One of the most sought-after, and yet misunderstood, attributes of a social science essay or dissertation is originality. To achieve a grade in the 90s range here at Edinburgh (that is, an A++, an exceptionally good mark), for example, according to our marking descriptors, your essay needs to display ‘an exceptional degree of insight and independent thought’, ‘flair’, and indeed ‘originality’. Independent analysis and originality, however, should not just be a consideration for the higher grade ranges. Rather, this blogpost suggests to think of it as a scale ranging from complete unoriginality (to be avoided) to very high degrees of originality (to be pursued, but within the limits of good scholarship). Below are suggestions how to avoid the former, and how to work towards the latter.