Writing an essay is a more formalized and rigorous form of communication and of particular importance to management students. Therefore, developing your writing skills is vital not only for completing this module's assessment but also for your future career. In the following pages you will find some suggestions that should help you prepare your essay and develop your writing skills.
Before you start working on your essay it is important to carefully read the assignment brief and reflect on what the question is asking you to do. It is then crucial to start some preliminary research on the topic by looking at the relevant literature (Textbooks and the lecture notes can be a good starting point but they are limited in providing an introduction to the concepts and so it is expected that you will go beyond what is covered in the lectures and the main textbooks) as well as business reports and other sources (e.g. Newspapers and Business Magazines) that could help you identify a strategic challenge faced by your chosen organisation. Hence looking at academic journals and business reports will assist you with developing an initial plan about your approach to address the question set.
The logical steps to begin with your work therefore are:
1) Choose an organization that you wish to focus on;
2) identify a strategic challenge that you wish to investigate further;
3) Develop a basic understanding of the relevant theories and concepts you intend to use
As soon as you do this, it is time to begin working on the structure of your essay. Please note that writing a structure plan for your essay does not mean to include everything you want to cover. Rather, a structure plan should give you a general guideline as to how to develop your arguments in a logical and coherent fashion. In other words, a structure plan should help you think through the logical steps of the arguments you wish to develop. It should allow you to ask questions such as "what information do I need to provide before I can argue a certain line?", "what are the different accounts/perspectives in the literature on the argument that I am trying to develop?", "are my arguments well informed by the relevant literature and are my ideas presented in a logical manner?", "what evidence do I provide?", "are these evidence convincing?"
When writing your work, it is important to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject and your critical thinking. It is however also very crucial to keep the idea of a Reader in mind. Do not assume that your reader has an omnipotent knowledge of all different views. Make sure you adequately analyse all your ideas and the theories you use and do not leave your reader having to guess what you are trying to say. Finally, make sure that your answer focuses on the question set and that all the arguments you develop are responding to it.
All essays follow the same basic framework: an introduction; a discussion of your line of arguments by incorporating the relevant literature; and a conclusion. For achieving a coherent structure, you are advised to prepare a good outline before you attempt to answer the question, to be flexible and do the necessary adjustments while writing your essay and to review it once completed to ensure that there is a clear flow and all arguments are presented in a logical manner.
Introduction: In this part of your work you should try to introduce the theoretical framework that will underpin your analysis (the theories that you use), to provide an outline of your key objectives and main arguments/conclusions as well as to indicate how you have structured your work. You can also introduce your chosen organisation in this part of your work but keep in mind that doing so will significantly expand your introduction. Hence you might wish instead to provide a brief overview of your chosen organisation at the beginning of your main body (discussion).
Main discussion: In this part of your work you develop your argument and provide support (in the form of examples, research findings etc) for each of the main points of your argument. It will usually involve some discussion of the theoretical framework that your analysis and a thorough discussion of your own ideas and findings of your research. If appropriate, do use headings to organise and highlight your line of argument - but beware of using headings that fragment your essay and make your arguments descriptive. Main ideas should have their own paragraphs. Make a clear distinction between your ideas and those of the authors you draw upon by reference properly all the sources that you use. Use Harvard style of referencing
Conclusion: In this part of your work it is expected that you will recap the main ideas and summarises your line of argument in answering the question set.
Presentational and other General Tips:
1. Try to avoid being controlled by the literature and just following the same arguments as used in the texts. Take control of your own essay by using the literature to develop your argument. Avoid filling your essay therefore with long quotations. Using long passages from other people's work does not help you to develop your writing skills and make it difficult to construct an adequate argument. Nor will the marker be able to tell whether you understand the debates and concepts and so you will be unable to achieve a good grade. Instead (making explicit your sources) paraphrase the point in your own words. It is vital to do this even when you use an actual quote, as this helps to pinpoint the actual point in your own argument.
2. Do your own independent research. You need to do your research in order to identify a strategic challenge faced by the organisation you wish to focus on. In doing so, it is expected that you will do research on Business reports, newspapers, magazines and any other source that could provide you with information about your chosen case. Empirical work (fieldwork) is also welcome but do keep in mind the time constrain for completing this assignment.
3. Essays should be written clearly, using the appropriate spelling, punctuation and grammar. You need to use sentences, not bullet points. Ideas should be organised into paragraphs. All of this is part of the development of your skills in written communication. It also contributes to whether the marker can understand and reward what you are conveying in your essay.
4. Do not plagiarise your work, either from texts, other students or the Internet. If you use quotations, make sure that you remember to place them within "inverted commas". For further assistance on how to properly reference all the sources that you use please the link provided above. If still uncertain, please do not hesitate to talk to your Tutor and or the Module leader for assistance.