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Assignment and Referencing Guide by guy21


									                           Melbourne Business School
                     Assignment and Referencing Guide
                                      Nicole Gillespie

This guide aims to give you helpful tips on how to write a good assignment. This guide is
based on material from the Learning Skills Unit, at the University of Melbourne.

1) Plan and structure your assignment

Your experience of assignment writing will be faster and much less frustrating if you first
spend time planning what you want to say! This is the essence of the creative writing
process. Let your plan be guided by the requirements of the assignment. Often a natural
structure for the assignment becomes evident as you start to write down your ideas for each
of the requirements. Ensure the structure is clear and logical. It is important that you think
through your arguments and the flow of the essay before you begin writing your first draft.

Reports will vary in how they are organized and structured depending on whether they are a
case analysis, an essay, a research report, a consultancy-type report etc. Accordingly, the
structure and section headings should fit the type of report you are submitting. The
following broad structure often works well, however don‟t let this limit your creativity.

 Introduction
This is usually 5% to 10% of the length of the assignment and can comprise several
paragraphs. Your reader gains his or her first impression of your assignment form this
section so a good introduction is vital. It should focus your reader‟s attention on the central
theme of the assignment. It should clarify how you intend to interpret or limit the question
and provide a clear but brief overview of the issues to be addressed and the order in which
they will be covered. You may also define the key terms in the question.

 Body
This section contains your responses to the task, questions, or issues specified by the
assignment. You should refer to theories, concepts and examples where relevant. Use
paragraphs, headings and sub-headings to further structure the report.

  Conclusion
This brief section brings together and synthesizes your main points. It should not contain
any new material that has not already been alluded to in the body. It should not however be
a mere summary. Rather it should refer to the implications of the key findings and points
raised in the body of the report, any limitations in the approach you have taken, and any
other factors which need to be looked at but which were outside the scope of the

  Appendices
This section includes material that is referred to but is not essential for addressing the
assignment topic. For example, if you are reporting on interviews you conducted with
senior managers, you may wish to include the interview questions in the appendix.

2) Drafting

Once you have a complete outline of what you want to say, it is time to write a rough draft.
The main aim is to get your thoughts and the main content on paper. Don‟t worry about
grammar, formatting, punctuation, complete sentences etc at this stage.

3) Check Content Quality

Ensure you have addressed all aspects of the question. See the taxonomy of educational
objectives at the end of this report for guidelines on what is required when instructors ask
you to „analyse‟, „apply‟, „synthesise‟ and „evaluate‟.

Arguments and key points should be supported by examples and evidence. Have you done
sufficient research and/or analysis to address the key issues in depth? Have you identified
alternative perspectives or interpretations and identified assumptions? Have you shown
evidence of independent, critical thought or original work?

4) Edit your work

Once you have a complete rough draft and have check the content quality, it is time to start
editing. At this point you should be concentrating on the writing process rather than the
content. The assignment is your attempt to communicate your ideas to the reader. The
better the communication, the easier it will be for the reader to understand your points and
hence award marks. Look for how you can improve the communication. Have you have
used a simple and direct style of writing? Is your writing focused, relevant, and coherent?
Do your arguments flow logically? Are the connections and the logical flow between
paragraphs clear?

You will typically have a strict word limit so it is important to be succinct. Are there words
or ideas that are redundant or lack relevance? Ensure to correct punctuation, grammar and
spelling. Use bullet points sparingly, if at all. Always define abbreviations the first time
you use them. Then you can simply use the abbreviation through out the rest of the
assignment. Avoid starting sentences with „And‟ or „But.‟ You are expected to avoid the
use of racist or sexist language.

5) Referencing

All sources of information and ideas which are not your own should be acknowledged and
referenced using the Harvard referencing system. This system cites the author‟s name and
date of publication in brackets in the text of the report, not as a numbered footnote. For

Gillespie, Winefield & Stough (2002) reported that the strongest predictor of job
satisfaction was procedural fairness….
A recent study reported that procedural fairness was a strong predictor of job satisfaction
(Gillespie, Winefield & Stough, 2002).

The best way to get a handle on using references is to look at your readings. The following
are key points to remember:

   When there are more than two authors, the first citation should be
    Gillespie, Carty, Winefield, Dua & Stough (2001) identified five common antecedents
    of occupational stress …
    In subsequent citations, only the first author‟s name need be given.
    Gillespie et al., (2001) also found that staff cope with occupational stress by …

   If you use a quote, always indicate the page number/s on which it occurs. For
    example: Brown, Wienckowski and Bivens (1987, p. 257) stated that “…before an
    appraisal can take place, the employee‟s performance must be defined in measurable

   Secondary sources: When you do not have access to the original material that has
    been cited in another‟s work, the citation is
     Hyman and Fryer (1975, cited in Deery & Plowman, 1991) ague that rather than there
     being a symmetry in the distribution of power…

   The reference list appears on a separate page at the end of the assignment and includes
    all references that you have actually cited (i.e. named) in your assignment. Do not
    include material which you have read but not referred to in the assignment (this is a
    bibliography). List the references alphabetically by author‟s surname and provide the
    full citation. For example:
    Bates, D. & Sharpe, P. (1996). Student writer‟s handbook: how to write better essays.
           Sydney: Harcourt Brace. (FOR BOOKS)
    Gillespie, N., Carty, M., Winefield, A., Dua, J., & Stough, C. (2001). Occupational
           stress in universities: staff perceptions of the antecedents, consequences and
           moderators of stress. Work and Stress, 15 (1), 53-72. (FOR JOURNAL

6) Presentation
 Typed, 11 or 12 font, 1.5 or double spaced, 4 cm margin on the left hand side, and
   numbered pages.
 Complete and attach the Assignment Cover Sheet to the front of your assignment
 Plastic covers, fancy bindings etc. are not necessary. A stapled report (left hand corner)
   is sufficient.

For further assistance with writing skills visit the Learning Skills Unit on main campus or
look at the resources at


It is the policy of the University of Melbourne that attention be drawn to the nature and
serious consequence of cheating and plagiarism. The following are classified as
     a) The submission of an answer that is substantially similar to an answer submitted by
        another student in the same, or earlier years, either at this or another University;

   b) The submission of an answer that is not substantially the student‟s own work (or, in
      the case of joint work, not substantially undertaken by the individuals named as
      having undertaken the joint work);
   c) The submission of an answer that contains substantial quotations from other works,
      such as books or journals, without appropriate reference to the source.

The consequences of plagiarism are serious. Any student who (i) copies or otherwise uses
the work of another person, or (ii) allows another person to copy or otherwise use his or her
answer when both are completing the same or similar assessment, will either lose credit for
that assessment, the subject, or be disciplined in some other way.


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