- How long does it take to do the Research & Analysis Project?
This very much depends on you! Student ability and basic skills vary so much and so does the amount of commitment and their available time – some students want to do just the minimum for a pass, others want a good grade. Generally the more time you give the better your chance of not just passing but getting a higher grade. Unless you are exceptionally gifted I would advise against doing it in a rush. So I think 6 weeks on average with regular commitment for a pass and upwards of this if you want to secure a higher grade.
- Can you guarantee that I will pass first time?
Quite simply no-one can guarantee this! However as I marked Research & Analysis Projects for 14 years I am fully familiar with all the requirements and before you submit I will assess your work with my ‘marker hat on’. This means that if I believe it does not meet the requirements I would discuss with you whether you should submit. (This is important as you don’t want to waste the submission fee – currently GBP 420 – when you are unlikely to be successful).
- What Topic should I choose?
Basically you should consider two things – What interests you? What information is available ? As an experienced mentor I know that if you are interested in your choice of topic and company you will be motivated – and motivated students are more likely to pass! Mentorship is a 2-way process and the more enthusiastic and keen you are the more inspired your mentor is as a good mentor will always want their mentees to do well and perform to the best of their ability. Choice of topic is something I will be discussing with prospective mentees during an introductory session and all those who have the session will receive some hints and guidance to help them choose their topic.
- Do you mentor students for all 20 current topics?
No. Although the Information Pack states that a mentor should not be an expert we believe they should be accomplished and confident in the fields that they do mentor. For this reason we do not take on students who want to submit on some of the less popular topics e.g. Topic 4 (environmental costs) or Topic 5 (Islamic financial instruments); Though I do not personally mentor for Topic 2 ( introduction of a new technology) or Topic 9 ( planning and implementation of an information system ), I am pleased to say that Lorraine does.
Again as I think the current industry selection for Topic 8 is not very inspiring I have decided not to mentor for this topic – but again Lorraine mentors this topic. However I would recommend that more students think about Topic 19 (merger or acquisition) as an alternative to Topic 8. Topic 19 [which both Lorraine and I have mentored] offers some ratio and financial analysis but has a more definite purpose than Topic 8 and definitely in my opinion, is much more useful in terns of both career development and furthering your academic studies – so worth thinking about!
Finally, reluctantly because the pass rate for Topic 1 (Budgetary Control) is so abysmally low – and certainly something I think Oxford Brookes ought to look into as there seem to be an exceptionally, and in my opinion an unnecessarily, high bar imposed on passing this topic – I have decided to suspend offering it. After all if as a former marker of the Topic 1 and now a mentor I can’t get students to pass this topic surely that indicates that there is something inherently wrong with the Assessment Criteria and/or marking of it?
- Which topics have the best chance of passing?
As I mentioned in my answer to the first question student ability and commitment varies and this will influence the quality of their work and therefore how likely they are to pass.
Topics that only require secondary data tend to have better pass rates than those that require primary data collection. However in my experience Topic 17 ( corporate governance) and Topic 18 (marketing strategy) probably have the best overall pass rates followed by Topics 8, 19 and 20.
- What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is a term used to denote work that is not considered to be original and a plagiarist is someone who passes off the work of others as their own. This may sometimes be deliberate where a student has either copied something out of a book or used articles almost word for word, used another student’s piece of work or submitted work that has been written previously by someone else. Such work is easily detectable by the text matching software (Turnitin) used by most universities including Oxford Brookes. However plagiarism can sometimes result from a student copying and pasting lots of relatively small passages of text and ‘stitching them together (this is known as ‘patch-writing’ by markers) so that in the end very little has actually been written by them. Although the student may not have set out to copy in the last instance and may have even referenced all of the passages, it will still be considered ‘bad academic practice’ and a form of plagiarism (as very little is original). All forms of plagiarism are unacceptable although some similar passages are almost inevitable in academic work it is the extent and what is copied which will determine whether the plagiarism will just result in a fail or whether it will be considered a breach of the Student Academic Conduct Regulations (and consequently referred to the Academic Conduct Office)
- How many references do I need?
There is no magic number of references that you need in your work – it is all about QUALITY! There are several purposes for referencing and one of them is to demonstrate that you have researched well and used a variety of reliable sources to underpin your work. So a dozen really relevant references from reputable journals, academics and business pages all included in the appropriate place in your report and listed correctly are much better than work that is full of references to blogs and anonymous websites. The rule is: every fact, use of a source and/or citation requires a reference.
- What is the right Turnitin / Writecheck score?
Just as with the number of references there is no magic Turnitin score either! Students just do not get this…it depends on a number of factors and what has been identified by matching. In my own work at Masters level because my reference list was 11 pages long the Turnitin score was 26% – was I bothered (or was the University bothered) ? Not at all! It was obviously original work and the overall score will be positively correlated to the number of sources. A reference list that is 4 pages long but has only a 3% score is far more suspicious as it tends to indicate that the sources have either not been used at all or they are not decent quality ones. Do your work yourself and do not make too many direct citations (i.e. express ideas in your own words instead) so that you do not end up copying and pasting material into your work and stop worrying is my advice
- How important is the Skills and Learning Statement and why do I need to pass this?
This statement is considered very important as part of the learning process is about recognising the development of skills and learning from experience. Although your Research and Analysis Report if it meets the Assessment Criteria 1 – 7 will be given a graded pass, you will not receive the degree until you have passed both the self-reflective statement and the slide presentation. However the grade from the report will be carried forward so if the report was given an A grade you will still get this grade overall when Assessment Criteria 8 and 9 relating to the Self-reflective statement and Presentation to the mentor are met.