I still keep receiving questions regarding my May 2015 blog post about writing and defending a StraMa (Strategic Management) paper. I’m happy a few MBA students stumbled on that post, so I thought to continue part 2 of the entry. This time I’ll focus on some of the problems I and my classmates encountered while working on our papers. Here we go. :)
This issue was both frustrating and embarrassing for many in our group who submitted papers only during deadline day (which was like--ahem--all of us). At around 9 am, we went to the department office to submit our papers to the secretary, but we were told that we had to go through a plagiarism check first before they could accept our papers. At this point, we already had our papers printed and soft bound . So it was bad news, especially for those who failed in the plagiarism check and had to edit. That day, some of us were in near tears. (Good thing I was able to plagiarism-check my paper the night before. So I had the chance to rewrite and fix issues ahead. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky. )
Do be careful about this. Avoid outright copying of content. Cite your sources. And most of all, write as much as you can in your own words. Also, review APA’s writing style as this is the style being used in academic papers. They have specific guidelines on how to cite sources.
2. Conclusions that don’t make sense
This is funny. But it happens often to MBA students. When you’re working and taking MBA at the same time, your brain freezes sometimes. You become stupid. Try exchanging papers with your classmates. Encourage them to be critical about your work. This way someone gets to really check your work and send you honest feedback ahead.
I learned this the hard way, unfortunately. That day my friends were dealing with plagiarism issues, I was dealing with stupidity issues. Because I only wrote the conclusion the day before and was in a rush to do it, I didn’t get the chance to check previous chapters of my paper. I also didn’t review my financials to see if my strategies supported them and vice versa.
Good thing one of my friends brought a printer and a ream of bond paper during submission day. I was able to rewrite the last part of my paper, print, and bind it in with the rest of the pages just in time for deadline.
3. Just trying to make the paper longer
Keeping up with required minimum number of pages pushes students to just write blindly anything that comes into their minds, even things that aren’t relevant. Try to avoid this. Be careful with what you write. Everything has to have a point. Anything that’s not necessary should be deleted. Besides, your professors will judge you by the quality of your content, not by its quantity.
4. Data gathering
As I mentioned in part 1 of this post, do be careful with the company you’re choosing. Make sure you have access to internal and external data. I have a few friends who had to change companies halfway through the subject because they had a hard time finding data. This turned out to be extremely stressful for them.
5. Seek help, but don't ask others to do your work for you
It's okay to seek help from others, especially your classmates. But don't burden them too much by asking them to do your work for you. (This last part is actually something I rarely bring up because I really liked my classmates and they were all very nice to me. But there were some who demanded too much from others, which can be difficult sometimes as others have their own workload too).
Despite the hurdles, I still remember StraMa positively. It was there that I got to practice patience (which is something I lack) bigtime. I also gained really good friends as well. This I value very much.
To read Part 1 of this entry, click here.
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Here's a book I co-wrote with a bunch of industry colleagues. Not sure if you'll find it useful, but feel free to check once you can.
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Ateneo Graduate School of Business
University of San Carlos