Unit 4: Business Environment

Abstract This is approximately 100 words and can be roughly viewed as being in two parts.  The first introduces the problem (s) or issue (s) to be tackled in the essay.  The second briefly outlines the key findings from your piece of research (the essay).

Introduction This is where you should introduce the reader (marker) to the problem you are researching and justifying why the reader should be interested i.e. making clear the importance of this problem/ issue.  At the end of the first paragraph, you should clearly place a research question along the lines of…….. “….and as such I am interested to study the impact of currency and monetary unions on the repatriation of operating profits of MNE firms” for example.  The very last part of the introduction should outline how you intend to proceed i.e. “In the next section I outline the literature behind this problem.  In section 3 I analyse and discuss key findings while the final section concludes.”

Background Literature This is where you must outline the background literature on your topic.  As such you must access the electronic library, JSTOR, and specifically academic journals and look for material that is highly relevant to the specific issue you have chosen to research.  More details will be provided below about potential sources for reference materials.

Analysis This section is your opportunity to analyse what you have found in the literature on your chosen research topic.  As such you should make your analysis real and pertinent to the literature and critically appraise the literature i.e. the arguments that have been presented in the literature.  Very often any subject in the literature will have many researchers/ authors researching it.  These researchers will commonly have various viewpoints or arguments/ perspectives on that particular subject or issue.  As such this section is your opportunity to demonstrate how well you have read the subject – how good your understanding is and to what depth you have understood the issues.

Conclusions Summarise your key findings

References ALL references WITHOUT FAIL must adhere to Harvard referencing style (see detailed notes and examples of how to reference below).  Marks will be deducted if this is not achieved.

Preparing to read and study When you are faced with any programme-related task or reading, it is helpful to first spend a couple of minutes making notes on what you currently know about the topic or think about the question.  This will help you focus on your own ideas and experience.  It will also remind you of previous relevant aspects of the programme.  It will prepare you to respond critically to what you read and to relate whatever you learn to current knowledge and practice. Brainstorming is sometimes a useful way to start these notes and to make sure that you generate a wide range of points.  By ‘brainstorming’, we mean the rapid gathering of ideas that seem relevant to a particular topic or problem within a brief time limit and without judgement.  You can then reflect on each idea, develop and analyse the material as a whole and make connections.  Brainstorming is a technique you can use on your own as well as in groups.

Effective reading There are various styles of reading which are appropriate for different purposes.  For studying in-depth, learning and remembering, you should not start at the beginning and finish at the end of a text.  First, look briefly at the whole text to see what is there.  Look at headings and tables.  Read introductory paragraphs, any summary and the concluding section.  This helps you to develop a general understanding of what is in the text.  Then, if you decide the text is relevant to your purpose, skim each section to increase your understanding.  Finally, read the text in detail to find the specific information that you need.  Using these reading strategies will help you to increase your reading speed and save time. It is easy to forget new ideas.  To help your memory, you should review your notes regularly and practise new methods and tools.

Assignment writing guidelines. Advice on preparation. Advice on writing It is important to make sure you understand what the assignment question means and that you know how to answer it.  No assignment will ask you to write down everything you know about the subject area.  All assignments will ask you to consider specific issues in relation to a particular topic.  You need to make sure that it is clear in your assignment which are facts and which are opinions.  You should also check that you have looked at the issue from every angle.  When you evaluate different viewpoints, it is necessary to explore each one to an equal depth.  You can’t produce a valid conclusion unless you have investigated the arguments for each perspective in a balanced way.  Comparison and contrast can help you do this.  You should provide evidence for all the assertions that you make in your assignment.  This means that you need to support your ideas by referring to theories, concepts, empirical research and/or experience of your own.  You can use direct quotations and paraphrase other authors’ work to give support.  You should use a variety of citation methods to help make your assignment interesting and convincing, but you must make sure that you have all the correct referencing details for both quotations and paraphrases.  ‘Referencing guidelines’ are given at the end of this Section. It is very important that you organise your assignment well, so you need to make a plan, structure your paragraphs carefully and make sure each point that you make relates clearly to those either side.  Unless instructed otherwise by your tutor, you should use the introduction/discussion/conclusion format in your assignment – i.e. give the context and outline of your argument, refer to the relevant material and then end the discussion by summarizing what has been said and offering your opinion on what the question is asking based on the sources you have used. Style:  In general, you should aim to write for a layperson – that is, someone who is not an expert in the area, but who will understand the relevant ideas if they are explained clearly.  This means that when you use an unusual, specialist or technical terms, you must give definitions for them.  To avoid using ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘his’, ‘her’ or ‘him’, it is better to use ‘he/she’, ‘his/her’, ‘they’, ‘their’ and ‘them’ (the plural form is commonly used in academic writing to help avoid sexist language).  You should only refer to an individual as ‘he’ or ‘she’ when you either know their gender or you are directly quoting someone who uses sexist language (and even then [sic] might be useful – see the Referencing Guidelines).  Before you start writing, you should make sure your spellchecker is set to UK English, not US English.


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