While your assignment comprises only 25% of your subject grade, it serves an important function in helping you focus on the concepts and clarify your learning. In this sense, the assignment prepares you for the exam, which is much more heavily weighted at 75%. Scoring well on the assignment can sometimes mean the difference between a pass and a fail for the subject – or a high distinction versus just a distinction. This Assignment Writing Guide consists of five parts: 1. Importance of citation and referencing
2. Using peer reviewed / scholarly journal articles;
3. A nine-step approach to writing assignments;
4. The basic format of an assignment; and
5. Appendix A – Example assignment with added comments
IMPORTANCE OF CITATION AND REFERENCING
1. Assignments must contain proper citations and referencing using the Harvard ‘authordate’ style referred to in the AIB Style Guide, that is: a. citations (or in-text references) of quoted and paraphrased materials to support your arguments/comments; and b. a reference list relating specifically to your in-text references. 2. Your grade will be adversely affected if there are no or poor citations and/or reference list, as referred to above. 3. Your assignment should normally contain the following number of relevant references from different sources in the reference list.
a. BBA assignments: 5 – 10
b. MBA assignments: 6 – 12
4. All references must be from credible sources such as books, peer reviewed journals, magazines, company documents and recent articles. Students are highly encouraged to use peer reviewed journal articles as this may contribute towards a higher grade. 5. You are encouraged to make use of the AIB online library (i.e., EBSCO Host) which can be accessed through the AIB website. 6. AIB checks assignments with anti-plagiarism software. Please carefully check your assignments before final submission to ensure that all quoted and paraphrased materials are properly cited and referenced. 7. You are strongly advised to carefully read The AIB Style Guide for clarification of these requirements.
USING PEER REVIEWED/SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLES
Peer review is an academically accepted measure of quality. Peer reviewed journal articles are normally considered more credible, authentic and reliable as they are evaluated and recommended for publication by several experts in the field. It is therefore strongly suggested that you use the most recent peer reviewed / scholarly articles for your assignment. This will not only provide you with up to date knowledge but will also enable you to produce quality work. The “Refine your search” option (as shown below) in the AIB Online Library can help you to filter and view the peer reviewed / scholarly articles. Preferably you should filter the publication date to within the last 3 to 5 years.
A NINE-STEP APPROACH TO WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
The following provides a recommended nine-step approach to writing assignments. It is strongly recommended that you follow these steps in sequential order in order to address your assignment requirements. 1. Read, understand and address the assignment question
Carefully read the assignment question and make sure you understand clearly what is being asked. Your submission must be responsive to the assignment question. This is the first and most important step. By doing this you will know what you need to do, how to do it and whether you need some form of assistance to finish the assignment. Furthermore, make sure you check the word count and make sure you understand what is required.
The word count should be used as a guide as to the desired length of your written assignment. But, be mindful that submissions that exceed the word count guide by more than 10% will have marks deducted. Then, consider the subject of the assignment and who will read it. Do the assignment instructions suggest that the assignment should be aimed at a particular manager of a particular organisation? If no particular manager is mentioned in the instructions, assume that the instructor will be the audience. Whoever the reader is, aim the assignment at them and their requirements and knowledge.
2. Do background reading and jot down notes
Do some brief background reading around the topic, starting with your textbook, jotting down the main concepts and ideas that seem relevant. Is there any relevant history related to your topic? Or is there any important detail that will be of high significance to the future? Are there any important people involved? Knowing such details will give you a better idea as to how to start and finish your assignment. 3. Organise your assignment Make a tentative, organized list of headings and some sub-headings and topics about important issues that will have to be addressed. Inform yourself as to how Table of Contents (TOC) fields are formatted in MS Word, or other word processing application you may be using; and how to update the page numbers for your Table of contents as your composition grows and evolves. Fine-tune your listing of subject headings as you start gathering information about the assignment’s topics. Organisation is always the key to a well-written assignment. It not only gives you direction as you write, but it also gives your paper a certain level of professionalism.
4. Collate information and note your sources for proper citation and referencing
Gather information from articles and other credible sources (preferably from peer reviewed journal articles). Take notes and write down reference information about your sources (you may forget or lose them, otherwise). The AIB Style Guide has details of what information is required for referencing in the assignment; make sure you collect all that information when you first have your hands on the source of information. Collecting all the necessary information for proper citation and referencing as soon as you encounter the source will save you precious time during the course of your writing. The list will also come in handy if you want to double check information.
