q manual - Monash Business School

q manual - Monash Business School
Australia · Malaysia · South Africa · Italy · India · China
Sixth edition
Student Q Manual
Nell Kimberley
Monash Business School
Faculty of Business and Economics
Monash University
First published 1994
Reprinted 1995
Second edition 1997
Reprinted with revisions 1998
Third edition 2005
Fourth edition 2008
Reprinted 2009
Reprinted 2011
Fifth edition 2012
Reprinted 2013
Reprinted 2015
Sixth edition 2016
Copyright © Monash University 2016
Published by the Faculty of Business and
Monash University Caulfield East Victoria 3145
2.1 Becoming an Active, Independent Learner 8
2.2 Studying in your discipline
2.3 The assignment process
3.1 Working with Academic Integrity
3.2 Referencing: APA style
4.1 Analysing the assessment task 49
4.2 Finding relevant information
5.1 Academic writing overview
5.2 Writing Essays
5.3 Writing a literature review
5.4 Report writing
5.5 Reflective writing
5.6 Writing a case study analysis
5.7 Writing for Business Law
List of Figures
List of Tables
Q Manual
Preface and acknowledgements
The purpose of the Q (for Quality) Manual is to provide you with practical and easily accessible
information regarding university level study. The Q Manual will provide ideas, suggestions and
guidelines to enable you to achieve academic success by producing quality work and being able
to submit this work in a timely manner. We suggest you read the Q Manual thoroughly and refer to
it throughout your course of study – but also remember that it is only a general guide! For specific
requirements, please ensure that you refer to your unit guides and your learning management
system (Moodle) to obtain specific details in relation to each unit’s assessment requirements. If you
have any further queries, do consult with the relevant academic staff responsible for your units.
Our special thanks go to Sarah Jansen, for leading and co-ordinating the team of contributors,
and for her own contribution to the sixth edition of the Q Manual. Thanks also to our student
contributor, Ioanna Thymianidis for her wonderful graphic design work and to the team of
contributors to the Q Manual. Your time, expertise, and efforts are much appreciated. Thank you
all for making this a truly collegial experience.
Finally, we wish you a stimulating, challenging and rewarding learning experience throughout
your undergraduate and postgraduate studies with the Monash Business School.
Associate Professor Nell Kimberley Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)
January, 2017
Nell Kimberley, Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)
Glenda Crosling
Sarah Jansen, Matheson Library
David Horne, Caulfield Library
Anne Taib, Caulfield Library
Helen Matich, Strategy and Planning, Monash Business School
Damian Gleeson, Caulfield Library
Allie Ford, Peninsula Library
Sebastian Borutta, Matheson Library
Anita Dewi, Berwick Library
Rachel Chamberlain, Berwick Library
Andrew Dixon, Caulfield Library
Natasha Amendola, Caulfield Library
Emma Price, Caulfield Library
Aimee Turner, Matheson Library
Jamie Agland, Matheson Library
Roslyn Halliday, Matheson Library
Julie Badger, Matheson Library
Hannah Fulton, Matheson Library
Tracey Whyte, Berwick Library
May-Lee Wee, Matheson Library
Katie Julian, Matheson Library
Congratulations on your choice to study at Monash University and, in particular, on your acceptance
of a place in one of the excellent courses offered by the Monash Business School. This manual is
intended to provide you with information on how to produce quality work and achieve the best possible
results in your studies.
The major goal of the University is to assist you to benefit from an excellent education so that you
may take your place in society as a well-qualified and highly capable graduate. Of course, while
the courses provide the teaching support and necessary framework for your studies, success can
be achieved only through your personal commitment and dedication to hard work throughout the
duration of your study.
The information contained in this manual aims to familiarise you with the Monash University study
environment and provide guidance for how you can increase your effectiveness as a Monash
student, so that you can reach your potential. For those of you who are experiencing university
level study for the first time, this manual will provide an important foundation and prepare you for a
new world.
Monash University
Monash University was established in 1961 and named after General Sir John Monash (1865–1931).
Sir John was a soldier, scholar, engineer, and the Commanding General of the Australian forces in
France during World War I. In addition, as the first Chairman of the State Electricity Commission,
he took on the immense task of overseeing the development of the LaTrobe Valley’s brown coal
resources. Sir John was a man of wide interests and vast intellectual range. He was this country’s
first Doctor of Engineering and in many ways he remains the embodiment of the University’s motto –
Ancora Imparo (I am still learning).
The university now has a population of more than 67,000 students from over 100 countries, who
speak 90 languages. Monash has a truly global footprint. In addition to its five campuses in Australia,
Monash engages in extensive teaching and research all around the world, in China, India, Italy,
Malaysia, and South Africa.
Monash University’s teaching and research activities are organised into ten faculties: Art, Design and
Architecture; Arts; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Information Technology; Law;
Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Science.
The Faculty of Business and Economics is organised into three Schools: the School of Business
at Monash Malaysia; the School of Business and Economics at Monash South Africa, and the
Monash Business School, which encompasses all of the faculty’s activities across all the Australian
Faculty of Business and Economics
Mission, Vision, and Values
We engage in the highest quality research and education to have a positive impact on a changing
The Monash Business School will be recognised as one of the world’s leading academies of
scholarship in business, economics, and related disciplines. The standing of our flagship activities
will be verified by the most esteemed international arbiters of quality.
We uphold the values of human rights, social justice, and respect for diversity in individuals,
communities, and ideas.
While pursuing our mission and vision, we are committed to
• providing a collegiate and respectful environment for all staff and students;
• integrity, transparency, and accountability in our internal governance;
• recognising and rewarding excellence in research, education, and everything we do;
•upholding the principles for responsible management education and effective global
citizenship; and
• engaging collaboratively with all our local, national, and international stakeholders.
Faculty structure
The Faculty of Business and Economics is the largest faculty in the university, with more than 18,000
students enrolled over five Australian campuses at Berwick, Caulfield, City, Clayton, and Peninsula,
as well as in Malaysia and South Africa.
In addition to a diverse range of undergraduate bachelor degrees, the faculty offers a comprehensive
range of graduate courses including graduate certificates, masters’ degrees by coursework and research,
the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Philosophy, and the Doctor of Philosophy.
Courses are delivered on campus, through various modes of delivery including intensive classes,
seminars, flipped classes, lectures and tutorials, while off-campus students are catered for by
distance education.
The Dean and the main faculty office are located at Caulfield campus. In addition, there are faculty
staff located at other campuses.
Go to http://business.monash.edu/contact-us for location and contact details.
Accreditations and rankings
Monash Business School is one of the world’s leading business schools. We are internationally recognised
for excellence in research and education. We are one of the few business schools across the globe with
the esteemed ‘triple crown’ accreditation of The Association to Advance Collegial Schools of Business
(AACSB), The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) European Quality Improvement
System (EQUIS), and The Association of MBAs (AMBA). This globally-recognised accreditation places us in
the one per cent of business education providers in the world with this external verification of quality. We are
the only Victorian university and the only Group of Eight university with the ‘triple crown’.
You can read more about our rankings and accreditation at:
Departments and centres
The Monash Business School is organised into seven departments and three research centres.
Banking and Finance
Business Law and Taxation
Econometrics and Business Statistics
Research centres
Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability
Centre for Global Business
Centre for Health Economics.
Whatever your major or areas of study, it is important that you develop an understanding of each of
the disciplines and where they are managed within the Monash Business School. This will help you to
understand where to seek advice about the discipline, how to explore opportunities to enhance your
learning and how the disciplines all contribute to the strategic objectives of the business school as a whole.
Aims for learning
At Monash, your education is shaped to prepare you for your life after graduation. You will gain the
skills, knowledge and networks necessary to confidently chart a successful career. As a Monash
graduate, you will be operating in a globalised and rapidly-changing world.
Our courses are designed to develop attributes that go deeper and beyond the ability to understand
and operate competently with subject content. Monash University prepares its graduates to be:
1.Responsible and effective global citizens who
• engage in an internationalised world,
• exhibit cross-cultural competence, and
• demonstrate ethical values.
2.Critical and creative scholars who
• produce innovative solutions to problems,
• apply research skills to a range of challenges, and
• communicate perceptively and effectively.
Each Monash Business School course has two additional graduate outcome statements, which you
can read in the course entries in the University Handbook at: monash.edu/pubs/2016handbooks/
As you undertake your studies, you will notice an emphasis on these learning objectives – they are
referred to in every unit guide and underpin the design of the assessment tasks you will be required
to complete.
The Monash Business School monitors the effectiveness of its objective-led approach to teaching
and learning through its Assurance of Learning processes. Assurance of Learning (AoL) is defined as
the “systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken
for the purpose of improving student learning and development” (Polomba & Banta, 1999, p.4).
Consistent with the standards established by the AACSB, Monash Business School undertakes
regular evaluation of student work with a view to improving its teaching and learning practices. AoL
not only makes the business school accountable for its promises, but it is a means of supporting the
continuous improvement of our education programs.
In the following chapters of this manual, we explain the influences of these practices on your
approach to study.
Each department offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate units. In a three-year
undergraduate degree, there are 24 units. Full-time students typically undertake four units each
semester, while part-time students would normally be expected to undertake two units each
semester (to ensure they can comfortably complete their degree within the maximum time allowed).
The Chief Examiner is responsible for the administration of the particular unit, which may be offered
in different locations.
You can consult with your local unit co-ordinator and, in larger units, you may also consult with the
other lecturers and tutors.
Role of lecturers and tutors
Lecturers and tutors have a key role as facilitators of your learning. They are able and most willing
to help you with your studies and can be contacted using your student email account. Their email
addresses are usually listed in the unit guide. It is important to use appropriate and respectful
language when contacting your lecturer or tutor. This is a formal communication channel, so emails
should begin with “Dear”. In addition, it is important that you include your unit code in all emails,
as well as your tutor’s name, when emailing the lecturer. Alternatively, academic staff can usually
be contacted during their consultation hours which may be found in the unit guide, on Moodle or
posted on their door or outside the main administration office of the relevant department.
Role of online resources
Monash uses the learning management system Moodle, which provides you with access to online
unit information, both of an administrative nature as well as useful material for your studies. The
Monash Business School website contains broader information about university and business school
policies, co-curricular opportunities and all things administrative.
Role of Student services, course directors and co-ordinators
The Monash Business School Student Services team is the first stop for any queries about your
enrolment and student record. The team can help you navigate the complexity of university policies
and systems, and assist you with queries about academic performance issues, course progression,
and similar problems. Where appropriate, the Student Services team will refer you to course
directors, course co-ordinators or other relevant staff.
Additional important information
Information regarding various aspects of university life, such as study resources, course and
academic information and support services are available online at www.monash.edu.au/students/
An excellent resource for students is available via the student link on the Business and Economics
Faculty webpage at www.buseco.monash.edu.au/student/. The site contains links to important
information regarding courses and units, admissions and enrolments, schools and departments,
exams and results, administration, study resources, calendars and timetables, IT and computing,
support services, careers and employment, international students, as well as clubs and associations.
Expectations of student performance
Monash Business School has high expectations for your behaviour and performance. We
have a code of conduct, which can be found in the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student
Information Booklet http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/student/student-information-bookletundergraduate-2015.pdf
Attendance and participation
Lectures and classes are central to your performance as a student. Lectures provide the material
you require in order to understand the overall nature and direction of the unit. Important concepts
and analysis may be emphasised by the lecturer and put into context for you. In many units, some
or all of the lecture material may be found in video format on Moodle. It is imperative that you
attend lectures and/or review lecture materials provided on Moodle. Classes are also a vital part
of your studies. They reinforce lecture material and provide you with an opportunity to discuss
material presented in lectures or online, as well as to ask questions. They also provide you with
the opportunity to develop your oral communication skills. The material presented is not designed
to give you one view on a topic but to facilitate your understanding of the issue under discussion.
Where there are alternative views on an issue, you should learn to articulate, critically approach and
assess these differing positions.
Special consideration and extension of submission deadline for assessment task
If you are unable to complete an assessment piece or exam due to exceptional circumstances, you
may apply for another chance through special consideration. To ensure fairness for all, the university
has clear policies and procedures in place for special consideration. The following webpages provide
key information:
An application form needs to be completed by students when seeking an extension of time for
submission of an assessment task. Reasons for such consideration include serious short-term
circumstances beyond the student’s control, such as illness, accident, personal trauma, family
emergency or compassionate grounds. Applications should be discussed with the Chief Examiner,
Unit Co-ordinator, lecturer or tutor responsible for assessing the task.
To be successful, you will need to dedicate significant private study time outside classes.
This time should be spent reading, preparing for lectures and classes, and completing assessment
tasks. As more units transition to a ‘flipped classroom’ model, it is essential that you preview course
materials before each class in order to benefit from the student-centred approach to learning.
At university you are expected to be more independent and self-reliant than during your previous
schooling. In contrast to teachers at school, academic staff in the Monash Business School teach
large numbers of students, usually hundreds in each unit. They are happy to assist you but you need
to approach the relevant academic staff member and be clear about what you wish to discuss. It
is also your responsibility as a self-reliant student to attend lectures and classes, do the necessary
preparatory work, and submit all assessment tasks on time.
Time management
As a university student, you need to learn to manage your own time. This applies to students who
have a great deal of time available outside of scheduled classes, as well as those who have to
balance work, family commitments, and study.
Chapter 2 provides a guide to study techniques, including some helpful hints on how to best
manage your time and get the most out of your career as a student.
Student assessment
Assessment in a unit of study may comprise several activities, such as formal examinations, essays,
literature reviews, multiple-choice online tests, reports, case analyses or oral presentations. These
are just some examples of what may be required. Whatever the task, it is vital that you read and
understand exactly what you are being asked to submit. Details of all assessment tasks for each
unit are provided in the unit guide that you will have access to from O Week or the first week of each
semester. If you still are unsure as to the requirements and need clarification, seek advice from your
tutor or lecturer. Where there is group work in a unit, it is expected that you manage your groups and
group tasks effectively. See Chapter 2 for more information on group work.
A high standard of integrity and honesty is expected from you in the completion of your assessment
tasks. Any form of cheating, such as plagiarism, collusion, or ‘buying an essay’, will be penalised
under the University’s Student Discipline procedures. It is never worth the risk. Always do your own
work to the best of your ability and plan your time carefully.
The final mark that a student receives in a unit will be determined by the Board of Examiners on the
recommendation of the Chief Examiner, taking into account all aspects of assessment. Processes
for seeking reviews of results or remarking of work are provided here:
Monash Business School has processes in place to ensure that students are marked fairly and there
are appropriate checks and balances in place. This is particularly the case for examinations where
any potential fail must be marked by two academic staff members, to confirm that a fail grade is
All results are reviewed by the unit’s Chief Examiner.
For details of examination regulations, please refer to:
The highest standard of honest conduct is expected from students during formal examinations.
Unfortunately, every year, a small number of students are caught cheating during examinations,
which leads to formal discipline proceedings. This is a very serious matter and results in significant
penalties, such as suspension from the university.
Use of English dictionaries and calculators
As English is the language of instruction at Monash University, foreign language translation
dictionaries are not permitted to be used by students sitting examinations.
Calculators are permitted if specified on the examination paper, but some units may have a
calculator restriction. Students are advised to familiarise themselves with any calculator restrictions
applying in units they are studying. The Monash Business School provides students with an
approved calculator that they may use in examinations. No other personal calculator may be used.
At the end of each semester, following the completion of examinations, a Board of Examiners
meeting is held to confirm results, taking into consideration student performance as a whole.
Confirmed results are then published by the date specified in Monash University’s Principal Dates. All
undergraduate and graduate students who pass are graded into the categories of high distinction,
distinction, credit, and pass. Honours courses use a different grading system, classified into first
class, second class division A, second class division B, third class, and pass.
Marks and grades
Monash University’s grading scale for completed units is as follows:
50–59P Pass
60–69C Credit
70–79D Distinction
High distinction
There is also a range of codes for interim grades and withdrawn notations.
For further information, please go to:
Honours grading
Honours units are graded as follows:
Below 50
Successful study at university requires the same kind of commitment and effort that is required for
a full-time job. This means cultivating independence and taking ownership and responsibility for
learning, especially in terms of
managing your time;
balancing your study with other commitments;
developing an effective approach to learning.
In this chapter, we discuss the importance of self-reliance and active learning as essential qualities
for success at Monash. We consider some of the different teaching and learning approaches and
activities that you are likely to encounter in your degree.
2.1 Becoming an Active, Independent Learner
As a student at Monash University, you will be challenged to move beyond simply memorising and
describing information and facts. Every unit offered by the Monash Business School teaches you
to use critical and analytical thinking processes, as an individual and as a member of a team. This
prepares you for the world of work and further study because these capabilities are vital to business
success and innovation. Within each unit, you will also learn to communicate clearly, confidently and
appropriately to a wide variety of audiences. For these reasons, the business school increasingly
draws on active, collaborative ways of teaching and learning, which include task-based and team
activities. For maximum benefit, aim to be actively engaged with the learning process and the unit
Academic inquiry and discovery
Advancements and innovation in particular fields of study occur through systematic research and
investigation. Knowledge evolves as researchers challenge, confirm and modify earlier understandings.
This is known as academic inquiry and discovery. You will also engage in this process when you integrate
and apply knowledge, concepts and theories as part of your learning process.
When investigating an issue for an assignment task that is based on evidence from the literature, you
need to review and integrate a range of perspectives. Figure 2.1 demonstrates how a single topic can
result in differing positions. When you have formed your response and structured your written work to
express this, you must indicate to your reader how you have arrived at that view. The ideas and views
that you read in the literature function as the ‘building blocks’ of your response. In your writing, if you
do not explain to your reader the evidence that has led you to your view, you are only expressing your
opinion. Opinions are ideas unsubstantiated by evidence and are not always relevant and valued in
university study.
Figure 2.1: Illustrative example of multiple positions of a topic
Decision making in the manager’s role
Decision making is an
important aspect but only
part of the manager’s role
(Lee, 2000).
The manager has a range of
roles that are significant in the
operations of an organisation,
and decision making is one
of these
(Mintzberg, 1979).
Decision making is
the foundation of a
manager’s role
(Brown, 2002).
Figure 2.1 depicts how decision-making in the manager’s role can be seen over time from different
perspectives by different authors.
You will be required to analyse information from different perspectives. For example, a marketing
manager may emphasise aspects such as sales. In contrast, a city council, which is concerned with
providing services, is more interested in a city’s population and its needs. As a student, you will need
to consider the context in order to select appropriate information for analysis.
Critical thinking
Critical and analytical thinking enables you to take an objective approach to knowledge, concepts
and theories. This will enable you to
integrate contrasting or even conflicting ideas from a range of sources;
generate your own position on an issue or topic;
‘pull apart’ knowledge and explain how the parts work together (analysis);
evaluate strengths, weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages of knowledge (critical approach).
This emphasis may differ from how you have approached study in the past. For instance, formerly
you may have expected there to be one right answer, or only two sides to an issue or topic. At
university, you are expected to explore many perspectives, synthesise these, and incorporate your
own perspectives. This will enable you to arrive at your own informed decisions and judgements.
In thinking critically, there are various approaches or questions you should consider when examining
the literature on a particular topic.
1. Identify the argument:
What is the author’s main point?
Does the author use emotive or biased language?
What is the author asking you to accept or assume?
2. Identify the supporting evidence:
Is the evidence relevant to the argument?
Is the evidence from a credible source?
Is there additional evidence, derived from other material you have read that would weaken the assertion?
3. Identify how the evidence is used:
Does the author compare one situation with another?
Does the author apply a general principle to a specific case?
Is the principle applicable?
Does the argument recommend a particular action?
Would this action have any undesirable effects?
4. Identify ambiguous words:
Do any words lack definitions?
Are those words used consistently?
This process allows you to develop a unique argument or thesis and provides the evidence to justify
your position. Having looked at the material critically, you can then consider how these factors
contribute to your use of the work in your own writing.
The ability to read and write critically indicates that you are discerning and able to make reasoned
judgements based on evidence and argument. It shows that you understand academic conventions.
Many students may feel uncomfortable questioning the ‘experts’, but as a university student, you are a
novice member of a global community of scholars made up of academics and researchers. Following
academic conventions by thinking, reading, and writing critically is not only appropriate, it is expected.
Teaching and learning approaches
Teaching and learning is managed in different ways across the business school. Some units follow
more traditional, teacher-centred methods, including lectures and tutorials. Other units offer a
classroom model where you are first guided through learning online, before attending smaller
student-centred learning activities in an interactive class setting. Figure 2.3 demonstrates the range
and focus of the teaching and learning approaches that you may encounter. Each style of teaching
requires the student to take responsibility for preparing to learn, even before they attend a class.
Whatever the approach, consistent revision is fundamental to the learning process, and should begin
just after your first class. The rest of this chapter will describe the various teaching styles and their
expectations for students before, during and after classes. Remember that these are guidelines. You
are responsible for your learning and you should check your unit guide or speak with your lecturer or
tutor if you are unsure about what is expected.
Figure 2.2: Teaching and learning continuum
more teacher
of seminars
& workshops
or in class
seminars &
more student
Figure 2.2 demonstrates the types of teaching and learning approaches of university study
and their focus
Learning styles
There are many different learning styles. You may prefer a visual approach, the use of auditory material or
a more kinaesthetic method. You may require quiet environments in which to study, or you may prefer to
listen to music as you work. You may find you respond best to written materials, complemented by your
lectures, classes and online learning materials. You may find it more useful to begin your study from a
broad or global perspective of the topic. Alternatively, you may prefer to begin with the details, and build
up to a global view. It is useful to try out different ways of learning to broaden your study approach.
Regardless of your preference, you must be independent and self-reliant as you establish what works best
for you. Consider how a particular approach helps you to study well. Reflecting on assessment outcomes
and feedback from the academic staff member marking your work will assist this process. Cultivating
independence and self-reliance also means that you must recognise what is not working for you. While
academics alert students to areas for improvement, ultimately it is a student’s responsibility to reflect
on this feedback and respond appropriately. If you need further assistance, visiting the Monash Library
Research and Learning Point will be a good first step. Searching the Monash website will also provide
information about other services.
2.2 Studying in your discipline
As you continue with your study, you will realise that the approaches to knowledge in the disciplines
of the business school differ in some ways. Understanding such variation will help you adjust your
thinking and approach across your units of study. This is particularly applicable if you are a double
degree student, and studying across two faculties.
For instance, when you are studying a first year law unit in your Business and Economics degree,
the way you approach, think about and structure information will be different from how you approach
management or marketing. You are using different forms of data and evidence, and applying critical
analysis in ways that are particular to the unit and its discipline.
To develop some understanding, you should think about your units in terms of
the type of data and information used;
the way data and information are integrated, analysed, and critiqued;
the way data and information are used as evidence in addressing issues and topics;
the way data and information are presented in written form.
This will help you to develop your approach and ensure that it is characteristic of your discipline.
Preparing for class
Pre-reading for classes
Preparing for class at university requires some pre-reading. For example, preparation for a lecture
might require background reading so you get a sense of the material. Reading for a class such
as a tutorial or seminar may require a much deeper and more detailed approach, including the
completion of a short test or quiz to demonstrate your understanding of the material. Regardless of
the need, an active rather than a passive approach to reading is required.
Active reading involves:
reading to understand;
critical reading to integrate, analyse, and evaluate ideas.
For more assistance with reading strategies, see Chapter 5.1 Academic writing overview.
Engaging with lectures
Lectures and classes are integral to your learning. Whether online, audio-recorded or face-to-face,
they provide you with the general framework and important approaches for your topic for the week.
They enable you to engage with the unit content, the academic staff and other students. Even
though you are able to download material and listen online, attending lectures is important, as you
will gain greater understanding of the topic and a clearer direction for your further work in the unit.
Classes include activities designed to deepen and expand your understanding of the topic.
To get the most out of lectures, you should approach them in a systematic way. You may feel a little
lost when you begin a unit because the ideas and the language used may be new. It may also take
time to orient yourself to your lecturer’s individual style of communication. It is important in these
situations to practise active rather than passive learning skills. To do this:
make sure you have completed the pre-reading (often specified in Moodle);
download slides before the lecture as a guide for your preparation;
think about the topic in relation to the unit;
take note of new vocabulary or terminology;
talk to your classmates about the content.
Engaging with classes
Classes, such as tutorials, seminars and workshops are designed to help you learn by engaging you
in discussion and task-based activities that bring the content to life in practical ways. Just as it is
important to attend or engage with lectures, it is important to attend all classes. In fact, some units
allocate assessment marks for active participation in classes. Active participation is a good way to
get the most out of these learning activities. The key to participation is being prepared for the topic.
Depending on the nature of the unit, preparing may mean completing your pre-reading, investigation
online resources, completing exercises, being prepared to discuss issues and answer questions,
and joining the face-to-face and online discussions by making comments and asking questions.
Overcoming barriers to participation
Students are sometimes hesitant to participate in classes. It can be daunting to offer your opinion to
an unknown audience, especially if this style of learning is new or English is not your first language.
Importantly, you need to learn to express your point clearly. This is more important than faultless
English. Speaking up will actually improve your spoken English over time.
If you feel shy about participating, the best way to prepare yourself is to think of possible
questions ahead of time, and form answers to these before the class. You can never predict
the exact questions but this preparation will help you to develop a more flexible and confident
approach. In study groups with your classmates, you can practise asking these questions and
providing answers. It is also important to approach classes as spaces where all participants are
aware, respectful, and considerate of others, and every member’s contribution to the learning
environment is valued.
Learning online
Online learning is an essential part of your study at Monash. Most materials for your units, including the unit
guide, are accessible via the dedicated Moodle site. Along with providing many of the required materials,
the Moodle site provides you with a sense of the overall program for the semester including resources, web
links, assessment tasks and assignments. It is also an important teaching and learning space.
Along with your face-to-face and study commitments, you are expected to manage your time
to complete all set online tasks each week. The tasks have been developed to consolidate and
augment your learning. There is some flexibility about when you work online and how long you
allocate to each activity, but it is your responsibility to build this component of your study into your
timetable. Many classes will operate on the assumption that you have completed the prepared
activities. Therefore, deadlines will be set, but the materials will remain available for later revision.
The online materials allow you greater control over pace and access, but should not be considered
an easier option than attending classes. You will be required to complete readings and online tasks
as well as attending classes where your learning is applied through group activities. Most online
materials include assigned readings, short videos, discussion forums, links to further information,
and short quizzes. You might also be asked to complete multiple-choice questions, so that you are
able to gauge your progress and level of understanding. These questions usually do not contribute
to your assessment grade, but may be hurdles, requiring a correct answer before you can continue.
Online learning programs are designed to engage you, provide a baseline of information and prepare
you for the consolidation of learning in class.
Note taking for different learning contexts
All learning activities, whether face-to face or online, require some form of note taking. Note taking assists
you to process the information you are learning and provides material to assist with later revision. You
should not try to write down all the academic staff member’s words. Aim to record in your own words
only the main points and key information. Adopt an active rather than passive approach to note taking.
This will enable you to work efficiently and effectively, and to get maximum benefit from your study time.
There is no one correct way to take notes. You should aim to develop a style that suits your way of
studying. For instance, some students like to write lengthy notes, whereas others record only key
words and points. In developing your own style, you can consider what works for your classmates.
For example, in a study group you can share your approach and learn from each other. The following
points will assist you as you are developing your style.
Using abbreviations
Establishing a system of abbreviations will make note taking more efficient. Examples of abbreviation
techniques include:
s hortening words. For example, the word ‘consumer’ used often in marketing can be abbreviated
to ‘consmr ’, or the word develop to ‘dev’;
sing mathematical symbols, such as =, +, arrows, for example,  for ‘increase’, or $ for
creating your own set of abbreviations and use these consistently.
In the introduction of a lecture, an academic often provides an overview to the learning objectives
and the material to be covered, usually linking it to the previous week’s work. This helps you form a
framework or structure in your mind for the details that follow, helping you to better understand and
situate the information within the context of the unit.
If you are handwriting notes, use a notebook rather than loose paper, which can be easily misplaced.
Make sure the layout of your notes is clear. You should include any relevant information regarding the
source of your notes. For instance, it is a good idea to write down the name of the unit, the date of
the lecture, the lecture’s title, and the lecturer’s name. If you download slides for the lecture, make
sure there is ample room around the slides to record all your notes.
You may prefer to type notes directly into a device during your lectures. Be aware, however, that
recording notes in this fashion can be a passive practice. If you decide to type during lectures, make
sure that you actively engage with the material by including your thoughts and questions.
Some students use a linear system, such as the Cornell system, while others prefer brainstorming
and concept mapping. In developing your own style, search for resources available on the Monash
Library webpage, or speak to a Learning Skills Adviser or Librarian. The lecture structure will be
available for you if you use slides or prepared lecture notes. If these are not available, you need to
recognise this structure and build it into your lecture notes. Overall, a lecture will be largely structured
around main points and sub-points, and these form the framework for your notes.
As well as the structure of ideas, information in the lecture serves different purposes. These may
include introducing new or key content, reinforcing or illustrating main points, linking to previous
information, incorporating practice activities, summing up key content and even digressing to
less important information. The lecturer will signal this information with specific phrases and body
language, and using strategies like emphasis, pausing and repetition to achieve his or her purpose.
Systematic note taking might be more difficult in classes as each class has its own rhythm. Go into
the classroom with the capacity to take notes that build and deepen your understanding of the topic.
Classes can also be fruitful for adding to your glossary of new vocabulary and terms.
Managing visual and spoken information
Many students find it difficult initially to balance the lecturer’s spoken language with the written
information on slides. Remember, it is not necessary to write down all the lecturer’s words or all the
information on the slides. Only the key information is required.
When managing visual and spoken information, you may find that one suits your learning style more
than the other does. For instance, if you are most comfortable with the visual information, base your
note taking on the slides and use the spoken text for more detailed information. Alternatively, if you
are more comfortable with the spoken language, use the spoken text to help you discern the main
points and key ideas.
After the lecture
Knowledge is developmental, meaning that understanding is expanded by building on what has
previously been taught. It is important to keep up-to-date with your understanding of the topics
and the unit overall. If there are concepts or ideas that you are unclear about, you can follow these
up in your study group, refer to the textbook or lecture materials, or request a consultation with
the appropriate academic staff member. Reflecting on your learning week-by-week will assist your
overall understanding.
Revision is the final stage of a three-stage process for working with new material: first, pre-reading
the material; second, developing an understanding of the material in your lectures and classes;
third, revising the material as part of a post-class strategy. Pre-reading is your first exposure to
new content and gives you the opportunity to make sense of the content in your own way, and to
formulate questions you need answered. The classes will give you other perspectives and a chance
to clarify issues. Revision is arguably the most important step, as this is where you take ownership of
the material and develop your own perspective.
Revision is not simply remembering or repeating material, for example, by rote learning. While you
may be required to rote learn a formula, it is the appropriate application of a formula as part of solving
an unfamiliar problem which is valued. In other words, the formula is a minor part of understanding
the problem and identifying a solution. Revision is more complex than rote learning because revision
requires synthesising material from many sources and developing your own critical interpretation.
Creating a set of revision notes
It is important to transfer the material you read to your own notes, not simply highlight or underline ideas
in books or articles. Writing notes helps you to focus, to make decisions about what is important and to
create relationships between ideas by the way you organise them. To revise, create a set of notes on the
topic of the week by transferring and synthesising ideas from all sources - your lecture and class notes,
your textbook, your reading list, and any extra reading you do. Allocate a minimum of two hours each
week for this initial revision. It may take longer at first, but your skills will improve with practice.
