13 December 2012 | Greg Jackson
From time-management to using resources, Greg Jackson has four simple steps to help you master the work-based assignment.
1. Make the most of resources
There are more resources available to you than you could ever imagine. The first step is to know where to look.
- Course resources. Regardless of where or how you study, make sure you read all your course material, such as textbooks and presentations.
- CIPS Intelligence. There is a real wealth of resources and knowledge available for members on the CIPS website, from jargon-busting to model form contracts, so make sure you don’t miss a real opportunity and check it out.
- The internet. Be very wary that all that you find on the internet is true. Check your findings against other sources and make sure you reference everything that you use. CIPS takes a very strict view on plagiarism (see Students, August 2012) and if you found it on the internet, chances are that somebody else can, too.
- Library. Don’t underestimate a trip to your local library. You will find a wealth of information already categorised and free for your researching pleasure.
2. Developing a structure
Once you have the knowledge of what to talk about, you can start planning how you can put it together.
We see it time and again: students who, eager to get started, plough into an assignment without planning how they are going to answer the question. The results are always the same: a piece of work that jumps back and forth between points, panicked students not sure where to go next and, of course, the dreaded waffle.
Having a clear plan will allow you to break down the assignment into clear definable chunks that will not only make it manageable in a busy schedule, but also allow you to tick off areas important to the assignment.
Most work-based assignments usually ask you to describe something in your working environment, so make sure you do: explain how the need was identified, how the solution was developed and implemented and, finally, how it was managed and maintained after implementation.
3. Setting yourself up to write
We all have busy lives and finding time to study or write is never easy, but making sure we set ourselves time to attack an assignment is imperative.
Timetabling truly does work. Map out all your commitments and look for opportunities where you can spend a good amount of time to get your teeth into the assignment. However, make sure that you also leave yourself time out. Trying to work non-stop will only result in you burning out and being unable to concentrate.
Once you have found some time, make sure you choose the right location to study. Find a quiet environment that is free from distractions, as they will interrupt your flow and mean spending a lot longer on your work.
Whether a student is new to studying or very experienced, there always seems to be some confusion about referencing.
First of all, make a note of the references as you use them – this will help when finalising your bibliography.
When it comes to referencing within your paper, follow the following structure:
- For a direct quote from a book or journal article with one author:
When organising our time, Adair (1988: 51) states that ‘the centrepiece will tend to be goals and objectives’.
When organising our time ‘the centrepiece will tend to be goals and objectives’ (Adair, 1988: 51).
- And for the reference list/bibliography:
Adair, J (1988) Effective time management: How to save time and spend it wisely, London: Pan Books.
3 Key points
1. Make the most of all available resources, such as CIPS Intelligence
2. Create a writing timetable to manage your time effectively
3. Organise your references, particularly when using information from the internet
☛ Greg Jackson is training and innovation manager at SR Supply Chain Consultants and a CIPS lecturer