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    Hi all,
    I'm studying the Origins of the American Civil war for OCR at AS level as part of the source analysis paper.

    My worry is basically how you analyse a source effectively. My teacher points out that when analysing a source during the exam I should only use the most relevant parts of it in my 70 mark essay, otherwise there isn't enough time.

    How much weighting should I give to content over provenance and how should I structure my paragraphs? I know that I have to have two main paragraphs after the introduction with sources for and sources against the question, but how do I structure my writing within these paragraphs?

    And how do you analyse the sources well so quickly in an exam? Any techniques for how to do so efficiently (ie what to look at first: date? content? provenance? etc)?

    I understand all of the content but my teacher is of little help when it comes to stuff like this
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    Hi there,

    There is a bit of a knack to these source-papers, but they can often be the easiest in which to score highly, because they are more about technique than subject knowledge.

    In terms of weighting with what you include, generally it's important to have some content from every (relevant) source when doing the essay part - definitely avoid just effectively saying: 'I'm ignoring this because the provenance is poor'. Get the content down first, and then either at the end of the section or when weighing up to conclude, compare the validity of the sources to help justify the decision of which side you're arguing on.

    In terms of structure, rather than having two core sections arguing for and against, I would usually try to group the source-references in a more flowing structure, linking and comparing/contrasting specific related points/lines of argument used in the various sources where I could. This way, you'll engage with specific arguments being made rather than just spending half the essay saying what one lot think and half what the other think. The easiest way to lose marks on these papers is to splat down for and against in separate camps and fail to actively compare and contrast them.

    In terms of timing, you may find it helpful to be as systematic as you can, so you can keep track of the rate at which you're working - so say to yourself 'by this far through, I must aim to have covered half of the sources'. Just make sure you allow yourself enough time for a solid concluding paragraph, because that's important too.

    In terms of quick source analysis: some people find it helpful to highlight/annotate quickly at the start. I simply used to put a big F (for) or A (against) or M (mixed) next to each one for quick reference when comparing, with maybe the odd scribble to remind me of a key point someone makes. Sometimes I would also note if it was a primary (PS) or secondary (SS) source, as that's always a key consideration in terms of provenance.

    I think I covered your main questions there - if not, or if I've not been clear enough, give me a prod


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    I think the key to these questions is to plan effectively, organise the sources into groups like the above for, against and mixed. Then go through the content of each side - what's their argument? How much are they supporting/against the question?

    Then go through the nature, origin and purpose of the sources, who were they written by? Is what was written typical of the person who wrote it? What was their motive for writing the source in that style and does that make it a reliable source?

    You should know at the start of writing your essays which are the stronger and weaker groyps of sources and you should clearly state this at the start.

    In terms of own knowledge, the key is to integrate it with the content section of your answer. If you have a point to make about the content but you think its unreliable, put in one or two lines of your own knowledge. Give a detailed example but don't write blocks of information. Above all, don't write chronologically!

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    (Original post by nespix)
    ...

    (Original post by uthred50)
    ...
    Thank you both so much! This is exactly the advice I needed to improve my essays and exam practice
    But how would you structure a more 'flowing' essay? Would it be using a thematic approach to paragraphs, or going source by source (obviously with comparison within the paragraph)? Also this may sound very stupid but what is the difference between a Primary and Secondary source? Because I have heard different people use the terms in different contexts

    Thank you again!
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    (Original post by Dandaman9999)
    Thank you both so much! This is exactly the advice I needed to improve my essays and exam practice
    But how would you structure a more 'flowing' essay? Would it be using a thematic approach to paragraphs, or going source by source (obviously with comparison within the paragraph)? Also this may sound very stupid but what is the difference between a Primary and Secondary source? Because I have heard different people use the terms in different contexts

    Thank you again!
    Good stuff

    I would make it 'flow' by linking closely related points/arguments across the sources, so that I engaged with what they actually said rather than just whether or not they support for or against. If you want to do it as a systematic source-by-source thing, that can work, just make sure you get those links in. Say things like 'Despite X's claim that jada yada yada... Y instead suggests that' or 'P challenges Q's assertion that.... by claiming that da da da is true'.

    Primary sources are produced by people contemporary to (at the time of) the event or person you're arguing about; they are 'first-hand' accounts. Secondary accounts are usually the works of later historians, and anyone who is essentially retelling an earlier story or asserting facts long after they are purported to have happened.