Thinking about the unit
The topics that you cover in your weekly program form a wide and deep view of the unit. Placing
the topics into the overall unit structure will help you study more effectively. This approach underpins
your ability to integrate ideas and to think critically and analytically about your study material, as well
as to evaluate and apply it to new situations. You should try to build a picture of the unit as a whole.
This can be achieved by
being aware of the learning outcomes for your unit (presented in the unit guide);
asking yourself how the topics relate to each other;
relating your weekly topics to these learning outcomes.
In this way, you are not studying isolated pieces of information and your study will be more
interesting and engaging. If you are motivated, you will probably get better grades in your studies
(Biggs, 2000).
Discussing your weekly topics with classmates
You may find it useful to form study groups with a few classmates and meet informally for an hour or so
each week. It is a good use of time and there are several advantages. With your study group, you can
clarify any material or concepts you do not understand;
explain to others your understanding of concepts;
identify gaps in your notes and incorporate important information.
It is most important, however, that all assignment work you submit is your own. There are severe
penalties for copying and plagiarising the work of others. This is discussed in Chapter 3.1 Working
with academic integrity. There are many advantages to collaboration as long as you practise
academic integrity.
Working in groups
Group work requires you to work collaboratively on set tasks. These tasks may range from informal
team exercises completed during a class to formal assessment tasks requiring ongoing collaboration
through to task completion. Group size may also range from pairs to larger groups of three to
six members. Assessment of a team-related task is usually based on the outcome, such as the
production of a report or presentation, but in some units will also include assessment of the team’s
ability to collaborate effectively, in other words, how the group was able to produce its outcomes.
Aim of group work
The aim of group work is to enable you to undertake more detailed and comprehensive projects
leading to deeper learning. This is achieved through the combined talents of group members
contributing knowledge, skills and ideas. You also develop communication and teamwork skills such
as planning, management, leadership and peer support. These skills are transferrable and highly
desired by future employers, as working in teams is an essential part of an individual’s professional
career (Davies, 2009). Additionally, research shows that students who have experience working in
teams are better prepared for the collaborative nature of work (Hansen, 2006). If given the choice,
select group members with whom you can work with effectively. Friends are not necessarily the best
option. In addition, ensure members have compatible values, aims, availability, or options to maintain
regular contact with the team.
Spend some time getting to know each other, ensuring that all members are involved in initial
planning discussions. Members who feel that their voices are heard during these discussions are
less likely to disengage from the group. Assign roles based on members’ strengths and weaknesses.
Set goals early and together as a team.
Getting off to a good start:
Get to know each other and exchange availability and contact details;
ecide on a common approach to communication .e.g, online, file sharing and document
Discuss grade expectations;
Analyse the task and do some initial planning.
Scheduling and meetings
You should organise regular meeting times from the beginning of the task, including expected
outcomes for each meeting. Use a meeting agenda and record decisions made, and the allocation
and progress of tasks. This is an effective way of ensuring meetings are productive. In some units,
the development of structures and processes around a team assessment task may form part of the
unit’s assessment. This also gives team members an opportunity to become familiar with relevant
approaches to team work that will assist them as future professionals.
Meeting agendas
An agenda is an outline of what is to be covered during a scheduled meeting. Include the time,
date, attendance, a list of items to be discussed, decisions to be made and problems to be solved.
An example of an agenda is provided in Table 2.1 below. This can form the basis for your meeting
Table 2.1: Example of a meeting agenda
Unit: MGC120X
Assignment: Marketing mix report (Toyota Prius)
Group members: Basma, Hung, Calvin, David
Days remaining until submission: 20
Approximate completion of assignment: 15%
DATE: 6th October
LOCATION: Matheson Library
CHAIR: Basma
ITEM 1: Product research
ITEM 2: Theory research
ITEM 3: Market analysis
ITEM 4: File management and communication
Meeting minutes
Meeting minutes are the notes taken during a meeting. Minutes should be concise and capture
the essential information of a meeting, particularly decisions made and assigned actions. In Table
2.2 decisions are presented in bold and agreed upon deadlines are in italics. Minutes can then be
distributed to the team to ensure that all members are clear on their responsibilities and the task’s
progression, even if they were unable to attend. Additionally, minutes provide a record of members’
contributions to the task’s completion.
Table 2.2: Example of group meeting minutes
Unit: MGC120X
Assignment: Marketing mix report (Toyota Prius)
Group members: Basma, Hung, Calvin, David
Days remaining until submission: 20
Approximate completion of assignment: 15%
DATE: 6th October
LOCATION: Matheson Library
CHAIR: Basma
APOLOGIES: Calvin (Sick)
ITEM 1: Product research
It was decided that Basma and David will find product information on the Toyota website –
product overview, positioning, etc and present at next meeting.
ITEM 2: Theory research
It was decided that Hung and Calvin will continue research on theory. Hung to find three articles in
Business Source Complete. Calvin to review chapters 4/5 of the textbook. Results will be shared
via email by end of week.
ITEM 3: Market analysis
It was decided that David will use IBIS World research reports to complete SWOT/PEST analysis
and present at next meeting.
ITEM 4: File management and communication
The problem regarding version control was overcome by experimenting with alternative
approaches. It was decided that a Google Doc will be used to create the report. Basma will
create the Google Doc tonight. It was decided that Facebook chat will be used for ongoing
NEXT MEETING: 13th October
LOCATION: Online (Facebook chat)
Chairing meetings
You may wish to nominate a coordinator or chairperson or share the role throughout your teamrelated task. The chair will plan the agenda and be responsible for guiding the meeting, ensuring that
members work harmoniously and purposefully together. If you are the chair, ensure that all members
are given an opportunity to contribute during the meeting. Allocating time to contribute, such as
initially giving each member a few minutes to speak to each item, may assist.
Online versus face-to-face meetings
Recognise the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face versus online meetings when deciding
on meeting format. Consider the agenda of the meeting and decide on the most suitable meeting
Working together effectively checklist
Plan and commit to regular meetings;
Use a simple agenda to manage each meeting;
Record decisions made and assigned actions in meeting minutes;
Ensure all group members receive a copy of the meeting minutes;
Consider the purpose of the meeting when deciding if the meeting will be face-to-face or online.
Doing the work
Before undertaking various tasks, ensure that the group has a clear understanding of all the
associated work involved in the task’s completion. If necessary, prepare a list of questions for the
tutor in order to gain greater clarity. Consider each group member’s strengths and determine an
equitable method of sharing the work. For example, it may be helpful if all members are involved in
researching the topic initially to identify and compare key arguments or themes. One team member
might then look for appropriate examples to support these themes, while others work in pairs to
identify key points that underpin the themes.
Managing workload
Develop a shared understanding of the task’s requirements;
Create an agreed upon process to addressing the task;
Determine an equitable method of sharing the work;
Monitor progress and provide feedback during group meetings.
Be respectful when communicating with each other. Ensure team members listen carefully and
with an open mind to each other’s suggestions. Be aware of your tone and your non-verbal
communication when engaging with your team.
Constructive feedback provides an opportunity to reflect on your performance, effort, or an
associated outcome. When giving feedback, also focus on positive rather than only negative
aspects. When receiving feedback, do not take constructive feedback personally. Try to recognise
the opportunities to learn from the feedback.
Dealing with conflict
Problems usually arise due to group dynamics or task progress. If conflict arises, as a group you
need to clearly identify the problem. Consider solutions to address the problem, allowing specific,
frank and constructive discussion to take place. Focus discussion on ideas rather than individuals.
As a group, make any necessary changes and revise initial plans.
Conflict resolution can be challenging, however, students are encouraged to remain solution focused
and work through any major issues as a team. Consult the relevant academic staff member if you
are unable to resolve a conflict.
Common challenges
Research suggests that the most significant challenges for students working in teams are difficulty
co-ordinating schedules, members not contributing equally (“free-riders”), and differing grade
expectations (Hansen, 2006). By applying effective structures and processes for completing the
task, these issues may be minimised.
Group work can be challenging and rewarding, both in an educational setting and in the workplace.
Through planning and by anticipating and managing potential challenges, your team experience can
be a positive one.
Time management
One of the most important skills for university study is time management. Time management is
essential because study involves a complex mix of tasks. University study includes processes which
are carried out over time (such as the assignment process). You will often need to multi-task, which
requires allotting and prioritising time for a range of activities (for example, pre-reading for classes,
multiple assignments, and exam preparation). Time available for academic study also depends on
management of activities external to your study. Time management involves allocating time for tasks
and using time effectively.
To be successful, you generally need to allow a minimum of 12 hours per week per unit, in addition
to contact time in lectures, seminars, workshops or classes. Once you have allocated all your
contact time, use the spaces on the timetable to record specific tasks for each block of non-contact
time. This planning helps to keep you on track over the semester.
Table 2.3: Sample Week 5 timetable
Week 5
Lecture A
prep B
Tutorial B
prep A
Lecture C
Tutorial A
Assign B
Lec B
C edit/
prep D
read/take notes/
(submit Fri
read/take notes/
Lecture D
Assign D read/
take notes/outline
Revise B
Tutorial prep C
Assign A
Revise C
Submit Assign C
Tutorial C
Pre-read B
Pre-read C
Revise A
Pre-read D
revision D
Pre-read A
2.3 The assignment process
University assignments require substantial time and preparation (Australian Department of Education,
Training and Youth Affairs, 2005). Allocating sufficient time for assignment preparation is crucial for
success. Table 2.4 maps the assignment process in steps, with indications of the amount of time
You can see that the entire process should begin 5 to 6 weeks before the due date of an
assignment. Work backwards from the submission date, recording on your weekly timetable the
stage for each assignment in each week. Further details for each step can be found in Chapter 4
The research process and Chapter 5 Academic writing skills.
Table 2.4: Assignment process
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Task analysis
Search &
select sources
Read and
take notes
and build an
Draft and
redraft several
Edit &
1 hour
2–3 days
two weeks
two weeks
2–3 days
on time
Be aware that over a semester there may be several peak periods, usually mid-semester and end of
the semester, when examination preparation and due dates for several assignments may coincide.
Plan ahead to manage your time effectively at these points. For example, early in the semester
attempt to negotiate leave from paid employment or other responsibilities, reduced hours, or
alternative shifts for peak study periods. If you would like assistance with time management skills,
contact a learning skills adviser at the Monash Library or a Monash counsellor.
University examinations test more than just knowledge, so mastery of content is not enough. Some
students are not aware of the nature of university examinations (James, McInnis, & Devlin, 2002).
Rather than simply testing knowledge, university examinations also test your ability to
apply your knowledge to new situations;
explain ideas and arguments clearly in written form;
solve problems;
critically evaluate material.
Finally, examinations are also one way to determine your success and readiness for the next stage of
learning within the course.
Scheduling examination preparation
You should begin preparing for your examinations in Week 1 of the semester. Remember that
regular, weekly revision after your classes is also examination preparation. Schedule a minimum of
two hours per subject into your weekly timetable for this revision, that is, a total of about eight hours
per week minimum for revision for a full-time load of four subjects (see Table 2.3 above).
When you are revising, it is advisable to work in short blocks with a five to ten minute break. Start
with 30 minute blocks of time, and build up to a maximum of two hour blocks. In order to use your
scheduled time efficiently, set yourself specific goals per study block. For example, you could
write key points or design a concept map of a particular section of the textbook;
make cards of definitions and formulae to use on the train or bus;
test yourself on the tutorial questions for this week;
do five questions from the textbook;
summarise a topic from memory.
It is also important to concentrate during the blocks of time and you may have to build your
tolerance gradually to achieve this. Thinking requires energy and effort. If you find yourself not
focusing, take a break for a few minutes, then sit down again and re-focus. Gradually build up the
time you are able to maintain focus. Avoid distractions such as social networking which will prevent
you from thinking clearly. Save these activities as a reward for productively completing your study
Save timed practice exam questions from your lecturer until you are more confident, for instance
later in the semester or in Swot Vac.
Revision for examinations
There are several steps to revising effectively for examinations.
1.Create your initial set of synthesised notes on the topic
2.Put the set of notes and all books aside and try to reconstruct your set of
notes from memory. This will give you a clear picture of what you need to
focus on
3.Repeat this step several times and at longer intervals - immediately, next
day, next week, next month, Swot Vac
4.Practise using your notes from memory to answer practice examination
This process achieves three important things.
1.It creates long-term memory
2.Your notes will change as you reconsider the ideas and as you learn more.
This is a desirable outcome, as it develops your understanding and your
own perspective
3.Repetition from memory will also enable you to simplify and reduce your
notes. Your notes will gradually become a set of simple triggers. These
triggers will jog your memory quickly during an exam and bring to mind all
the associated material.
Practice questions
During the latter part of the semester, you will be given guidance by your Chief Examiners with regard
to the nature of the examinations, their length, format and the types of questions (e.g. essay, multiple
choice, short answer) to be expected on the examination paper. The Chief Examiner may also provide
a mock examination that students can practise in preparation for the real thing. If one is provided, plan
and write responses for these. It is a good idea to do this in study groups, so that you can compare
and contrast your understandings and responses with classmates, learning from each other.
Examination types
Multiple-choice questions
To prepare for multiple-choice questions you need to be very familiar with the detailed content of
your units. In many cases, the differences between correct and incorrect question options are subtle
and require close and careful consideration. Study the analysis of the multiple-choice questions
below based on a first year Accounting and Finance exam.
Example exam question 1
Exchanges which take place between the business and outside parties and affect the financial
position of the business are called:
a)bills of exchange
b)monetary measures
c)financial transactions
d)balance day adjustments
In the example above, note that the main topic is “Exchanges”. The question asks for the name of
the exchanges that are
between business and outside parties, and that
affect the business’ financial position
Example exam question 2
According to SAC4, which of the following is NOT a necessary characteristic of liabilities:
a)future sacrifice of economic benefits
b)present obligation to make that sacrifice
c)obligation is to another party
d)obligation arose out of a past transaction
e)none of the above
Note the word NOT in the above question.
Short answer and essay questions
In preparing for short answer and essay examination questions, practise breaking down the question
to identify exactly what you are being asked to do. Short answer and essay questions require you to
apply and interpret the material you have studied.
While some short answer questions may ask you to recall, or retell information, most will expect
you to be able to also interpret, analyse, and apply information. They may require you to refer to
information from several topics within the one unit. Remember that a short essay question needs to
be organised around an essay structure. Consider how many paragraphs might be possible in the
allocated time frame and how many key points can be included.
Study the example short answer management question below:
Example exam question 3
List the five stages of group development. What is involved in each stage?
This question requires you to do two things:
1.“List” – You must define/describe the five stages of group development
2.“What is involved…” – You must explain how the stages achieve the
objectives and how they relate to each other.
A suitable plan for this question is as follows:
Explain the details of each stage, one at a time
xplain how they work. Consider aspects such as the effects, advantages and disadvantages of certain
elements of the stages. You can also explain how the stages relate to each other in group development.
Provide examples for stages and a diagram if appropriate.
Consider linking groups and the stages to other topics, such as member satisfaction and performance.
Further example of a short essay examination question from a Management unit
Example exam question 4
Describe the sources of stress in organisations. Discuss the strategies management can use to
reduce employee stress in the workplace, as well as what individuals can do to reduce their own
Suggested approach:
What causes stress in organisations according to known theory?
hat can management do to decrease employee stress? Compare some known strategies from
the field of management and consider advantages and disadvantages?
hat can individuals do to reduce stress? Discuss some known strategies that individuals can
employ and discuss.
Calculation questions
It is important that you are able to recognise when particular processes are called for, so that you
can apply them correctly. The best way to do this is to make sure you understand the processes,
and their advantages and disadvantages for particular purposes. You then need to practise these in
a range of situations.
Checklist of examination smart practices
heck and re-check all examination details including date, time and venue of all exams. What type
of exams are they (i.e. multiple-choice questions, calculation, short answer, essay, case study,
open or closed book)?
Complete practice questions provided by the Chief Examiner.
ractice mock examination papers to familiarise yourself with exam instructions. Plan your
examination time management in advance.
Practice makes perfect
Like most performance exercises, the more you practise, the higher the confidence level you gain
with the actual examinations. Do as many revision and practice questions as you can. Discuss your
answers and your experience with your classmates to guide you in further practice. Make sure you
ask your tutor if you experience difficulty with any of the questions.
Stay healthy
Eat well before the examination to maintain your stamina and concentration. Slow releasing
carbohydrates like bread and cereals are good. Drink plenty of water the week before the exam to
avoid dehydration. Get plenty of sleep to ensure that you are rested and focused, in order to give
your best on the day. Do not stay awake late the night before the examination. It is important that
you engage in recreation and exercise regularly throughout the examination period. Exercise helps
you to stay positive and focused and also helps to eliminate stress.
Manage examination stress
Feelings of anxiety and stress during the examination period are normal. However, excessive
levels of stress may be detrimental to your mental and physical health which in turn could affect
your concentration and performance during the examinations. Here are some stress management
pot the signs. Recognise if you are experiencing excessive levels of stress. For example, do you
lie awake worrying at night? Are you irritable and easily angered?
hat are your stress triggers? Do you get anxious when your workload increases? Is it when you
set yourself unrealistic goals? Are you stressed by others work – particularly as part of a group
Once you identify your stress triggers and recognise your stress levels, work on managing them.
Here are some practical steps to help you stay calm, confident and focused.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep lowers your energy levels, and prevents you thinking clearly
Take regular, short breaks where you shift your focus and get up from the study task
Monitor your self-talk. Are you speaking negatively to yourself?
anage your time! Reduce stress levels by becoming more organised. Plan weekly timetables and
follow them to avoid predictable crises
Set priorities and work out which tasks are important and which can wait.
If you work steadily and conscientiously throughout the semester, the examinations may be stressful
but they will be manageable. Remember your long-term goal, to successfully complete your degree,
and celebrate a semester of learning new knowledge and skills.
Australian Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. (2005). Trends in the first year experience:
in Australian universities. Retrieved from http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/higher_education/
publications_resources/profiles/archives/ trends_in_the_first_year_experience_university.htm
Biggs, J. (2000). Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
Davies, M. W. (2009). Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended
solutions. Higher Education, 58(4) 563-584.
Hansen, R. (2006) Benefits and problems with student teams: Suggestions for improving team projects.
The Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), 9-11.
Huntly, H. & Donovan, J. (2009). Developing academic persistence in first year tertiary students: a case
study. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development, 6(1), 1–14.
James, R., McInnis, C. and Devlin, M. (2002). Assessing learning in Australian universities. Retrieved from
www.cshe. unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning
When you accept an offer of a place at Monash University, you will be committing to a number of
expectations. These expectations are clearly set out in the Student Charter (http://www.monash.edu/
As a Monash student, you are expected to:
undertake your studies with honesty and integrity;
redit the work of others, seek permission to use that work where required and not plagiarise or
nderstand your rights and obligations in relation to copyright and the intellectual property
generated by your own and others’ research;
use university resources and services responsibly to support your learning;
fulfil course attendance and assessment requirements;
ensure the university has your current contact details;
regularly read university correspondence;
be informed about and follow university policy.
In terms of behaviour and well-being, you are expected to:
act with consideration and courtesy to other students, staff and visitors;
ehave appropriately to the context, including in professional placements, volunteering, sporting
and cultural events;
respect the rights of others to study and work free from discrimination and harassment;
express your views respectfully and responsibly and accept the rights of others to do the same;
act safely, and not endanger others;
ot damage or misuse university property (including library, IT, equipment and other facilities and
not misuse the university’s resources or name, including for personal gain;
comply with reasonable and lawful directions from university staff.
Whenever you work on a task, at university or professionally, you will probably need to refer to
different sources of information before developing your own informed response. The ideas, graphics,
data, audio visual presentations, and perspectives of other, often expert authors, provide evidence
for your arguments. Just as it is important to pay for something when you use it, it is important to
credit others for ideas when you use them to shape or support your work. In academic writing,
such credit is given in the form of citations and references. Citations also allow readers to learn
more about specific ideas, as well as showing how your work is based on reliable information. Citing
sources appropriately displays a level of honesty in your work, helping a reader to identify which
ideas are your own, and which ideas have come from elsewhere.
During your studies at university, the concept of producing original work that recognises ideas
from other sources is called ‘academic integrity’. Alternatively, claiming someone else’s work,
words, structures, images, or ideas as your own is called ‘plagiarism’; this is taken very seriously
by the university. When you move into the workforce, similar concepts apply. Failing to work with
professional integrity, or claiming the work of others as your own, can lead to legal proceedings
against you or your employer.
This chapter provides more detail about how to act with academic integrity and avoid plagiarism, as
well as some guidance about how to cite and reference effectively. You will need to consider these
ideas, together with those presented in the other chapters in this manual, in order to develop and
maintain your own academic integrity. It is your responsibility to become familiar with the concept
of academic integrity, and the processes necessary to maintain it throughout your university and
professional career. You are encouraged to seek help from the Monash Business School website,
academic staff, and library research and learning staff if you need assistance understanding this topic.
What is plagiarism?
Whenever you use ideas from another source, you must clearly identify that source using a citation
(within the written text) and a reference (in the reference list). This is also true when you use or
base your ideas on data, audio visual media, or graphics. Any part of the work without citations
is therefore assumed to be your own idea or perspective. Generally, you are not asked for your
personal view or opinion but for a response based on evidence, usually from academic sources.
Plagiarism occurs when writers claim ownership of words or ideas that are not their own. It is
‘stealing’ the intellectual property of other creators, is not allowed within the university, and is
considered unethical in the workplace. If you copy expressions of ideas, such as text, images, or
sentence structures without acknowledging the original creator, the University may take disciplinary
action against you, which can result in you failing an assignment or unit, or being suspended or
excluded from the University.
It is unacceptable to copy large amounts of information from other texts, even if the source is cited.
Your work should demonstrate your own understanding of the ideas, rather than just repeating
someone else’s. Examples of plagiarism include:
araphrasing other people’s work, words, structures, and/or ideas and presenting them without
citing the original source (changing a few words in an existing sentence is not the same as using
your own words. See Chapter 3.1 for a more detailed explanation);
copying other people’s work, in whole or in part;
presenting other people’s designs, codes, or images as your own work;
sing phrases and passages verbatim without quotation marks and/or without appropriate citation
of the original source;
reproducing lecture materials without due acknowledgement;
sing the same structure and/or flow of argument as another source without clearly
acknowledging having done so;
cutting and pasting another person’s work into a new document and pretending it is your own;
s ubmitting an assignment (your own, or someone else’s) which has previously been submitted for
assessment in any unit, including at another institution;
submitting an assignment that has been prepared by someone else as your own work;
resenting an assignment as your own, individual work when it has really been produced in
collusion with other students (unless the assignment was specified as a group project).
Plagiarism is not only concerned with published texts, but can also occur if students copy or
base their work on that done by other people, including other students. It is usually acceptable for
students to discuss ideas and develop arguments with other students, but, unless the assignment
description clearly outlines that group work is expected, the final product must be based on your
own ideas, research, and conclusions. If you are not clear about how collaborative work should be
presented, talk to the relevant academic staff members.
Student discipline and Part 7 of the Monash University (Council) regulations regarding
academic integrity
Student discipline is conducted under Part 7 of the Monash University (Council) Regulations, which
are found here:
Student Discipline Guidelines explaining these regulations are found here:
The Monash University Student Academic Integrity Policy (2013) can be found at:
Key definitions (Monash University Student Academic Integrity Policy, 2013, para. Definitions):
Academic integrity: is the moral code of academia. It involves using, generating and
communicating information in an ethical, honest and responsible manner.
Academic misconduct: means conduct by which a student seeks to gain for himself, herself
or another person an unfair or unjustified academic advantage in a course or unit of study and
includes, cheating, collusion and plagiarism. It may be intentional or reckless.
Cheat/Cheating: means to seek to obtain an unfair advantage in an examination or written, oral
or practical work, required to be submitted or completed for assessment in a course or unit of
study and includes the resubmission of work that has already been assessed in another unit.
Collusion: means unauthorised collaboration on assessable written, oral or practical work with
another person or persons.
Plagiarism: means to take and use another person’s ideas and or manner of expressing them
and to pass them off as one’s own by failing to give appropriate acknowledgement, including the
use of material from any source, staff, students or the Internet, published and unpublished works.
Proofreading: The process of identifying errors and suggesting corrections to a text. This must
not involve rewriting passages of text in order to clarify meaning; amending the words used by
the author (except to identify the correct spelling of the word used); rearranging passages of
text or code, or reformatting other material; contributing additional material to the original; and
checking calculations or formulae.
Academic integrity - is the moral code of academia. It involves using, generating and
communicating information in an ethical, honest and responsible manner.
Plagiarism – means “to take and use another person’s ideas and or manner of expressing them
and to pass them off as one’s own by failing to give appropriate acknowledgement”
Cheating – means “to seek to obtain an unfair advantage in an examination or written, oral or
practical work, required to be submitted or completed for assessment in a course or unit of study
and includes the resubmission of work that has already been assessed in another unit”.
What is collusion?
Collusion is not the same as plagiarism, but is closely related, in that it involves claiming credit for
work that is not your own.
According to Monash University’s Student Academic Integrity Policy (2013):
Collusion - means the unauthorised collaboration on assessable written, oral or practical work with
another person or persons“ (para. Definitions). Collusion is considered to be a form of cheating,
and is taken very seriously by the university.
What happens if plagiarism is suspected?
When submitting an assignment, you may be required to use Turnitin, which is accessed via Moodle.
This software compares your writing to sources online and to work submitted by other students and
generates an originality report. You can find out more about Turnitin here: http://guides.lib.monash.
edu/turnitin. An assignment that demonstrates a high level of similarity to other texts will be reported
to the Chief Examiner of the unit. The Chief Examiner must then decide whether the similarities
constitute a breach in academic integrity. A student who is found to have breached the academic
integrity policy by intentionally or unintentionally plagiarising other work(s) will be provided with the
opportunity to respond, either in writing or in person.
If the Chief Examiner decides there is no breach of the policy, the assessment will be marked
appropriately. In some cases, the Chief Examiner may require the student to attend a meeting to
discuss academic integrity and/or consider how to develop more suitable assignment strategies for
the future, and a warning letter may also be issued to the student.
If the Chief Examiner does determine that the assignment has breached the academic integrity
policy, the student will be given an opportunity to meet the Chief Examiner to respond to the
allegation before a decision is made.
Where the Chief Examiner decides that a breach of academic integrity has occurred, they must either
take disciplinary action, or;
report the matter to the faculty manager who will then implement the appropriate disciplinary action.
The Chief Examiner can also make a request to check the Academic Integrity Warnings Register to see if
a student has received any prior warnings or been subject to previous disciplinary action for plagiarism.
If the Chief Examiner decides to take action, he or she must
isallow the work concerned by prohibiting assessment (that piece of assessment is not to be
marked and must receive zero marks);
inform the student in writing that the marks have been disallowed and that he/she has the right to
appeal the disallowance;
inform the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) and the faculty secretariat of the disallowance.
The record of the disciplinary action will be recorded on the Academic Integrity Warnings Register for
seven years. A record of an accusation on the Academic Integrity Warnings Register will be retained
while the student is enrolled or intermitted in any course and academic staff will have access to this
information when considering any subsequent allegations of plagiarism.
Students’ responsibilities
Students are required to submit an Assessment Cover Sheet for every piece of assessment, which
should contain
1. the approved definition of plagiarism
2. a statement about collusion
3. the approved privacy statement
4. a certification by the student
that plagiarism or collusion has not occurred
that the assignment is original and has not been previously submitted as part of another unit,
subject, or course
that their work has been safeguarded properly, and all reasonable effort has been made to ensure
it could not be copied
that the assessor of the assignment may, for the purposes of assessment, reproduce the assignment
and provide it to another member of the business school; and/or submit it to a plagiarism service (which
may then retain a copy of the assignment on its database for the purpose of future plagiarism checking)
that they [the student] understand the consequences of engaging in academic misconduct as
described in part 7 of the Monash university (council) regulations.
3.1 Working with Academic Integrity
Using citations appropriately in your written work
As explained earlier in this chapter, when presenting your response to a topic you are expected
to review the literature in the field and incorporate the views of other authors. In this sense, the
authors’ views are used as foundations upon which to build your own argument. You must formulate
your own structure for your work in response to the topic, rather than relying too heavily on other
authors’ views. The source of the words or ideas used to support your response must always be
Before structuring your response to the question, you need to thoroughly research the topic so you
can develop a clear understanding of the topic, issues, strategies, or ideas being discussed. Your
ideas will be based on what you have read in the literature, but should not be the same as any single
author’s view. It is important to make your own notes, in your own words, about ideas that you learn
about from other sources, rather than copying sections of them into your notes for future reference.
You should be careful to include citations in your notes so you can always identify where an idea has
come from. You should refer to your notes when drafting your assignment, not the original sources
(see Chapter 5.1 Academic writing overview).
Unsuitable use of references
The following sample paragraph for a management topic consists almost entirely of direct quotations
and paraphrases from other sources. In this case the writer has failed to demonstrate their
understanding of ideas discussed in the literature. There is no comment from the writer themselves
anywhere within the paragraph, and there is no attempt to combine (synthesise) ideas from different
sources. What the author has done in this example is write a list. The referencing is also inadequate
because publication dates have not been included. It is often considered inappropriate to reference
lecture notes, because it is difficult for others to consult or verify the ideas with the original source of
information. Lecture notes usually include their own citations to sources, so it is more appropriate
to review the original documents, rather than the secondary sources where biases or errors could
have altered the meaning in some way. The following example shows little evidence that its writer
understood the topic. The writer’s voice is missing, lecture notes are quoted inappropriately, and
some of the citing is incorrect.
Example 1: poor incorporation of source ideas
Organisations operating under rational-legal authority are marked by division of labour, hierarchy,
rules and regulations and impersonal relationships (Robbing, p.36). This type of authority “allows
supervision and control of a large number of individuals engaged in a common objective or task,
maximising coordination and organisational efficiency” (MGC Lecture Notes, 2016). “Control is
concerned with the methods employed by the organisation to ensure that people perform their tasks
in ways which are seen as desirable from the viewpoint of the organisation” (Robbing, p. 569).
Although paraphrasing is preferred, direct quotations can be carefully selected and used sparingly,
providing that you
indicate that these are exact words from the text by using quotation marks;
cite the author of the original work;
indicate in preceding or subsequent analysis that you understand the meaning of these words.
Suitable integration of references
The following sample paragraph for a management topic uses references appropriately. Instead of
using direct quotations or paraphrasing, the writer has summarised the views expressed by the cited
authors. That is, the writer has presented comments on the issue and placed the relevant literature
in the context of their own response to an assignment task.
Example 2: A well-researched, well-constructed paragraph including summarising and
Sentences are numbered here to facilitate explanation. You should not normally number sentences
in your work.
[1] Team intranets are an example of how ICT can make it easier for managers to communicate
with members of their teams, but implementation must be carefully considered. [2] Intranets
range in size from a single page of key contact information, such as that used by Supercorp
(Thompson, 2010) through to websites made up of thousands of pages with information
for employees working across different sites and departments (e.g. National Health Service,
2015). [3] When used appropriately, intranets can free up staff time (Golding, 2011), increase
communication between teams (Chen, Al-Arab, McCarthy, & Thomas, 2010) and allow individuals
to collectively solve problems despite geographic separation (Menzies, 2008). [4] Carson et al.
