#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Pascal

Through the #DILO series of blog posts, we have been bringing you insights into the life of our master’s students, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of the realities of online studies and aid you in decision making.   

This week we take a look at a day in the life of one of our master’s degree student, Pascal. Here are a few insights and some words of wisdom that Pascal had to share from his own experience:  

An Introduction  

Who are you, really?  

Pascal S, a journalist for more than 25 years  

Which Uni are you studying with?  

University of Cumbria  

Which programme did you choose and why?  

MBA Media Leadership, to get even better in my job as a journalist/editor/redactor in chief. And another challenging part was to study the programme in a foreign language.  

  

The Study Plan  

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

I studied between one and two hours per day during weekdays and at least two hours per day during the weekends, sometimes more.  

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

Because of the family and the job, the only suitable time to study was the evenings during the weekdays rather than in the afternoons & evenings during the weekends.  

How much time did you devote for each assignment?  

ItI took me around 10 days for the interim assignment and a little more than two weeks for the final assignment. Coordination for the final assignment is quite delicate as I wanted to end it at least a week before the due date, in order to check, read, correct, Turnitin Test, etc.  

  

Travelling and Communication  

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

It did not, as I did not travel a lot—only a daily commute.  

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

I consider interaction as satisfying, although I prefer chatting directly with people. But I enjoy reading contributions and experiences all around the world, which is a bonus for online teaching.  

  

A typical day as a master’s student  

What does a typical day as an Online Master’s student look like for you?  

After the daily chores and home duties, I read the assignment documents, trying to find out what is the most relevant or, at least, the general picture. I take notes, references and try to see if there are other sources to complete the assignment. Sources I will use for my final assignment.  

  

Any advice?  

Study a bit each day (one to two hours in a day), prepare yourself a work schedule, take notes, write down your ideas and start your assignment(s) early; otherwise, the time pressure will kill you.  

Well, indeed, incredibly helpful advice from Pascal. A proactive early start not only saves you from an unpredictable situation but also helps you follow your study plan with confidence. To get you through the master’s studies, we have an excellent faculty team of subject-matter experts, who guide and encourage students to achieve their potential.   

If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher education, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategy, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one ce day on our college blog.  

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time. 

The Subtle Art of Saying No

Ever wondered why we tend to say “yes” to people when we really don’t want to? Blame it on human psychology or human beings being social animals. We find it extremely difficult to say no to anyone.  

We adore attention and feel gratified when others admire us, trust and look up to us. But when this takes the form of constant requests and more work for yourself, you detest being the go-to person. People want to say yes because they are afraid, afraid to disappoint others. We feel personally responsible for letting others down if we decline their proposition or their request for help. During these troubled times, with businesses being in jeopardy, everyone is overwhelmed, constantly working, and juggling work and relationships. Everyone is over-extended, and it is not the best soil to grow ideas or make sound business decisions.  

Are you saying a “good yes” or a “bad yes”?

What begins as an intent to help becomes a bad “yes” – simply because you do not have the productive capacity or knowledge to complete the task. Such a “yes” is bound for failure. When there is so much asking around in an organisation and collaborative overload, one should focus on moving to good yesses and good nos to avoid failures.  

How to say No?  

You have decided that you are going to turn down someone’s request to undertake a task. Now comes the even more difficult part: actually saying “no”! How do you effectively communicate your decision?  

Begin with a positive statement by appreciating the opportunity extended your way, that you were considered worthy enough to do justice to the job. But present your “but” in a way that shows you have carefully considered the proposition and convey the “why” of your decision. Let them realise that you did not decide to say no lightly, that the “no” was not because you are lazy, un-zealous to learn, or simply being difficult.  

Saying no can be an onerous process but trust me, it will prove to be more productive for yourself and the business. Base your decision on this checklist:  

1.    Do not let fear decide  

If you fear that saying “no” will stress your work relationship, remember that saying “yes” when you cannot deliver the results will stress you and the relationship even more. If the working relationship turns sour just because you said “no”, then it was never meant to be. Let it go.  