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    (Original post by Dandaman9999)
    Thank you both so much! This is exactly the advice I needed to improve my essays and exam practice
    But how would you structure a more 'flowing' essay? Would it be using a thematic approach to paragraphs, or going source by source (obviously with comparison within the paragraph)? Also this may sound very stupid but what is the difference between a Primary and Secondary source? Because I have heard different people use the terms in different contexts

    Thank you again!
    No problem Always use thematic approach...NEVER go source by source - that will practically guarantee you a D grade! Like I said divide them into groups of stronger and weaker sources then within those find similarities and differences which will help you rank your sources from strongest to weakest. Discuss and EVALUATE these strengths and weaknesses in content.

    Primary is a source from the period of history you're studying e.g. a speech from Churchill

    Secondary is someone looking back on the period, I didn't actually need to use any of these terms. If you look back over past papers you'll find they tend to use similar people. Research who these people are and think about how this might affect their motive for writing the source

    Hope that helps

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    Hi, I've already answered a similar Q and this is what I said about structure:

    When you are looking at the sources group them into sources which agree, and that disagree with the statement/interpretation. Highlight key phrases as you'll be able to add your own knowledge here.

    Introduction:
    Identify the source groups (example: sources A and C both agree with the statement, where as sources B and D...). Sometimes it may be an equal split, or there may be up to three main ideas on the paper (it is unlikely that every source will present a different view because this would make the paper very hard and you wouldn't have enough time to write).

    Sources that agree:
    Analyse the sources which agree with the question/interpretation/statement. Cross reference by identifying similar quotes or ideas. Make sure to weave provenance into the answer rather than adding it at the end of the paragraph or having a new paragraph for it (this is a big no-no).

    Sources that disagree:
    Same as before but with different sources.

    Conclusion:
    Make a judgement and answer the question IN REGARD TO THE SOURCES.

    Make sure that you add bits of own knowledge throughout, however do not base your essay on this. You are supposed to be writing about the sources. Own info will get you C/B grade answers.


    if you meed more help on the sentence structure, let me know
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    Oh I see, thank you all so much! Structure-wise this has been significantly more helpful than my teacher
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    (Original post by EloiseStar)
    Hi, I've already answered a similar Q and this is what I said about structure:

    When you are looking at the sources group them into sources which agree, and that disagree with the statement/interpretation. Highlight key phrases as you'll be able to add your own knowledge here.

    Introduction:
    Identify the source groups (example: sources A and C both agree with the statement, where as sources B and D...). Sometimes it may be an equal split, or there may be up to three main ideas on the paper (it is unlikely that every source will present a different view because this would make the paper very hard and you wouldn't have enough time to write).

    Sources that agree:
    Analyse the sources which agree with the question/interpretation/statement. Cross reference by identifying similar quotes or ideas. Make sure to weave provenance into the answer rather than adding it at the end of the paragraph or having a new paragraph for it (this is a big no-no).

    Sources that disagree:
    Same as before but with different sources.

    Conclusion:
    Make a judgement and answer the question IN REGARD TO THE SOURCES.

    Make sure that you add bits of own knowledge throughout, however do not base your essay on this. You are supposed to be writing about the sources. Own info will get you C/B grade answers.


    if you meed more help on the sentence structure, let me know
    Also one final thing, just to confirm, would the sentence structure within the paragraphs be a sentence explaining the theme, then what sources X and Y say about it from one perspective and how this contrasts with the opposite views of A and B. Then move on to provenance of all of the sources and compare these to see how reliable they are, then finally an interim judgement?
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    (Original post by Dandaman9999)
    Also one final thing, just to confirm, would the sentence structure within the paragraphs be a sentence explaining the theme, then what sources X and Y say about it from one perspective and how this contrasts with the opposite views of A and B. Then move on to provenance of all of the sources and compare these to see how reliable they are, then finally an interim judgement?

    Explain the key idea or theme within the sources which you are making a judgement about, say what X and Y say. Then say what this means in regards to the questions - mini evaluation. Only go onto A and B if it's towards the end of the paragraph as you make it flow into the alternative argument.

    You must weave provenance throughout. Do not have a few sentences at the end of each paragraph. If you are cross referencing between sources (this gets you the higher marks) it would be good to do it here as you are judging it again.
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    (Original post by EloiseStar)
    Explain the key idea or theme within the sources which you are making a judgement about, say what X and Y say. Then say what this means in regards to the questions - mini evaluation. Only go onto A and B if it's towards the end of the paragraph as you make it flow into the alternative argument.

    You must weave provenance throughout. Do not have a few sentences at the end of each paragraph. If you are cross referencing between sources (this gets you the higher marks) it would be good to do it here as you are judging it again.
    Ah ok, that's great. I wasn't sure because my teacher says to have a totally separate paragraph dealing with provenance for and provenance against and not to weave it which I thought was slightly odd and abrupt. Thanks
 
 
 
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