(2012) provided advice for companies looking to develop their own intranets, including the need
to consider the purpose, audience and administration of such sites. [5] The results of a study by
Marvin and Tennyson (2014), however, suggest that caution is needed before making significant
changes to information flows within an organisation. [6] These authors interviewed more than
500 staff working in five large companies before, during and after lines of communication were
moved online. [7] In companies where staff representatives at all levels were consulted there
was significantly higher buy-in and acceptance of the new systems than for those companies
where the change was driven by senior management without consultation. [8] Additionally,
when lower-level staff were consulted, problems tended to be identified and addressed before
implementation, whereas the three management-driven intranet implementations all experienced
serious problems. [9] Similarly, two other studies (Brown & Thompson, 2012; Utway, Zheng,
& Dewi, 2014) both identified organisations who had lost thousands of dollars in lost time and
business when apparently minor changes to communication systems inadvertently led to serious
problems (repeated disconnection of point-of-sale terminals, and increased complexity of
ordering processes respectively). [10] It appears that, if introduced appropriately, intranets can
provide a range of benefits to organisations and managers, but successful implementation can
be challenging.
Looking at this paragraph closely we can see that
Sentence 1 (topic sentence) introduces the author’s claim
entences 2, 3, and 4 (expanding and explaining sentences) provide some background to this
claim, and show the relationships between different examples
entences 5 to 8 (example sentences) summarise the Marvin and Tennyson (2014) article and its
key findings. In this sentence “however” indicates that the student has identified a limitation to the
previous idea
entence 9 (evidence sentence) provides additional evidence relating to the claim. Note the words
“similarly” and “both”; these words show that the student has realised the articles discussed here
all have a common theme
entence 10 (linking sentence) is the author’s conclusion based on the information in the
paragraph, and a link to the next idea to be discussed.
Techniques for using an author’s ideas
Your work should always be an expression of your own ideas, reflecting your interpretation and
understanding of the topic, and building on existing evidence, ideas, and opinions.
A summary describes only the main ideas of the original source (or collection of sources) with limited
detail. Summaries are generally one step in the process of preparing other documents, such as
essays and reports, rather than being part of the final text. The following approach will assist you to
summarise texts.
1. Read and understand the text (in long documents, it can be a good idea to work on
one section at a time)
2. In your notes, write a citation that allows you to return to the original document later if
3. Without looking at the text, make brief notes about the main ideas that you
understood. Only include details that you remember; use keywords, synonyms, and
abbreviations. Do not write full sentences. Specialised or technical vocabulary does
not have to be changed
4. Reorganise your notes to suit your research question. For example, it may not be
necessary for the points in the summary to follow the same sequence as in the
original passage, or you may wish to combine several key points
5. Read a paragraph in the original text and sum it up in a sentence of your own
6. Repeat this process for other texts you are reading for your assignment
7. Determine how the ideas you have summarised fit together
8. Using your notes, draft the summary or paragraph
9. Do not forget to add an in-text citation to your draft (no page number is required
unless you are quoting directly).
The following is an original quotation and one of the many possible ways that it could be
summarised (Example 3). In the subsequent assignment prepared by the same student (Example 4),
the writer’s comment is at the beginning.
Example 3: Student notes
Original source: William, A., Dobb, P., & Walters, M. (2015). Changing culture: twenty-first century
approaches. London: Horizon Institute of Management, pp. 11-38.
Culture is learnt. Individual beliefs, attitudes and values are gained from the individual’s
environment. The culture of the organisation is therefore gained from the environment common to
its members. Both the internal and the external environment of the organisation influence culture.
The internal environment comprises the social and technical systems of the organisation. Thus,
in part, culture is the product of these socio-technical systems. They comprise the decisionmaking, planning and control procedures of the organisation, its technology, the procedures for
recruitment, selection and training, and the behaviour of other members – in particular, that of the
manager and the work group. Culture has its roots as much in beliefs about the demands of the
work environment as it does in the personal attitudes and values of individuals.
Externally, the organisation is embedded in social political, legislative, economic, and technological
systems. These represent the external environment of the organisation. Those operating in
different sectors have different markets, technologies and legal constraints. They have different
skill and resource needs. These variations place different demands on organisations and create
differing learning environments.
Example 4: How the summary appears in the final assignment
In considering an organisation’s culture which includes the values, beliefs and attitudes of its
members, it is important to recognise that it is shaped by both internal and external environments.
Socio-technical systems such as decision-making, planning, and controlling constitute the internal
environment. The external environment, which can differ across sectors, includes elements such
as social, political and legislative factors (William, Dobb, & Walters, 2015).
In Example 4, the student has provided their interpretation of the original passage. The order
of the ideas has been changed, probably because the student needs to focus on the role and
nature of environments in their assignment. Most of the details included in the original have also
been eliminated so that only the relevant points from the passage are presented. Note that when
summarising or paraphrasing from a source, no page number is required for the in-text citation. A
summary such as Example 4 would probably contribute to a larger paragraph, which would need to
include more analysis of these ideas or comparisons with other literature.
Paraphrasing means to express ideas in your own words. Unlike a summary, a paraphrase is not
limited to the main ideas. You can use paraphrasing to include ideas or information from the original
source needed to support your own arguments. For example, it may be necessary to paraphrase
concepts, definitions, statutes, or Accounting standards in your own words. The following steps will
assist you with paraphrasing.
After locating the information:
1. Read the passage several times to fully understand its meaning and to identify the
specific ideas or information you need from the passage
2. Without looking at the original, take brief notes about the text; use key words,
synonyms, abbreviations, mathematical symbols
3. Do not write full sentences. Specialised or technical vocabulary does not have to be
4. Repeat the above until you have read all relevant sources on the topic
5. Consider your informed, educated, academic opinion about the topic, and identify
which information or ideas are required to support it
6. Organise your notes to suit your own writing
7. Write from your notes to suit your interpretation and the part of your text you are drafting
8. Do not forget to add an in-text citation (no page number is required unless you are
quoting directly).
The following is an original quotation and one of the many possible ways that it could be
paraphrased; the material to be included in the paraphrase is displayed in italics in the original
(Example 5). In the example paraphrase (Example 6), the writer’s comment is at the beginning.
Example 5: Original text
Original source: William, A., Dobb, P. & Walters, M. (2015). Changing culture: twenty-first century
approaches. London: Horizon Institute of Management, pp. 11-38.
Culture is learnt. Individual beliefs, attitudes and values are gained from the individual’s
environment. The culture of the organisation is therefore gained from the environment common to
its members. Both the internal and the external environment of the organisation influence culture.
The internal environment comprises the social and technical systems of the organisation. Thus,
in part, culture is the product of these socio-technical systems. They comprise the decisionmaking, planning and control procedures of the organisation, its technology, the procedures for
recruitment, selection and training, and the behaviour of other members – in particular, that of the
manager and the work group. Culture has its roots as much in beliefs about the demands of the
work environment as it does in the personal attitudes and values of individuals.
Externally, the organisation is embedded in social political, legislative, economic and technological
systems. These represent the external environment of the organisation. Those operating in
different sectors have different markets, technologies and legal constraints. They have different
skill and resource needs. These variations place different demands on organisations and create
differing learning environments.
Example 6: Example paraphrase based on Example 5 text
Organisational culture is not fixed and unchanging, but differs across organisations. As William
et al. (2015) suggest, the interplay of internal procedures and behaviours and external legal and
social factors is different in each organisation. The three cases considered in this study show
significant variation in organisational culture in terms of …
In Example 6, a particular detail has been adapted to suit a new context. In this context, factors not
only influence (original), but also differ or vary (paraphrase). Even though the author’s idea has been
expressed in the student’s own words, the source of the idea must be referenced. Again, note that a
page number is not required for the in-text citation when paraphrasing.
It is important to note that, when paraphrasing, it is not sufficient to change a few words in the
sentence in order to claim it as your own work. This is called ‘patch writing’ and is considered to
be a form of plagiarism. Paraphrasing is expressing the ideas in your own words, using your own
sentence structure, based on your own understanding.
Synthesising ideas from multiple sources
Synthesis is a way of demonstrating that your opinions are based on a range of ideas and sources of
evidence, rather than just restating one or two existing opinions, or providing a list of facts instead of
a logically flowing argument. It also demonstrates the scope of your research.
When synthesising, several authors who share opinions or conclusions on a topic can be
acknowledged together. This is a common strategy used in published academic writing.
Take a look at this example about corporate social responsibility (CSR) from Mitra, 2012, p. 132.
Example 7: Referring to information from multiple sources
Mitra, R. (2012). ‘‘My country’s future’’: A culture-centred interrogation of corporate social responsibility in
India. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(2), 131-147. doi: 10.1007/s10551-011-0985-8
Contrary to traditional managerial views that downplay corporate responsibility in emerging
markets, companies originating from, and operating in, these locales display a keen sensitivity to
their social obligations (Alon et al., 2010; Baskin, 2006; Luken & Stares, 2005; Visser, 2008).
Clearly these four sets of authors share a finding on CSR in emerging markets. Example 2 also
includes significant synthesis of ideas.
Synthesis is a process, and the following is one effective way of taking steps towards synthesising
1. Conduct searches to locate the academic sources you need
2. Determine the relevance of each source
3. Read each relevant source in detail, taking notes in your own words, including key
points that relate directly to your topic
4. Organise source ideas into categories, for example ideas on which authors agree,
ideas where they disagree, alternative ideas on the topic
5. Summarise what you have learnt from considering all the relevant sources and express
these ideas in your own words. This helps you identify topic sentences for paragraphs
in your work, as well as the citations you need to include in each paragraph.
Effective synthesis is a way for you to demonstrate research expertise and depth of understanding.
It allows you to show the quality of your research, including how effectively you have searched and
read the literature, identified shared and differing ideas from the source authors, and combined these
into your own original argument.
Detecting cheating
Monash Business School, and the wider University, consider plagiarism to be very serious, and
a number of steps are taken to identify when students submit work which is not original or their
own. This may include electronic text-matching software. Your work may be subject to this type of
checking, and the consequences can be serious if significant matches are detected. You owe it to
yourself, to your future employers, and to society to develop the skills necessary to produce original
work based on critical analysis of the existing literature and evidence. Doing so will also help to
improve your grades.
The most commonly used text-matching software at Monash is Turnitin, detailed above.
You must acknowledge other authors’ ideas and perspectives in your written work through effective
citing and referencing. Writing effectively, at university or in business, requires strong skills in finding,
reading, and evaluating complex literature on the topic before forming an academic, educated and
informed response.
The university has a number of resources to enhance academic skills, language and approaches to
learning. The library provides assistance in assignment research and writing and guidance around
the appropriate use and acknowledgement of sources. For further information go to:
http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/student/sdo/academic-skills-development/ - Faculty resources
for students
http://www.monash.edu/library/services/users/students - Library resources for students
3.2 Referencing: APA style
One of the more technical aspects of assignment writing at university relates to referencing. As there
are numerous acceptable systems of referencing, you will need to consult the unit guide for each of
your units in order to identify which style is preferred by your Chief Examiner. Once the appropriate
style has been determined, it is important that you consistently follow all conventions relating to that
particular style. The key considerations are consistency and attention to detail.
This chapter examines the nature and benefits of referencing, and provides information relating to
the referencing style adopted by Monash Business School, American Psychological Association
(APA) style. The referencing rules detailed in this chapter are based on the following style guides:
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association. (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author
American Psychological Association. (2012). APA style guide to electronic references (6th ed.).
Washington, DC: Author
As the APA style guides do not include referencing rules for Australian cases or legislation, please
refer to Chapter 5.7 Writing for Business Law for information about citing legal documents. The
rules for referencing cases and legislation in Chapter 5.7 and below are based on the following style
Melbourne University Law Review Association, & Melbourne Journal of International Law. (2010).
Australian guide to legal citation. (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Law Review
Note, the Q Manual uses APA referencing and style throughout.
What are citing and referencing?
Citing and Referencing both refer to the acknowledgement of various sources (a ‘source’ is the place
where you originally obtained the information – the ‘source’ of the information) used in preparing your
assignments. They are ways of acknowledging the work or ideas of an author as well as providing
links to evidence in support of your argument.
When referring to another source, you need to acknowledge it in two ways – “in-text” and “end-text”.
In-text referencing (often called ‘citing’) means that you place a citation (a brief record of where you
found the information) adjacent to where you have used the information in your writing. This could be
at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle of a sentence, at the end of a sentence or paragraph,
or after a direct quotation.
In contrast, end-text referencing refers to a reference list or bibliography placed at the end of the
document. A reference list is a complete list of all the sources you have cited in your assignment,
whereas a bibliography is a full list of all sources you have consulted for your assignment, whether
or not you have cited them in your text. Reference lists are more commonly used, but sometimes
a bibliography may be required. Always check with your unit guide about the type of referencing
required for a particular assignment. A reference list should provide complete publication information
concerning each source, including the names of the authors, year of publication, title of the text or
journal, and details about the publication (see below for rules regarding different types of sources).
References and citations should allow readers to easily locate any original source you have
mentioned, should they wish to learn more about the ideas or evidence you have discussed.
When should you reference?
When you:
quote an author’s exact words;
opy or adapt data, tables, figures, diagrams, or pictures from a source (a form of quoting for
visual items);
use information obtained from an audio, visual or multimedia source; and
summarise or paraphrase information from a source in your own words.
Why should you reference?
There are numerous benefits of referencing. Referencing appropriately:
gives credibility to your position because it relates to existing evidence, ideas or opinions;
gives credit to the authors whose research or data you have used;
allows readers to access the sources for themselves if they want to learn more about an idea; and
avoids plagiarism and its consequences, such as failing of the assignment and/or unit.
Referencing software
There are various types of software that can be used to assist in creating citations and references.
Monash University Library supports EndNote, which is freely available to Monash staff and students.
Effective and efficient use of such software, however, relies on a sound knowledge of the referencing
style being employed, as it is often necessary to manually edit the input data and the resulting
references to conform exactly to the chosen style. If you cannot write the references correctly by
hand, you should not use the software.
The time and effort required to master EndNote is worthwhile if you are embarking on a thesis
or other substantial research project. However, when dealing with fewer references (e.g. in a
coursework assignment) an effective way of obtaining the citation data is to use the cite function in
databases such as Business Source Complete and ProQuest. Cite allows you to copy and paste
an article reference, in the chosen style, into your document. The copied reference often needs
be manually edited, which once again requires familiarity with the required style. Some documents
include ‘recommended citations’ or ‘how to reference’ information, but this is often provided in
a different referencing style, so these examples should be used with caution. Regardless of how
you generate your reference list and citations, you should always check them carefully against
requirements before submitting your work.
Referencing using APA style
The referencing style adopted by Monash Business School is the American Psychological
Association style (6th edition).This section is an introductory guide that will cover APA style when
referencing common print and electronic information sources. As noted in the chapter introduction,
the definitive guides to the APA 6th style are:
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychological Association. (2012). APA style guide to electronic references (6th ed.).
Washington, DC: Author.
The 2012 guide updates the Publication manual coverage in relation to electronic sources.
Both publications are available via the Monash University libraries for details type their titles into
the search discovery tool, on the library home page: http://www.lib.monash.edu. Refer to them for
further information on the APA style, especially if you are undertaking a thesis or need to reference
a type of source not specifically covered in this chapter. Advice on referencing is also available from
Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers in the Library. Further guidance is available at the APA style
website, http://apastyle.apa.org/.
Monash University Library has also created an online guide to APA referencing. It includes examples
of citations and references for a wide range of sources and can be found here: http://guides.lib.
The following sections of this chapter outline how to format in-text citations and your reference list.
Creating in-text citations
The term “in-text” means that you cite an author or source within the text of your document, at the
point where their idea or argument is mentioned or discussed. Every fact or idea that you have used
to establish your own line of argument must be accurately and consistently cited. Using the APA
style, the in-text citation should show:
the last name of the author or authors (keep author names in the same order as they appear in the
the year of publication, and
the page number(s), when you include direct quotations.
The following examples illustrate how APA in-text citations can be used in documents.
Deegan (2012) suggests there are numerous methods that may be adopted
Few authors have approached the topic in this way (Deegan, 2012).
If you have cited arguments or ideas from more than one source, the in-text citation would include
information about multiple sources, separated by semicolons:
Consideration of expatriate adjustment is becoming increasingly important (Mahoney & Trigg,
2011; Stone, 2012).
Note that if you cite several authors, as in the above example, (Mahoney & Trigg, 2011; Stone,
2012), these should be given in alphabetical order i.e. Mahoney before Stone. See also multiple
references below.
Here are some examples for different numbers of authors, using information-prominent (where the
author’s name is not part of the sentence) and author prominent (where the author’s name is part of
the sentence) formats:
One author
…the results were inconclusive (Hawkins, 2013).
Hawkins (2013) reports that the results were inconclusive.
Two authors
The references were clearly written (Bovey & Hede, 2011)
Bovey and Hede (2011) argue...
Three to five authors
The first time the source is cited, list all the names:
Some authors are very popular (Clegg, Hardy, & Nord, 2014)…
Clegg, Hardy, and Nord (2014) assert that...
Then for the second and any subsequent times you cite that source, list only the first author name,
then “et al.” (note the punctuation):
The unexpected rainfall appeared to have affected the success of the event (Clegg et al., 2014).
Clegg et al. (2014) assert that....
The term “et al.” is shortened from “et alia” meaning “and the others” or “and the rest”. The “al.”
always has a full stop to indicate that it is abbreviated, even when followed by other punctuation, as
in the information-prominent example above.
Six or more authors
Use only the surname of the first author, followed by “et al.” in all citations for this source.
Multiple works by the same author cited at the same time (e.g. citing two different articles by
author ‘Jones’).
Give surnames of the author(s) as indicated above
Enter the years of publication in date order.
Multiple publications by the same individual author are relatively common
Jones (2008, 2011) applies the same principles to…
Multiple works by the same author in the same year (e.g. you need to cite two different articles
by author ‘Brown’, both published in 2014)
Give the surname(s) of the author(s) as indicated above.
nter all full references in your reference list; articles for the same author will be listed alphabetically
by title (see next section).
ifferentiate the citations by adding an a,b,c…suffix to the year, e.g. the first reference by that
author in your reference list has an ‘a’ added to the year, the second has a ‘b’ etc. .
Referencing multiple works by an individual author has been shown to be difficult (Brown, 2014a,
Brown (2014a)… later in the text… Brown (2014b).
Unknown author
if no author is stated in the work, use the first few words of the title in place of the author
for an article, chapter or web page use double quotation marks
As reported in the business press (“Singapore profit soars”, 2013)...
for a periodical, book, report or brochure, use italics
According to the brochure, Succeeding in exams (2013)…
when the author is given as “Anonymous”, cite as (Anonymous, 2013)
An organisation as the author
…increased in 2014 (Reserve Bank of Australia, 2015).
The Reserve Bank of Australia (2015) reported that…
If the organisation has a well-recognised abbreviation, it can be cited as follows:
- First citation… (International Monetary Fund [IMF], 2012)
- International Monetary Fund (IMF, 2012) noted that…
Then, subsequently… (IMF, 2012) or IMF (2012)
Multiple references
■■ List alphabetically, separated by semicolons.
There is considerable support for this view (Allen, 2014; Bryson & Lodge, 2012; Wong, 2013).
Direct quotations
A direct quotation reproduces the exact words of the source. In addition to author name and year,
the page number must be stated and double quotation marks must be used around the quote. For a
short quotation of less than 40 words, the citation in brackets is inside the sentence punctuation.
“The key to understanding microeconomics is to realise that its overwhelming focus is on the role
of prices” (Gittins, 2015, p. 18).
Gittins (2015) suggests that “the key to understanding microeconomics is to realise that its
overwhelming focus is on the role of prices” (p. 18).
To format a long quotation (also called a “block quote”) of 40 or more words, see Appendix D of the
Q manual. Note that you should rarely, if ever, need to do this in your academic work.
Quoting a source with no page numbers
In the case of an electronic source (e.g. a website) that has no page numbers, if there is paragraph
numbering specify the paragraph, e.g. (Perrin, 2012, para. 4).
If there are no visible page or paragraph numbers, use the heading of the relevant section,
followed by the number of the paragraph in that section e.g. (Smith, 2013, Introduction, para. 1).
Long headings can be shortened to the first few words, in quotation marks.
Citing a secondary source (i.e. a source referred to in another work – used only when you cannot
access the original work)
For example, you read a 2012 article by Friedman in which he refers to an article by Chang,
published in 2001. To cite Chang in your writing, the following formats apply:
(Chang, 2001, as cited in Friedman, 2012).
Chang (2001, as cited in Friedman, 2012) suggests that this is inconsistent… Friedman (2012)
cited Chang (2001) as arguing for….
In the reference list you should only include an entry for the source that you actually read (i.e.
Friedman’s article).
Creating a reference list
A reference list is a list of all the sources you have used in the body of your assignment. It is
arranged alphabetically according to the authors’ last names and is placed at the end of the
assignment. The following conventions apply to the reference list.
Begin the list on a new page, with centred title “References”.
ach entry should have a hanging indent of 5–7 spaces (i.e. the first line of each entry is fully left
justified and the following line(s) are indented 5–7 spaces, or 1.25 cms).
ntries are usually double line spaced. (Note that some lecturers prefer single spacing for
reference lists; check with your unit guide, lecturer or tutor).
ist entries in alphabetical order by author surname; do not change the order in which the authors’
names appear in the article.
here a source has no author, and the title is used instead (as with some newspaper articles), list
according to the first significant word in the title (i.e. ignore “The”, “A”, “An”).
here there are two sources with the same author(s) and date, order them alphabetically by title
and assign a suffix (a, b, c…) to each date in order of appearance in the list.
If the same author is cited with works from different years, list the references from the earliest
publication date, in date order.
Give organisation names in full.
nsure that all references cited in the text are listed (except for “unpublished” items, such as
correspondence or interviews).
Ensure that all listed items have a corresponding in-text citation.
or hard-copy publications, if the place of publication is in the United States, the city and state
abbreviation are used (e.g. Englewood Cliffs, NJ).
For countries other than the United States give the city and country name.
sample reference list demonstrating the application of these rules is provided at the end of this
chapter. Be sure to include the exact punctuation and spacing shown in the examples.
The following examples demonstrate the application of the APA style for common print and
electronic information sources encountered by Monash Business School students. After familiarising
yourself with the contents of this section, if you require further details, or information on citing
sources not covered in this section, consult the previously mentioned publications from the American
Psychological Association or the APA citing and referencing library guide: http://guides.lib.monash.
edu/citing-referencing/apa. Advice on referencing is also available from learning skills advisers and
librarians in the library.
Some notes about electronic sources
In general, print and electronic information is referenced in the same way, except that references
to print materials usually include publisher information, while online resources generally include an
electronic link to the information. This is usually in the form of a digital object identifier (DOI), which is a
unique identification number given to that particular document, or via a uniform resource locator (URL).
e sure to include the exact punctuation as shown in the examples. Where a URL or DOI is part of
a reference, do not end the reference with a full stop.
It is not necessary to include a retrieval date in references unless the source material is likely to
change in the future.
The use of Digital Object Identifiers in referencing
It is now usual practice for published electronic journal articles and e-books to be allocated a unique
identifying number, the digital object identifier (DOI). Where a DOI exists for an item, it should be
included in the reference for that item.
he DOI is usually displayed on the first page of the article, or with the publication details in an
e-book and in the database record for that item
hey vary in length but always begin with “10.” e.g. 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2007.01272.x; and
hen constructing a reference, precede the DOI with “doi:” (lower case) i.e. doi: 10.1037/
he DOI in a source may be in the form of a URL such as http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a00224996.
In this case include the whole URL in the reference, without a ‘doi:’ prefix
To avoid error, copy and paste the DOI into the reference.
If an item does not have a DOI, provide the URL for the journal, or the publisher of the e-book or
report (not just the first page where you found it). You might need to put the journal name into a
search engine (e.g. Google) to find the journal homepage.
General format:
Author surname, Author initial(s). (Year of publication). Title of book (edition number if not the first
edition). Place of publication: Name of publisher.
In the title of the book, only the first letter of the title, subtitle and any proper nouns are capitalised.
The title and subtitle are in italics.
For a revised edition of a book, the abbreviation is (Rev. ed.).
Gittins, R. (2015). Gittins’ guide to global economics. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Luthans, F. (2012). Organisational behaviour and management (11th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Johnson, D., & Turner, C. (2014). International business: Themes and issues in the modern global
economy (3rd ed.). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Electronic book
The library provides access to increasing numbers of electronic books, via the search discovery tool,
from the Library home page.
he format follows that for a print book, but instead of including the publisher details, give the DOI
if the book has been allocated one.
Mitsopoulos, M., & Pelagidis, T. (2011). Understanding the crisis in Greece. doi:10.1057/9780230294752
If the DOI in the book is in the form of a URL, use that format.
Mitsopoulos, M., & Pelagidis, T. (2011). Understanding the crisis in Greece. http://dx.doi.
Where the e-book does not have a DOI, add “Retrieved from URL”.
de Chernatony, L., McDonald, M., & Wallace, E. (2010). Creating powerful brands (4th ed.). Retrieved
from http://www.monash.elib.com.au
Edited book (where editors are listed on the cover or title page, but individual chapters do
not include any author details)
Follows the book format, with the editor’s name followed by (Ed.), or (Eds.) if more than one editor.
Pozzi, C., & Shying, M. (Eds.). (2010). Accounting handbook. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson
Chapter in an edited book (where editors are listed on the cover, and individual chapters
include author details)
Type “In” before the editor’s name(s).
The format of the editor’s name(s) is: Initial(s). Surname (i.e. the reverse of the author names).
The page numbers of the chapter are included, i.e. (pp. 192–199).
Macauley, P., & Green, R. (2013). Supervising publishing from the doctorate. In C. Denholm & T. Evans
(Eds.), Supervising doctorates downunder: Keys to effective supervision in Australia and New
Zealand (pp. 192–199). Camberwell, Australia: ACER.
A chapter or conference proceedings – in an electronic book
In these examples the books have DOIs.
In the second example the book is a volume in a series, Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
Campón, A., Alves, H., & Hernández, J. (2013). Loyalty measurement in tourism: A theoretical reflection.
In Á. Matias, P. Nijkamp & M. Sarmento (Eds.), Quantitative methods in tourism economics (pp. 1340). doi:10.1007/978-3-7908-2879-5_2
Hoefer, M. (2014). Strategic cooperation in cost sharing games. In A. Saberi (Vol. Ed.), Lecture Notes in
Computer Science: Vol. 6484. Internet and network economics (pp. 258–269). doi:10.1007/978-3642-17572-5
Journal articles
General format:
Author surname, Author initial(s). (Year of publication). Title of the article. Title of the Journal, volume
number (issue number), page numbers of the article. Digital object identifier OR URL of journal
homepage (where available).
Only the first letter of the article title, subtitle and any proper nouns are capitalised
The first letter of each significant word in the journal title is capitalised
The journal title and volume number are in italics
o not include the issue number if the issues have continuous pagination (i.e. the page
numbering runs across consecutive issues in a volume, rather than beginning at page 1 in each
issue). For an example, see electronic journal article – continuous pagination of issues
If there are more than seven authors, type the first six author names, followed by an ellipsis (…),
then the last author name. See the example below for electronic journal article – more than seven
Journal article from a hard-copy volume
Milner, L.M., & Fodness, D. (2013). Product gender perceptions: The case of Indonesia. International
Marketing Review, 13(4), 40–51.
Electronic journal article – with a digital object identifier (DOI)
Kumar, R. (2014). Managing ambiguity in strategic alliances. California Management Review, 56(4),
82-102. doi: 10.1525/cmr.2014.56.4.82
If the article showed the DOI as a URL use that format.
Kumar, R. (2014). Managing ambiguity in strategic alliances. California Management Review, 56(4),
82-102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2014.56.4.82
Electronic journal article without a DOI
The URL is for the journal home page. The following example is of a free online journal.
Taylor, S., & Wagland, S. (2011). Financial literacy: A review of government policy and initiatives.
Australasian Accounting Business and Finance Journal, 5(2), 101–125. Retrieved from http://
he following article was from a database (Business Source Complete).The journal home page
was found by searching the web for “California Management Review”
Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2014). Doing better at doing good: When, why, and how consumers
respond to corporate social initiatives. California Management Review, 47(1), 9–24. Retrieved from
Electronic journal article – continuous pagination of issues
his article is from volume 17, issue 2 of the Journal of Financial Intermediation. The page
numbering runs across the issues of the volume (continuous pagination), so issue 2 page
numbers follow on from issue 1, rather than beginning at page 1. In this case, the issue number is
not included in the reference- just the volume and page numbers (17, 145-174).
Menkveld, A. J. (2013). Splitting orders in overlapping markets: A study of cross-listed stocks. Journal of
Financial Intermediation, 17, 145-174. doi:10.1016/j.jfi.2007.05.004
the following multiple author example also has continuous pagination - the issue number is not
Electronic journal article – more than seven authors
ype the first six author names, followed by an ellipsis (…), then the last author name. The
following example is for an article with eight authors. The first six, and then the eighth author, are
listed in the citation.
Swim, J. K., Stern, P. C., Doherty, T. J., Clayton, S., Reser, J. P., Weber, E. U., …Howard, G. S. (2014).
Psychology’s contributions to understanding and addressing global consumerism. American
Psychologist, 66, 241–250. doi:10.1037/a0023220
Reports from organisations
This includes, but is not limited to, company annual reports and reports from government bodies.
Department of Industry Science and Technology. (2014). Australian business innovation: A strategic
analysis. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service.
In the following example, the Inquiry into Equal Opportunity and Equal Status for Women in
Australia is a proper noun, and therefore the initial letters are in upper case.
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. (2012). Half way
to equal: Report of the Inquiry into Equal Opportunity and Equal Status for Women in Australia.
Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Where the author is the publisher, type “Author” after the location.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. (2011). Annual report 2011. Tokyo, Japan: Author.
If a report has an identifying number, include it in brackets, as follows:
Productivity Commission. (2012). Review of automotive assistance (Inquiry Report No. 25). Canberra,
Australia: Author.
Working paper, research report, or technical report
Include the working paper or report number, in brackets.
In the location details, omit the state or country name if part of the university name e.g. San Diego:
University of California.
Include the university name and the name of the publishing entity (e.g. Faculty, department,
school, research centre) in that order.
Allen, D. E. (2013). Competitive advantage and approaches to investment appraisal: Procedures in
Australia, Britain and Japan (Working Paper 93.23). Perth, Australia: Curtin University of Technology,
School of Economics and Finance.
Research report or working paper – on the web
If the report or paper has an identifying number, include it in parentheses after the title.
Include the name of the publishing organisation before the URL if that organisation is not the
author, in the form, Retrieved from Organisation website: URL.
Cockerell, L., & Pennings, S. (2014). Private business investment in Australia (Research Discussion Paper RDP
2007–09). Retrieved from Reserve Bank of Australia website: http://www.rba.gov.au/rdp/RDP2007–09.pdf
In the case of a university working paper, include the university name, and the name of the
publishing entity (e.g. Faculty, department, school, research centre) in that order.
Bardoel, E.A., De Cieri, H., & Tepe, S. (2006). A framework for developing a work/life strategy in a
multinational enterprise (MNE) (Department of Management Working Paper Series 1/06). Retrieved
from Monash University, Faculty of Business and Economics website: http://www.buseco.monash.
Annual report – from an organisation web site
In the following example, as the author is also the publisher, it is not necessary to include the
publisher name after “Retrieved from”.
