OCR s Top Coursework Tips for the Investigation Forward Points

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OCR s Top Coursework Tips for the Investigation  Forward Points Powered By Docstoc
  To score highly on your coursework you need to:
      1. Find / form an argument that is well-structured
      2. Construct this argument based on the critical evaluation of source material
      3. Bear in mind this is an „investigation‟ – the job of work is to answer the overall question.

  What do you need to do to score well on the Investigation?

  Most marks in the mark scheme are for the use of sources, with particular reference to the critical evaluation of sources.

  The coursework has a precise word limit of 2,000 words. Nothing over the 2,000 words will be marked so there is no
  point in writing extra and you don‟t want your conclusion to be ignored!

Critical Evaluation of    A source is being used critically when:
Sources: What does it        Evidence relevant to the argument is derived from it – from simple inference to
mean?                           complex cross-reference
                             Its meaning is considered in the context of surrounding events and conditions
                             Its value is seen to depend on, for example, its authorship, relevance, scope and
                                limitations, circumstances of production etc.

OCR’s ‘Do’s’ of the              Evaluate primary sources in context, conveying a sense of insight
critical use /                   Use evaluative language – see list of useful words and phrases
evaluation of sources:           Use cross-reference of primary or secondary sources (for agreement or disagreement)
                                  to strengthen or challenge a line of argument. Primary sources should be used to back
                                  up or challenge secondary sources - not the other way round!
                                 Avoid „ad hominem‟ assertions of bias when evaluating historians. Instead, focus on
                                  any limitations imposed by the historian‟s method or general approach - have they
                                  considered all of the factors you‟d expect / have they neglected evidence? You can
                                  use their footnotes to see if they‟ve referred to primary source material – does their
                                  argument appear to be well supported?
                                 Focus on specific historians and what they have written
                                 Be aware that different kinds of evidence (e.g. letters, chronicles) need to be
                                  interrogated in different ways
                                 Integrate source evaluation „episodes‟ naturally into the flow of your narrative i.e.
                                  evaluate your sources in relation to the question and not just for the sake of it. See
                                  examples in this pack.
                                 Quotes – keep them short, punchy and to the point.
                                 Be thorough and accurate in the presentation of footnotes – in particular, page
                                  references (examiners do check!)
                                 Use evidence from the source to advance the argument. Do something with the source
                                  to show it‟s been used critically!
                                 You don‟t have to have lots of source references = it is the quality of source evaluation
                                  rather than quantity of quotes used that counts towards high marks!
                                 You need to state your word count on the first page and your cumulative word total on
                                  each page. This is an OCR requirement.

                                Make sure that critical evaluation of sources is always used to support and advance
                                             the argument rather than including it for its own sake.

OCR’s ‘Don’ts’ of the             Produce „paired lists‟ of historians who agree or disagree, without analysis or
critical use of sources:           assessment relevant to the argument
                                  Present the reported views of historians – this is what someone else claims someone
                                   else has said
                                  Insert quotations that do no work – e.g. that simply illustrate the text
                                  Conduct the argument in the footnotes
                                  Use Wikipedia as an „active‟ source of evidence – you can use it for initial research
                                   but don’t reference it!

Bibliography:                     Aim for a range of primary and secondary sources. OCR want you to use between 8
                                   and 12 sources. These can be books, articles, primary sources – so long as they
                                   represent a range of different views. You can make use of internet sites but aim for
                                   reputable authors only – quote the historian who wrote it / name the website rather
                                   than the website‟s url (www....) in your Bibliography.


  This is an evidence based investigation so building up good sources is vital here. Remember you don‟t need to read entire
  books. Make useful of content and index pages.

  Consider why you‟re looking at particular source material. If it doesn‟t help evaluate your argument then you don‟t need
  to research it / include it.

  Keep track of what you‟ve read, which parts of the source were useful. Make notes as you research, writing down page
  references. Record any particularly useful quotes from your sources as you will want to use some of these directly in your

  When you are researching from secondary sources consider how do they know the information? Look at where the
  historians get their evidence from. Follow through the sources to see if the historian has looked at primary material. You
  can do this by looking at their footnotes / endnotes.

