Use of sources

Academic writing is based on sources.

All academic work builds on the work of others. When reporting, developing, applying, criticising or even rejecting the contributions made by others, you have to follow well-established conventions for citing and referencing reading sources.

Citing authorities in your own subject or in related disciplines gives credibility to your work and provides the evidence you need to support your claims or criticise claims made by others.  As this suggests, different reading sources may provide contradictory evidence. Reporting that this is the case is not enough. You have to evaluate the evidence and decide how to use it to develop your argument.

Your position, or stance, on the sources you cite must be clear to the reader. In other words, your own ‘voice’ must be distinct from that of your sources. This is one of the features of academic writing that students find most difficult to grasp. The extract below shows how this is achieved. The student author's 'voice' is in bold.

The term ‘access’ is not straightforward and should be seen as different from, but closely connected to, other terms like ‘social inclusion’ and ‘audience development.’ Defining exactly what access is (and subsequently what it means to ‘widen access’) can be difficult. Dodd and Sandell see access as multi-faceted, there being a number of different types of access (physical, sensory, intellectual, financial, emotional/attitudinal), each with its own barriers (1998: 14). Essentially, widening access can be seen as removing these barriers. However, confusion can occur when we approach access from the points of view of the aforementioned concepts ‘audience development’ and ‘social inclusion’. In its publication Libraries, Museums, Galleries and Archives for All, the DCMS described its “overarching objective” as “social inclusion” but then went on to describe other objectives as “access...outreach/audience development...[and] social change” (2001: 8-9). The issues of social exclusion/inclusion can be seen to have driven government policy originally, but widening access was clearly one of the important steps towards the ideal of the socially inclusive museum/gallery (although the DCMS itself seems to have been confused by the exact definitions of the individual terms it was using). As Kawashima points out, these different terms “cannot be neatly defined and sorted out as discrete areas” (2006: 63), and what some organisations/people refer to as one may in fact be better defined as another. I would suggest that widening access refers primarily to removing the barriers which may stop people from visiting museums and galleries (audience development and subsequently social inclusion being goals which drive this).