Ford Motor Company. (2013). Fast forward: 2012 annual report. Retrieved from http://www.ford.com/
Government report – on the web
Department of Health and Ageing. (2014). National medicines policy. Retrieved from http://www.health.
gov.au/internet/wcms/Publishing.nsf/Content/nmp-objectives-policy.htm/$FILE/ nmp2014.pdf
Reports from databases
A wide range of reports is available from databases to which the library subscribes, including company,
industry, market and country reports and profiles. Both PDF and HTML formats are used. When
referencing any report or profile, include the URL of the report publisher, according to the format in the
next examples. As such reports are updated periodically, include the published date of the report.
Company report or profile – from a database (e.g. DatAnalysis Premium)
eports from Morningstar’s DatAnalysis Premium database are generated on demand (click the
Full Report link) in html format. The date given is the date the report was printed or downloaded –
it appears at the top of the report.
Morningstar. (2015, June 11). Qantas Airways Limited. Retrieved from http://datanalysis.morningstar.com.au
Industry report – from a database (e.g. IBISWorld)
If a report has an identifying number, as in this case, include it in brackets after the title.
The author is usually identified on the front of the IBIS World report.
Richardson, A. (2016, February). Biscuit manufacturing in Australia (IBIS World Industry Report C1173).
Retrieved from http://www.ibisworld.com.au
Country report – from a database (e.g. ViewsWire)
ViewsWire is produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Economist Intelligence Unit. (2011, June 13). ViewsWire Vietnam. Retrieved from http://viewswire.eiu.com
Market report – from a database (e.g. Passport)
Passport is produced by Euromonitor International.
Euromonitor International. (2011, January 11). Wine in China: Category briefing. Retrieved from http://
Magazines and newspapers
Magazine article (print)
Author surname, Author initial(s). (Year, month day of publication). Title of the article. Title of the
Magazine, volume number (issue number), page number(s).
■■ Give the author name(s) followed by the year, month and day of publication (as available).
■■ If there is a volume number, it follows the magazine title, in italics. The article below is in volume
159, issue 14, on page 46.
Guilliat, S. (2015, March 26). Leap of faith. Good Weekend: The Age Magazine, 24–31.
MacLeod, S. (2012, April 8). An olive branch or stick? Time, 159(14), 46.
Magazine from a database (e.g. from Business Source Complete)
The URL is for the magazine home page.
An issue number (in this case (7)) is only included if each issue of the magazine starts from page 1.
Kowitt, B. (2015, June 1). The war on big food. Fortune, 171(7), 60-70. Retrieved from http://www.fortune.com
Newspaper article
recede the page number with “p.” or if more than one page, “pp.”. For an article starting on page
1, then continuing and ending on page 3, the format would be pp. 1, 3.
Hopkins, P. (2014, January 7). Parmalat cooked the books worldwide: Police. The Age, p. 2.
Newspaper article – no author
The article title takes the place of an author.
Singapore profit soars despite cost hit. (2015, November 2). The Australian, p. 37.
or the in-text citation, use the first few words of the title, in double quotation marks, followed by
the year (“Singapore profit,” 2015).
Newspaper article accessed from a database (e.g. from Factiva)
ollows the basic format for a print newspaper, followed by “Retrieved from newspaper home
page URL”.
o find the URL, search on the web, in this case, for “The Age”. This reveals that the URL is:
Chong, J. (2011, May 26). Airlines back biofuels. The Age, p. 8. Retrieved from http://www.
Newspaper article accessed from the web, open access
The following reference is to a html document, so there are often no page numbers to record
Use the home page URL of the newspaper.
Kaneko, M. (2016, October 16). Investment funds focused on ‘womenomics’ gaining attention. The
Japan Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.japantimes.co.jp
Thesis – unpublished
City and country details are required for non-U.S. unpublished theses.
Waddell, D. (1995). Using resistance positively to implement new manufacturing methods in industry.
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Electronic thesis – on the web
Watters, R. (2004). The organisational and global environments relationship: An investigation of the key
factors (Doctoral thesis, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia). Retrieved from http://wallaby.
Thesis from the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database
In the United States, theses are often referred to as “dissertations”, hence the description
“Doctoral dissertation”.
he AAT number is a unique identifier for each thesis in the database, and appears in each
database record.
Fioravante, P. L. (2011). Corporate philanthropy and its effect on an organisation: A qualitative study
(Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (AAT 3445222)
Dictionary or Encyclopaedia entry
Encyclopedia or dictionary
eference works, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias are not normally cited unless you are
using them to make precise definitions of terminology.
Warner, M. (Ed.). (2012). International encyclopedia of business and management (2nd ed., Vols. 1–8).
London, United Kingdom: Thomson Learning.
Online encyclopedia (e.g. Blackwell Reference Online)
The following example refers to the entry for the term “contingencies”.
Schattke, R.W. (2015). Contingencies. In C.L. Cooper (Ed.), The Blackwell encyclopedia of management
(2nd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.blackwellreference.com
Images and audio visual sources
The type of image is given in square brackets, e.g. [Photograph]
The following example refers to an advertisement in the print magazine, The Australian Wish.
Singapore Airlines [Advertisement]. (2011, June). The Australian Wish. p. 11.
Image from the web
There is no publication date for this image, indicated by “n.d.”.
Coca-Cola Company. (n.d). Evolution of the contour bottle [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.thecocacolacompany.com/dynamic/ press_center/imagegallery.html
Film, DVD
In the author position, type the name of the producer or director
The location is the country of origin of the work.
Achbar, M. (Producer), & Simpson, B. (Producer). (2013). The corporation [DVD]. Canada: BigPicture Media.
Streaming video
The date given is the date the file was uploaded.
Google. (2011, May 25). Why are merchants excited about Google wallet? [Video file]. Retrieved from
If there is both a real name and a user name for the author, include the user name in brackets after
the real name, e.g. Smith, J. [markapsolon]. . Use the real name in the in-text citation.
Radio, TV broadcast (viewed live)
In the author position, give the name of the producer or director.
Smith, R. (Director). (2007, May 24). Crude [Television broadcast]. Sydney: ABC-TV.
Podcast (of a radio program)
The podcast below is an episode from a weekly program, Future Tense.
Funnell, A. (Presenter). (2011, June 23). Techno optimism and techno realism [Audio podcast]. In A.
Davies (Producer), Future tense. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/rn/futuretense/
Personal communications
Interviews, personal email and other personal communications
ersonal communications are not included in the reference list as they are inaccessible to the
reader, but are cited in the text in the following ways:
R. Smith (personal communication, August 15, 2015)…
… (R. Smith, personal communication, August 15, 2015)
Brochures and factsheets
Parks Victoria (2012). Alpine National Park [Factsheet]. Retrieved from http://parkweb.vic.gov.
Whittlesea & Plenty Valley Tourism Association Inc. (2010, May). Whittlesea tourist guide [Brochure].
Whittlesea, Australia.
Lecture materials
nly minor reference to lecture notes, if at all necessary, should be made in a piece of student
writing. Lecturers expect students to provide references that show evidence of their own research
eference to lecture notes or slides which are not publicly available, such as on Monash University
Moodle, is treated in the APA style as a personal communication. Therefore no reference list
entry is required. Provide an in-text citation which includes the relevant academic’s name, e.g. (N.
Kimberley, personal communication, September 20, 2015).
General format:
Author, A. A. (year). Title of document. Retrieved from http://xxxx
If an author or editor cannot be identified, use the name of the organisation that publishes the site.
If an organisation name is lacking too, the title of the document or page takes the place of author
or editor details at the beginning of the reference
The year is the year of publication, or if the source is regularly revised, the latest update
Where no publication date is given, type “n.d.”
The titles of websites and web pages are not italicised
he APA Style guide to electronic references (2012), available online via search, provides full
advice on citing a source found on a website lacking complete information
If the publisher of the site is not clear from the author name, include the publisher’s name before
the URL (See the Cockerell and Pennings example under Research report or working paper – on
the web)
Include a retrieval date in references for a source only if it is likely that the content of the source
may change, in the form: Retrieved June 30, 2016 from http://xxxx.
Entire website
hen referring to a complete website, rather than a document within it, the URL of the site is
included in the text. No entry in the reference list is required. For example, when referring to the
website of the consumer advocacy organisation, CHOICE:
“The CHOICE website (http://www.choice.com.au) provides advice and evaluations on a wide
range of products and services.”
Page or section of a website
he following page is part of the Boeing company website. The title is not italicised. In this case no
publication date is identified.
Boeing. (n.d.). Our principles. Retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/principles
Social media
Social media forms and formats are constantly changing. Information on how to reference various
forms of social media is provided in the APA style guide to electronic references (available online via
search), and up-to-date information is available in the APA citing and referencing library guide, at
Statistics and data files
ABS statistical publication - online
The URL is for the ABS home page.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011, March). Business indicators, Australia (Catalogue no. 5676.0).
Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au
Numerical data files - online
The description “Data file” is included in square brackets, as shown
The following examples do not provide a date of publication.
Reserve Bank of Australia. (n.d.). Exchange rates -monthly, July 1969 – December 2009 [Data file].
Retrieved from http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/hist-exchange-rates/index.html
he World Development Indicators are by the World Bank, and are accessible from the World
Bank site.
World Bank. (n.d.). Australia: Inflation, consumer prices (annual %), 1990-2014 [Data file]. Retrieved from
World Development Indicators: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=worlddevelopment-indicators&preview=on
Accounting standard- online
Australian Accounting Standards Board. (2013). Framework for the preparation and presentation
of financial statements. Retrieved from http://www.aasb.gov.au/admin/file/content105/c9/
hen quoting from a particular paragraph the in-text citation takes the form (AASB, 2013,
para. 3). The first time the AASB is cited, use the full name in the in-text citation. For
subsequent in-text citations use the abbreviation. See the section in this chapter, Citing in-text
citations, An organisation as author.
Legal sources
If you are referring to legal sources extensively in your writing, you are advised to consult your unit guide,
lecturer or tutor about using Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd. ed). Chapter 5.7 Writing for Business
Law deals with referencing using the AGLC (Australian Guide to Legal Citations) style in more detail.
As the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association does not cover Australian
cases and laws, the examples below are based on Australian Guide to Legal Citation. In a reference
list, cases and legislation are listed separately under their own headings (see Chapter 5.7 Writing for
Business Law).
Legal case
he following example is a case from the Commonwealth Law Reports, commencing on page
401 of Volume 28.
London Bank of Australia Ltd v Kendall (1920) 28 CLR 401
Use the Short Title of the Act, in italics, followed by the jurisdiction abbreviation in parentheses.
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
Monash University Act 2009 (Vic)
Sample reference list in APA style
Bhattacharya, C.B., & Sen, S. (2014). Doing better at doing good: When, why, and how consumers
respond to corporate social initiatives. California Management Review, 47(1), 9–24. Retrieved from
Boeing. (n.d.). Our principles. Retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/principles
Creedy, C. (2015, January 28). Low cost flight paths lead to Asia. The Australian, p. 26.
Creedy, C. (2016, August 21). Business travellers’ fares go skywards. The Australian, p. 24.
Department of Industry Science and Technology. (2014). Australian business innovation: A strategic
analysis. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Mahoney, D., & Trigg, M. (2011). International business: A managerial perspective (2nd ed.). Sydney,
Australia: Pearson Education.
Milner, L. M., & Fodness, D. (2013). Product gender perceptions: The case of China. International
Marketing Review, 13(4), 40–51.
Singapore profit soars despite cost hit. (2015, November 2). The Australian, p. 37.
Smith, A. (2014a). Emerging in between: The multi-level governance of renewable energy in the English
regions. Energy Policy, 35, 6266–6280. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2007.07.023
Smith, A. (2014b). Translating sustainabilities between green niches and socio-technical regimes.
Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 19, 427–450. doi: 10.1080/09537320701403334
Warner, M. (Ed.). (2012). International encyclopedia of business and management (2nd ed., Vols. 1-8).
London, England: Thomson Learning.
Over the course of your degree, you will be expected to complete a number of assessment tasks.
These can take a variety of written forms (outlined in Chapter 5 Academic writing skills) or involve a
form of presentation (outlined in Chapter 6 Presentation skills). The aim of this section is to introduce
you to the first steps of completing an assessment item by providing processes for analysing an
assignment task and undertaking information research to develop your response.
The ability to research and critically examine a topic or issue, and to clearly present a considered
viewpoint is a vital professional skill, which is highly valued by employers. Your unit guide, lecturer, or
tutor can assist with any preliminary questions about what you are required to do.
This chapter will outline and explain the following five steps:
1. Determine what you need to do, and why
2. Identify key words, instruction words, and limiting words
3. Brainstorm the topic and do background reading
4. Create a research question
5. Undertake information research.
4.1 Analysing the assessment task
Your assessment tasks will present you with a question which you must address. University tasks
are rarely simple or straightforward. You need to be able to see the less obvious details of the task.
A quick read of the assessment task is not enough. This will not reveal to you the complexities and
subtleties implicit (that is, expected but not stated) in the task. Task analysis is crucial because it
provides a direction for your research and development of a relevant response. Your ability to write
critically is based on your analytical understanding of the task. The above example task (Figure 4.1)
will be used to demonstrate the steps for analysing a task, and then beginning your research.
Figure 4.1: Assessment task example
According to Schermerhorn et al. (2014), “From the small retail store to the large multinational
firm, technology is an indispensable part of everyday operations” (p.7). Managers must be willing
to participate in the emerging world of information and communication technologies (ICT) to be
Discuss: The emergence of ICTs has created opportunities and challenges for managers seeking
to improve communication within their organisations. Support your response with relevant
Word limit = 2000 words (+/- 10%). Include at least 10 academic references.
Weighting = 25%
Due date: Week Seven.
Figure 4.1 provides an example assessment task which will be used to illustrate the steps that follow.
Step 1. Determine what you need to do, and why
Identify the parts of the task
Assessment tasks can be broken into the context, the topic or question, and the key requirements,
all of which can reveal important information about the nature of the task and how to shape your
research approach (that is, how you are positioning yourself in relation to the task). This is evident in
the task statement.
1. The setting or situation (context) is given in the first two sentences and provides the broad
background for the task. It can reveal the discipline, the general focus and the style of
assessment. In this case, the assessment task is placed in management setting and a broad
ideological approach is provided. It is important to frame your response within this context.
2. The topic is given in the second section following the word “Discuss”. The topic focuses your
attention onto a smaller area of the broader context. The topic or question requires detailed
analysis to determine what you need to do.
3. Key requirements of your response are given in the last line and provide scope for the task to
be completed. This can include assessment weighting, research depth, word count, formatting,
genre or other elements of the task. In the example, it includes a word count and a research
expectation – at least 10 academic references.
Consider the relationship of the task to the unit context
The topics that you cover in your weekly program form a wide and deep view of the unit. Placing the
task into the overall unit structure will help you study with understanding and meaning. It may also
reveal less obvious details, such as the appropriate structure to use in your response. You need to
consider how your assessment task relates to the unit outcomes and what is covered in the unit,
including discussions in classes.
Step 2. Identify key terms, instruction words, and limiting words
Once you have identified the context, the topic or question, and the key requirements, you will need
to analyse the task more deeply by identifying the key terms, instruction words and limiting words.
Understanding the key terms in the task reveals the details of the topic that you are exploring.
Instruction words explain what the task requires you to do and provide you with direction. Limiting
words indicate the scope and depth that is expected in your response and make the task more
manageable. These elements of the example task are identified below.
Key terms: ICT (information and communication technologies), opportunities, challenges,
managers, communication within organisations.
Instructions: “Discuss” is the explicit instruction in the task. You must also support the points you
make with relevant examples. If you are unsure of the meaning of the instruction word
in your task, refer to Appendix A or consult your unit guide, lecturer or tutor.
Limits: It is important to note that the discussion must be limited to communication within the
organisation. The task relates to the management of the organisation. You should not
discuss communications external to the organisation, which would be a marketing
focus. Limiting words may be embedded in the task rather than explicitly stated, so be
careful not to overlook them.
Your response must be between 1800 and 2200 words. This places a limit on the
length of your task and requires you to focus on the most important points.
You must refer to at least 10 academic references and in many units, a Chief Examiner
may require more than 10. In addition, other relevant references (e.g. from nonacademic journals) may be acceptable. This helps to focus your research approach.
Other key information you need to know before beginning an assignment are assessment weighting,
due date, required genre, the intended audience for your response, and submission requirements.
Refer to the full assignment instructions provided by your unit guide and relevant academic staff.
Step 3. Brainstorm the topic and do background reading
To aid your understanding of what you need to do, try expressing the task in your own words,
breaking it up into essential components. For example, the task above could be presented in the
following way.
Discuss, with reference to the academic literature and relevant examples,
the opportunities for managers to improve communications within their organisations using ICT,
the challenges related to using ICT in communication within the organisation, and
how managers deal with these opportunities and challenges.
Define key words and concepts (e.g. “communication within organisations”). Clear and authoritative
definitions are key to understanding and establishing the scope and limits of the task. Your textbook
and lecture slides can be a good place to start.
Brainstorm in order to identify what you already know about the topic and to identify gaps in your
ist examples of ICT used in organisational communication (e.g. intranets, online databases,
social media, videoconferencing)
onsider how they might contribute to improved internal communications (e.g. sharing and
collaboration, virtual teams, better management of corporate knowledge, more complete, timely, and
accessible information).
onsider the challenges that may arise from ICT use (e.g. lack of face-to-face contact and
isolation, email stress, potential breaches of personal privacy, online bullying, private internet use in
work time, hacking).
Build on this by referring to relevant sections of lecture notes, prescribed reading and the unit
textbook. Note relevant theories, concepts, examples and terms. As you read note any references to
potentially useful sources to investigate later.
Remember, it is not possible to cover all aspects of the topic in your response, due to the word limit.
The above process helps to identify a range of possibilities and specific aspects to focus on in your
Step 4. Create a research question
From the topic overview and an understanding of what the task requires you to do, the next step is
to formulate a specific research question or questions to properly focus your research of the topic.
For some assessment items, the research questions are provided. If they are not and you need
to create your own, make sure your research questions align with the assessment topic and task
The task above can be presented in the following ways.
ow can managers successfully implement ICT to improve internal communication in their
o ICTs create more opportunities than challenges for managers seeking to improve
communication within their organisations?
Each research question can be converted into a database search strategy statement. This will be
demonstrated in Step 5 after looking more broadly at the information research process (shown in
Figure 4.1).
Figure 4.2 Guide to types of information and where to find them.
* See the accompanying text for a definition of “grey literature”
** Search is the Library’s resource discovery tool
- lecture notes
- unit readings
- textbooks
Read essential
background information
on the assignment topic
Stage 1
What types
are needed?
Information Resources Flowchart
Grey literature*
from governments,
NGOs, universities,
research bodies etc
Internet resources
- news sources
- industry/
- company
- industry/market
Non Academic
- peer reviewed
journal articles
- academic books
Stage 2
External to Monash,
mostly free resources
Where to
look for this
Business & Economics
databases - examples
- Business Source
Complete (journal &
magazine articles)
- IBIS World
(industry reports)
- DatAnalysis Premium
(company reports)
- Factiva (news)
Library Databases
Monash University
Library collections,
- books, e-books
- textbooks
- unit reading lists
- journals &
Library Search**
Stage 3
Authcate login
required to
access these
academic and
sources can
be found via
Library Search
and library
Figure 4.2: Information Resources Flowchart
4.2 Finding relevant information
Step 5. Undertake information research
What information is required?
The Information Resources Flowchart (see Figure 4.2) depicts the approach to beginning your
information research on a topic, and shows how it proceeds from the task analysis.
The task analysis identified the need for information beyond supplied material such as lecture notes,
unit readings and the unit textbook (see Figure 4.2 Stage 1).
Identify the types of information required for the given task
The types of information required to respond to a task will necessarily depend on what you are
being asked to do. It is important to recognise the difference between academic and non-academic
sources of information. This is outlined for you in Stage 2 of Figure 4.2.
The example task specifically states that you need to include “at least 10 academic references”. An
academic essay must necessarily reflect the relevant theory and research presented in the academic
literature, primarily in articles from scholarly, peer reviewed journals (discussed later in this chapter),
and also in academic books.
In many assignments you could also be expected to use non-academic sources, such as relevant
articles from industry or professional magazines, business news sources or company, industry or
market reports, to support the perspectives you present from the academic literature.
The general internet can be a valuable source of freely available research-quality information from
universities and research institutes, companies, government, and non-government organisations.
This includes research reports and papers, official reports, and data. This type of material is
collectively referred to as “grey literature”. It is important to refer to the assignment instructions and
assessment criteria, or check with your lecturer or tutor, to determine whether the use of internet
resources for a particular assignment task is appropriate.
Where to look for the required information
The library provides access to a wide range of information resources to Monash staff and students,
as demonstrated by Stage 3 of Figure 4.2.
The library’s discovery tool, Search (http://www.monash.edu/library) provides information on, and
access to, the library’s physical and online collections, most notably print and e-books. Results in
search can also include journal articles, and general internet sources.
Journal and news article searches are best conducted within subject-specific journal or news
databases such as Business Source Complete, ProQuest, Emerald and Factiva. Visit the Business
and Economics subject library guides http://guides.lib.monash.edu/) to find out about, and access,
the databases most relevant for research in a particular subject area.
Further, specialist databases that the Library subscribes to provide data and information about
specific companies, industries, markets, countries and economies. They are also included in the
Business and Economics subject library guides.
For the example topic, since academic sources are required, Business Source Complete and
ProQuest are highly relevant, with search the most appropriate tool for finding academic books.
Having identified some key databases, you will need to convert your research questions into an
effective database search strategy.
Develop a database search strategy
In order to search effectively, you need to develop a search strategy. This involves identifying the key
terms that you will use to search for information. Your search can be expanded or refined through
the use of operators such as AND and OR. It is important to keep a record of the search terms that
you have already used so that you do not needlessly repeat your previous searches.
Search strategy example 1
We return to the research question developed previously in Step 4:
How can managers successfully implement ICT to improve communication within their
A search strategy worksheet is a useful tool for converting a research question into a database
search statement. Using the worksheet involves the following steps:
1. State the research question:
How can managers successfully implement ICT to improve internal communication
in their organisation?
2.Identify the key terms and write them in separate cells in the first column. Phrases
are usually enclosed in quotation marks. They are linked by the AND “operator”.
Key terms
“internal communication”
3.For each key term consider alternative terms or spellings in order to widen the
search. Add them to the relevant row.
The OR “operator” between each of the alternative terms relating to a concept is the
instruction to the database search engine to find database records which contain one or
more of the terms in that row.
Key terms
Concept 1
Concept 2 AND
“information and
Concept 3 AND
“communication in
4.Each row forms a concept set (e.g. Concept 1), and the concept sets are linked by
the AND “operator”. After the wide search performed by OR for each concept, AND
narrows the search to find only records that contain at least one term from each
concept set:
e.g. a) managers; ICT; internal communication
b) executives; information technology; communication in organisations.
Search strategy example 2
Here is a possible search focusing on a particular aspect of the example topic:
1.The research question:
Is it reasonable for managers to monitor their employee’s email?
2. Identify the key terms, which are linked with AND.
Key terms
3. Include alternative terms or spellings, linked with OR.
In this case, while the managers refer to “monitoring”, the employees may feel they are being
“spied” upon, hence “monitor OR spy” is included
Key terms
Concept 1
Concept 2 AND
Concept 3 AND
electronic mail
4.AND links the concept sets to focus the search, producing a search result of
database records that contain at least one term from each of the concept sets.
Another way of depicting the search statement is:
(monitor OR spy) AND (employee OR workplace) AND (email OR email OR electronic mail)
Go to the Business and Economics library guides searching effectively section (e.g. in the
management library guide, http://guides.lib.monash.edu/management/searching-effectively) for
useful tips on developing a database search strategy, and to see how they are applied in the short
online tutorials for the Business Source Complete and Factiva databases.
Apply the search strategy and evaluate the results
Earlier we identified Business Source Complete and ProQuest as two key journal databases for
business and economics research. You can access them via the databases section of the relevant
Business and Economics subject library guide (e.g. in the management library guide, http://guides.
The first search is unlikely to produce the most relevant results. The Business and Economics library
guides searching effectively section also covers how to evaluate the initial search results and then
refine the strategy to locate the most useful articles on the topic you are researching.
The following sections include advice on how to be systematic in your searching, and the evaluation
of search results.
Organising your information research
By being systematic you can be most effective in locating the information you need.
eep a record of your research progress including databases searched and search terms and
strategies used. This will allow you to determine the most successful strategies and to “retrace
your steps” if necessary as you are exploring the literature. To achieve the best results you may
need to adapt the search strategy and terms used, according to the particular database
Identify gaps that remain in the information you require as well as potential leads for further
odify previous searches as many times as necessary to systematically gather the information required.
It may be necessary to return to the task analysis to refine your understanding of the assessment task.
This iterative process of evaluating results and subsequently modifying the search strategy to find
the most relevant information is fundamental to conducting information research. As you apply this
approach you will build your ability, knowledge, and confidence as an effective information researcher.
Evaluating and selecting relevant material
When deciding which material might be the most appropriate, consider the following:
oes the material provide information relevant to the topic and in the detail needed? Be careful
to stay within the limits identified in the task analysis. For the example task, remember that
the focus is on communication within organisations, so articles which discuss marketing or
advertising of a company’s products or services are not going to be relevant
oes the material build on your previous reading and information research or just confirm what
you found in other sources?
Are there references to further potentially useful information?
Are any new topic-related questions or issues raised in the material?
Is the material recent (i.e. published in the last few years)?
What is a peer reviewed article?
our lecturer or tutor will usually require you to refer to peer reviewed journal articles in your
assignment responses. They may provide you with a list of leading peer reviewed journals in
their discipline
eer reviewed journal articles have been assessed as worthy of publication by reviewers who
are experts in that field. The use of peer review serves as an indicator of academic journal
quality. Peer reviewed journals are sometimes referred to as refereed journals
Peer review is synonymous with academic journals (also referred to as scholarly journals)
hen searching databases which comprise both academic and non-academic publications, it is
usually possible to limit a search result to show only the academic journal articles.
What are the typical features of an academic article?
Abstract and reference list
Academic articles usually start with an abstract (summary) and end with a reference list or
bibliography. The reference list is usually extensive and may run to several pages. Each citation
(acknowledgement of a source of information) within the text should have a corresponding entry
in the reference list.
Author affiliation, qualifications
Is the author affiliated to a university? If so, you may assume the article has some academic
credibility. Is the author’s academic qualifications listed? Affiliation and qualification details are
often found on the first page of an article, or at the end of the article. In an academic book there
may be a separate section with brief details on the contributors.
The appearance is text based, with minimal or no illustrations. Advertising is limited to scholarly
or academic products and services, such as an upcoming conference, or new books in the
The body of the document is divided into sections, such as Introduction, Literature Review,
Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and Reference List. Tables, figures and charts
may be included.
Academic writing commonly uses technical language relevant to the particular discipline and
may report empirical research, but it may also speculate on a theoretical issue. The writer
assumes some discipline knowledge and background on the part of the reader.
Academic articles are usually substantial, i.e. eight or more pages.
How do academic books differ from textbooks?
You will be expected to refer beyond prescribed readings and textbooks, and consult academic
The purpose of a textbook is to provide an overview or introduction to a discipline (e.g.
management) or a sub-discipline (e.g. human resource management). Their target audience is
students, so they are not considered to be academic sources.
In contrast, academic books provide an in-depth discussion of a particular topic. Academic books
result from detailed research, evidenced by referencing and bibliographies. Peer review and the
criteria for academic articles apply equally to academic books.
Some academic books comprise chapters or articles contributed by different academic authors, and
compiled by an editor, which discuss a particular topic.
Using the general internet for research
As explained earlier in this chapter, the internet provides access to a wealth of research-quality “grey
literature”. Many organisations, including companies, universities, government departments and
non-government organisations disseminate their research, statistics, reports, guidelines, principles
and practice through online publications on their own websites. In addition, your lecturer or tutor
may have recommended particular internet sites relevant to your research topic.
Before attempting an internet search, check whether the particular information you need is available
from library databases. A wide range of high quality documents (especially journal articles) and data
(e.g. detailed company financial data, market research and analysis) can only be obtained from
specialist databases, to which the library subscribes for the use of Monash staff and students (see
Figure 4.1 Information Resources Flowchart).
Critically evaluate what you find on the internet
A critical eye is required to identify suitable internet sources because of the extreme variation in
quality, lack of peer review and authority, and because practically anyone is able to publish their
views on the internet.
For any internet source consider
its currency (if relevant to the task),
who produced the content (are they an authoritative source?),
who the information has been produced for (the audience),
why the information has been produced (is there any bias?), and
the accuracy of the information.
Some further tips for productive internet research
Develop and use a search strategy, as you would when using a library database
oogle has an Advanced Search option. Choose it to search more effectively and efficiently than
is possible just using the default basic search
se limits, such as date or domain, as appropriate. When searching for information from the
Australian government, specifying the domain gov.au, will restrict the search to only Australian
government sites. Similarly, limiting to edu.au focuses the search on Australian university and other
educational sites
oogle Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) is designed for academic research, but is not a
replacement for searching the library’s databases
Identify organisations that are recognised authorities on your topic, and go to their websites
(e.g. for economics and finance topics, the Reserve Bank of Australia site includes research,
publications, statistics, media releases and transcripts of the governor’s speeches)
hen you have found a useful site, check for links from that site to related sites, which are likely to
provide information of a similar quality to the original site
e aware of inadvertently wasting time while searching the internet. Sticking to a systematic
search strategy will help you to be focused and time efficient.
Further information on internet searching and evaluation of sources found is available in the Business
and Economics library guides.
Writing is an important professional skill that allows you to communicate clearly and appropriately
in a range of settings. Each piece of writing has its own purpose, audience, structure and tone.
General advice is provided below, but it is important to check the specific requirements of the task
you have been given. In your university studies, your unit guides and academic staff members will
provide information about writing requirements specific to your particular units.
Writing is usually the final stage in any task. This is when you demonstrate your understanding of
the ideas you are considering, so it is crucial to develop your understanding first, then communicate
your academic, educated, and evidence-informed ideas in your work. In your writing, you must
demonstrate your ability to integrate ideas and information and to think critically about the topic or
issue. This means much more than just retelling or describing information. You need to appreciate
that there is a range of views on any topic. Carefully consider these views, and any relevant
evidence, as you form your own response to a task. Critical thinking means, for example, that you
consider each writer’s arguments and evidence, and evaluate the value of material you consult for
the purposes of your task.
Characteristics of successful academic and professional writing
Successful academic and professional writing communicates your message clearly. A successful
piece of writing
answers a question relevant to the task;
uses an appropriate structure;
expresses an academic, educated and informed answer to the question;
develops an argument consistently, logically and coherently;
provides evidence for the position taken, with appropriate references;
onsiders evidence against the position being presented and counters it, with reference to
appropriate evidence.
The assignment process
In Chapter 4, the research process was outlined, and the following five steps were explained:
1. Determine what you need to do, and why
2. Identify key words, instruction words, and limiting words
3. Brainstorm the topic and do background reading
4. Create a research question
5. Undertake information research.
This chapter will address the rest of the process:
6. Read, evaluate and take notes
7. Develop a structure
8. Prepare a draft
9. Consider academic/professional style requirements.
5.1 Academic writing overview
Step 6: Reading, evaluation and note taking
Reading and critical evaluation
After analysing the task and locating your sources, you need to begin reading. An active rather than a
passive approach is required. Active reading involves
reading to comprehend (what is the writer saying?) and
critical reading to integrate ideas, analyse and evaluate (what is the writer doing?).
Both comprehension and critical reading are necessary. For instance, you cannot integrate ideas or
critically analyse a view expressed by a writer if you do not understand the view being presented. Your
purpose for reading may be achieved through various reading techniques, as detailed in Table 5.1.