A decision taken under duress leads to stress on oneself and on work relationships

2.    Evaluate the proposition  

I know from personal experience when we are new to an organisation or a job, we are eager to learn because knowledge is power. Gain that power but keeping in view the quality you are gaining. Ask yourself what ‘value addition’ can you get from this task. Ask questions such as why, when, and what is needed for the task. Doing due diligence on someone’s request is respecting them and yourself.  

3.   Remember what you want to be known for  

What may seem like an opportunity to learn for you could become an opportunity for others to learn a thing or two about you. When you say “no”, back it up with legitimate and fair reasons, tell them why the proposition is not worth your time or effort or simply that you do not have that kind of time to invest in this project. You already have enough on your plate. When the other person: your boss, your client, your colleague, hears your side of the story, they will understand your situation, and you will become known for your work ethics and values. You will be known for authenticity and for being a good decision-maker. Everyone will respect your decision when you say “no” the next time because they will know there is a genuine reason behind it, and it’s just not a lack of interest or laziness involved. They will even bring better propositions to you that you will find difficult to turn down. They will try to please you and not the other way round.  

When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results.

4.    Deliver results  

The only consideration that should drive your professional decisions should be results. When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results. You do not want to be in a position where you realise later that either you cannot, are not allowed to, or should not do so. Do not bite more than you can chew. Do not be hard on yourself thinking that you are being difficult. Convey that you are making a good business decision.  

5.    Provide options  

While it is not easy to say “no” to someone who had high hopes on your saying “yes” and was relying on you for completing the task, remember that people come to you because you are a problem-solver and are resourceful. If you cannot do the job yourself, give them other options on how to complete the job or provide solutions to resolve the issue. It will save your time and help build trust with team members that learnt something valuable when they approached you.   

You can also choose to defer the project instead of completely shutting it down. Offer them a plan where you can join the team at a later stage and be more valuable once the project’s gone past its conception stage.   

6.    Don’t be afraid to say the ‘C’ word  

The majority of the time, bosses try to use influence to get things done. Little do they realise that when they use power, they lose influence.  

Photo credit: Canva.com

Every employer has a budget, and the more he can get done without expending his budget, the better (the lesser the merrier, in this case). This is one of the most frustrating and de-motivating situations when you are asked to deliver more results and but are not “C”ompensated for that extra work. You might say “yes” to the extra load now and then, just to be nice or on the pretext of learning something new, or simply because the boss asked you to do so, but this will eventually burn you out. Be firm to tell the work is simply beyond your pay scale and justifies an extra dollar or two.  

It is a misconception that you must be a “Yes Man” or a “Yes Woman” to be successful and boost your career. Remember Jim Carrey’s movie – Yes Man? The film is a classic story where the protagonist is encouraged and made to promise to answer “Yes!” to every opportunity, request, or invitation that presents itself. After a series of interesting events in his life, he realises that the covenant was merely a starting point to open his mind to other possibilities, not to permanently take away his ability to say no if he needed to.  

So, are you the go-to person at your workplace? Do you always end up saying yes? How do you strategically say no? 

All you wanted to know about Global Warming – Its cause and its effects

The Earth is warming up, and the phenomenon of the overall temperatures of the planet rising is referred to as Global Warming. This trend of increasing atmospheric temperature has had been observed since as far as 1880. The industrial revolution blew the bugle and marked the beginning of the era of rising annual global temperatures, with an average increase of 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) every ten years since 1980. The average rate of increase has doubled in the last two decades – and it seems there is no sign of it slowing down.  

There are several elements that affect the Earth’s climate over time, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, rain, and humidity. This creates a network of intricate ecosystems where plants and animals’ life, growth, and survival are affected by a slight change in the climate and throw it out of balance.

According to an analysis at NASA, Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record

Causes of Global warming

The Greenhouse Effect

Increased human activity such as excessive use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrialisation has been central to the drastically changing climatic conditions and increased concentration of greenhouse gases.  

The heat-trapping pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases form a layer over the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of the radiation escaping back into space, this layer absorbs the sunlight and solar radiation reflected from the Earth’s surface. This process traps the heat for years and centuries, leading to rising temperatures and a hotter planet.  

We live in a Greenhouse. Video credit:https://climate.nasa.gov/causes

Natural cycles and fluctuations also influence Earth’s climate. Some have even blamed the Sun for the global warming trend. Proxy indicators such as sunspot records and the amount of carbon in tree rings are generally used to estimate solar irradiance. However, research shows that neither the natural cycles nor solar irradiance can account for more than 10 per cent of the recent global warming.  

