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Helen's comments

Researching the assignment (1) - Using the subject website

I would suggest go to the website and whatever addresses you think might exist on the Internet. You type them in and see whether they can actually open information, but also go to things like Dow Jones and IBIS World, which will provide you not only with articles but also other links to important websites; to try and talk to, probably, fellow students: they can give you all the helpful advice on where to go, and what sort of information is contained, they can give you suggestions on sorts of problems they have had, or experienced, and the sort of ways they've solved those problems. There is also the Q Manual, which gives you information on how to report, how to write down the sorts of information, categorise them and organise them, so that you can incorporate all that information into your report. The subject website provides a lot of information. The website has a section where you - basically it tells you what sort of outline, and the things that need to be incorporated inside the assignment. It has a section which is called Bulletin which also provides information on how to solve problems. It's an actual link to where students type in the sorts of problems they've had, and they wait for a reply from other students or the lecturer. The website also provides other links to direct website addresses which contain a lot of information on the subject topic that you are doing.

Researching the assignment (2) - Using the library

I started off with the librarian, and I asked whether there was any particular sort of way I should approach my research. The librarian gave me helpful hints on going to tours, which were really helpful. These tours contained a lot of information and handouts on the specific subject that I was doing. It showed me where to go in the library, what sort of information I should expect and hope to find. It showed me how - what sort of words and phrases I should type into the Internet, or the Voyager [= the library catalogue], so that I could get the most information from that topic that was the most relevant. It also showed me the sorts of CD ROMs and what sort of things like IBIS and Dow Jones, sort of, programmes that were available for me, and he told me that those contained not only abstracts, but actual full-content articles on my topic.

Managing the writing process (1)

Writing the report - I actually kind of postponed it. I found that there was so many problems and questions that needed to be answered, that I planned - I might have planned to do the report a bit each day, but I ended up leaving it to the last two days before the actual report was due. There was actual problems in that I might have written one sentence that I didn't actually know how to follow up on that sentence, so what I did was - that also caused problems, so I actually stopped. I took a break, and whenever an idea came up I jotted down to a note pad, and come back to the report, maybe a couple of hours later, maybe a half-day later.

Managing the writing process (2)

As for writing up the essay, what I did was that I went from writing the Executive Summary, and then what I did was that I wrote the Introduction, and each point that I made I linked with the topic, and linked so that the next paragraph would be connected.

The structure of the report

Strictly informational, but also in a sense that we needed to incorporate graphs and statistics, so that the whole essay flowed. I also needed to understand that the report writing involved subject headings, which also needed to be included inside the graph - er, inside the report. And I also needed to know that within the report there are certain formats required; like, I had to number each, sort of, section as I went along, and this sort of thing; I needed an Executive Summary, and things like that, which actually told me that - or, told the person who was reading it that - I needed to explain what, sort of, the report was about, and give them a hint; so that instead of reading the whole report, and finding out the whole report was based on the motor vehicle industry, I had to write a paragraph or so on that at the start of the essay.

Deciding on a style

Writing sorts of styles, they all contain different sort of words at the start of paragraph. But a good thing is to out find whether the assignment that you're writing requires a definite statement at the start of the paragraph, then lead through the ideas that you've got and explain them with examples or not or with graphs and things like that. I didn't really know whether I needed to do it in that format, or whether I should write it so that the actual language used was simple language or really complex corporate language, whether a word that I may have used in the report really needed to be defined or not.

Using graphical material

Graphs, statistics, tables, diagrams are all important in a report format. However, you've got to realise that when you use anything of that sort, that you have to explain it – why you are using it, what sort of important information and what you are trying illustrate to the reader. So the best thing is, probably, include a sentence or two which talks about the actual information that's in the diagram. Then what you should do is that with the formatting of the graph, you have to make sure that it's clear, logical, and that there is a number associated to the diagram which is also stated inside the contents pa- - on the contents page. You also should write probably - sort of, a caption underneath the diagram which has a brief sentence saying what the diagram is showing; like, "This graph indicates something in regards or relation to another" - sort of thing. With the graph you also have to be careful that you are not including too much into the body of the report, because graphs, yes, they are good, they illustrate things clearly, but too much of it, you may run the risk of not explaining properly. So that was also a problem, in that I wasn't told exactly how many graphs or things I should include, whether I should put them in the Appendix or not. As for actually explaining it, what I did was, I basically explained it at the end of the paragraph; then I included the - I went to the next paragraph; and things like that.

Plagiarism (1)

I realised at a University level that plagiarism doesn't mean copying straight from the text. It could mean rewording the text, and with summarising texts and incorporating statistics and sorts of information like that, I have realised that any work, even my own words, could be a form of plagiarism, because rewording statistics in the text is so close to, actually, plagiarism that I could be, in a sense, plagiarising but not intentionally plagiarising. And the thing is that, because I can't give drafts the tutor, I've realised that I might be plagiarising and I won't know it until the actual assignment is corrected and handed back to me; so that was a problem. Maybe if students could read my work it would have been good, but the thing with that is, that if I gave my work out to a student, I would run the risk of having them plagiarise my work.

Plagiarism (2)

The plagiarism thing was completely different from High School, in that we were required to actually hand in drafts to teachers, and that ideas were actually discussed in the tutorial classes, so that all students have the option of getting information from both students and teachers. With University level, we can't hand in drafts, and the tutorials are basically planned out well in advance so that we don't actually have time to brainstorm and discuss ideas on the topic. Our tutorial was - the only tutorial we actually had that talked about the assignment was basically running through the assignment - the sorts of things that - the criteria that we need; but the criteria was brief, and we weren't able to talk about what sort of ideas we had in relation to the topic, and students couldn't give us advice, or anything of that nature.

Checking the writing

Our tutors could also help in that aspect, but as for drafts, we weren't actually allowed hand in a draft and get that assessed, which was also a problem; so - probably - going to see a fellow-student, who could read the essay and give you feedback - that would have been good as well.

Checking the assignment against the criteria

With the criteria, what I did was that, as I went along writing down the essay and typing up things on the computer, what I did was I wrote questions on the sorts of material that I want to be written inside the report and what I expected that the tutor and lecturer would be assessing me on. And so that what I did was that after I finished reading and proof-reading my report, I basically assessed myself on the sorts of things that - grading from 1-5 whether it was good or not, and then I corrected those. I wrote whether the tutor would be expecting me to write specific things, and what sort of examples would be better used inside the report.

Assessing the final product

I haven't got information on how my tutor or the lecturer is going to mark my work, so I don't really know what sort of criteria I've got. I'm not actually completely pleased with my work, in that I didn't really know how to write it at first. I had so many problems in writing it and getting ideas. I mean, the sorts of information available was so broad, that the essay wasn't - didn't contain a lot of material that might have been relevant. With the sort of things that - I mean, previously in CATs in High School, what we did was that we got a criteria sheet which stated what was considered high, what was considered low, and we could actually correct our work according to the criteria. With this assignment we weren't given anything of the sort, we weren't told what the tutor or the lecturer was looking for. All we were told was that the assignment had to talk about a particular industry, describe the general industry, talk about the macro/micro perspectives of it, and basically had to be logical and clear. But I don't know what the tutors and the lecturer sees as clear and logical. It doesn't have a definition in the Q Manual, and it doesn't have a definition of that in the subject guide.

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