Table 5.1: Techniques used for reading
To gain a general
overview of an unfamiliar
Read quickly, do NOT read every word. Features of the
text to read:
To build a mental
framework, or structure,
for understanding an
unfamiliar text.
To determine if the
text is relevant for your
To find a specific
unknown detail e.g. a
date or statistic or name
To gain thorough
comprehension of what
the writer is saying
title, headings, sub-headings;
bstract (this is an excellent place to find the general
argument of a document quickly);
introductory paragraph;
concluding paragraph; and
first sentence of each paragraph (long texts).
Read quickly; do NOT read every word.
Scroll quickly though the text to find the detail you need.
Read carefully several times.
Your first reading should focus on main ideas.
Your second and subsequent reading/s should focus on
relationships, secondary ideas and supporting evidence.
This is done at the same time as the second or
subsequent close reading/s.
To question the
writer’s motives,
methods, evidence and
While reading, consider:
ow this relates to what you already know or have
read in other sources;
how it relates to your question;
judgements about the quality of ideas, arguments,
evidence in this source; and
the writer’s purpose
Note taking
At the same time as you do your reading, you need to record your notes. When you are making
notes from any source, record the full publication details and the page numbers for later use.
In your note taking, extract and record the main ideas and key points. Express these in your own
words, rather than simply highlighting or underlining them. This helps you to understand the material,
and concentrate as you read.
The notes you take as you read should be in skeleton form; that is, use symbols, abbreviations,
key words, synonyms, diagrams and short phrases as much as possible but do not copy from
the original sources unless absolutely necessary (for example, if you plan to analyse the quote
itself in detail). You should make your own comments on the information as you go, including your
interpretation, your evaluation of the information and how it relates to other sources you have read.
For example, does the article you are reading support or contradict the views expressed in the
textbook? Separate your notes from your comments so that when you look back at your notes you
can distinguish your voice from the views expressed in the source. For more advice on note taking,
see Chapter 2 Approaching study.
Step 7: Developing a structure
Structuring your writing
You need to communicate your argument clearly to your reader. Clear organisation of your ideas
will facilitate this. There are various ways that writing tasks may be structured depending on the
particular assignment you have been given, including: an annotated bibliography (5.2), an essay
(5.3), a literature review (5.4), a report (5.5), reflective writing (5.6), a response to a case study (5.7) or
a business law response (5.8). However, generally speaking, the following basic structure applies to
all: introduction, body and conclusion.
TEEL Paragraph structure
An effective way of organising a paragraph is the TEEL structure. TEEL stands for Topic, Evidence,
Explanation and Link. You may find it helpful to add C for Comment before Link.
A paragraph structured this way would contain the following:
Topic – Write a sentence introducing the main idea or major claim discussed in the paragraph
Evidence/Examples – Refer to your research to elaborate on the topic
Explain – Clarify how your examples support the topic sentence
Comment – Evaluate in your own voice the strength or otherwise of the arguments presented
ink – Show how this paragraph supports your overall argument; or provide a transition to the
next paragraph (or both).
A less effective paragraph does not have a clear and relevant point. It merely gathers evidence from
the literature or data, but does not explain its overall significance explicitly to the reader. There is a
summary of the source material but no evidence of critical thinking or of the writer’s own thoughts.
Whenever information is used from a source, whether as a direct quote or rewritten as a paraphrase
or a summary, the source must be referenced using APA style (see Chapter 3.2 Referencing:
APA style). As well as correctly including in-text citations according to APA style, ensure that you
comment on all supporting evidence – do not include evidence without comment. Study the
paragraph below from a management essay. Note how the main point is supported by the source
material; it provides the evidence for the paragraph’s main point. Note also how the student’s
evaluation of the literature is included in the paragraph. 61
Figure 5.1: Sample paragraph
Emerging technologies have created the opportunity for
managers to streamline the flow of information within
a company. Before the introduction of ICT systems, this
communication frequently suffered from drop off (Samson
& Daft, 2015), which refers to a loss of understanding as the
communication passes through established channels. This can
create delays and decrease efficiency (Ford & Jansen, 2015). The
introduction of networked systems, in which all computers are
linked and information is centrally stored (Robbins et al., 2014),
has allowed information to “flow in all directions” (Samson & Daft,
2015, p.705). This means that communication more easily
takes place across all levels of the organisation, allowing
employees to access the information they require as needed,
and results in faster decisions (Robbins et al., 2015). For
example Susan Williams, the founder of a small business
called The Finishing Touch, effectively uses a combination
of email and intranet to keep her employees informed
about schedules, work assignments, shift times, current
brochures, customer feedback and payroll information
despite the diverse geographic locations of the staff
(Samson & Daft, 2015). This is not an isolated example;
several multinational organisations also report increased
Topic sentence stating
the purpose of a
Writer’s voice or
Supporting evidence
Supporting evidence
Writer’s voice or comment
Supporting evidence
Conclusion and linking
Figure 5.1 demonstrates the parts of a paragraph
In summary, these are the strengths of the above paragraph:
The writer has expressed a clear position or stance on the topic
The writer’s voice, or comments run(s) through the paragraph above
he writer comments on the evidence, which is referenced, and its contribution to the discussion.
This is an indication of critical thinking.
Step 8: Preparing a draft
The more carefully you plan your draft, the more logical your writing will be and the easier it is to read.
Planning may occur gradually at the same time as reading and note taking, or as a separate stage. It will
help you to organise the reasons for your position as well as organise the evidence to support them.
The first step of planning your response may be synthesising your notes from the different sources
you have read. This requires combining and grouping notes about particular ideas or data to suit the
different sections of your response to the assignment task. This will help you to develop your position.
What is a ‘position’?
‘Position’ is an academic word for ‘opinion’ or ‘contention’. There is a significant difference between
a personal opinion and an academic position. You may have a personal opinion on any topic with or
without evidence, and your opinion may be logical and rational or not. An academic position is the
considered result of research. Brick (2006, p.16) identifies several features of an academic position. It is
logical (part of a formal system such as an argument);
rational (carefully reasoned and can be verified via evidence);
impersonal (not subjective);
precise (not a generalisation);
qualified (scope is limited appropriately).
When you have completed your reading, note taking, analysis and thinking on the topic, try to
express your position in a single sentence. Your position provides a focus for your response to the
task or question.
Building your position with claims
Your position statement or contention functions as a signal for your reader. The body of the
assignment then provides an argument which defends the position in detail. Major supporting
claims (reasons for the position) are developed as the major stages of the argument. If you are using
headings, the claims form the headings and are the focus of the paragraphs.
Supporting your claims with evidence
In the same way that you need to support your position with convincing claims, each of those claims
also needs support. This is the evidence you collect during your research. You may choose from
various types of evidence, for instance, statistics or other data, concrete examples, research findings
from experts in the field or quotes from academics. However, to be convincing in an academic text,
evidence should meet the following criteria:
It should be relevant to the particular claim it is supporting
It should be specific, not general. Avoid general statements
It should be academically acceptable. Although you might utilise non-academic sources such
as government documents, business reports, or company documents, it must be supported by
academic texts and academic research
It should be evaluated. You should always comment on the value of the evidence you have
Figure 5.2: Sample outline for an essay
Manager’s role: gather and
distribute information
Opportunity: intranet;
more complete, timely and
accessible information
Manager’s role: facilitate
team work
Opportunity: social media,
virtual teams, not bound by
Opportunities and
challenges of using ICT
in internal organisational
Evidence: Samson et al. manager’s role
Evidence: Robbins et al.
- networked and wireless
systems, Kara Johnson &
Wrigley cases; Samson et al.
- Susan Williams Case
Evidence: Samson et al. manager’s role
Evidence: Barker - Sun
Microsystems case;
Huang et al. - changes in
Evidence: Robbins et al.manager’s role
Manager’s role: monitor
Challenge: privacy ethics
Manager’s role: monitor
Challenge: cyberbullying
Evidence: Halpern et al.- legal
issues (US) in monitoring email;
O’Rourke et al. - Australian
context; Van Gramberg et al. privacy issues
Evidence: Robbins et al. identifying issue; Samson et
al. - manager’s role
Evidence: Williams solutions; Sherer et al. identificaiton of ramifications;
Van Gramberg et al.
-cyberbullying definition
How to plan
Create an outline
There are several different ways to plan your response. The first step is to organise your ideas into an
outline that shows what you are going to do. You may wish to mindmap your ideas, devise a linear
outline or construct a flow chart or table, as shown in Figure 5.2.
Study the above outline for the management essay analysed in Chapter 4. (Discuss: The emergence
of ICTs has created opportunities and challenges for managers seeking to improve communication
within their organisations. Support your response with relevant examples).
Create a plan
Once you have organised your ideas, it is useful to develop a detailed plan for your writing. This
will help guide you in organising your information and will assist you in meeting the word count
requirements. The type of assignment you have been given will affect the way you plan. For example,
if you are writing a report, you would plan your assignment under the headings you are intending to
use. A detailed plan for a literature review will help you determine the order in which to present texts.
For an essay, you would plan what to include in each section, as seen below. Note how the major
part of the body of the essay discusses how the development of information and communication
technologies has created both opportunities and challenges for managers when communicating
with their employees. Rather than merely describing these issues, the essay is responding to the
complexity embedded in the task, which is the interaction between technologies and the manager’s
role. In this case, the word count is given as 2000 words. This is taken into consideration in the
detailed plan, helping to break the writing task into manageable sections.
Figure 5.3: Sample plan
Introduction: (10% = 200 words): Address context – all modern businesses; define ICT =
information and communication technologies – give examples used in body; link to manager’s role;
Position – emerging ICTs create opportunities to increase productivity but pose ethical challenges
that could have ramifications for organisation if incorrectly managed.
Body: (80% = 1600 words)
Paragraph 1 (400 words): Emerging technologies have created the opportunity for managers
to streamline the collection and distribution of information within a company. Samson et al. –
communication purpose-orientated (687); drop off a problem (703); “Electronic communication
methods such as email and instant messaging have made it easier than ever for information to
flow in all directions” (702); Robbins et al. – networked systems (593), employee access results
faster decisions (592); sharing information through online database = increased efficiency and
effectiveness (595); Kara Johnson, IDEO, data management (595); Samson et al. – Susan
Williams, The Finishing Touch, effective use email and internet (705)
Paragraph 2 (400 words): In addition, ICT has presented managers with the chance to
further facilitate team work within their organisation. Samson et al. – strategic communication
(687); horizontal communication (704-705); Huang et al. – impact of social media on internal
communication flow (120); Barker – success of social media by Sun Microsystems; advice to
managers (14)
Paragraph 3 (400 words): However, the implementation of these improved communication
channels raises issues of employee privacy for the manager. Robbins et al. – tech provides
improved ability to monitor individual/team performance (592); Halpern et al. – need to balance
company needs and employee morale (177); duty of management to ensure employees fulfilling
responsibilities – requires some measure of monitoring (177); although legal, negative impact
on creativity and morale (178); O’Rourke et al. – concern when monitoring email resulted in
dismissal (524); almost no legal protection employees in Australia (524-527); but can create
low morale and distrust, stress and overwork, reduce productivity (530); Van Gramberg et al. –
misuse by employees leads to low productivity (2237); electronic surveillance creates sense of
powerlessness, affects health and productivity (2245-47)
Paragraph 4 (400 words): Additionally, managers must be aware of the potential misuse of
communication technology by employees to harrass others. Samson et al. – manager’s role to
encourage strategic communication (687); Robbins et al. – cyberbullying a concerning issue
(595); Van Gramberg – define cyberbullying (2237); Sherer et al. – opens company to civil suit (3);
Kaupins et al. – Blakey v. Continental Airlines 2000 - $1.7 million to plaintiff (87-88) ; sample policy
(95); Williams – 40% Candians bullied in career (4) ; solution – clear and open communication (5)
Conclusion: (10% = 200 words) Reformulate position; Stress importance of understanding
Reference List (To format your reference list, see Chapter 3.2: Referencing in APA style.)
Barker, P. (2008) How Social Media Is Transforming Employee Communications at Sun
Microsystems. Halpern, D., Reville, P. J., & Grunewald, D. (2008) Management and Legal Issues
Regarding Electronic Surveillance of Employees in the Workplace. Huang, J., Baptista, J. &
Galliers, R. D. (2013) Reconceptualizing rhetorical practices in organizations: The impact of social
media on internal communications. Kaupins, G., & Park, S. (2011) Legal and Ethical Implications
of Corporate Social Networks
O’Rourke, A., Teicher, J., & Pyman, A. (2011) Internet and Email Monitoring in the Workplace:
Time for an Alternate Approach. Robbins, S. P., DeCenzo, D. A., Coulter, M. K. & Woods, M.
(2014) Management: the essentials. Samson, D., & Daft, R. L. (2015) Management (5th ed.).
Sherer, J. A. & McLellan, M. L. (2015) Like This, Not That – Mitigating Corporate Social Media
Engagement Risks. Van Gramberg, B., Teicher, J. & O’Rourke, A. (2014) Managing electronic
communications: a new challenge for human resource managers. Williams, L. (2014) Taking a
stand against workplace bullies.
Your first draft should be written according to your notes and detailed plan. Avoid using your original
sources while writing your first draft; check the details after you have completed it in your own words
from your notes and outline. An essay must represent the “writer’s voice”. This occurs when you
develop your own response to the task, using evidence from the literature to support your clearly
expressed argument.
Writing the first draft is the most difficult part of the process, but once this is completed, it is rarely
good enough for submission. Once the argument has been written, it is important to work through it
carefully at least two more times to improve the draft. Most professional writers redraft several times
in order to produce a quality text. Make sure you allow enough time for drafting and redrafting your
assignment in your timeline for completion.
Step 9. Considering academic/professional style requirements
Editing and proofreading
It is important to understand that writing is a process. Once you have completed your draft, you
need to check that your ideas are clearly expressed and that your writing is grammatically accurate.
You can check this by having someone read over your piece of work pointing out areas and
sentences where your ideas are unclear. You can also read it aloud, and when you are listening to it
you can often pick up mistakes, such as incomplete sentences.
Ensure you correct errors in your final draft, set your Word dictionary to English (Australia), and spell
check the final document. However, be aware that computer spelling and grammar checkers are
limited because they are designed for basic, not academic, use. If you rely exclusively on computer
checkers you will only produce basic, not academic, writing. It is your responsibility to correct all
errors. Allow a break of several days so that you see your work more objectively and then spend two
or three days editing and proofreading in detail. Table 5.2 shows the points that you need to check
before submitting a final copy.
Table 5.2: Editing and proofreading
Check the details
Your position is clearly state; reasons for the position are given; logical
organisation of reasons; convincing evidence
One major reason per paragraph; logical pattern or organisation (order of
significance, cause-effect, positive-negative)
Follow the appropriate structure for the genre, as detailed in the following
Check the details using electronic and manual checking
Academic style
Formal; impersonal; transition signals; formal vocabulary; cohesion and
connections between ideas; quoting and paraphrasing
Variety of sentence types; no sentence fragments; correct nouns and
articles; correct subject-verb agreement; correct verb tense and word form
Ensure that spelling is correct; check if auto-correct has changed words
Commas; apostrophes; semicolons; colons; parentheses; full stops
Correct APA style
Margins; font; line spacing; title page; consistent headings; graphics and
captions; word count; page numbers
It is important to note that not all of your assignments will require a written response. You may be
required to give an oral or visual response (see Chapter 6 Presentation skills) or to complete group
work (see Chapter 2 Approaching study). It is essential to analyse the task carefully to determine
what type of response is required. If you are not sure, consult your unit guide and academic staff.
Academic writing style
Academic writing has various features which make it different from everyday language. Academic
is formal
is impersonal
uses formal signalling and connectors
uses formal cohesion techniques.
Writing style is developed over time with practice. If you are new to academic writing, factor time
into your schedule to learn. Find, highlight and learn language patterns and expressions used widely
in academic sources in your field and gradually improve your own writing by incorporating such
language patterns. Ensure you allow several weeks for drafting assignments so that you can focus
on making your ideas clear through careful attention to grammar and vocabulary.
Formal academic language
In academic writing, the style (or register) of the text is formal rather than informal. While you may
use colloquial or idiomatic expressions in your casual speech, this is not appropriate in assignment
writing. You need to use precise, formal vocabulary at all times. Have a good dictionary and
thesaurus available whenever you are writing. Learn to use them effectively. Do not rely exclusively
on the “synonyms option” available with your word processor, as it is designed for everyday
English, not academic English. In addition, avoid using personal pronouns, such as “I”, “you” and
“we”, and contractions or abbreviations, such as “don’t” or “can’t”, as these detract from the
academic tone of your writing. So if this paragraph was rewritten in a formal academic writing
style it would look like this:
The register of academic compositions is formal. Colloquial and idiomatic expressions, which are
prevalent in daily speech, are not appropriate for this genre. Instead, writing needs to be precise
and use the terminology of the subject area. A dictionary and thesaurus are invaluable tools to aid
in the dissemination of ideas, but are difficult to use effectively. The thesaurus provided by word
processing software is frequently inadequate to the task of crafting academic language. They are
designed for use in commonplace English and do not provide meet the rigorous language needs
of academic composition. The use of personal pronouns and contractions are symptomatic of
a lower standard of English usage. Their appearance in academic literature indicates a lack of
academic rigour in the writing practices of the researcher.
There are occasions when the use of personal pronouns and less formal language are appropriate.
Always consult with your unit guide and academic staff about the requirements.
A general tip for finding your ‘academic voice’ is to think of it as the voice you would use in a
telephone call to a potential employer. Your academic voice is not completely different from your own
spoken expression, just more formal and professional.
The Table 5.3 below contains common errors found in student writing. When proofreading your
work, make sure that you have avoided these errors.
Table 5.3: Common errors in academic writing
avoid informal
1. not…any
1. no
The analysis didn’t yield any new
The analysis yielded no new results.
2. not…much
The government allocated little
funding to the program.
The government didn’t allocate
much finding to the program.
3. not …many
This problem doesn’t have many
viable solutions.
avoid multi-word
verbs; choose
formal verbs
avoid run-on
avoid direct
avoid placing
adverbs in the
wrong position
2. little
3. few
This problem has few viable
This method will sort out the
problems. We need to break down
the problem into smaller parts.
This method will solve the problems.
The problem needs to be analysed.
‘etc’; ‘and so on’; ‘and so forth’
These microchips can be used
in robots, CD players and other
electronic devices.
These microchips can be used in
robots, CD players, etc.
What can be done to lower costs?
It is necessary to consider ways to
lower costs.
place the adverb with the verb
Actually, very little is known about…
This model was developed by Smith
Very little is actually known about…
This model was originally developed
by Smith.
While you are expected to critique the literature, you are not expected to attack the academic
sources. It is important to remain respectful. It is also important to be cautious in your claims. It is
unlikely that you have examined all possible cases or evidence and there is a chance that you may
be wrong. Your tone needs to emphasise your conclusions while accepting the possibility that they
may be wrong. For example, instead of saying:
This is an important factor in the development of management style. It is definitely not employed
by this company and they certainly need to adjust their approach.
This seems to be an important factor in the development of management style. The evidence
suggests that it is not employed by this company and they may need to adjust their approach.
Transition signals
Words or phrases used to connect ideas are called transition signals or signposts. They add
cohesion to your writing and can explain to the reader the direction and purpose of pieces of
information. They demonstrate the thinking that underpins your writing. Transition signals can be
used to
identify the sequence of your claims
indicate cause and effect or results
indicate an example
indicate events over time
introduce a summary or conclusion
introduce complementary ideas or information
introduce opposing ideas
compare and/or contrast.
For examples of transition words, see Appendix C. Look at academic articles and books to find
examples of connectors, and try to use them in your own writing. It is important not to overuse these
words. If every sentence includes one, it feels like a non-stop run from one idea to the next. Use
them carefully, to add emphasis or clarity.
There are various techniques for ensuring your writing is cohesive, or well connected, for example:
repetition of key words (shown in italics in the text below)
The research findings have notable managerial implications. The assurance that the substantial
resources allocated to the introduction of information technology in firms are effective and efficient
is an important issue. The belief that information management can be improved by the introduction
of information technologies is well established, as shown by the constant growth of investments in
technical infrastructure and information technology products (Carmichael et al., 2011).
se of substitutes such as synonyms, pronouns, summary phrases (shown in italics in the text
Not everyone likes the same cereal, restaurant, college, or movie. Therefore, marketers start by dividing
the market into segments. They identify and profile distinct groups of buyers who might prefer or
require varying product and service mixes by examining demographic, psychographic, and behavioural
differences among buyers. After identifying market segments, the marketer decides which present the
greatest opportunities- which are its target markets. For each, the firm develops a market offering that
it positions in the minds of the target buyers as delivering some central benefit(s) (Kotler & Keller, 2011).
Academic grammar
Verb tenses
There are conventions regarding which verb tense to use where in academic writing. Although other
tenses occur, the three most common tenses in academic writing are present simple, past simple
and present perfect. Use verb tenses consistently to ensure smooth flow of expression.
Use present simple when
referring to a source text (e.g. “Smith (2011) states that…”; “Ling (2004) explores the nature of…”;
“As Northingham and West suggest, there is…”),
stating facts (e.g. “The rate of increase is significant”),
stating implications of results (e.g. “The results indicate that…”),
stating conclusions (e.g. “Further research is required”).
Use past simple for an action or event at a specific, definite time in the past, or when discussing
another researcher’s work (use of past simple usually indicates that the ideas are no longer current).
For example, use past simple when
reporting methods (e.g. “347 managers were interviewed…”; “Smith statistically modelled the
frequency of…”),
reporting results (e.g. “Levels of productivity increased…”),
discussing history (e.g. “In 2005, the Accounting Standards were altered”),
discussing (outdated) literature (e.g. “Smith argued…”).
Use present perfect for an action or event in the past at no specific point, for a past action or event
with current consequences, for change, or to indicate importance or controversy. For example, use
present perfect when
iscussing a past action or event with current consequences (e.g. “The organisation has managed
the crisis successfully”),
discussing change (e.g. “Revenue has increased substantially”),
mphasising current relevance or continuing debate (e.g. “Godfrey et al. have emphasised that
modern financial theory…”; “Samson has modified the concept of…”).
Passive and active sentence constructions
While you should use a combination of active and passive sentence structures in your writing, active
constructions are preferred. Note the difference between active and passive sentence structures in
Table 5.4.
Table 5.4: Passive and active sentence construction
Passive sentence construction
Active sentence construction
The financial process was controlled by the
The accountant controlled the financial process.
Start the sentence with the more important information. If the important information is who did
something put the subject first (e.g. ’the accountant’) and use active construction. If the important
information is the idea or event (e.g. ‘the financial process’), put it first and use passive construction.
Passive construction focuses on the concept (‘The financial process’) or event, not who was
involved; while active constructions emphasise the agent (‘The accountant’). Use passive sentence
construction if the subject is not relevant (e.g. in the methods section of a report) or is unknown.
Citing and referencing
If you take ideas or data from a text, you must reference the source. This principle applies even
if you express the ideas in your own words. See Chapter 3 Academic integrity and honesty for
comprehensive information regarding how to avoid plagiarism and how to cite and reference using
APA style.
5.2 Writing Essays
Before writing anything, it is important to work through the steps outlined in Chapter 4 The research
process: a basic guide and 5.1 Academic writing overview to ensure you: fully understand the topic,
have a researchable question, have materials to help you answer this question, and have read and
taken notes in your own words.
This section will explain the following in relation to writing an essay
Develop a structure
Prepare a draft
While the information contained in this section is accepted academic and professional practice, you
are advised to consult your unit guide and academic staff regarding any specific expectations. The
final step,
Consider academic/professional style requirements
This requires you to go back through your draft and ensure that your writing shows appropriate
integrity, citing and referencing, style, tone and vocabulary. Your work also needs to be clear and free
of spelling and grammatical errors. You will find this information in Chapters 3 Academic integrity and
honesty and 5.1 Academic writing overview. This last step develops attention to detail, which is a
vital professional skill.
What is the purpose of an essay?
The primary purpose of an academic essay is to present the perspective you have formed from your
research and analysis of an issue or topic. Academic and professional writers indicate their point of
view, perspective or position on a topic and provide evidence to support that position. This needs to
be presented as a series of logically linked claims. Writing academic essays helps to develop your
ability to articulate arguments and to support your position logically, with evidence. These skills can
then be applied to your professional practice. The specific purpose of your essay will be determined
by your analysis of the task (see Chapter 4 The research process: a basic guide). You need to keep
the purpose in mind as you structure and write your essay.
Who is the audience for your essay?
Think about who you are writing for. What assumptions can you make about your reader’s level of
knowledge? This may affect, for instance, the number of terms you need to define and how much
background information you need to provide. The audience for your essay is usually your lecturer
and your tutor. Essays can also be read by other academics and by your peers. As such, they are
addressed to the academic community and must adhere to high academic standards, and use
relevant language for the discipline. In addition, your audience is already well versed in your field, so
the need to explain basic principles is reduced.
How is an essay structured?
When structuring an essay, you need to consider how your position or argument will develop. You
will need to structure the essay into introduction, body and conclusion. Each of these sections has a
different role.
The introduction has two roles:
1. To address the requirements of the essay question you have developed from your
topic (see Chapter 4 The research process: a basic guide)
2. To state your position.
In addressing the essay requirements, an introduction offers some or all of the following elements:
Concise information about the specific situation. This may be expanded on in later paragraphs
A rationale, or reason why writing about this issue is important.
Research questions where relevant
Limits to the scope (which time or place or group?)
Mention of key terms and theories to be expanded upon in subsequent paragraphs
brief outline of the essay to follow. This provides a roadmap for the reader, helping to set their
While some of these elements are optional, the statement of your position is not. It should be
presented concisely, preferably in one sentence. A good statement of position in an essay needs to
have certain characteristics. It needs to:
1. demonstrate a clear position
2. recognise the complexity of the issue or topic under investigation and therefore be
‘grey’, rather than ‘black or white’
3. be possible to support.
Example position statement
In Chapter 4, the following topic was presented:
Discuss: The emergence of ICTs has created opportunities and challenges for managers to
improve communication within an organisation.
From this, a research question was developed:
Do ICTs create more opportunities than challenges for managers seeking to improve
communication within their organisations?
This question is now able to be ‘answered’ in an essay by developing a position, and using evidence
to support this position. After comprehensive reading, the following position was developed:
Emerging ICTs create opportunities for managers to improve internal organisational
communication which can increase productivity, but they also pose ethical challenges that could
have serious ramifications if they are incorrectly managed.
Generally, the introduction represents around 10% of your word count. The rest of the essay
supports your position.
The body of an essay is the most important part because it presents the perspective, developed
logically through as many paragraphs as necessary, as in Table 5.5 (below). It comprises the majority
of your essay.
Each paragraph contains a topic sentence stating one of the reasons for your position; supporting
sentences containing evidence and comments on the evidence; and a concluding sentence
containing evaluation of the material and findings presented in the paragraph. It may also require
a transition sentence to guide the reader from one paragraph to the next or demonstrating how
the claim supports the position. Each paragraph should follow a sequence to logically develop the
The body makes up the majority of your writing and should be 80% of your word count.
The conclusion, like the introduction, has two main roles:
1. To bring the argument to a convincing close and to reformulate your position
2. To consider the significance of the findings in the essay. This may include one or more
of the following:
The importance of your findings regarding the issue itself
The importance of your findings for research in the field
Brief recommendations
The consequences of implementing or not implementing your recommendations
Any limitations of your research
Suggested future directions.
The conclusion should not introduce any new material, but reflect on what has already been written.
A final comment might refer to the beginning of the essay, or state the most significant consequence,
or make a recommendation (for example, for further research). Like the introduction, the conclusion
is around 10% of your word count.
Many journal articles can be considered essays. As you read them, look at how they develop their
argument to improve your understanding of the essay structure.
Table 5.5: Structure and argument
Elements of Structure
Introduce the topic:
Background and context
Your position
Key terms
Outline of essay
Statement of position
Paragraph* 1:
Claim 1 [your voice] = Topic Sentence
Supporting Evidence 1 (reference) + comment (your
Supporting Evidence 2 (reference) + comment (your
Supporting Evidence 3 (reference) + comment (your
Your evaluation [your voice]
Optional transitional sentence to next paragraph
Paragraph 2:
Claim 2 [your voice] = Topic Sentence
Supporting Evidence 1 (reference) + comment (your
Supporting Evidence 2 (reference) + comment (your
Your argument
(the reasons for
your position plus
the supporting
evidence for
each reason plus
comments on the
Supporting Evidence 3 (reference) + comment (your
Your evaluation [your voice]
Optional transitional sentence to next paragraph
Repeat as necessary
* For a detailed explanation of paragraph structure, see
5.1 Academic writing overview.
Statement of position formulated in light of findings
Your position
Variations to essay structure
While essays generally follow this structure, there are different ways that they can be approached. It is
important to consult your unit guide and academic staff to clarify any specific expectations for your work.
Word count
One of the most common variations for essays is in terms of word length. Essays can be short, with
only 500-1,000 words, or much longer, reaching 2,000 or more words. The word count directly affects
not only the length but also the depth of your essay. A short word count will have only two or three
paragraphs within the body and will necessarily require you to focus on only two or three points. In
addition, your writing will need to be concise, with limited examples to support your argument. A longer
word count will allow you to draw on further evidence in support of your position and to raise additional
points for a stronger argument. It is, therefore, important to keep the word count in mind when
approaching your essay, as it will affect all aspects of the research. The word count is usually stated in
the unit guide. If you are unsure of the word count, consult your unit guide and academic staff.
The level of guidance or structuring provided for each essay will be different. For some essays, you
may be given suggested structures, including what to cover in each paragraph. For others, you may
be required to determine the structure yourself. If structuring guidelines are provided, you should follow
these. If you are unsure about the structure requirements, consult your unit guide, lecturer, or tutor.
For some essays, the scope of the topic or argument may be prescribed and you will be expected to
cover set points in the development of your argument. These guidelines may take the form of specific
instruction or appear as a series of questions to answer. It is important that you focus on these points in
detail. For other essays, the question may be quite broad, allowing you to define the topic for yourself.
This will require you to limit your scope yourself, so that the arguments you present are relevant and
important. If you are unsure about what to cover, consult your unit guide and academic staff.
Use of headings
Some assignment instructions may require you to include headings and diagrams within your
essay, which may give it the appearance of a report. However, you are still expected to develop an
argument in the manner described above. The headings must relate to and express succinctly the
nature of the information that follows. If headings cannot be used, the links throughout the essay will
need to be expressed in sentences.
If you are required to include diagrams, ensure that you explain the diagram and its relevance in the
appropriate paragraph. Diagrams, graphs and other visuals can only develop your point if they are
understood by the reader. Their relevance to your argument should also be explained – treat them as
you would other evidence.
If you are unsure about the use of headings or diagrams in your essay, consult your unit guide and
academic staff.
How do I demonstrate my critical thinking in an essay?
Critical thinking means approaching reading materials with a view to making a judgement on them.
This involves evaluating and interpreting facts and opinions by asking questions. This allows you to
evaluate the validity of the evidence presented by making judgements about
argument and use of evidence,
writing style and structure,
who, when, and where.
This helps the researcher to produce a reasoned argument, drawing on literature to support your
position. It is important to remember to base your critical analysis on evidence, such as other
sources, and your reasoning. You need to be aware of the different interpretations and approaches.
In essays, critical thinking is evidenced in the body and conclusion of the essay, as part of the
argument. It occurs when the researcher challenges or questions the findings of other studies, or
synthesises studies to reach new conclusions.