NASA with the cutting-edge observations from it’s Earth System Observatory helps to understand our ever-changing planet

Effects of Global Warming

One of the main effects that global warming has is climate change. Commonly these two terms are used interchangeably. However, they are different.  The change in the weather patterns and growing seasons across the globe is referred to as climate change. Melting ice sheets, expanding warmer seas and oceans leading to rising sea levels are the effects of climate change.  

A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals some shocking climate change findings. The research conducted by 90 scientists from over 40 countries concludes that limitig global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is no longer a viable option. To curb any further devasting effects of climate change, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. In the event the world fails to achieve this mark, then events like floods, fires, or varying temperatures will no longer be a statistical anomaly but will instead become a seasonal happening just like changing seasons.  

Though in our daily lives we might not understand the impact of global warming and climate change, the changes to the environment are happening now and, with time, will make a more significant impact than ever before. If we look around closely, what used to be subtle hints, are now taking more devastating effects such as:  

  • Extended periods of wildfires
  • Melting glaciers and ice caps in Antarctica and the Artic.
  • Bleaching of the coral reefs
Coral reef decimation is one of the sad effects of the global climate crisis
  • Warmer and acidic oceans
  • Extreme weather conditions due to rising temperatures
  • Spread of diseases
  • Farming has been affected by changing rainfall patterns, severe drought, and heat waves. The growth of the produce is mutated, and the quality of the crops has also been affected. 

The future is not determined; it is on our hands

David Attenborough

While not a lot, there is still time to act and slow down the pace of global warming. The Earth has already warmed 1.1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. The need of the hour is to bring all nations together and work towards building a fossil-fuel-free economy. And the next decade is crucial in achieving this target. Countries have the technology, scientific foresight and solutions to reverse the damage for a healthier planet. Using alternative and renewable sources of energy like wind, water and electricity; adoption of a flexitarian diet with less dependence on meat; afforestation drive etc., can save our planet Earth. Do you pledge to save our planet? 

ROLE OF AI IN CYBER SECURITY – A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly getting integrated into various business domains and deployed within applications. The most advanced sectors using AI are Information Technology and Telecommunications, and the rest are catching up.  

We live in a world where we’re facing cyber-attacks every day, and these attacks are multiplying. Analysing and fighting these attacks is no more a human-scale problem, and this is where AI comes in handy. AI-based tools help the security teams detect and stop a substantial number of cyber-attacks.  

AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines which are then used to prevent variety of cyber attacks

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EXPLAINED

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable” – John McCarthy. This intelligence is then used to assist and augment the current technologies to prevent new varieties of attacks in the future. Some of the examples of these techniques are Machine Learning, Neural Networks, and Deep Learning. Earlier, we had discussed the reasons why AI is the future of business. From enhanced customer experience to data mining and from supply chain management solutions to recruitment, Artificial Intelligence has penetrated the realms of every business – big or small.   

ROLE OF AI IN CYBER-SECURITY  

AI plays an increasingly significant role in cyber security, reinforcing the defences against newly introduced virus/malware attacks on modern enterprises. The same has been highlighted in the research by Capgemini Research Institute in its report titled Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence.  

BENEFITS OF AI IN CYBER-SECURITY

AI’s technology tools provide the capability to safeguard identities, systems, organisations, and their multiplying devices against relentless cyber-attacks. It includes detecting new threats and providing robust protection against them. 

-        The ability to detect the attacks beforehand and tighten the security around essential data.  

-        Saves time as it helps in faster detection and shorter response cycles resulting in early decision making by stakeholders.  

-        Helps control effectiveness as it can identify the strengths and gaps that lie in a program.  

A ransomware attack is now expected to happen every 11 seconds. Photo credit: Canva.com

AI – A CURSE?

The impact and severity of a cyber-attack may vary with every business. The disruption caused by the attack can result in significant financial losses, legal liability, loss of reputation and continuity of business in the long run. Cyber-attacks demanding a ransom from the attacked company are on the rise. The rise is alarming according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, with a ransomware attack now expected to happen every 11 seconds in 2021 instead of every 40 seconds in 2016.   