  Organising your argument

      Remember to keep in mind the exact wording of the title e.g.„…the success of the October Revolution, solely the
       responsibility of Lenin‟
      What kind of response is required? (causal explanation or evaluative explanation of success / failure?)
      How can I organise the response into an argument?
             o Introduction – to key issues and competing views. (Your overall answer shouldn‟t be obvious by the end
                 of the introduction. The answer should evolve as the answer progresses.)
             o Sections of argument – dealing with causal importance of, for example:
                   - Lenin (evidence for / against – balanced view)
                   - Other Bolsheviks and/or revolutionary groups, e.g. Trotsky, Petrograd Soviet (evidence for / against –
                   balanced view)
                   - Popular discontent / politicisation (evidence for / against – balanced view)
                   - Failures of Provisional Government (evidence for / against – balanced view)
       Conclusion: coming to a view, demonstrating the relative importance of each major factor (evidence – as
         appropriate). You need to argue this through, providing contextual support for your chosen factor,
             showing your evidence for this. If you are opting for a combination of factors then you need to show
             why it was that particular interaction of factions that led to…
          N.B.: If you take the first sentence of each paragraph and add them together it should form the overall line of
             your argument!
Organising sources as evidence

General points to consider:
* Use a range of sources to bring to light particular issues that clearly need to be discussed.
* Aim to be looking at similarities / differences between sources that discuss a particular issue to help shape the
* Consider that a historian might argue in favour of a number of issues.

    Are these claims made by your historian consistent with primary evidence?
    What evidence does your source provide to support or challenge your overall argument?
    Could any of your evidence provided by this particular historian be strengthened by cross-reference to
     another historian? (Look for points of similarity / difference between the views of your different
    What additional information can be provided by other historians?

Your Conclusion!
If your question is a causal one (i.e. to do with why something happened…
     You need to address the notion of „relative importance‟ directly – otherwise the question is not properly
        answered. The following are typical of the kinds of questions that might be asked of different causal

           o Does the evidence suggest that the revolution could have succeeded without Lenin? i.e. were
             there sufficient other factors in place to have ensured its success?
           o How much evidence points to economic distress / suggestions that upheaval of some kind was
             likely to have happened in Russia, regardless of the actions of Lenin and the Bolsheviks?
           o How valid is Figes‟ suggestion that the success of the Bolshevik coup of 25 October owed more
             to Trotsky than to Lenin? What evidence is there to support this?
           o Could the Provisional Government have survived if it had withdrawn from the war? If so, does
             its failure to do so amount to the key factor guaranteeing Bolshevik success?

How do you arrive at a balanced judgement?

   1. You may or may not decide that your key issue was correct. Part of your judgement will contain an
      acknowledgement of the importance of other identified factors but these will be shown to be dependent
      on your „main reason‟.
   2. You may decide on a synthesis which resolves the conflict of competing claims by arguing that a
      combination of factors was responsible.

Either way, the question is answered by means of a clearly structured argument and critical evaluation of source

Useful words and phrases for use in your Investigation

This is not an exhaustive list but does provide you with useful examples that will help to create and maintain an evaluative
approach. Consider what other evaluative language you could use...

(Historian‟s name) goes so far as to state that.....was....

However, it is perhaps going too far to suggest that....

Instead, it is clear that this...

When using (name of source) as a source, the debate as to its authenticity must be considered....

(Historian‟s name) suggests / argues / postulates that....

(Historians‟ name) credits these reforms (etc) as being.... a view supported by (historian‟s name) as he/she states... Such
interpretations can be seen as viable as...

However, it must be considered that (historians‟ name) focuses specifically on.... rather than..... and therefore such a

Strengthening the view that .....acted that....

However, this view holds some bias as (name) was a member of / was involved in...

However, this view seems unsound / less plausible as...

(Name)‟s motives can be tested for a number of reasons....

It is pointed out by (name of historian) that.....

...however there is no contemporary account. Much of what is known based on accounts of what .....said....

This is supported by (name of historian) who affirms that...

In agreement is the view of (name of historian)...who points out that...

Whether or true or not, (name of primary source) was most likely written by one of (name)‟s followers. Possibly
he/she saw (name) in this light due to... This is supported by (name of historian) who says that...Many accounts such as
those of (name) had in fact been written by ... As a result this causes a key limitation in that they naturally emphasised...

Proposals / arguments put forward such as this are easily dismissed however, due to the fact that...

Support for this claim is very weak...

One instance highlights where this may have been true, that of...

The following quote backs up (name of historian)‟s viewpoint that.... was successful / unsuccessful / cruel etc; the source
shows ..... This quotation by (contemporary figure), a well known... shows how... I believe that this source is useful as it

However, (historian‟s name) assertion that... is perhaps somewhat too harsh...

A Checklist of Good Techniques

In each paragraph look to see if you have:

   1. Begun with a sentence that makes it clear what this part of your argument will be about and how it links
      in with your overall argument e.g. “The nature of the Viking threat itself also has to be considered in
      order to judge the success of Alfred in his wars against them.” Or “Despite the successions of the burhs,
      Alfred‟s policy of implementation did not always run smoothly”.

   2. Used footnotes to reference any quotes you have used from primary / secondary source material. Use
      page numbers, the title and the author. If you‟ve used a primary source then state what the source was
      e.g. Soviet Order No. 1 and where it was taken from e.g. M. McCauley, “Historical Documents...”