Example 1: body paragraph (reproduced with student permission)
Social media provides managers with an inexpensive means to connect with others. In one
study, 83% of survey participants indicated that virtual teams led to reduced costs (BoschSijtsema & Sivunen, 2013). In the past, connecting with people across the world was costly
for organisations, with managers required to fly to different cities to attend face-to-face
meetings and conferences with colleagues. Now, through the emergence of video conferencing
technology such as Skype, and through the implementation of virtual worlds, organisations are
able to conduct meetings without incurring the financial expenses and time-costs associated
with travel (Bosch-Sijtsema & Sivunen, 2013; Johnson et al., 2009). The ability to coordinate
teams from a central location has allowed managers to devote their time to enhancing
productivity. Also, as Cascio (2000) explains, social media has led to savings on real estate
expenses. The development of virtual teams reduces the costs associated with maintaining the
physical space of an organisation as employees are able to work from various locations. The
use of social media has also made the recruitment of staff significantly more affordable. For
example, Slovensky and Ross (2011) argue that online background checks are much cheaper
than logistically complicated tests conducted later in the application process. The reduced cost
of recruitment has enabled managers to invest more money in attracting talent from across the
world, thereby increasing organisational performance. Various forms of social media, therefore,
have significantly reduced costs for managers by enhancing connections within and between
In this example, which was taken from an essay written by an undergraduate student, critical
thinking is demonstrated by the researcher’s use of evidence to support her claim. She has provided
several concrete examples to demonstrate that social media has reduced costs for managers
(e.g. “video conferencing technology such as Skype”, “savings on real estate expenses”, “online
background checks are much cheaper”). She has also demonstrated that her claim is based on the
synthesis of a broad range of academic sources (Bosch-Sijtsema & Sivunen, 2013; Cascio, 2000;
Johnson et al., 2009; Slovensky & Ross, 2011).
Example 2: body paragraph
However, the implementation of these improved communication channels raises issues of
employee privacy for the manager. As their role includes performance feedback to employees
and the provision of necessary coaching and training, managers need a means of monitoring
employee performance at the individual and team levels (Halpern et al., 2008; Robbins et
al., 2014; Samson & Daft, 2015). ICT has been found to provide managers with the ability
to observe their employees online and digital activities and ensure that they are fulfilling their
responsibilities (Halpern et al., 2008; Robbins et al. 2014). This means that managers now have
the ability to check which websites employees are visiting, to examine which programs are
being used and to read employee emails. This has led to concerns about employee privacy.
Halpern et al. (2008) found that managers in America had legal access to company email
accounts. Similarly, O’Rourke et al. (2011) found that Australian employees had virtually no legal
protection from email monitoring. This means that managers have no legal obstacles to reading
their employees’ emails. However, the impact of this surveillance on employees was found to
be detrimental. It creates low morale and distrust among the employees, increasing their levels
of stress which in turn negatively affected their productivity (Halpern et al., 2008; O’Rourke et
al., 2011; Van Gramberg et al., 2014). Therefore, although managers have no legal impediment
to electronic surveillance of employee performance, it is equally important that their staff feel
trusted and respected. As such, managers need to balance the needs of the company with
employee satisfaction and should only access email accounts when an issue, such as cyberbullying, has been identified and requires investigation.
In this example, critical thinking is demonstrated through the synthesis of evidence to support a
point. They have argued that the manager’s role requires monitoring of employee performance
(“managers need a means of monitoring employee performance”). They have synthesised evidence
to reach this conclusion (Halpern et al., 2008; Robbins et al., 2014; Samson & Daft, 201) before
developing their argument further. It is also evident that they have explored a number of viewpoints
(company needs, legal issues and employee welfare) in order to suggest a solution (“to balance the
needs of the company with employee satisfaction”).
Checklist: Does your essay…
provide an answer to the question?
present your response in a logical essay structure?
express clearly your own position in the introduction?
convince the reader of your position through the use of relevant arguments in the body?
support your arguments with references and data as evidence in the body?
include accurate and consistent referencing?
meet the assignment requirements in terms of variations to the essay structure?
provide evidence of critical thinking throughout the essay?
meet the required word count?
meet the expectations regarding formatting?
5.3 Writing a literature review
Before writing anything, it is important to work through the steps outlined in Chapter 4 The research
process: a basic guide and 5.1 Academic writing overview to ensure you fully understand the topic,
have a researchable question, have materials to help you answer this question and have read and
taken notes in your own words.
This section will explain the following in relation to writing a literature review:
Develop a structure
Prepare a draft
While the information contained in this section is accepted academic and professional practice, you
are advised to consult your unit guide, lecturer or tutor regarding any specific expectations.
The final step
Consider academic/professional style requirements
This requires you to go back through your draft and ensure that your writing shows appropriate
integrity, citing and referencing, style, tone and vocabulary. Your work also needs to be clear and free
of spelling and grammatical errors. You will find this information in Chapters 3 Academic integrity and
honesty and 5.1 Academic writing overview. This last step develops attention to detail, which is a
vital professional skill.
What is the purpose of the literature review?
The purpose of a literature review is to assess the current state of scholarly opinion in a specific area.
Literature reviews generally have one or more of the following objectives:
To explain how knowledge about a particular topic or in a particular field has developed;
To critically evaluate the contribution of selected literature to this body of knowledge;
To identify and explain similarities and differences in the academic literature;
To examine controversies in the academic literature;
To identify limitations in understanding or gaps in research that require attention.
A literature review is based on the understanding that knowledge is not fixed or static. Rather,
it evolves as researchers investigate and report on their findings in refereed articles and books.
Because these publications have undergone scrutiny from experts in the field, the information
contained within them is regarded as authoritative. The process of reviewing this literature demands
the critical evaluation of its strengths and shortcomings and its contribution to a particular topic or
field of study.
The process of preparing and writing a literature review will help you to gain a clearer perspective on
a topic. It will allow you to become more familiar with the arguments and issues that form the basis of
debate and to identify patterns and gaps in the literature on the topic. The process of summarising,
critiquing, and synthesising the literature will help you to hone your critical reading skills and your ability
to write clearly and succinctly. These skills are also highly valued in a number of different professional
settings. Many employers rely on skilled employees to summarise, critique and synthesise literature for
them. Public sector and industry reports, for example, often contain literature reviews.
Some assignments require you to review the literature on a particular topic in the process of
responding to the major assessment task. For instance, in an essay, report, project or thesis, you
review the literature in order to develop your perspective. In explaining your perspective you need to
support it with evidence from the literature. Some assignments, however, are purely an evaluation
of the literature on a particular topic. This may take the form of an annotated bibliography, a critical
review or a literature review. Critical reviews and literature reviews are the focus of this chapter.
Who is the audience for a literature review?
Unless you have been directed in the unit guide or by academic staff to pitch your review to a
particular audience, you should assume that you are writing for the general academic audience
in the field. This audience is likely to be familiar with established and influential works on the topic
but may not be aware of some of the specific works or issues raised in your review. It is therefore
important to think about which perspectives are likely to be understood by this audience and which
will require more explanation. Recently published books and articles, for example, may require more
explanation than established works.
How is a literature review structured?
There are three key aspects to a review, whether it is a critical review or literature review:
1. To briefly describe the content (what is the text about?).
2. To evaluate the text(s) (judge the argument and reasoning, and the strength and validity of the
evidence that has been drawn upon).
3. To compare and contrast texts (to show how they relate to each other and to their field of study).
Of these three aspects, evaluation and comparison (points 2 and 3 above) are the most important
and should account for the majority of your literature review.
The most appropriate and effective structure to adopt for a literature review will depend on the
specific requirements of the assignment, such as the word limit and whether the assignment is a
critical review or a literature review (see variations to the content and structure of reviews below).
You should carefully read the instructions in your unit guide and seek clarification from your lecturer
or tutor before planning the structure. In most cases, however, a literature review should contain the
An introduction, consisting of
a clear statement about the importance and dimensions of the topic;
a succinct and logically organised summary of the current state of knowledge on the topic; and
a summary of the similarities, differences, and gaps that the review will cover.
A series of main body paragraphs, consisting of
clear topic sentence that identifies the similarity, difference, pattern, or gap that the paragraph
will discuss;
a detailed critique and comparison of the views presented in the literature; and
concluding sentence that reflects on the significance of the comparison that has been made in
the paragraph.
When ordering your paragraphs, choose the organisational pattern that best suits the specific
purpose of your review. Some suggested patterns:
from general to specific;
from earliest to most recent;
on the basis of how the ideas have emerged.
on the basis of how the views conflict with other views;
on the basis of how the views are connected to other views;
according to the usefulness of the views.
Remember: a mere summary of each source, presented one after another in an
unconnected way, is NOT a suitable literature review.
Variations to the content and structure of reviews
The literature review (a review of multiple sources) is the most common type of review that you will
be asked to write. However, in some units you may be required to write a critical review (a review
of a single source). Critical reviews and literature reviews are similar in many respects. Both should
contain a brief description of the source(s). Most importantly, both should contain an evaluation
of the significance of the source(s) to the broader field, the strengths and shortcomings of the
arguments contained in the source(s), and the value and limitations of the evidence used by the
However, there are some important differences between critical reviews and literature reviews. The
following table outlines the main differences between these two assignment types.
Table 5.6: Comparison of critical review and literature review
Critical review
Literature review
Single source
Multiple sources
Citation + review
written as an argumentative essay
(a paragraph or more)
synthesised reviews + in-text references
+ reference list
consists of paragraphs (for an article or
student assignment) or a chapter (for
a book or thesis)
publication (academic journal)
publication (academic journal/book)
student assignment
Honours/Master’s/PhD thesis
student assignment
evaluate strengths and
shortcomings of the source
analyse current debates in a research
area/ your area of study
assess the source’s contribution to
the topic/field
identify and explain strengths,
deficiencies, and gaps in the
may compare the source with other
may assess usefulness of source
to topic
if required, position your argument or
methods in relation to the literature
discussed in the review (e.g. explain
how you will be addressing a gap in
knowledge in your essay or thesis)
How do I demonstrate my critical thinking in a literature review?
In order to clearly convey your critical thinking to the reader you will need to foreground your critical
engagement with the academic literature. Specify the focus and objectives of your review in the
introduction. For example, which trends and developments in the literature will be covered in your
review? Which similarities, differences or controversies will it identify and explain? Re-emphasise
these points individually in the topic sentences of main body paragraphs.
An effective way of generating critical thinking is to compile a list of questions about the literature
that you are reading. For example:
re you persuaded by the author’s argument and main points? Why or why not? Is there another
theory or method that the author might have adopted?
as the author used reliable evidence to support their argument and main points? Is this evidence
the product of academic research? Is it out of date?
Does the author present a balanced perspective?
Has the author left out important information or points of view?
When comparing different academic works consider:
In what ways these academic works are similar. In what ways are they different?
hy these authors draw different conclusions. Is it because of their sources of information? Is it
because of their methods? Have approaches changed over time? Why might this be?
Example 1: Evolution of the academic literature on ICT
Some of the conclusions asserted in early studies of ICT have to be treated with caution due to
the rapidly evolving nature of ICT. For example, Walther (1994, p. 473) found that “anticipated
future interaction” has more influence on “relational communication dimensions” than does
the medium of communication. While these findings are not necessarily refuted by recent
developments in ICT, they have to be reassessed in the light of the increasing popularity and
diversity of social technology and, as pointed out by Nord, Paliszkiewicz, and Koohang (2014, p.
92), greater “cross-platform integration among social technology sites”.
In this example critical thinking is demonstrated by explaining the limitations of older works on
the topic in comparison with more recent works (i.e. technology developments have introduced
complexities for scholars).
Example 2: Studies of communication within virtual teams (reproduced with student
Several studies have examined the impact of social media on the quality of communication within
organisations. A comparison of this literature shows that the problems caused by some forms
of social media can be overcome by the application of other forms. For example, Sallnäs (2005)
and Gilson et al. (2015) show that the absence of non-verbal cues (such as facial expressions,
hand gestures, and tone of voice) poses challenges for members of virtual teams that are not
experienced by their face-to-face counterparts. Research conducted by Cheshin, Rafaeli, and
Bos (2011) indicates that while emotions such as anger and happiness can be conveyed via textonly communication, elements such as resoluteness and flexibility may be misinterpreted. Such
miscommunication may result in virtual teams that lack cohesion and synergy. Sallnäs (2005) found
that individuals perform more effectively when audial or visual information is provided, as opposed
to purely textual information. Despite this, many forms of social media, such as Skype and YouTube,
allow for the effective delivery of non-verbal cues (Lai & Turban, 2008; van der Smagt, 2000). The
logical conclusion is that managers can avoid many of the problems caused by a lack of behavioural
indicators if they implement virtual teams that rely on varied social media platforms.
In this example critical thinking is demonstrated by synthesising a variety of perspectives and
drawing a logical conclusion based on that synthesis (managers should “implement virtual teams
that rely on varied social media platforms”).
Checklist: Does your literature review…
identify the significance and dimensions (or sub-themes) of the topic and specify these in the
explain the contribution of the chosen literature to the topic?
summarise and critique the views presented in the chosen literature?
point out and explain similarities and differences between different sources?
establish a logical system for organising the literature review and justify this system to the reader?
5.4 Report writing
Before writing anything, it is important to work through the steps outlined in Chapter 4 The research
process: a basic guide and 5.1 Academic writing overview to ensure you fully understand the topic,
have a researchable question, have materials to help you answer this question and have read and
taken notes in your own words.
This section will explain the following in relation to writing a report:
Develop a structure
Prepare a draft
While the information contained in this section is accepted academic and professional practice, you
are advised to consult your unit guide and academic staff regarding any specific expectations. Note
that this chapter provides guidelines only. As the type of report required by your Chief Examiner may
vary considerably, you are advised to read the instructions given in your unit guide carefully and seek
clarification before proceeding. The final step,
Consider academic/professional style requirements
This requires you to go back through your draft and ensure that your writing shows appropriate
integrity, citing and referencing, style, tone and vocabulary. Your work also needs to be clear and free
of spelling and grammatical errors. You will find this information in Chapters 3 Academic integrity and
honesty and 5.1 Academic writing overview. This last step develops attention to detail, which is a
vital professional skill.
What is the purpose of a report?
Reports are written for a variety of purposes. In general, they are written to present findings and
recommendations that will aid decision-making. As you write the report, it is important to keep in
mind its aim or purpose i.e., what does the person/group commissioning the report want to know?
This will determine the way in which you approach and structure the report.
Key points to note:
Reports are often used to assist in decision-making
eports will often identify problems, collect relevant information, and make recommendations to
solve those problems
At times reports are used to persuade the reader to adopt an idea or a particular approach
The purpose of the report determines how the report is constructed.
Who is the intended audience of the report?
You need to continually consider who the report is being written for. For instance, are you writing for
a client? A manager? The reader’s knowledge of the subject will influence the amount of background
information you include, as well as the level of technical language you use in your report.
How a report is structured
It is important to note that there is no single way of structuring a report. The content and structure
will vary according to the report’s purpose and aims (some of these variations are covered in the
following section: Variations to the report structure). It is therefore essential that you check your
unit guide and seek clarification from academic staff on the most appropriate structure to
Generally, a formal report will contain some or all of the following sections:
ransmittal document (This is a separate document attached to the front of the report. Do not
include it unless specifically requested to do so. Check your unit guide or ask your lecturer or
Title page
Executive summary
Table of contents
List of figures
List of tables
Reference list
It is the job of the preliminary sections to provide administrative material before the report itself. What
is included in these sections will be determined by the purpose of the report, that is, what the reader
wants to know.
Transmittal document
This part of the report is optional and you are only required to submit this on request.
A report often includes a covering letter or email to the person who requested it. Essentially, the
writer is saying, “Please find attached the report you requested” or “Please find attached the report
you requested on…” The writer may also provide a brief summary of the report or alternatively, the
writer may mention items of special interest and acknowledge those who may have contributed to
the report.
Title page
Unless otherwise stated, the title page of your report should include
your name and student number;
due date for the assignment;
name of the academic staff member for whom the report was written; and
the name of the unit (including the unit code).
The formatting of the title page should follow APA style. It should
be presented on a separate page;
be numbered (Page 1);
include a title (no more than 12 words, Times New Roman font, centred, on the upper half of the
page, with a capital letter for each word); and
include other relevant details (e.g. course code, lecturer) on the lower half of page.
Executive summary
Reports usually contain an “executive summary”. It was originally designed for busy executives who
did not have time to read the entire report. It contains no quotations and is usually no more than one
page in length. The executive summary is placed at the beginning of the report, after the title page,
but before the introduction.
The executive summary should include the following:
Aim of the report;
Description of what has been done in the report;
Summary of main findings;
Conclusions and recommendations.
Table of contents
This page is used to outline the sections and sub-sections of the report. It reveals the organisation
of the report showing the headings and sub-headings and their corresponding page numbers. The
table of contents can be inserted into a word document automatically, using the application’s table of
contents [TOC] function, and should be updated before submission.
List of tables and figures
When there are six or more figures (a figure is any table, chart, photograph, drawing, diagram,
illustration or other non-text depiction), these are often listed on a separate page with their
corresponding page numbers in the text. If only a few exist, then they are included in the table of
contents page. These can also be inserted into a word document automatically, and should be
updated before submission.
Introduction of the report
The role of the introduction is to explain the purpose or objectives of the report.
The introduction firstly requires a description of the circumstances requiring investigation, including
the background to the situation. It then needs to identify and describe the specific problem(s) to be
addressed in the report. Then, it needs to relate to the associated theory or research done by others
to your particular case.
The introduction of a report usually covers some or all of the following points:
The purpose or objective of writing the report;
Careful definition of the problem;
ackground information (for example a brief history of the organisation, context of topic or
Associated theory;
Definition of key terms where necessary;
cope, that is, the size or extent of study, amount of data collected, time frames, focus of data
collection or discussion (for example, a department or whole organisation);
ssumptions and limitations (for example, given the above material, any assumptions that were
made and any limitations placed on the material included in the report);
utline (for example, the structure adopted for the report). This briefly overviews the argument and
the framework or logical structure that the reader should expect to read in the rest of the report.
Body of the report
It is the job of the body to present the particular research or investigation you have undertaken. This
involves: analysing a situation, identify problem(s), investigating, then constructing recommendations
to solve those problems.
The organisation of the body of the report will vary considerably according to factors such as the
type of problem posed, the nature of the topic and the length of the report. However, as a general
rule, the findings are divided into logical sections and sub-sections with appropriate headings and
In some reports, the method may be set out in a separate section prior to the body of the report so
it is important that you consult your unit guide, lecturer or tutor before proceeding.
This section of the report discusses how you went about the investigation to get your results.
You need to explain in detail the method you chose, and justify why you used it. It is important to
demonstrate that your method is reliable and verifiable. The purpose is to describe the method in
enough detail so that someone else could repeat the study.
The method/methodology section usually covers some or all of the following points:
Description of the kind of data used (for example, participants, procedures);
xplanation of what was done to collect the information e.g. case studies, surveys, observations,
tests. In other words, how the study was done;
J ustification of why this method is being used to understand and/or solve the problem. Why this
particular way? Why is the chosen method preferable to other methods?;
If relevant, add any extra information or observations, such as changes to the method generated
via the results of a pilot run.
When writing this section, use the past tense since you are describing what was done, and, as the
focus is on what was done rather than who did it, the passive voice is used. Use sub-headings if
This section of the report states the findings of your investigation, i.e., what did you find out? Unlike
the discussion/conclusions section of the report, it does not discuss implications of these results.
The job of this section is instead to present the findings in a clear and simple manner. Generally, you
will focus on the most important data, trends or relationships. These findings then form the basis of
your analysis in the discussion/conclusions section.
Using figures and tables to illustrate results
The results of a study may be illustrated visually through the use of tables and figures. Presenting
information visually can help explain complex information or data.
Tables are numerical values or text displayed in rows and columns. Figures are other illustrations
such as graphs, charts, maps, drawings, photographs.
Some guidelines:
Figures should be included only if relevant;
Figure number and title should be left aligned and placed directly beneath the figure;
Table number and title should be left aligned and placed directly above table;
Each table or figure must be discussed in the body text, referred to by its number.
APA style needs to be followed when including tables and figures. Please see the examples below.
Example of using tables
When using tables in your report, it is important that the table is referred to in the body of the text.
For example:
As can be seen in Table 1, New South Wales attracted the largest proportion of net overseas
migration in 2013-2014. However, due to interstate migration, total net migration was less in
New South Wales than Victoria. This suggests that…
Tables may be placed in the main body of the report or in the appendices section (check your unit
guide or seek clarification from academic staff). The table needs a number, a heading, and a caption
(which is like a reference) as can be seen below:
Table 1. Migration Summary - State and Territory 2013-2014
Net Overseas
Migration (NOM)
Net Interstate Migration
Net migration
73 300
-6 857
66 443
59 358
8 783
68 141
30 270
5 753
36 023
11 166
-2 968
8 198
32 270
1 045
33 315
1 322
-1 168
2 983
-3 344
2 017
-1 244
212 695
212 695
State or
Note: Adapted from “Migration, Australia, 2013-14 (No
3412.0),” by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015.
Copyright (2015) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Each table needs a number
(Table 1) and an explanatory
title (Migration Summary –
State and Territory 20132014.)
Note that when using
decimals, numeric data
should be rounded to two
decimal places.
A caption is required
beneath each table
according to this format.
If the table has not been constructed by you, it will need to be correctly cited in your reference list.
The citation for this example would be written as follows:
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Migration, Australia, 2013-14 (No.3412.0). Retrieved from
Example of using figures
When using figures in your report, the figure needs to be referred to in the body of the text. For
As can be seen in Figure 1, New South Wales attracted over 70,000 migrants from overseas
in 2013-2014, while Tasmania received the smallest number of all the states and territories,
numbering around 1000. Implications of this are….
Figures may be placed in the main body of the report or in the appendices section (check your
unit guide or seek clarification from your lecturer or tutor). The figure needs a number, a title, and a
caption (which is like a reference) as can be seen below:
Figure 1. Net Overseas Migration 2013-2014
Each figure requires a
number (Figure 1.) and a
title (Net Overseas Migration
Figure 1. Net overseas migration 2013-2014 by state and
territory. Adapted from ‘Migration, Australia, 2013-14 (no 3412.0)’,
by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015. Copyright (2015) by
the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A caption needs to be
included beneath the figure
including: the number of
the figure, a descriptive title,
adapted/ retrieved/ reprinted
from (title of article/book/
publication), publication
details, and Copyright (year)
by (title of publisher).
If the figure has not been constructed by you, it will need to be correctly cited in your reference list.
The citation for this example would be written as follows:
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Migration, Australia, 2013-14 (No.3412.0). Retrieved from
This is the most important part of the report. After providing an objective account of the facts in the
Results/Findings section, it is necessary to discuss and interpret the results. The same set of facts
may be interpreted in different ways. Therefore, you need to formulate your own conclusions, based
on the evidence, in response to the problem. In this section, you also need to relate the results to the
theory and/or other studies.
The discussion/conclusion section of a report usually includes the following:
Discussion of the logical deductions drawn from the findings in the previous section;
Explanation of any theoretical or practical consequences of the results;
ny questions or issues that remain unresolved for the purpose of indicating possible directions
for future investigation.
Additional points about conclusions:
They must be drawn directly from the results and must not introduce any new material;
ou should not “gloss over conclusions that are puzzling, unpleasant, incomplete, or don’t seem
to fit into your scheme” (Weaver & Weaver, 1977, p. 98). Instead, these conclusions need to be
discussed and explanations sought;
hey may be presented in various ways: in order of importance, in the same order as the body
section was organised, or as separate positive and negative conclusions.
Having analysed a situation, identified problem(s), and collected information, you then make
recommendations to solve those problems. What specific, concrete actions should be undertaken to
solve the problem/s?
must be drawn directly from the results;
suggest the course of action to be taken to solve a particular problem or problems;
s hould be written as imperative statements without justification (as justification takes place in the
discussion/conclusions section); and
should be expressed in order of importance.
This section provides additional material to assist readers, and most commonly includes a reference
list and appendices.
Reference list
The reference list should give information about all sources cited in the report, arranged in
alphabetical order according to author. Full publication details must be included in APA style. See
Chapter 3.2 Referencing: APA style for referencing guidelines.
This is the final section of a report, and is located after the reference list. Include in an appendix
any relevant supporting evidence, such as lengthy tabulated data or original questionnaires or tests
that are not able to be easily incorporated in the main body of the report. For the formatting of
appendices, see Appendix D of the Q manual.
Variations to the report structure
There are various ways a report may be structured so it is important to consult your unit guide and
academic staff before proceeding. The assignment may specify the headings that you are to use.
The structure you use, as indicated by headings and sub-headings, will depend on the purpose
and aims of the report. For instance, a report that presents a new marketing plan for a company will
have a different structure from a report that investigates the impact of technology on how a manager
leads a team.
For example, a report that presents a new marketing plan might include the following:
Executive summary
Industry and competitor analysis
Customer and company analysis
Strategies and tactics
Reference list.
Whereas, a report investigating the impact of technology on company management might include
the following:
Executive summary
Table of contents
- Background
- Purpose
- Scope
- Method
- Limitations
- Assumptions
Reference list.
Note that the structure is formulated in response to the aims and objectives of each report. A
SWOT analysis and Product Overview, for instance, are not relevant to a report that aims to present
an analysis of the impact of technology on a company’s management. You will need to make
judgements about what sections are appropriate to include depending on the purpose of the report.
How do I demonstrate my critical thinking in a report?
Critical thinking is exercised throughout the whole process of writing a report, as you must
continuously make decisions about how the purpose of the report and the requirements of the
audience can best be met. Critical thinking is exercised in the process of understanding and
interpreting the problem, in analysing and evaluating information, your ability to apply relevant
theories to your research, and then in formulating your conclusions and devising recommendations.
Examples of critical thinking
The following extract is from the findings section of a management report. In this case, the objective
is to state the results of an investigation into the impact of technology on how a manager leads a
Technology has impacted upon the management of teams through the increased usage
of Virtual Teams (VTs). These are teams that are globally dispersed and connected through
communication technology (Gilson et al, 2014). The most significant issues for managers leading
these teams include: conflict resolution, as conflict is more likely to arise in VTs than face-to-face
teams (Furumo, 2009); potential lags in information exchange within VTs due to heavy reliance
on technology (Andres, 2012); and different expectations about the mode and frequency of
communication arising from cultural diversity within the team (Dekker, Rutte & Van den Berg,
2008). These findings and their implications will be discussed below.
Critical thinking is demonstrated by evaluating the issues and identifying the most important ones
(‘The most significant issues are….’) and being able to support these ideas through reference to the
relevant literature (e.g. Gibson et al., 2014).
The following extract is from the recommendations section of a management report. Its objective
is to present recommendations to the company to help overcome the challenges that technology
presents to a manager in leading a team.
The potential issues and challenges that VTs pose to managers have been identified and
discussed. Based on an analysis of these findings, the following actions are recommended
in order to improve management of VTs and to help overcome or avoid these issues. It is
recommended that managers establish predictable communication patterns within the team
as this will contribute to overall success (Coppola et al., 2004). Strong communication should
be developed to minimise conflict, and promote trust (Quigley, Tesluck, Locke, & Bartol, 2007).
Training in topics such as teamwork, intercultural teamwork and technology usage should be
provided to the team in order to improve communication, including exchange of ideas and
decision-making processes, as well as cross-cultural understanding between team members
(Gilson et al., 2015). As a result, instances of conflict should be reduced. Mixed incentive awards
could also be offered to improve team motivation and overall performance (Gilson et al., 2015;
Bryant et al., 2009). These strategies may assist managers in leading more successful VTs.
Critical thinking is demonstrated by analysing the findings of the report to devise recommendations.
The recommendations clearly stem from the findings and discussion sections of the report, as the
recommendations relate directly to how managers might manage the key issues identified in these
sections (‘to help overcome or avoid the potential issues outlined above’).
The following extract is from the discussion section of a marketing report. Its objective is to discuss
the implications of the report’s findings, which show the increasing importance of social media as a
part of an organisation’s marketing mix.
Social media, defined by Ashley and Tuten as ”online channels for sharing and participating in a
variety of activities” (2015, p.15), has become an increasingly significant element of a company’s
marketing mix, as demonstrated in the findings section of this report. Various marketing activities,
including customer relationship management, service and sales promotions, are increasingly being
implemented through the various social platforms (Ashley & Tuten, 2015). However, it is evident
that social media is of key importance for branding activities in particular (eMarketer, 2013).
Interactivity and participation are two key features of social networking technologies (Barker,
2008). Therefore, social media presents unique opportunities for branding, primarily through the
potential ongoing interaction that can be cultivated between the brand and the consumer (Ashley
& Tuten, 2015). Through this, increased brand awareness and loyalty can be developed. The
challenge is developing creative content that users will engage with.
Critical thinking is demonstrated through the ability to apply ideas and theories from the literature to
a discussion of how social media may be used in marketing activities. An evaluation of the marketing
activity most suited to social media is also demonstrated.
Checklist: Does your report…
address the stated aims and purpose?
consider the audience of the report?
use appropriate headings and sub-headings?
follow a logical structure?
refer to tables and figures (if used) in the body of the text?
5.5 Reflective writing
Before writing anything, it is important to work through the steps outlined in Chapter 4 The research
process: a basic guide and 5.1 Academic writing overview to ensure you fully understand the topic,
have a researchable question, have materials to help you answer this question, and have read and
taken notes in your own words.
This section will explain the following in relation to writing a report:
Develop a structure
Prepare a draft
While the information contained in this section is accepted academic and professional practice, you
are advised to consult your unit guide, lecturer, or tutor regarding any specific expectations. Note
that this chapter provides guidelines only. As the type of report required by your Chief Examiner may
vary considerably, you are advised to carefully read the instructions given in your unit guide and seek
clarification before proceeding. The final step,
Consider academic/professional style requirements
This requires you to go back through your draft and ensure that your writing shows appropriate
integrity, citing and referencing, style, tone and vocabulary. Your work also needs to be clear and free
of spelling and grammatical errors. You will find this information in Chapters 3 Academic integrity and
honesty and 5.1 Academic writing overview. This last step develops attention to detail, which is a
vital professional skill.
Assignments sometimes include the requirement to write reflectively, either for a section of the text or
for the whole document. For example, you may be required to explore your emerging understanding
of a topic by integrating concepts from the readings, a case study and your own experience. You
may be asked to keep a reflective journal that documents your learning over a period of weeks, or
records and unpacks your responses to a particular experience. Or, you may be required to reflect
on a group activity and articulate the ways in which your understanding of particular content or
processes has changed as a result of working together.
Reflective writing is different from other forms of academic writing in several important ways and this
chapter will explore these differences. It examines the process of reflective thinking and suggests
how this reflection can be incorporated into text to form part of or all of an assignment. It also
provides an example with commentary.
What is reflective thinking?
Your time at Monash will involve a lot of thinking. Most assignments ask you to critically analyse
a problem, a question or a piece of writing and to incorporate evidence and relevant theory and
commentary from the field to support an argument. Analytical and evaluative thinking aim to be
objective, focusing on logic, support and line of reasoning. Sometimes, however, you will be asked
to incorporate a different thinking style – reflection.
Reflective thinking involves looking back on your thinking process and evaluating it. It is a powerful
aid in learning and it also plays a vital role in identifying and solving problems and unlocking new
directions and perspectives. Reflective thinking involves awareness, and in particular self-awareness.
