An essay diary can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes). a peer review usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback. A self-assessment task requires you to.
Watson, G. 1987: Writing a Thesis: a Guide to Long Essays and Dissertations. London: Longman. There are also software programs, for example, Endnote and Refworks that are designed to manage references. They include the facility to incorporate 'author, date' insertions within your text, and to format reference lists automatically.