Ok, great, but how do you go about doing this?
Well, I can’t give you all the answers, mostly because I don’t know them myself, but what I do know is, there’s some easy marks that a lot of people miss because they just don’t know how to go about them.
Exhibit A: Referencing. Loads of people drop easy marks because they don’t know how to do it. And just incase you missed them, I’ll refer you to the guidlines in the general course handbook:
"In scientific writing, it is essential to cite the source of any information taken from other publications. There are some basic conventions.
a. Other workers are cited in the text with date of publication. Mode of citation depends on whether or not they are in apposition. Note the use of the comma and the position of parentheses in these alternative ways to quote the same source: “Jones (1988) said that birds have feathers.” or “Birds have feathers (Jones, 1988).” It is also possible to use another method: “Birds have feathers (1)”, with references numbered in the bibliography at the end of the essay, but this usage is less frequent.
b. References are listed in full in a bibliography at the end of your essay, usually in alphabetical order of author’s name. Some fairly standard ways to do this are shown in the following examples:
(i) A paper in a periodical:
Miller, P. J. 1992. A new species of Didogobius (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from the Adriatic Sea. J. Nat. Hist., 26, 1413–1419.
Note the sequence of author, date, and title of paper; the title of the journal is abbreviated (from Journal of Natural History), “26” indicates the volume number, and “1413–1419” the page numbers.
(ii) A book:
Miller, P. J. (Ed.) 1996. Miniature Vertebrates: the Implications of Small Body Size. 328 pp. Oxford: Clarendon Press (Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond., No. 69).
Here, there is the same sequence of author (or editor), date, and title, followed by number of pages, place of publication and publisher; if the book is part of a series, as here, this can be indicated in parentheses.
(iii) A chapter in a book:
Miller, P. J. 1984. The tokology of gobioid fishes. In Fish Reproduction: Strategies and Tactics (Potts, G. W. & Wootton, R. J., eds), 119–153. London: Academic Press.
The book title is quoted as if it were a journal, but without abbreviation, followed by the names of the editors and the chapter pagination; because the publication is a book, place of publication and publisher are also noted."
My experience is that, most lecturers are pretty understanding about it, they just want to see consistency. So essentially, pick your referencing method and stick with it.
You may be thinking at this point: 'Steady on, I haven't even found any literature to cite yet, how do I do that?'
Well, I would recommend looking at www.els.net because it’s such a useful website with peer reviewed literature that you can use for essays that explains things in a nice uncomplicated way.
Other things you should check out are Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. These tend to bring up more complicated stuff directly from the literature, but if you add bits to your search command like 'review' or 'news & views' you'll get stuff that's a bit easier to digest. You can then steal the references at the ends of these papers so you look like someone who has taken the time and trouble to read the harder stuff... :)