This is one of the very important distinctions between reflective thinking and other types of thinking
you will be required to demonstrate – it is consciously subjective. Reflective thinking involves the
uncovering of the process that takes place as we engage with new knowledge. It explores directly
what you think or feel about a topic and asks you to explicitly state the factors that underpin your
logic or approach towards a topic.
Reflective thinking may include the following:
Personal observation of experiences, situations, events or information
Consideration of the ‘processing’ phase, when thinking and learning took place.
Figure 5.4: Stages of reflection
Initial or new
and change
Reflection and
Development of
new concept or
Figure 5.4 demonstrates the cyclical nature of reflection.
There is no right or wrong way to reflect. Only you can respond to your own perspective and reveal
the changes that are occurring as you examine past knowledge or experience, and speculate on the
future. The diagram above suggests some stages that might occur.
Some common factors involved in thinking reflectively:
Perceptions (thoughts + senses) - these include how something felt and how you experienced it;
Connections between your new learning and your prior knowledge and experience
Prior assumptions, opinions and experiences and a consideration of why you thought this way;
What you have found challenging and inspiring and why;
peculations, possibilities, solutions, conclusions – and how you reached a point of
Alternative interpretations and different perspectives;
Implications for your future thoughts and actions.
What is the benefit of reflective thinking?
Reflective thinking uses hindsight to scaffold future learning. The benefit of hindsight is that over time
you have a broader perspective with which to judge a situation. By documenting and monitoring
your thinking during and after an experience, you are better able to ask the “what if” questions
and identify different ways you might have managed any issues that arose. Later, you can use the
context and consequences to reassess and evaluate potential for change. The regular practice of
reflection modifies your thoughts about events or experiences, providing learning that can be applied
in the future. This process nurtures your ability to become an active, aware and critical learner. The
ability to reflect on your own actions and behaviours is also a key skill in the workplace. For some
occupations regular reflection is a job requirement. However for all business roles, the ability to either
individually or more widely observe previous experiences and outcomes and to then implement
changes or establish new practices, is highly valued.
How do I demonstrate reflection in my writing?
Reflective writing involves self-awareness about your prior knowledge and your new learning, and
an ability to explore these while also integrating, analysing and critiquing theory and practice. From
a learning perspective, it can help you to clarify your personal learning outcomes. This assists you in
planning for the future as you modify approaches based on your new understanding.
A common frame for reflective writing incorporates the following questions (Driscoll, 2000):
1. What happened? (A brief description).
2. So what? (Why is it important? A brief interpretation).
3. What if? (How could you have managed it differently? An evaluation).
4. Now what? (How will you address it? A further evaluation).
5. What’s next? (What will you do differently next time? Recommendations).
An example of reflective writing:
ICT has presented managers with the chance to increase team work within their organisation. This
is in-keeping with view that it is part of the manager’s role to facilitate strategic communication
and provide employees with the opportunity to collaborate (Robbins et al. 2014; Samson & Daft,
2015). I can relate to these strategies based on my experience of a group work assignment which
required me to team up with fellow students to analyse and complete a set task. The lecturer
provided an online wiki space for each group where we could log our progress and discussions.
This practice reflects horizontal communication, which is indicated by Samson and Daft (2015)
to result in intradepartmental problem solving and coordination in the workplace through effective
internal communication. In my view, the online wiki facilitated communication for all members pf
our team, regardless of time or location, and enabled us to efficiently complete the task. However,
it is important to also acknowledge other contributing factors such as personal motivation and
the clear clarifying of expectations as well as the assigning of team roles. Providing professional
development to staff in both ICT and effective group dynamics will be an important aspect of a
manager’s role with the increasing reliance on ICT.
Looked at from a different perspective, the implementation of these improved communication
channels raises some concerns e.g. employee privacy. ICT has been found to provide managers
with the ability to observe their employees’ online and digital activities to ensure that they are
fulfilling their responsibilities (Halpern et al., 2008; Robbins et al., 2014). This means that managers
now have the ability to check which websites employees are visiting; to examine which programs
have been used; and even to read employees’ emails. I believe that this kind of surveillance could
have detrimental impacts on the relationship between employees and managers. In my experience
in my current workplace, it is important that as a staff member I feel trusted. If I were aware of
strict surveillance of my performance, I would feel quite stressed and less inclined to respect
my manager. These factors are similarly reflected in studies on this topic indicating negative
effects on employee productivity (Halpern et al., 2008; O’Rourke et al., 2011; Van Gramberg et
al., 2014).This is an issue that I had not considered previously as I was not aware of the ability
to monitor my online and digital activities. While I am careful of what information I publish on my
social media profiles, this kind of organisational observation is an important issue to note in my
future workplaces where I may need to act appropriately and establish boundaries between my
personal and professional online and digital activities. In considering how this might impact me as
a future manager, I believe that I would need to establish transparent and explicit guidelines for all
parties, so that trust could be established and maintained between the manager and employees.
A broader social debate about the rights of individuals to privacy in the workplace may also be
called for.
Commentary on the writing
What? Note how in both paragraphs, the writer establishes a clear topic sentence and links the
topic to personal experience.
So what? In each paragraph, the writer situates the topic within the context of the literature
and then provides relevant professional examples of why this topic is important and worthy of
What if? In each paragraph the writer speculates on what might happen if this situation were
different. For example, in paragraph 1 the writer thinks about what other factors might influence
teamwork online. In paragraph 2 the writer speculates on how his or her behaviour might change as
a result of this new information.
Now what and what’s next? The writer evaluates his or her own learning and considers what
behaviour may change. The writer also considers how this knowledge or practice may change the
way managers work in the future, i.e. what might need to happen as a result of this new information?
What are the implications?
Expression. The writer uses both passive forms (e.g. these factors are reflected; a broader social
debate may be called for) as well as active voice in the first person (I can relate; I believe that).
Speculation. Notice how the writer hypothesises about what might have happened or what
might happen in the future by using could, would, may, might and will forms.
Tone. Notice how the writing is still professional in tone, even though the personal (I) is used.
Some final tips for reflective thinking and writing
Write regularly during experiences to capture your reactions (e.g. during a teamwork exercise or
work assignment).
articularly take note of “aha” moments, when you have a sudden realisation (e.g. during reading
or observation).
Incorporate and value thinking time. Focus on particular events, activities, and experiences.
Think deeply. Take special note of your feelings and perceptions.
Phrase negative experiences in terms of what you have learnt and how you will act next time.
Situate comments within a learning context.
5.6 Writing a case study analysis
Before writing anything, it is important to work through the steps outlined in Chapter 4 The research
process: a basic guide and 5.1 Academic writing overview to ensure you fully understand the topic,
have a researchable question, have materials to help you answer this question, and have read and
taken notes in your own words.
This section will explain the following in relation to writing a case study response:
Develop a structure
Prepare a draft
While the information contained in this section is accepted academic and professional practice, you
are advised to consult your unit guide, lecturer, or tutor regarding any specific expectations. Note
that this chapter provides guidelines only. As the type of report required by your Chief Examiner may
vary considerably, you are advised to carefully read the instructions given in your unit guide and seek
clarification before proceeding. The final step,
Consider academic/professional style requirements
This requires you to go back through your draft and ensure that your writing shows appropriate
integrity, citing and referencing, style, tone and vocabulary. Your work also needs to be clear and free
of spelling and grammatical errors. You will find this information in Chapters 3 Academic integrity and
honesty and 5.1 Academic writing overview. This last step develops attention to detail, which is a
vital professional skill.
What is the purpose of a case study?
Case studies are widely accepted as a means to assess your ability to apply theoretical concepts to
realistic, practical situations which you may encounter in the workplace. A written case study outlining
a real or realistic situation is an excellent means by which your lecturer can assess your understanding
of concepts, analytical skills, and problem solving abilities in preparation for the ‘real’ world.
The approaches presented below provide general guidelines for case analysis. Consult your unit guide,
lecturer or tutor regarding the specifics of the case you are to analyse for assessment purposes.
Who is the typical audience for a case study?
A case study demonstrates your ability to think analytically so is an ideal means of assessment. It is also a
valuable preparation for the work place. A company might request an analysis of their work environment
when issues arise. A well-written case study can alert management to the underlying causes of the
difficulties. You might also be called upon to go further, providing a means to resolve issues. This would
require a report that includes the analysis, but also offers strategies for positive change.
How do I demonstrate critical thinking in a case study?
Your ability to think critically is essential for a case study. You will be required to analyse a situation,
and for some reports, you will also need to evaluate and recommend. There two types of case
studies you likely to be asked to do, both as a student, and later, in the work force.
1. The “analytical approach”
This method requires you to analyse the case to try to determine exactly what has happened,
understand the problems which existed in the case, and explain the reasons why events unfolded
the way they did. You do not need to develop solutions to improve the situation; you simply explain
the “what and why”.
2. The “problem-oriented approach”
Using this method you must identify the major problems which existed in the case and what caused
these problems, understand why the events occurred the way they did, suggest possible solutions
to improve the situation, and finally, recommend the best solution for implementation. In a sense, you
are now determining the “what, why and how”.
As with many tasks in business situations, there is no ‘one best way’ to analyse or write up a case
report. Everyone develops their own methods of sorting and sifting through the information and
presenting their findings. Similarly, Chief Examiners have a variety of ways of designing a case study
assignment. Some Chief Examiners choose to present a case and ask for an in-depth case analysis.
Some may present the case followed by a series of questions related to it, while others may present
the case and ask you to identify and resolve the problems in a formally structured case report.
This chapter will provide in-depth information about case analysis to facilitate the analytical
approach, and outline the further steps involved to complete your case study assignment using the
’problem-oriented method‘. Keep in mind also, that the format required within a unit may vary from
what is proposed in this chapter. It is up to you to confirm with your lecturer or tutor which approach
is required, and the appropriate format to use for your assignment.
In a case study, it is crucial that you integrate relevant theory from your unit of study with evidence
from the case. Failure to attempt to integrate theory will lead to severe mark reduction or failure. As
with all your assignments, referencing of all non-original material is essential to uphold academic
integrity, to avoid penalties, and abide by Monash University’s Academic Integrity policy.
How to approach an analytical case study
1. First, skim-read the case to get a general overview of the situation
2. Carefully read the assignment task and any questions associated with the
case. Identify key words and concepts which will help to guide your analysis
and response. Pay particular attention to instruction verbs and make sure you
understand exactly what you are being asked to do (see Appendix A on instruction
words for more information)
3. Read closely and make clear notes on the case including: the organisation(s)
or stakeholders involved, key terms, conflicts or issues, strategies which were
implemented (if any), sequence of events, outcomes and so on
4. Use the key words identified from the assessment task and the case to locate the
relevant sections of your prescribed text and any additional readings containing
theory or background information, to help you understand the case and identify
problems. You may also use these key words as search terms to find additional
5. Read and make notes in your own words on the theoretical aspects involved in the
case. Make sure you record the bibliographical details of the sources you read for
easy reference when responding to the case
6. Re-read the case again, with your greater knowledge of the theory.
To analyse the case and identify its problems and their potential causes, you need to question the
information presented to you. Here are some examples:
hat is the organisational environment or structure? Are there any inherent problems with this
environment or structure?
ho is the decision maker? Is this the appropriate person or group who should be making the
hat were the financial constraints of this organisation? What difficulties could arise from such
constraints? Are these difficulties relevant to the problems arising in this case?
hat strategies were implemented here? Was this based upon any particular theory or concept?
What problems were caused as a result of this action?
It is important to realise that every case is different, and it is likely that the above questions will not
be relevant to the case you are analysing. You must determine your own unique set of questions
to analyse each individual case.
How to approach a problem solving case study
If you have been asked to prepare a full case report, then it is likely that you are expected to apply
the ’problem solving approach‘ to the case analysis. Regardless, you should still work through
the case analysis steps outlined above. Once you have analysed the case and identified the key
problem(s), you need to prepare a report which also identifies potential solutions to the problem(s),
then recommend a solution which achieves the most favourable outcome, and justify your decision.
This is outlined in more detail below.
Structure of a typical case report
The following structure suits the problem solving case report. If you are required to write an analytical
report, sections 6, 7, and 8 are not included.
1. Title page
2. Table of contents
3. Executive summary
summary of report and recommendations
rief background to the company and an outline of its problems, your recommendations, and
any assumptions noted.
The analysis of the case should be brief, giving background and noting any important assumptions
made. One page should be sufficient. (You will not have all the information you would like – so you
may need to make some assumptions). As well as this, you should give a synopsis of your case
report, noting very briefly the major problems identified and the recommended solutions.
4. Problem identification and analysis
identification and analysis of management problems including causes;
integration of theory and case evidence.
In this section, you should identify all the major problems in the case. Try to identify the underlying
causes of problems, not just the symptoms. Seek advice from your lecturer or tutor on the layout
of this information. You should link each problem identified to relevant theory and also to actual
evidence from the case. Remember, you MUST integrate theory while referencing all non-original
5. Statement of major problems
clear, concise statement of major problem/s that the remainder of the case is going to solve.
In most case studies, you will identify a number of problems. Most likely, there will be too many to
actually ‘solve’ in the number of words allowed. Hence, it is crucial to state very clearly which are the
major two or three problems, or key issues, which must be solved first. Therefore, this section is just
a short concise statement of what problems you are going to solve in the remainder of the case (half
a page is adequate). Having identified the key problems, you can continually check back to ensure
that you are actually attempting to solve them, and not some other minor problems you identified.
This section is crucial to a good case report.
6. Generation and evaluation of alternative solutions*
potential solutions outlined, linked to the key problems
evaluation of each alternative.
While most problems will have many possible solutions, it is your task to identify and evaluate a
number of the more appropriate (at least 2–3 for each major problem identified).
Each alternative solution should be briefly outlined and then evaluated in terms of its advantages and
disadvantages (strong and weak points). Note: you must evaluate alternatives. It is not necessary to
make a statement in this section as to which alternative is considered best – this occurs in the next
section. Do not integrate theory in this section and do not recommend theory. Practical solutions to
the problems are required.
7. Recommendations*
clear statement of which of the alternative(s) suggested (in 6) is/are recommended, and why
justification for the above using theory and/or course concepts. This solution should solve the
key problem(s) noted
This section should state which of the alternative solutions (either singularly or in combination)
identified in Section 6 are recommended for implementation. You should briefly justify your choice,
explaining how it will solve the major problems already identified. Integration of relevant theory is
essential in this section.
8. Implementation*
ction steps involved in actually introducing the recommended solutions: Who/When/How/
In this section, you should specifically explain how you will implement the recommended solutions.
Theory cannot be implemented; you must translate it into actions. This includes explaining what
should be done, by whom, when, in what sequence, what it will cost (rough estimates only), and
other such issues. Remember, if a recommended solution cannot be realistically implemented, then
it is no solution at all.
9. Reference list
This will contain an alphabetical list of all the references you have cited in the body of the report. Do
not include details of any sources you have not cited. Ensure the style used is correct and consistent
with the APA guidelines outlined in Section 3.2 of this manual.
10. Appendices (if any)
* Not included in an analytical report.
Checklist: Does your case study analysis…
identify, analyse, and (possibly) resolve the key problems involved in the case (i.e., avoid simply
repeating what the text book, or case information, has stated).
remain internally consistent (e.g. if you are required to apply the “problem solving approach”, do
not say ‘X’ is the major problem and then recommend a solution to ‘Y’).
apply the relevant theory in the case study response.
address all of the required questions (if asked).
include all the necessary sections.
make use of a variety of reliable and reputable sources.
contain references for all non-original material.
5.7 Writing for Business Law
This chapter provides basic guidance on studying business law subjects. Although there are some
aspects unique to business law subjects (such as using precedent cases and legislation), the
fundamentals for writing are the same as other academic subjects, that is, a well-structured text that
leads the reader through a discussion of a particular problem or issue.
Business law studies require you to read, understand and use both primary and secondary legal
Primary sources of law are authoritative publications of law produced by law-making bodies:
legislation enacted by Parliament: (e.g. Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic)),
cases decided by courts e.g. Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562), and
elegated legislation made by government departments and other statutory authorities (e.g. Road
Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic)).
Secondary sources of law are materials that comment on the primary sources of law, such as
■■ textbooks,
■■ journal articles, and
■■ legal dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Notes and summaries
It is not appropriate to simply rewrite lectures or prescribed texts for your notes. You need to
condense the ideas presented in the content of each of these, and summarise the relevant legal
principles contained in the primary sources for quick reference.
Prior to your lecture, it is expected that you have read and taken notes from the set readings. During
your lectures you will also take notes. Note taking will help you to
become familiar with the principles of law,
understand the legal issues relevant to each topic, and
apply legal principles to address legal issues.
There is a range of note taking approaches including linear or concept map styles. See Chapter 5.1
Academic writing overview for further information.
Case notes
In business law subjects, you are required to find and apply legal principles in your writing. Therefore,
once you have identified important cases you should summarise them for your notes. This involves
identifying the key facts, issues and outcome of the case. Case notes can be prepared in linear form,
or you may choose to present them in tables for easy reference. Once you have completed your
case note, you may wish to then further reduce the case to a brief description, or group the case
with others from the same area of law.
Figure 5.5: Case note example
Example case notes
Entores Ltd v Miles Far East Corp [1955] 2 QB 327
he plaintiffs in London were negotiating by telex with the Holland agents of the defendant, a
New York corporation.
he plaintiffs made an offer to the defendant’s agents to buy goods from them, and this offer
was accepted by a communication received on the plaintiff’s telex in London.
Was the contract made in London?
he Court held that with instantaneous communications, the parties were in the same position
as if they had negotiated in each other’s presence. The contract was complete when the
offeror received the acceptance in London and so English law applied to the contract.
Instantaneous communication – acceptance effective when received.
Further information on this specific case can be sought via: Gibson, A. & Fraser, D. (2009).
Business law. (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Figure 5.5 demonstrates how to make case notes
Legal issue summaries
Generally, business law exams are open-book, that is, you can take notes, texts and resource
materials into the exam room. The emphasis of law exams is on your ability not only to understand
the law, but also to apply it. Therefore, having useful summaries will allow you to effectively address
legal issues in an exam situation.
The key aspects of a summary are the issues and rules relevant to a particular topic. There are many
ways of including these in your summaries for each topic. Some may prefer to use a linear style,
which is closely connected to your notes. Others will aim to make their summaries more focused on
solving legal problem type questions or use flow charts or diagrams. Such summaries could include
the headings seen in Figure 5.6.
Figure 5.6: Case summary example
Example legal issue notes – liability for negligence
initial questions that must be asked: if a duty of care existed and if a duty of care is owed?
- legal principles that you must apply: e.g. test for duty of care (reasonable foreseeability of
injury and proximity or neighbour principle)
- relevant cases: e.g. Australian Safeway Stores Pty Ltd v Zaluzna [1887] – property owners
owe a duty of care to their visitors or customer and must protect them from foreseeable
defences: e.g. did the plaintiff’s conduct show a lack of care for their own safety? If so, did
such conduct materially contribute to the occurrence of the accident?
- legal principles that you must apply: e.g. you must establish three points to prove the
defence – the plaintiff knew the danger, the plaintiff appreciated the risk of injury created by
the danger and the plaintiff voluntarily agreed to accept the risk
- relevant cases: e.g. March v Stramare Pty Ltd [1991] – held that March contributed to the
accident and damages were therefore reduced
Figure 5.6 demonstrates how to summaries your notes.
Managing your summary notes
Consider using a folder or binder note book with clearly distinguishable sections
Use tags, notes, and/or colour schemes to arrange major sections and number your pages
In addition to outlining the major sections of your summaries, ensure that your contents page
outlines smaller integral elements of business law for easy location
est and improve the usability of your summary notes by answering practice questions provided
by your Chief Examiner.
Legal writing
In addition to exams, there may be a variety of assessment tasks you will complete in your business
law subjects, including written essays, problem solving or verbal tasks. This kind of legal writing can
be highly important in the workplace as you may be required to apply legal principles or use problem
solving skills in your job.
Writing in business law subjects is formal and structured. You need to be guided by your
assessment task instructions and criteria about how to approach and complete the task, and what
type of research is required. It is beneficial to refer back to the task instructions a number of times
during your research and writing, so that you remain clear about the set task.
Always consult your unit guide, lecturer, or tutor regarding specific requirements for your work
including referencing styles and use of headings.
Do not give a summary of the problem facts or legal issue in your response – you have limited words
and your response must be relevant to the set task. The problem facts should become evident as
you use them to discuss how the law applies to them.
Often there will be facts missing which you should identify. Make reasonable assumptions about
what those missing facts are and apply the law to any missing facts you identify. You may also need
to discuss the varying outcomes for different missing facts.
You will need to critically analyse the problem facts in order to apply relevant legal principles.
Sometimes the issue may be obvious in the problem. You should still analyse the key problem facts
to then demonstrate and apply the relevant legal principles in your response. Always answer the
question and stick to the task requirements.
Sometimes you may have a question with contentious or ambiguous problems. In this case it is very
important to analyse the issues involved in the problem facts to determine how legal principles apply.
You might be surprised once you start to think of the issue from different points of view; it may be
less obvious than you first thought.
There is no one correct way of responding to legal problem assignments. However, the method you
use to organise your response must address the set question, and always involves a discussion of
the law in relation to the facts – i.e. applying the law to the facts of the problem. Essay tasks similarly
require you to discuss and apply precedent cases and legislation to a specific question, as appropriate.
See Chapter 5.2 Writing Essays for further details on essay structure and developing an argument.
The following texts are very useful and are available from the Monash Library.
Crosling, G. M., & Murphy, H. M. (2009). How to study business law: reading, writing and exams. (4th
ed.) Chatswood, Australia: LexisNexis Butterworths.
Keyzer, P. (2003). Legal problem solving: a guide for law students. (2nd ed.). Chatswood, Australia:
LexisNexis Butterworths.
Krever, R. (2014). Mastering law studies and law exam techniques. (8th ed.). Chatswood, Australia:
LexisNexis Butterworths.
It is also worthwhile to read about how to research and write before you start your academic papers
(for example, see Chapter 4: The research process: a basic guide and Chapter 5.1: Academic
writing overview).
Legal problem solving strategies
Legal problem solving tasks are set around hypothetical sets of facts such as this example taken
from Keyzer (2003):
C Ltd was a manufacturer of cosmetics. A, who was allergic to certain face creams, contracted
dermatitis after using a cream manufactured by C Ltd. It had previously been widely published in
a pharmaceutical journal that an ingredient in this cream was causing allergic reactions of the kind
suffered by A on an increasing scale. Advise C Ltd whether it is liable to pay damages to A. (p. 77)
The purpose of these legal problem solving tasks is to engage you in identifying issues and providing
advice. When approaching legal problem solving tasks, we recommend that you use the following
framework, which has the acronym IRAC (Identify, Rules, Application, Conclusion).
Identify the issue
When you are presented with a hypothetical set of facts your first task is to identify the legal issues
involved in the question. For example, is contract law involved (if so, what aspect)? Is it a trade
practices issue (e.g. misleading conduct)? A company law issue (e.g. breach of director’s duty)?
Let us consider Keyzer’s example above. You need to ask some fundamental questions, such as:
1. What is the overall area of law that this problem raises?
2. What is the problem? Who has the problem?
3. Who may have caused the problem?
4. What may have caused the problem?
5. What outcome does the party with the problem ideally want?
The simple answers to these questions are:
1. Contract law, implied terms.
2. The problem is dermatitis – A has the problem.
3. C may have caused the problem.
4. The cream may have caused the problem.
5. A wants compensation in the monetary form of damages; and the dermatitis to be healed.
Now that you have identified the issues you need to find the correct law/principles that will help you
to resolve the problem. The law will be either a section of legislation or a principle from a case.
For instance, Keyzer’s example is similar to a previous case - Levi v Colgate Palmolive Pty Ltd (1941)
41 SR (NSW) 48 - so you would need to demonstrate the details of this case in your response.
The next step is to argue for each party’s position using both the law and the facts of your scenario.
This involves explaining the relevance of the law to the scenario, not just identifying the issue and
stating the appropriate law. You should also demonstrate the logic and reasoning of your argument
using the relevant facts of the scenario and analysing these in relation to the law. To do this you should:
nderstand each party’s perspective: what each would argue to ‘win’ (i.e. achieve a ‘fair’ outcome)
either as a plaintiff bringing a claim, or as a defendant defending itself against the plaintiff’s claim
consider the law from each party’s point of view and how this will support their arguments.
Decide which argument is stronger. Consider the ways in which the parties could have acted to
better manage their risks in order to avoid this legal problem. Arrive at a conclusion based on your
preceding explanation, analysis and argument. Note that there is usually not one correct answer,
although there may be one answer that is stronger than the others. Ensure you have explored the
law in relation to the facts, and have put forward what you think the outcome should be.
Researching for business law assessment tasks
Assessment tasks are set around the topics of the unit. You are expected to explore the content
of your unit in greater depth. This means that you will need to do further research on relevant
cases and laws. Consult your lecturer, tutor, or a librarian if you need assistance with finding this
information. When you are collecting information, make sure you record full publication details so
that you reference correctly.
Business law subjects use two referencing styles. You may be required to use both styles in a single
For primary resources, use the Australian Guide to Legal Citations (AGLC) 3rd edition (2010)
available online through the library.
Melbourne University Law Review Association & Melbourne Journal of International Law. (2010).
Australian guide to legal citation. (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Law Review
Unless otherwise directed in your unit, secondary sources should be referenced using the APA
style recommended by the Monash Business School (see Chapter 3.2 Referencing: APA style). You
are strongly advised to consult your unit guide, lecturer, or tutor regarding any specific referencing
expectations for your work.
In addition, we recommend you review the following resource:
Stuhmcke, A. (2005). Legal referencing. (3rd ed.). Chatswood, Australia: LexisNexis
Citing cases
When using cases, you must give the full citation of the case in the body of the assessment task
(that is, an in-text citation). By full citation it is meant that both of the primary parties’ names must
first be stated (in italics), then the year, the case reports’ volume number, the abbreviated name of
the report series and then the page number. There are no commas or full stops.
Table 5.7: Citing cases
R v Tang
Bakker v
Case Name
R = ‘Rex’
(for the
(round brackets if
volume organised
by volume number)
If relevant
[square brackets if
volume organised
by year]
Law Report
Starting page
initials only
Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners [1963] 2 All ER 575
R v Tang (2003)237CLR 1, 7
Bakker v Stewart [1980] VR 17
Some cases may have a medium neutral citation (meaning that it is an unreported case and has no
publisher or medium – consult your lecturer or tutor for further details about this type of source). In
this situation, the case is cited as follows: names of parties (in italics), then the year of publication,
court abbreviation, judgement number assigned by the court and full date. There are no commas or
full stops.
Table 5.8: Citing medium neutral cases
Quarmby v
(9 September
Case Name
(Full Date)
Quarmby v Keating [2009] TASSC 80 (9 September 2009)
Strong v The Queen [2005] HCA 30 (3 August 2005)
Citing legislation
The usual method of statute citation is citation by short title: the short title of the Act is cited first,
then the year it was passed by parliament (both should be in italics), and these are followed by the
accepted abbreviated form of that parliament in brackets.
Table 5.9: Citing legislation
Crimes Act
Law and Justice Legislation
in brackets
Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).
Social Welfare Ordinance 1964 (NT).
Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Act (No 2) 1992 (Cth).
Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Act (No 4) 1992 (Cth).
In-text citation of cases and legislation
The following sample has been written in relation to the sample question: What is an ‘offer’ in
contract law? It demonstrates in-text referencing of text (Sweeney & O’Reilly, 2001, p. 70); cases
Harvey v Facey [1893] AC 552; and law Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1953 (UK).
“An offer may be described as the indication by one person to another of his willingness to
enter into a contract with him on certain terms” (Sweeney & O’Reilly, 2001, p. 70). In Harvey v
Facey [1893] AC 552, it was held that there was no offer because Facey was merely supplying
information and a reasonable person would not interpret the telegram wording as showing an
intention to be bound by the price.
An offer needs to be distinguished from an ‘invitation to treat’. “An invitation to treat may also be
called an invitation to negotiate. It is an invitation to others to make an offer” (Sweeney & O’Reilly,
2001, p. 72). An example of this occurred in Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots
Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd [1953] 1 QB 401. Section 18 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act
1953 (UK) required registered pharmacists to supervise the sale of certain drugs. Boots set up a
self-service chemist with a pharmacist supervising at the checkout (Sweeney & O’Reilly, 2001).
“The English Court of Appeal unanimously decided that the offer was made by the customer when
presenting the items at the checkout counter” (Sweeney & O’Reilly, 2001, p. 73). Thus, there was
no breach of s 18 as the presentation of items on the shelves was an invitation to treat, and the
‘sale’ of the drugs occurred at the checkout where a registered pharmacist was supervising the
sale (Latimer, 2001).
Table 5.10: Australian Guide to Legal Citation - Quick Reference Guide
Full citation
Subsequent references
Australian Cases
Tame v New South Wales (2002) 211 CLR
Tame (2002) 211 CLR 317
Andrew Shelton & Co Pty Ltd v Alpha
Healthcare Ltd (2002) 5 VR 577
Alpha Healthcare Ltd (2002) 5 VR 577
Nydam v The Queen [1977] VR 430
Nydam [1977] VR 430
DPP (Vic) v Finn (2008) 186 A Crim R 235
Finn (2008) 186 A Crim R 235
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v
SZIAI [2009] HCA 39 (23 September 2009)
SZIAI [2009] HCA 39 (23 September 2009)
Barton v Chibber (Unreported, Supreme
Court of Victoria, Hampel J, 29 June 1989)
Barton (Unreported, Supreme Court of
Victoria, Hampel J, 29 June 1989)
Australian Legislation
Australian Constitution s 19.
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
Corporations Act s 9
Charter of Human Rights and
Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
Charter s 7
Police Regulations 2003 (Vic)
Police Regulations reg 6
Australian Securities Exchange, Listing Rules
(at 11 January 2010).
Listing Rules r 1.3.1
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill
2009 (Cth).
CPRS Bill 2009 cl 83.
Original Source: Melbourne University Law Review Association & Melbourne Journal of International
Law. (2010). Australian guide to legal citation. (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University
Law Review Association. Supplement.
List of references
It is important to note that in a reference list, texts, cases and legislation are included under separate
headings. There is no heading for general texts, but there are headings for cases and legislation.
Under each heading, sources are in alphabetical order. The example below demonstrates the layout
of a reference list. The first section is for general texts and is APA style. The second section is for
cases and is AGLC style. The third section is for legislation and is AGLC style. The reference list is
formatted APA style (see Chapter 3.2 Referencing: APA style).
Figure 5.7: Example reference list
Latimer, P. S. (2001). Australian business law. (21st ed.). North Ryde, Australia: CCH
Sweeney, B. & O’Reilly, J. (2001). Law in commerce. Chatswood, Australia: LexisNexis
Harvey v Facey [1893] AC 552
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd [1953] 1
QB 401
Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1953 (UK)
Figure 5.7 provides a correctly formatted example of a reference list for business law writing.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Barker, P. (2008) How Social Media Is Transforming Employee Communications at Sun Microsystems.
Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 27 (4), 6-14. doi: 10.1002/joe.20209
Bosch-Sijtsema, P. M., & Sivunen, A. (2013). Professional virtual worlds supporting computermediated communication, collaboration, and learning in geographically distributed contexts. IEEE
Transactions on Professional Communication, 56(2), 160-175. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2012.2237256
Brick, J. (2006). Academic culture. Sydney, Australia: NCELTR.
