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Owen's comments

Listen to the whole interview with Owen. You can also read the transcript of his comments below.

Choosing the topic

One reason that I found this particular topic interesting was that I knew there would be a lot of scholarly disagreement in what people had written about it for whatever reason. And if nothing else, writing about the scholarly disagreements shows that you're clearly in command of what you're talking about and that you're looking at the events and the history at a deeper level than just narrating what happened, even deeper than just talking about why people think that's significant that you're actually sort of moving a bit further into it and really analysing what they're saying, how they're saying, and why they're saying it.

Writing the introduction

In writing the introduction, I was just trying to generally flag my basic arguments without going into too much detail. In the conclusion, I was just trying to summarise - perhaps more specifically - my arguments and, sort of just very basically, their groundings, and try to wrap the whole thing together.

Presenting an argument

I mention that broad argument, the ideological and political differences in both the introduction and in the conclusion sort of to play that as a theme for the whole essay in introduction and to highlight that argument again in the conclusion.

Footnoting

Its important to use primary sources to justify statements you may make. At the end of the third paragraph in my essay I stated that 'Soviet Actions in Poland had alarmed Western Allies'. Although I had taken that directly from a secondary source which I had referenced, I thought it was important to support that by a primary source quote directly from someone, because it just gave a bit of a more solid foundation for what I had said. If I had just left it at the secondary source it isn't quite as strong as backing it up with the primary source. I chose that particular primary source because of who was saying it; it was an American Ambassador to Russia and it seemed like a reasonably authoritative statement.

Missing footnotes

The History Lecturers are always trying to impress on us the need for footnotes. I always approach it by making sure I footnote when I directly quote a source and also when I make a statement that might be debateable or contentious, that I derived from a particular source.

Using primary sources

It's not always clear exactly when footnotes need to go in. At the end of the second paragraph it said I needed a footnote after the last sentence, which because of the reference to spearhead assaults, is quite a strong statement to make. I had taken that directly from a particular source so I should've said what I was basing that on. Whereas the first sentence of the third paragraph which refers to a particular date of the conference and the fact that the end of the War in Europe was imminent, isn't exactly a contentious statement to make, so I didn't bother to footnote that.

Editing

Editing's pretty important I spend a lot of time reading and rereading what I've written. I like to print it out and take it away from the computer so I can see it as a whole essay rather than just see it as bits of text on the screen, see its in its context. I like rereading it out loud because it helps to pick up problems with grammar and also, yeh, conceptual sort of jumps and you know, that sort of thing. As I'm reading through it, I'll mark my corrections on, you know, the paper and just go back to the computer and flick them in.

Finishing up

Once I'd finished the essay, I felt reasonably comfortable with it. I felt it was a bit rushed so I was sort of relieved to get it out of the way. It was a bit weak on secondary sources. I felt I hadn't really got a diversity of, sort of, opinions behind it. I mean it looked like I had a few but I sort of felt that might have been a bit of its draw back.

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