While some industries are more vulnerable to a cyber-attack, any business today can be subject to a data breach, especially those closely linked to people’s lives. Such organisations include, but are not limited to, healthcare institutions, banking and financial institutions, education industry and retail and FMCG industry.   

With its various security tools, AI and machine learning, on the one hand, is playing an increasingly important role in identifying potential threats or a variant of malware. However, on the other hand, cyber attackers are using this very AI to make even more sophisticated attacks that are difficult (almost impossible) to decipher. It is challenging to spot a variation in the malware, especially when it is deliberately disguised.   

 AI-powered cyber-attacks exist in many shapes and forms. One such tool is deep-fake technology, which poses a major concern to cyber-security officials. What worries them the most is the fact that deep-fake technology has the power to make things look so real that an innocent onlooker is fooled by its uncanny resemblance to the real thing. Deepfakes are made from an AI-based deep database that imitates people’s voices, faces and creates a seemingly realistic video with movements and audio.   

Deepfakes are made from an AI-based deep database that imitates people’s voices, faces and creates a seemingly realistic video with movements and audio. Photo credit:Canva.com

FBI warns that deepfake fraud can be used in a cyber-attack vector called Business Identity Compromise (BIC). Such an attack causes a significant financial and reputational impact on businesses.   

One of such rather famous deep-fake cyber-attacks happened in 2019 when a CEO of a UK based energy firm was tricked into wiring Euro 220,000 (approx. USD 243,000) to the bank account of a Hungarian supplier following instructions from ‘his boss’. The CEO thought he was on the phone with ‘his boss’, the chief executive of the company’s German parent company, as he could specifically recognise the German accent and melody of his boss’s voice.   

There are several other examples of cyber-security threats like cyber-attacks, ransomware, phishing attacks, self-learning automated malware, malicious insiders, financial information, and data breaches.   

Businesses need to revisit their security practices in the wake of these new-age cyber security threats. Continuous development and improvement of cyber-security tools and application of such tools in conjunction with expert human security teams can help businesses identify such potent cyberattacks and stay secure. Become an expert and bolster your AI knowledge with 100% Online MBA Artificial Intelligence offered through an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, UK. Click here to apply for the programme. 

The new age leader – a coach and a mentor

We live in a world of flux – a world where change is the only thing constant.  

I remember when I was a kid, my father would tell me about his job and the management style at his office. He worked in a semi-government organization where hierarchy and command-and-control leadership dominated. A more technically qualified and experienced leader would lead a team or a department and evaluate each team members’ performance against a pre-set benchmark. Little or no importance was laid on developing the skill-sets of employees or encouraging innovation.  

Fast forward 20 years, the leadership styles shifted dramatically. The existing (ancient, in my opinion…) management styles were not sustainable and organizations begged for a radical transformation; transformations that would inculcate new energy, ideas, motivation, commitment, and innovation. 

Leaders are expected to step up and assume the role of a coach and a mentor

Types of coaching styles 

Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. Having a consultant coach from outside the organization could be helpful for developing specific skills or as a one-off motivational camp. A modern learning organization would invest in a coaching style appropriate to the needs of the company. Keeping in view the long-term goals, the leaders within the company are expected to step up and fulfil the need of the hour – the need to assume the role of a coach and a mentor.  

The leader may adopt one of the many leadership styles, with some of the most popular being: 

  1. Democratic: This style as the name suggests, encourages the general principles of democracy and takes into consideration the opinions, ideas, and interests of the people involved.  
  1. Laissez-Faire: This style is the minimum leadership style when the team members operate at their maximum efficiency and vigor and do not require any supervision or direction.  This is generally seen as inefficient, and depends largely on the ability of the teams to self-manage and self-regulate. Not recommended.
  1. Directive: Quite contrary to the Laissez-Faire coaching style, directive leadership requires the leader to ‘tell’ people what is expected of them, assign necessary resources for successful completion of their job, and convey the expected results as well.  
  1. Holistic: No organization today operates in isolation. Businesses are global and companies all over the world are taking wholesome decisions for the greater good. This leadership style recognizes the connection between leader, follower, and organisation, and focuses on a people-in-environment and developmental approach. 