Cascio, W. F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. The Academy of Management Executive, 14(3), 8190. doi: 10.5465/AME.2000.4468068
Cheshin, A., Rafaeli, A., & Bos, N. (2011). Anger and happiness in virtual teams: Emotional influences of
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and Human Decision Processes, 116(1), 2-16. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.06.002
Eunson, B. (2008). Communicating in the 21st century (2nd ed.). Milton, Australia: John Wiley and Sons.
Gilson, L. L., Maynard, M. T., Young, N. C. J., Vartiainen, M., & Hakonen, M. (2015). Virtual teams
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Hay, I. (2006). Communicating in geography and the environmental sciences (3rd ed.). Oxford, England:
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Horn Nord, J., Paliszkiewicz, J., & Koohang, A. (2014). Using social technologies For competitive
advantage: impact on organizations and higher education. Journal of Computer Information
Systems, 55(1), 92-104.
Huang, J., Baptista, J., & Galliers, R. D. (2013) Reconceptualizing rhetorical practices in
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Students are often asked to deliver individual or group presentations as part of their units of study.
A survey conducted by Crosling and Ward (2002) identified presentations as one of the most
common forms of oral communication expected of business graduates. Effective presentation skills
are a valuable graduate attribute, as it is likely that you will be required to make formal and informal
presentations throughout your professional career.
The assignment process
In Chapter 4, the research process was outlined, and the following five steps were explained:
1. Determine what you need to do, and why
2. Identify key words, instruction words, and limiting words
3. Brainstorm the topic and do background reading
4. Create a research question
5. Undertake information research.
Chapter 5 explained how to:
6. Read, evaluate and take notes.
This chapter will address the rest of the process in relation to presentations.
7. Develop a structure
8. Prepare a draft
9. Consider academic and professional style requirements.
What is a presentation?
A presentation is a carefully planned spoken and/or visual event, delivered for the purpose of
providing information, persuading the audience, or encouraging the audience to agree or take
action. You may be asked to produce and deliver presentations in different formats including oral
presentations to an audience, a poster presentation, or an electronic presentation such as a podcast
or video.
How do I prepare for a presentation?
Analyse the task
As with all assignments, the first thing you should do is check your unit guide to analyse the task,
review the marking criteria or rubric, identify the length of time allowed for the presentation, and
check any other requirements. To make sure that you know exactly what you are asked to do,
please refer to the task analysis section in Chapter 4 The research process, before you start working
on the assignment.
Know your audience
For a class presentation to be effective, you need to make sure you engage the audience. To do this,
you need to understand the needs and expectations of the audience. The following questions may
be useful for this purpose:
hat does the academic staff member responsible for marking the presentation expect from your
What do other students in the audience expect from your presentation?
What does the unit guide specify about the presentation?
hat does the audience know already? For instance, you do not want to merely repeat what has
already been said during lectures and classes
What background information do they need in order to understand your presentation?
What are their likes and dislikes in presentation style, use of technology, format, if any?
hat change to you want to see in your audience as a result of your presentation? For instance,
do you want them to think, feel, or do something differently?
Know your venue
It is also important that you are familiar with the physical space in which you will do the presentation.
The physical characteristics of the space may limit what you can and cannot do, and may change
the way in which you deliver the presentation. The following questions may be useful for this
What audio visual equipment is available?
How reliable is the audio visual equipment?
How large, small or noisy is the space?
How is the room arranged?
How will the audience be seated?
Is it possible for you to change the layout and seating arrangement?
Can you access the venue prior to the presentation to set up the room?
How do I structure a presentation?
Structure provides the framework for your presentation and should therefore be simple, clear and
logical. Remember, your aim is to communicate information to your audience as clearly as possible,
so make sure you take the time to plan
what you want to say in the time available. The basic
structure of most presentations includes an introduction, body and conclusion. The following
structure demonstrates how the introduction, body, and conclusion function to make a complete
and coherent presentation.
In the introduction you should
introduce your team members (in a group presentation);
capture the attention of the audience and draw them into the topic (agenda);
establish rapport with the audience and motivate them to listen;
inform the audience of the key points you will cover in the presentation; and
provide a smooth transition into the body of presentation.
In the body of presentation you should
address the aim of the presentation;
reak the topic into 3 to 5 main ideas (anything more complex that this may lead to information
overload and you may lose the interest of the audience); and
develop these main points through appropriate supporting material.
In the conclusion you should
summarise the main points;
examine implications, and
end on a positive and engaging note.
Note that “Thank you”, “Are there any questions?”, or “That’s it” are not sufficient or appropriate
ways of concluding.
Remember to cite your sources, particularly with regard to direct quotations, statistical data, charts,
diagrams, images and so forth.
There are some specific structures used for certain types of presentations, such as informative or
persuasive presentations. In some cases you might be directed to use one of the following structures.
Informative presentations
Greet audience
Attention-gaining statement
Introduction of team members and preview/outline.
Main point 1
- sub-point supporting main point
- evidence supporting sub-point
- sub-point supporting main point
- evidence supporting sub-point (repeat for as many sub-points as necessary).
Repeat this pattern for as many main points as necessary.
Cue to close (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
Summary of key arguments
Memorable closing statement (optional).
Persuasive presentations
There are various persuasive formats that you can adopt to encourage the audience to alter its thinking
(e.g. change their viewpoint on an issue), do something (e.g. buy a product or service), or refrain from
doing something (e.g. give up smoking). Here are two formats for persuasive presentations:
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (Comeaux, 1996)
ttention-getting statement or visual (stimulating the audience’s interest through the use of
surprising statistics, rhetorical questions, quotations, humour or anecdote. Whatever the choice, it
must be relevant to the topic)
Introductions (in a group presentation)
State the problem
Describe and illustrate the need:
State the solution
Demonstrate how it meets need
Benefits of solution
Call the audience to act.
The AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (Eunson, 2005)
Attention-getting statement or visual
Introductions (in a group presentation)
Create interest in and a desire for the product, service or idea
Benefits of the product, service or idea based on the audience’s needs and desires
Call the audience to act
Make the response easy (e.g. give web address or toll free phone number).
The keys to a successful persuasive presentation are
knowing exactly what you want the audience to do;
knowing that the solution you offer solves the problem (Monroe’s Motivated Sequence);
k nowing that the reasons why the audience should accept the persuasive proposition address the
audience’s needs and desires;
k nowing that the reasons why the audience should accept the persuasive proposition are clear;
k nowing that the reasons why the audience should accept the persuasive proposition are well
supported by evidence.
What tools can I use in a presentation?
Visual support
Once you have the basic structure and content of your presentation in place, the next step is to
consider the visual support you need to add credibility to the presentation. Visual support helps the
audience to grasp concepts and ideas. It also helps the speaker to clarify and amplify key points.
Visual support may include PowerPoint slide presentations, web-based presentation platforms (i.e.
Prezi), internet downloads, DVD material and demonstrations, role plays, photographs, illustrations,
maps, graphs, diagrams, etc. However, it does not need to be highly technical to be effective.
Butcher’s paper (large sheets of blank paper) or whiteboards can also be effective. Experiment with
what works for your presentation.
PowerPoint slides
If you use a PowerPoint presentation, there are some basic rules. Each slide should
be uncluttered and simple;
be attractive and visually appealing;
use large and consistent font ;
use colours that make the writing easy to read;
have no more than six words to a line;
have no more than six lines to a slide (the “6 x 6” rule); and
use graphics, animation and sound effects sparingly.
If you use PowerPoint slides, remember that the aim is to support your presentation. They should
not be the focus of your presentation, because you want the audience to pay attention to the
presenters, not the slides. This is why it is very important that the slides do not have too much
information on them.
Handouts are useful as they reinforce the message by representing the main points of the
presentation, as well as providing additional reading in the form of a reference list. Like any form of
visual support, they add interest to a presentation. Handouts should
be simple,
relate directly to the objective of the presentation,
have high visual impact, and
not distract the audience.
How can I present effectively and confidently?
Never tell yourself that it will be “OK on the day” and give yourself enough time to run through the
material a number of times. A general rule of thumb is that eight hours of rehearsal is required for
every hour of presentation.
Rehearsals are important because
the first few practices will help you to add visuals, examples, and anecdotes you had not thought
about earlier;
later practices will help you to refine the length of sentences, the choice of words, and develop
appropriate body language; and
as you practise, you will become more comfortable with the visual support.
Note: If time permits, try to have at least one last rehearsal in the venue itself.
Nerve control
Everyone gets nervous when they speak publicly. You can control your nerves through
sufficient preparation and planning,
visualising success,
positive self-talk, and
breathing slowly and deeply.
As you get more experience, it will be easier not to let your nerves affect your performance.
Your voice
The main delivery instrument in your presentation is your voice, so it is important that you spend time
listening to it and improving it where necessary. To improve the delivery of your voice you should
speak clearly and naturally (be yourself);
make sure you can be heard (have a friend check from the back of the room), and
vary the pitch and pace (sometimes pausing is more powerful than speaking).
Non-verbal communication
An audience will interpret your body language. The way you use your body will reinforce, weaken or
contradict the message. Be aware of your personal appearance, your posture, facial expressions
and gestures. Audiences are generally impressed with enthusiasm, energy, and sincerity.
You can display these qualities by
standing straight,
being and looking confident,
establishing eye contact,
gesturing appropriately, and
looking as though you are enjoying the experience (a little sincere acting goes a long way!).
Key tips for an effective presentation.
Position yourself appropriately (do not stand in front of the screen or behind other people)
Do not write a fully prepared script and then simply read it
If you have to, use cue cards containing key words or phrases to jog the memory. Alternatively,
use the slides to help you remember.
How do I respond to audience questions?
Whenever you give a presentation people will want to ask questions. It is therefore important to
anticipate how you will handle them.
Tips on organising a question session.
ell the audience that you will answer questions at the end so that they do not disrupt the flow of
the presentation
Schedule your questions before your final comment so that you can end on a positive note
Rehearse the question and answer session along with your talk rehearsals
pproach question time as a feedback exercise where an informed group gets an opportunity to
clarify and exchange views on issues relevant to the topic presented.
When responding to questions remember to
listen carefully – make sure you understand the question;
rephrase it in your own words;
answer it concisely;
where possible refer back to any visuals which may provide the answer; and
if a question is long and rambling, highlight only part of it and give a short answer.
A few things to avoid.
Do not be defensive – use open body language and be as pleasant as possible
Do not lie – if you don’t know the answer say so
Do not enter into an argument with an individual
Do not rush an answer – pause and think about what you are going to say.
How do I work effectively in a team?
Although you will on occasions be asked to present individually, most presentation tasks in the
business school are team-based. The basic principles of effective presentation skills with regard to
the aim, structure, visual support and delivery apply. However, attention is focused here on the roles
of team members, transitions between individual members’ sections, and the need to provide team
members with effective support and constructive feedback.
Teamwork and cooperation
The following steps will help you to work more effectively as a team:
In your team, make an assessment of your team’s relative strengths and weaknesses with regard
to speaking skills
ne of the team’s strongest speakers should be the one to introduce the group. He or she should
try to capture the attention of the audience, motivate them to listen, establish rapport, preview the
main ideas, and lead smoothly into the remainder of the presentation
nother one of the team’s strongest speakers should be the final presenter. He or she should aim
to capture the essence of the entire presentation, provide a 3 to 5 key point summary, and end the
presentation on a creative or memorable point. Remember to pause briefly and allow for applause
prior to inviting questions
ll team members should participate in responding to questions. This is an effective way of
demonstrating the cohesiveness of the team. Ensure that all team members are familiar with the
material for the entire presentation, not just the segment that they have presented.
Some of the problems which occur in team presentations do so because group members consider
their speeches in isolation. Attention needs to be given to the aim of the presentation and how each
member’s speech contributes to this purpose. In addition, team members need to “add value” to the
work of others in the group.
Instead of saying “I’ll now pass you on to Michael”, it is more effective to summarise your own
section, then find words which lend weight to the next speaker’s contribution. Something like “I’ve
explored five characteristics of effective groups, and now Michael will take this further by examining
the important role of leadership within a group context” is a better way to introduce the next member
of your group. It also ties the individual segments of a group presentation seamlessly into a coherent
and co- ordinated whole.
Support for other team members
Support for your team is not only achieved verbally. It is important that your non-verbal
communication is also supportive. This means that while another team member is speaking, you
should not fiddle with notes, play with pens, look at your mobile phone or gaze blankly into the
distance. Your role is to focus all your attention on what the speaker is saying through your eye
contact and the position of your body.
You could also support your team member in more active ways by helping with the visual aids while
your team member delivers the presentation material. When your team is presenting, it is not a case
of only the team member who is speaking. Everyone is up on stage performing their respective roles.
Your role as coach
Even if you feel you are a very good presenter, it is vital that you consider the performance of the
team as a whole.
It is during rehearsals that everyone can provide constructive feedback on the team’s performance.
Areas to be reviewed should include clarity of aim, content, structure, visual support, vocal delivery,
non-verbal communication, transitions and timing. It is also a time to lend support, encourage risktaking and coach those in your group who need practice in presentation skills.
How do I evaluate a presentation?
It is always worthwhile spending some time reviewing your presentation and learning how to make
improvements for the future. Even when the presentation is successful, a review is still a good idea.
Successful presentations are characterised by
clear objectives;
meeting the needs of the audience;
having a clear structure that promotes audience understanding;
creative and appropriate visual support;
confident delivery;
good rapport with the audience; and
effective teamwork in a group presentation.
Why do some presentations go wrong?
Misunderstanding or disinterest during presentations is commonly caused by
distracting verbals or visuals;
failure to speak to time limits;
technical failure (with no contingency plan);
material which is too technical or difficult, or too easy;
poor organisation of material;
pace that is too fast or too slow;
failure to maintain audience attention;
information overload;
lack of enthusiasm; and
lack of rapport with the audience.
What if I am doing a different type of presentation?
All advice in this chapter can be followed whether you are doing a standard class presentation, or
whether you are asked to do something a little bit different. In addition to the above advice, there
is some specific advice below that you will want to consider if you are doing a poster presentation,
podcast or vodcast.
Poster presentation
Other than oral presentation, a poster is a common type of presentation task. It is an effective way of
presenting an idea as the presenters have the opportunity to be involved in a two-way conversation
and to be engaged in further discussion with their audience. A poster needs to be attractive and
informative, to look professional and to clearly communicate the message.
Posters commonly consist of
minimal text,
images to represent ideas,
good colour combinations, and
balanced use of space.
In general, a poster is expected to incorporate 40% text, 40% illustration, and 20% empty space.
Also make sure that your poster adheres the department’s regulations and conventions, for example
the size, font size, and font style.
Some important points to remember in a poster presentation
hen you present the poster to a viewer you need to explain the poster and encourage
conversation about it
rovide an overview, explain the significance, use graphics to illustrate and support your
Make sure that viewers are able to read your poster from a distance of one to two metres.
In a professional arena, there are three types of audience members whose objectives you should
consider. Those whose work have the same focus as yours. Make a point of starting conversations
with these people as you will potentially collaborate with them
hose who work in the same area, but focus on different things. Make them stay longer and read
your poster to find out if there is possible future collaboration
Those who work in a different area. Don’t worry too much about them.
A vodcast is a pre-recorded presentation that is then uploaded to the internet. There is a range of
ways in which content can be presented in a vodcast. Different formats of vodcasts can include:
presenters speaking directly to the camera;
use of animation; and
recording of the presenter’s voice speaking to visuals such as slides.
Regardless of the format, all vodcasts are professional presentations and need to be clear and well
If you are producing a vodcast, here are some specific things to consider:
If you are using a video camera, make sure that you used a tripod, or another method of keeping
the camera stable. Your vodcast needs to be professional, and a shaky or moving screen will
make the vodcast seem unprofessional
lways check what is in the background of the video. If you are recording yourself speaking, you
are best to position yourself in front of a plain and stable backdrop, such as a white wall
Make sure that the lighting is natural. Do some test recordings to check this
If you include visuals or text, make sure that it is able to be read on the recording. Again, it is
important to do a test recording to check this.
The following list contains some of the more common instruction words for assignments. Synonyms
for instruction words include ‘direction words’, ‘command words’, ‘task words’ and ‘function words’.
Use this list as a reference resource.
Table A.1: Instruction word definitions
account for
explain something by giving reasons why it happens or why it is the way it is
consider the nature of something by identifying the elements/parts and
showing how they are related. Describe, discuss and give reasons for
what you find. Analysing must be done in a methodical and logical way.
present a case defending a position. Make sure you state your position
and provide reasons for your position plus evidence for each of your
use criteria to measure the value or success of something. Be sure of your
facts and make your argument strong
classify (and justify)
carefully consider the items that you have to discuss and group them
together logically. You do this to show your understanding of the
similarities and differences between the items. You usually need to explain
your reasons for grouping the items in a particular way
comment on
identify the important points and write about them. Neglecting crucial
points in favour of minor points loses marks
identify characteristics or qualities that resemble each other. Emphasise
similarities and mention differences where appropriate
stress the dissimilarities and differences between things, events, problems
or qualities
think very carefully about the issue and present your argument logically.
Avoid putting ideas randomly into your writing
write about the strengths and weaknesses of something. Make a
judgement about whether there are more strengths or weaknesses
refer to how experts in the field use the term (not a simple dictionary
definition). Say whether you are using one definition (and why you chose
it over others) or whether you are combining features from two or more
definitions. Give the limits of the definition and show how it differs from
items in other classes
Write about the features of something in a logical manner. Do not give your
opinion or explain why it is the way it is
or distinguish
focus on the fine differences between two or more things. You may
mention similarities briefly, but this is about what makes things different
from each other and why the difference is important
write about an issue from two or more viewpoints and give balanced
support and examples for each viewpoint. Then make a judgement about
how satisfactory each viewpoint is based on the evidence you gave.
evaluate (critically)
carefully judge the importance or qualities of something in relation to
some standard or set of criteria. You need to give strong evidence for
your judgement. You need to write about fine details and weigh relative
investigate an issue in detail in a logical manner
give reasons for something. Make sure you give enough detail to clarify, to
interpret or to analyse causes as relevant
present the main features and any important subordinate points - omit
minor details. Stress the arrangement or classification
examine critically, analysing and commenting on important or controversial
present the point without explanation, examples or details
give the main points in condensed form. Omit details, examples or
to what extent?
discuss an issue and evaluate what you find. You will almost certainly
favour one side of the issue and must give reasons why. Total agreement
or disagreement – or balancing both (or all) sides equally- is highly unlikely
this implies writing about the main points of the history/chronology of
something. Your selection of the main points is crucial
Reporting verbs used in author prominent (i.e. author before information) citing can do a lot of work
for you. They can indicate your position, the importance of the citation, and your analysis of the
source. Brick (2006, pp.113–116) identifies three categories of reporting verbs, modified below:
Neutral research reporting verbs such as study, investigate, research, explore, used
simply to introduce the topic studied by the source, e.g.
Smith (2009) investigated the effect of natural disasters on small business
Jones (2010) studied changes in SES organisational structure over a five year period
Discourse reporting verbs used to comment on what the source is doing with the
information, e.g.
Table B.1: Discourse reporting verbs
Aspect or job
to indicate your source presents something as a fact
to indicate your source has presented something as fact/is advancing an
point out
to indicate your source emphasises something
to indicate your source gives details of how or why
to indicate your source examines in something in detail
to indicate your source deals with the issue very briefly
to indicate your source deals with the issue very briefly
to indicate the conclusion the source reaches
to present your source’s position
to present your source’s position
to indicate your source does not support a position
to indicate your source is making a judgement
to indicate your source thinks something is possibly important but needs further
to indicate your source’s most important point
Evaluating reporting verbs used to show your judgement of the source, e.g.
Table B.2 Evaluating reporting verbs
Reporting verb
Aspect or job
you disagree with your source’s position
you distance yourself from the source’s position
you think the source has treated something a fact but you believe it is not
you think the source gives information previously hidden or not widely known
you think the source makes a claim without proof
you think the source says something indirectly (knowingly or unknowingly)
you think the source places too much emphasis on something
Find, highlight and learn how reporting verbs are used in academic sources. Choose reporting verbs
to clarify and strengthen your position.
If you are receiving feedback that your assignment does not “flow” or lacks cohesion, it may be
that you are not transitioning your argument well. Transition signals inform the reader of what you
are doing and are used to ensure that the argument is easy to follow. They can be used to indicate
a variety of changes. For example, if you are outlining the steps of a project, it can be useful to
use transition signals that sequence your claims or that provide the time sequence of events. The
impact of a new idea can be signalled by indicating if it supports (is complementary) or opposes the
previous points you have raised. Below are some examples that may assist your writing.
Table C.1: Transition words by purpose
Transition Purpose
Transition Signal
sequence claims
after, at this point, at this time, before, concurrently, eventually,
finally, first, followed by, last, meanwhile, next, previously, second,
simultaneously, subsequently, third, ultimately
cause and effect or
accordingly, and so, as a consequence, as a result, because,
consequently, for this reason, hence, so much that, therefore, thus
an example
for example, for instance, in the case of, in this case, namely, notably,
one example of this is, on this occasion, specifically, such as, to
demonstrate, to illustrate
time sequence
after, at present, at this/that point, at this/that time, before, during, earlier,
finally, formerly, immediately, initially, later, meanwhile, previously, prior to,
simultaneously, soon, then, thereafter
summary or
finally, in brief, in conclusion, in other words, in sum, on the whole,
overall, summing up, therefore, thus, ultimately
ideas or information
additionally, again, also, and furthermore, another, as a result, as shown,
as well as, besides, consequently, equally important, further, hence, in
addition, in conclusion, in summary, it could also be said, moreover,
summing up, to conclude, to summarise
opposing ideas
alternatively, although, but, despite, even though, however, in contrast, in
spite of, instead, it could also be said, nevertheless, one could also say,
on the contrary, on the other hand, regardless, still, whereas, while, yet
compare and/or
a different view is, another way to view this, balanced against, by/in
comparison, conversely, correspondingly, differing from, however, in
contrast, in the same way, likewise, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on
the contrary, on the one hand, on the other hand, similarly, similar to,
unlike, whereas, while, yet
The information contained in this chapter is based on American Psychological Association (2010).
All page numbers below refer to this edition. If in doubt, refer to the APA Publication manual. You are
also advised to consult with your unit guide, lecturer or tutor regarding any specific expectations for
your work.
For detailed layout and presentation guidelines relating to reports, see Chapter 5.5.
Table D.1: Assignment presentation guidelines
Occupies a separate page
Number the page 1
Title: no more than 12 words is recommended
Font =
Times New Roman, 14pt
Headline style (Capital Letter For Each Word)
On upper half of page
Include other details (e.g. unit code, lecturer, tutor) as required on lower half
of page
Student’s name, student number and page number (top left) in the header
Occupies a separate page
Number the page 2
Title: centred, Times
Text: Times
New Roman, 12pt (use Heading 1 – see below)
New Roman, 12pt, Left justified (no indent), Double line
Standard margins
150-200 words
Leave the remainder of the page blank
Begin on a new page
(p.27-36; p.63;
p.88; p.229)
Number the page 3
Font: Times New Roman, 12pt
Double line spacing
Standard margins (i.e. 2.54cm)
Text is left justified only (ragged right), Indent first line of every paragraph by
5-7 spaces
There is no heading for an introduction – its position at the beginning of the
text is sufficient
Begin each new paragraph on the next line (do not leave a blank line
between paragraphs)
Continue sections immediately after previous (do not begin each section on
a new page), separated by headings if required
Number every page
Double spacing after full stops is preferred
Level of Heading
1. Centred, bold, UPPERCASE and lowercase, 14pt
2. Flush left, bold, UPPERCASE and lowercase, 12pt
3. Indented, bold, lowercase, end with a full stop, 12 pt.
4. Indented, bold, italicised, lowercase, end with a full stop, 12pt.
5. Indented, italicised, lowercase, end with a full stop, 12pt.
The first letter of all headings is capitalised.
You may use single or one-and-a- half line spacing within tables or figures
See the APA Publication manual Chapter 5 for details regarding different
types of figures.
Block quotations
Used for direct quotes of 40+ words
Body text ends with a colon (:)
Begin block quote on a new line
The text for the whole quote is indented
The first line of each paragraph in a block quote is further indented
Font: Times New Roman, 12pt
Double line spacing
Reference after final punctuation
Sample block quote:
Others have contradicted this view:
Co-presence does not ensure intimate interaction among all group members.
Consider large-scale social gatherings in which hundreds or thousands of
people gather in a location to perform a ritual or celebrate an event.
In these instances, participants are able to see the visible manifestations of
the group, the physical gathering, yet their ability to make direct, intimate
connections with those around them is limited by the sheer magnitude of the
assembly. (Purcell, 1997, pp. 111-112)
Despite these contradictory views….
Begin on a new page
(p.37; p.230)
Title: centred, bold, UPPERCASE, lowercase, Times New Roman, 12pt (use
Heading 1 – see above)
Entries: In alphabetical order by first surname, Times New Roman, 12pt
Double line spacing
Hanging indent (for each entry, first line flush left, subsequent lines indented)
Begin each appendix on a new page
(p.39; p.230)
Title: centred, bold, UPPERCASE, lowercase, Times New Roman, 12pt (use
Heading 1 – see above)
Label each appendix alphabetically e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B, etc., in
order according to when they are mentioned in the text
Text: first line flush left, followed by indented paragraphs
Figures: rules are the same as for figures in the body text (see above)
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
These links were correct at the time of publication.
Table E.1: Instruction word definitions
Chapter 1
Faculty rankings and accreditation
Student support services offered
by the University
Student information provided by
the faculty
Undergraduate student
information booklet
Postgraduate student information
Special consideration policy for
Special consideration policy for
Process for mark review
Academic coursework
assessment policy
Examination procedures policy
Monash University grading scales
Chapter 3
Student discipline regulations
Explanation of the student
discipline regulations
Student integrity policy
Turnitin library guide
Skill development for students
provided by the faculty
Skill development for students
provided by the library
Library homepage
APA style website
APA citing and referencing library
Chapter 4
Library’s discovery tool, Search
Business and Economics subject
library guides
Searching effectively
Google Scholar
Chapter 5
Grammar and English Language
proficiency resources
A concise, written summary of the essential points of a journal article or
document, usually at the beginning of the article
Academic sources
Items written by experts on a topic and include both journal articles from
journals and academic books
APA style
The style of citing and referencing as dictated by the American
Psychological Association. Common in business
A piece of writing by one or more authors published in a journal, magazine
or newspaper
Either a list of publications cited in a text, which can extend to include all
works consulted, or a list of books by a specific author or on a subject.
Often confused with a reference list
Boolean operators
A method of combining concepts or keywords using AND OR and NOT in a
logical way to produce a search strategy. The search strategy is then used
in online databases to retrieve relevant information
Case study
A study that requires you to write an analytical response to a real or
realistic situation. This might involve understanding the problems in the
case, explaining why events happened as they did, or perhaps providing a
solution to the case. Similarly, lecturers have a variety of ways of designing
a case study assignment
To quote or paraphrase a source or part of a source (book, journal article or
other document) from which information is taken
Reference to a document or part of a document from which a passage is
quoted, or to a source regarded as an authority
The ideas that relate to a position or argument, supporting it with evidence
Conference paper
An individual text presented at a conference, which may or may not be
A collection of papers presented at a particular conference, which may or
may not be published
The major ideas or theories of a topic
Databases store records of publications covering a range of fields, used to
research a topic
A printed or online resource that provides meanings for words or concepts
Digital Object Identifier is an identifier for electronic documents (commonly
used for journal articles). This is becoming a reliable way to find an exact
article or document. Looks like: doi:10.3998/3336451.0007.203
Electronic book, a book available to read or download online
Abbreviation of the words Editor or Edition
One of a series of printings of the same book, newspaper, etc., each issued
at a different time and differing from each other by alterations and additions
A person responsible for gathering the content from authors to publish in a
book or journal
Electronic or online journal, a journal available to read or download online
A book or set of books giving information on many subjects or on many
aspects of one subject usually arranged alphabetically
Executive summary This appears at the beginning of a business report. It is a brief summary of
what has been done in the report including an outline of the main findings
and recommendations
A figure is a way of visually presenting information. They are often used in
reports. Figures may be graphs, charts, maps, drawings, photographs or
any other visual forms
Full text
The complete document containing the information required
A list of terms in a specific subject field
Grey literature
Free online documents that can be used for academic research but
which are not produced by traditional publishers. These typically include
government agencies and organisations disseminating research, statistics,
reports, guidelines and policies through online publications on their websites
In-text citation
A brief citation that appears in the text where the information is used.
Normally just includes author’s last name, date and page number if referring
to a quote. E.g. (Smith, 2017)
Relates to the numbering sequence for a work that is published regularly.
Journals have volumes (related to each year) and issues (which can relate to
a month or season)
A publication that specialises in a particular subject area, consisting of
issues that are published periodically (monthly, quarterly, etc.) Academic
journals publish the results of academic research
Journal article
A piece of writing published in a journal. Journal articles usually adhere to a
particular style and typically include author details, an abstract or summary,
paragraph headings, a conclusion and a list of references
Key terms /
A word or concept of significance: A word or phrase that succinctly
describes a topic or the content of a document
A periodical publication (published regularly) containing articles and
illustrations (pictures)
Operators (see
Boolean operators)
Peer reviewed
An article read and reviewed by peers (persons of similar qualification) of the
A journal, magazine, or newspaper published at regular or irregular intervals
(also known as a serial)
Reusing or copying the work or idea of someone else without
acknowledging the source. See Chapter 3: Academic integrity for a detailed
Primary source
Material produced by someone with first-hand experience with a company
or business, or the original data that is analysed by researchers, such as
questionnaire responses, financial surveys, etc.
A book, journal or other written piece produced for distribution in print or
Publication year
The year in which a book or journal article was published
An organisation or person that prepares and issues books, journals,
newspapers, blogs or music for sale or distribution in print or online
Information about a particular book or article made up of different fields –
author, title, publisher etc.
A publication that has been given to a person (an expert in the field)
appointed to examine and assess an academic work for publication
A full description of a work that has been cited or mentioned as a source of
information in a book or article. References appear in a list at the end of an
article or book chapter
Reference book
A print or online book, usually a dictionary, encyclopaedia or directory, that
provides an overview or brief description or reference to other sources
Reference list
A complete list of publications cited in a text. All in-text citations have a
corresponding entry in the reference list. Reference lists are often confused
with a bibliography
The process of investigation and search for information on a topic or an area
of interest
General term to describe a range of material (e.g. books articles, DVDs,
online publications, online videos) that can be used to consult and inform
To find or to obtain. Refers to the results you get after entering a search in a
Involves academic study or research at university
The name given to the Library catalogue
Search term
Word or words used in a search
Secondary source
A source based on an analysis or manipulation of the information provided
by primary sources
Any place from which information is obtained for professional or academic
Subject heading
A word or phrase assigned to a topic to describe its subject content
A word or phrase that means the same as another word or phrase in the
same language. “illegal”, “unlawful” and “illicit” are synonyms
Numerical values or text displayed in rows and columns
A type of academic book written for students on particular subjects and give
an overview of a topic. They are often updated and reprinted regularly so
there may be multiple editions
A printed or online resource that provides synonym alternatives for words or
Topic sentence
The opening sentence of a paragraph in the main body of a written
assignment. The topic sentence introduces the main point that will be
developed in the paragraph
Most databases allow you to use a special symbol (typically the asterisk *
or ? or $) after the stem (first part) of a word, so that all words beginning
with that stem will be retrieved. For example, network* retrieves networks,
networking, networkers
Usually a series of issues of a journal, but can also be part of a collection of
Working papers
The pre-publication form of a text made available for review
Sixth edition 2016
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