of Web page – if given – in italics]

Do not underline Websites.

Sample Reference List


Doe, J. (2002). Human study of inadequacy. Boston: Little Brown.

Gibbs, J.T. & Huang, L.N. (Eds.). (1991). Children of color: psychological interventions with minority youth.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McDuck, S. (2002). Psychology Web by Scrooge McDuck. Retrieved November 31, 2005, from

Mullins, M.B. (2003, November 23). The health care crisis. The New York Times, pp.A3, A5.

Nosnoozy, D.R. (2002). Sleep is for sissies. Nation’s Business, 76, 34-38. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from WilsonSelectPlus database.

Spock, D. & Kirk, C. (2001) Outer space travel: facts and myths. Washington, DC: Outthere Publications.

Please keep in mind that every period, every comma, every colon, and all other punctuation marks, italics, and indentations are very important! Be sure to include them.

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