Individual assignment study skills

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Individual assignment study skills

  1. 1. Your Assignment
  2. 2. Choosing a topic <ul><li>What is the issue that you are going to investigate? Translate this into a research question </li></ul><ul><li>Is it strategic in nature as opposed to tactical? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the research question legitimate? Is it of value to your organisation and to you? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the topic practical; what are the constraints? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost: money, time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scope: too wide, too narrow? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is it politically acceptable or will exploring this topic be politically sensitive? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it interesting? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want a topic that stretches you, or one with which you are familiar? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Study Skills <ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading for a higher qualification is going to involve reading widely, beyond the set texts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Snowballing’: when reading something leads to other lreferenced iterature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journal articles may give a neat summary of theory: use them! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstracts allow you to browse: if it looks interesting read it; if not, don’t </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Taking notes and Photocopies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference them as you go: who wrote it? when? where? page numbers etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This could save you hours of searching when you come to write up your work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use quotes to indicate that you have ‘lifted’ directly from the text along with the citation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you summarise in your own words you still need to include a citation for the source(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plagiarism is a serious offence in Universities. Quotes and ideas must be fully acknowledged and accredited </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Sources <ul><li>Literature Review </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Books; refereed journal articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer reviewed literature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review the literature critically </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Primary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research conducted by you specific to your topic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews, questionnaires </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Field research, generating new insight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building on secondary sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secondary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web searches and newsgroups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Company reports and internal documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazine and newspaper articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consultant’s reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TV and Radio programmes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeping up to date </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for gaps </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Being ‘Critical’ <ul><li>In an academic environment, being critical means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being open-minded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being intellectually sceptical about ideas, claims and arguments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not accepting things at face value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questioning assumptions and ‘taken for granteds’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questioning existing structures and practices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus can be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Underlying assumptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meaning of words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methodology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data collected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretations made on data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasoning/argument </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your findings </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Being critical when writing <ul><li>Present evidence to support your reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Read your own writing critically </li></ul><ul><li>View the issue from multiple perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge the contribution, merits and strengths but in a qualified way </li></ul><ul><li>Reject, rebut, refute, reformulate, test and extend </li></ul><ul><li>Identify gaps, absences, limits </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate the importance of omissions and flaws </li></ul><ul><li>Take new points of view </li></ul>
  7. 7. Recommended assignment structure <ul><li>Title Page </li></ul><ul><li>Contents page </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgements </li></ul><ul><li>Abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Section 1 : Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Section 2 : Literature Review </li></ul><ul><li>Section 3: Findings and interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Section 4: Conclusions and recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Appendices </li></ul>Inform Discuss Support
  8. 8. Assignment structure: inform <ul><li>These elements are not included in your word count. Neither are references, tables and diagrams </li></ul><ul><li>Title Page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your name, assignment title and number, tutor’s name, date of submission </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contents page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Itemising chapter headings and page numbers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Optional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To recognise those who helped in compiling the assignment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Abstract </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Optional – but good practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summarises the whole assignment, not just the conclusions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State what your research problem was, why you chose it, how you went about your research, what theories you used, what you found and what you have learnt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write it last: 200-300 words </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Assignment structure: discuss <ul><li>Section 1 : Introduction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify your focus; your interest; terms and parameters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State your aims and purpose for the assignment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set the scene for the reader </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Section 2 : Literature Review </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Review and critical discussion of relevant theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain why it is relevant to what you are doing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversely, justify why you chose not to use certain frameworks (where appropriate) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your chance to show how widely you have read and the degree to which you understand what you have read </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Assignment structure: discuss <ul><li>Section 3: Analysis, Findings and Interpretation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyse the business issue using your chosen theory(ies) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Present what you have found in your analysis; relate your findings to the research question and acknowledge problems and constraints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Present a balanced discussion giving opposing views leading to your synthesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What lessons are there for you? What lessons are there for the organisation? How might the issue be taken forward? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logically sequenced sections; helpful headings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use appropriate tables, graphs, charts and diagrams to support/ illustrate your discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Edit to tell a coherent story </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Assignment structure: discuss <ul><li>Section 4: Conclusions and recommendations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Summarise key elements of discussion then provide a concluding commentary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow by (if appropriate) recommendations driven by findings/ conclusions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No surprises: not the place to introduce new concepts! </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Assignment structure: support <ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acknowledge your sources! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In the text: Dicken (1998 p40) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In references (book): Dicken,P (1998) Global Shift: transforming the world economy, Paul Chapman, London </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In references (journal article): Dicken,P (1998) The changing geography of Japanese foreign direct investment in manufacturing industry: a global perspective, Environment and Planning Vol 20 pp 633-53 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organise your references as you are reading and writing up </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Assignment structure: support <ul><li>Appendices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting material – not essential reading and not marked </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Numbered with titles as referred to in the text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you haven’t referred to an appendix in the text, its probably not worth including as an appendix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep them relevant; restrict to a sensible length and number </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Assignment writing <ul><li>Getting started </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No need to begin at the beginning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start writing up well in advance of hand in date – even if revisions are necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be prepared to draft and re-draft </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assignment plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brief notes as to what you intend to include in each section of the assignment including word budget </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What theory(ies) or model(s) you intend to apply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring to tutorial </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Assignment writing <ul><li>Writing up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expression should be clear, relevant, simple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suitable diagrams can add clarity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain and defend your thought processes. What is your evidence? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring in the theory – how did it work when you put it into practice? What other frameworks could you have used? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The reader is interested in your learning </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Assignment writing <ul><li>Stick to the rules </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3,000 words, neatly typed and presented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check grammar and spelling – get it proof-read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Name and number all the pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference and acknowledge the work of others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start new sections on a new page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand it in on time </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Marking <ul><li>Read the handbook </li></ul><ul><li>You will get credit for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application of theory to a practical problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of wide reading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synthesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear link between analysis, conclusions and recommendations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good use of English </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good signposting </li></ul></ul>

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