5. Organise your notes bearing in mind the marking criteria
Organize your notes and finalise the outline with its headings and sub-headings and topics. Consult the Assignment Cover Sheet and Assessment Sheet and the marking criteria for your assignment with weightings for concepts, application of concepts and so on. Bear these in mind as you plan and write the assignment. Comparing your outline with the Assignment Cover Sheet and Assessment Sheet will let you know if you have covered everything that the assignment requires or if you have included something that is irrelevant. It will give you a chance to finalize your outline before proceeding with the actual writing.
6. Start writing the assignment
Then, and only then, start writing the assignment. The notes below about the format of an assignment have details of how each part of the assignment should be written (and include the recommended length of some sections). For your assignment writing, we recommend you use the Office Word Format/Font command to set Times New Roman Regular 12 point font, and the Format/Paragraph command to set 1.5 line spacing – refer to the AIB Style Guide.
7. Re-read and re-write your assignment ensuring you adhere to the word count
Re-writing is essential. Make sure you add or delete appropriate words or paragraphs and check the spelling and grammar. Prior to re-writing, read and re-read your draft. Check whether the flow of thoughts is clear and maintains continuity. Check for any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and/or improper use of periods, commas or question marks. Make sure you read your assignment carefully to check for errors or omissions. Lastly, ensure that you adhere to the required word count, and add / delete words as necessary.
8. Write the Executive Summary
Now write the Executive Summary. This is the summary of the entire assignment. Include only salient points of your assignment. It is called a summary because it is supposed to be brief and comprehensive.
9. Write the References
Add the References according the requirements of the AIB Style Guide, and submit the assignment to AIB, remembering to provide a word count which includes the Introduction section through to the beginning of the References section (that is, do not include the Executive Summary/Abstract, References or Appendices in the word count).
BASIC FORMAT OF AN ASSIGNMENT REPORT
This section will explain how you should develop the sections of your assignment. An example assignment that follows this format is provided at Appendix A. Title page Give your assignment a title and type out the main words from the assignment for the marker to know what the assignment is all about. Include the name of the business investigated if you are writing a case study. The title of the assignment should be comprehensive enough to give the reader an idea about the coverage of the assignment. Also, you need to place the word count (which includes all text from the Introduction section to the end of the Conclusion section) here. Executive summary
This tells your reader what the assignment is about because it describes the topics or issues discussed, as well as providing a summary of the conclusions and recommendations and reasons for them. Before going through the entire assignment, readers first want to see the summary. In fact in many busy business situations, sometimes decisions are often made solely on the basis of executive summary if it is persuasive. Your executive summary should include what you did, how you did it, what your main findings were and what are your key recommendations.
Although the executive summary appears as first section of the assignment, it should be written last after completing the assignment. Do not include any sub headings in this section. It is usually one or two paragraphs and should not be more than 250 words. Remember to not include these words in the word count, except if you are asked to write a marketing plan. As the executive summary is part of the marketing plan, it is included in the word count.
Table of contents
After the title page and the executive summary, you should show a table of contents with a list of the numbered sections and subsections of the assignment, with their page numbers. Numbered appendices, tables and figures with their titles should also be presented in the table of contents. MS Word provides a function for inserting an automatic table of contents. Please ensure the table of contents is updated before you submit the completed assignment. To update the page numbers in the contents table, when you have completed your assignment:
• left click on the table
• right click and select Update Field
• ensure “Update page numbers only” is selected
• click OK
The introduction tells your reader what you are going to tell them in the body of your assignment. The first paragraph of your introduction gives the background to the assignment and why it is useful. Then your second paragraph should say what the aim, purpose or objective of the assignment is, any limitations and a very brief summary of the sections (no more than about two lines for this summary of the sections). The whole Introduction section should not take more than about half a page or so.
The sections after the Introduction are where you begin the discussion, outlining relevant facts and events. A rule of thumb is that there should be at least one section or subsection heading per page. These sections after the Introduction will follow a logical pattern of thought. Make your headings longer than just one or two cryptic words, so that they also help the reader to quickly understand the sections and flow of the assignment. Present information in a logical order. Use information from a number of credible sources to support your findings and try not to include numeric calculations in the main body of the assignment. Instead, include these as an appendix to the assignment.
This is to prevent interrupting the flow of the assignment. Acknowledge all sources using the Harvard ‘author-date’ style. The start of each section should make obvious its link to previous sections; for example, ‘The previous sections discussed strengths; this section turns to weaknesses’. Transition words are especially useful for this linking of paragraphs; for example, ‘moreover, furthermore, in addition, consequently, so, on the other hand, in contrast, but, however, nevertheless’.