   3. Used evidence to support your argument. Don‟t just make sweeping statements – back them up.

   4. Made sure you are explaining your material / its significance rather than just describing / writing in

   5. Evaluated your source material critically.

              Are you using evaluative language?
              Have you pointed out the strengths / weaknesses of this evidence?
              Have you cross-referenced between sources?
              Have you explained how one historian‟s evidence provides support for another‟s argument?

   6.   Evaluated this part of your argument in relation to the overall question:

              How plausible / viable is this material?
              How significant was the role of this particular factor?
              How successful was your key person in this particular area etc

OCR Examples

Introductions example 1

“During the period 871 to 899, Alfred and the kingdom of Wessex faced two major waves of Viking attacks,
firstly between 876 and 878 when the kingdom itself was pushed almost to the point of collapse, followed by a
second wave between 892 and 896. The decade between the two invasions provided a chance for Wessex to
rebuild and thus Alfred instigated a major programme of military reform, particularly the building and
fortification of a series of burhs across Wessex in order to combat the Viking threat. Also instigated was the
reform of the fyrd and of ship building. However, the nature of the Viking threat itself, along with Alfred‟s
treaties with the Vikings and the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms must also be considered with regards to judging
the cause of Alfred‟s success.”

Can you work out what the title was for this work? What does this introduction do? What is this person going
to be discussing?________________________________________ __________________________________

Introductions example 2

“Very rarely can one decisive reason be given for either victory or defeat in battle. The final outcome of most
battles is the result of a number of factors. The British victory at Trafalgar is one such example. Historians
have offered a variety of reasons for British success; these include the use of new naval tactics, the ability of the
commanding officers, state of the crew and the ships, the understanding of what the men and officers were
meant to do and lastly due to the inadequacy of Villeneuve. Nelson used the new tactics in the hope that he
could cause the utter destruction of the Combined fleet. He anticipated that around twenty of the thirty three
ships would be taken as prizes and the other thirteen would be destroyed. If this was achieved then Emperor
Bonaparte‟s vision of conquering Britain, and, therefore, controlling all of Europe, would be removed from
possibility. This then would allow Britain to start on the offensive against France, instead of the defensive, as a
great offensive is a great defence.”

Can you work out what the title was for this work? What does this introduction do? What is this person going
to be discussing?

Of these two examples, which is the better introduction and why?

Source Evaluation / Argument Example 1

“The burhs can also have been seen to have aided the success of Alfred against the Vikings as they facilitated
the creation of a new „burgher‟ class with loyalty to the king and their burh over that to their ealdormen and
thegns. As such, the burhs provided a crucial centre of support for Alfred, providing manpower in times of war,
as troop numbers often depended on the political persuasion of Alfred‟s subjects. Indeed Brooks goes so far as
to state that Alfred was attempting “a major colonising enterprise”. However, it is perhaps going too far to
suggest that a redistribution of the population to the new towns in order to create support was the main reason
for the construction of the burhs. Instead, it is clear that this programme was designed primarily to create
centres for permanent garrisons in order to combat the Viking threat, and was not solely a programme of town
building as Asser uses the Latin „arx‟ or „castellum‟ when referring to the burhs, clearly distinguishing them
from remaining Roman towns for which „civitas‟ is used. When using Asser as a source, the debate as to its
authenticity must be considered. Smyth suggests that the „Vita Alfredi‟ is in fact a forgery by the late tenth
century monk Byrhtferth, due to stylistic similarities between the „Vita Alfredi‟ and his historical miscellany;
this is perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly as Byrhtferth copies substantial sections of Asser into his work.”


What is the candidate arguing here? How has the candidate used their sources to conduct their argument? Has
the candidate used their source critically and if so how?____________________________________________

Source Evaluation / Argument Example 2

“The other military reforms instigated by Alfred, namely the reform of the fyrd, can be seen as important in his
success against the Vikings. Loyn credits these reforms as being a programme of “consistent and ultimately
successful organisation”, a view supported by Abels as he states the reforms “robbed the Vikings of their major
strategic advantages: surprise and mobility”. Such interpretations can be seen as viable, as reform countered
the problem of desertion and dissention in the fyrd as “The king divided his army in two, so that always half its
men were at home, half out on service”, thus ensuring the productivity and safety of the land left behind.
However there are suggestions that this was not completely effective as laws were enacted to increase penalties
for domestic crimes in times when the fyrd was away; the fines for housebreaking whilst the army was on
campaign were doubled.”

What is the candidate arguing here? How has the candidate used their sources to conduct their argument? Has
the candidate used their source critically and if so how?____________________________________________


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