The Tab guide to: Unethical essay writing

It doesn’t even involve plagiarism.

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Do not under any circumstances read the primary text

Let’s start with the basics. 90% of your primary text is vapid garbage about social constructs/historical dates/tenuous Freudian psychology. (Depending on whether you study politics, history or English.)

8% is a little bit relevant to your topic – but only 2% is on target.

Cut to the chase and find an online version of the text.  Don’t engage with the text – instead, engage with your browser’s handy Ctrl F function, which you will use to find the first two keywords in your essay prompt. This way, you’ll have some highly original – and highly relevant – quotes.

You'll be losing your mind in the library late at night more than in any club

Put those books down you n00b.

Don’t read the recommended secondary texts

Many freshers try to be edgy when they arrive by not reading the primary texts. 45% of them have just read the preceding paragraph and felt a little bit cool, like the time they pranced down Mill Lane after a lecture, saying, “It’s fine! I can skip Leviathan and just read the secondary texts!”

It was the most academically rebellious thing they ever did in an attempt to impress their nerd-friends and actually gain some social cachet for the first time in their deprived, pathetic, triple A* lives.

Pricks.

It’s a basic move and everyone does this. You’re not special, and it’s about as subversive as forging a signature when you’re eight.

The real act of rebellion is to set yourself apart by not reading the recommended secondary texts in your bibliography at all, probably more on a par with sneaking a water bottle full of your grandmother’s spirits into a party when you’re 16.

There is literally no good reason for going here.

There is literally no good reason for going here.

Read the unrecommended secondary texts

Be an edgy free spirit like that edgy free spirit you are and go for the unrecommended secondary texts. This is a surefire way to set you apart from the slavish herd of undergraduates who drink the Kool-Aid every time they see an asterisk to the right of a bibliography item.

Go straight for the obscure stuff that no one – including your supervisor, fortunately – reads. Skip the defining literature and go straight to that Swedish commentary that’s only been translated once and has been out of print since 1942.

Or even better, do the smart thing and find texts that aren’t on the reading list at all. Open up your library catalogue and type in your carefully chosen keywords from the question.

The key is to find something that your supervisor – or anyone, ideally – won’t ever have read. Original thinking counts more for knowing the key literature – and your supervisor won’t even know how shittily you’ve conveyed the idea and/or misrepresented the facts.

Now read it.

Obviously don’t read it

I was joking when I said you should now read it. JSTOR it.

JSTOR is your friend. The kind of friend who sends you handy, bite-sized PDF summaries of books that are only long because the author does it out of a perverse ego trip.

Really. JSTOR  has a review of every single book published. This review functions as a handy summary-cum-critical analysis that will enhance your credentials as an original one-man think-tank.

You’ll sound original – but, crucially, you won’t have to do any of the critical thinking that people naively associate with writing a good essay.

(Who needs transferable skills anyway? Arts graduates. Actually let’s not talk about that.)

kk

This is your God.

Google your essay topic. Google like there is no tomorrow.

Some 19-year-old at a shitty community college in Mid West America has already written a blog post picking out the salient points on this very topic, on the basis of a cheat sheet they bought off Spark Notes. It will be of appallingly bad quality – but that’s fine. If you look carefully enough, past the transparent use of the synonym function in Word, you will find the original cheat sheet.

Which is invaluable.

Use unnecessarily long quotes

Word count matters.

Pretend that you don’t know that full referencing is required

Don’t ask what kind of referencing they want, and avoid checking on the faculty website. You do not need to know.

The answer will be long and uncomfortable and it will involve a publishing year, alphabetisation, a publishing house, strange underlining conventions, Latin terminology, the blood of your firstborn and a snarky comment about why Harvard referencing just isn’t rigorous enough.

You lost me at 'compulsory'.

You lost me at compulsory.

You do not need this in your life.

Make up your own referencing system

Preferably with no footnoting or referencing at all – and say that your other supervisor told you to do it. Always blame the other supervisor.

Or just claim that referencing is a social construct.

Write under the influence

Take shots before you start writing. This will harm your critical thinking, but, more importantly, take away your inhibitions. The key is to write without thinking or caring too much. You will be wrong – but bold, and daring. And, as they say, it’s more important how you argue than what you argue.

If you get stuck, just repeat what you’ve said, but use a couple of synonyms and/or Latin terminology and you’ll get out of the rut.

Enough said

Essay prinking.

Never re-read what you’ve written. What’s happened has happened and while you technically could backspace this is not worth wasting your remaining 13 minutes on.

Don’t proofread

Proofreading is for the weak.

Brush off awkward questions by turning it back on your supervisor

Avoid awkward lapses in conversation – the kind of things that follow “Why are you quoting a 19-year-old student from Berton, Nebraska?” or “Didn’t you get my email about footnotes?” – with inquisitiveness.

“What do you think?”

“Didn’t you get my email?”

“What do you have against people from Nebraska?”

Better yet, do it to your supervision partner.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to a mid 2:i. Maybe. Look out for next week’s instalment, “The Tab guide to: Unethical medical practice”.