Mentor or a Coach 

People usually use the term coaching and mentorship interchangeably. This is not correct. Mentoring is offering advice based on knowledge, expertise, and experience. Coaching, on the other hand, is inquiry-based. A little push with insightful questioning can spark a person to see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges. 

Mentoring is more formal and structured, where a mentor helps his mentee gain a broader and deeper perspective and understanding of the business (and life). A mentor, based on his own experiences, guides and channels mentees by illuminating the right path for them. It is, therefore, more directive in nature and could be related to a directive leadership style. Mentors offer exposure and connections to other functions and levels of the organization.

A coach supports, challenges, and encourages. A coach approach for leaders, on the other hand, uses very different techniques for developing people. The role involves asking and listening rather than knowing and telling. The coach empowers the employees, by making them fully capable of finding their own answers to their problems. Employees have more self-awareness and experience an increased performance.  

Now, this is easier said than done. While leaders may recognize the need to embrace the idea of coaching and mentoring their employees and subordinates, the flair does not come naturally to every leader. However, using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Our MBA in Coaching, Mentoring, & Leadership programme creates opportunities for you to develop through practice a range of coaching and mentoring skills and techniques and enables the development of a critical understanding of issues related to the design and implementation of coaching and mentoring schemes. The programme is delivered in such a way that you are encouraged to utilise your professional and work-based context as a resource in which to practice and develop your skills in coaching and mentoring. Feel like you could benefit from this? You are not alone! Apply now to join our more than 150 students currently taking the programme!

All you wanted to know about Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

As promised in the blog about referencing and citation, this week, we bring you information and facts about academic integrity and how to avoid plagiarism.   

As a master’s student, expect yourself to be surrounded by deadlines to submit assignments, academic papers, and dissertations for most of your academic life (follow our #DILO – A Day in the life of an RKC student series to know more). Academic integrity is a crucial aspect of academic studies, and strict protocols must be followed to abide by the rules of academic writing.   

So, what is plagiarism? 

When one submits another person’s ideas, writings, words, images, or data as their own, it is termed plagiarism.   

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Source: https://mimiandeunice.com/2010/07/30/thief/ Author: Nina Paley, 1968 

Plagiarism is among the four most common forms of academic dishonesty, the other three being cheating, academic misconduct, and fabrication. While looking for ideas and information is good research, not giving proper credit for the work cited becomes plagiarism. It is easy not to recognise potential plagiarism in one’s writing. Here are some examples:  

  1. Using information from the internet is commonly considered public information. However, it is still required to be cited.   
  1. When one paraphrases (i.e. puts someone else’s ideas in their own words) and does not provide credit to the original idea.   
  1. When one sources information from reading material provided by the professor, it still needs to be cited.  This is considered poor academic practice though, as you need to demonstrate independent research, and go directly to the sources mentioned by the professors in their lectures, rather than cite the lectures themselves. 
  1. When one copies their own ideas, used in previously marked work, and submits the same material for a new paper. This is commonly known as self-plagiarism.   

How to avoid plagiarism?  

As complex as it may seem, plagiarism can be avoided by simply citing and referencing your work wherever necessary and giving due credit to the original ideas, theories, words, quotations, images, or graphs.   

It is essential to make sure an appropriate style of citing and referencing must also be applied. Commonly used styles include Harvard, APA, MLA, and Chicago. You can check out detailed information on the blog: Attribution, to avoid retribution: referencing and citations for academic writing.  

Don’t panic. We’ve got help!  

Studying for a masters, working full-time, juggling work-life-study balance itself seems daunting. Do not get lost in trying to find the correct way to present assignments and avoid plagiarism. There are various sources that you can use to ensure effective writing every time.  

  1. Access the electronic library through your University account – there is always a guide to academic writing, referencing, and tutorial support directly from librarians  
  1. Ask for help from the tutors and student support services, who can help you get unstuck and direct you towards the resources that can help 

I hope this prepares you well for authoring your academic papers and assignments.  If you are stuck or have any questions, our highly qualified, world-class faculty will guide you through using the correct methods and techniques to follow academic integrity. 

UoC’s MBA Leadership & Sustainability Academic highly commended as Master’s Teacher of the Year 2021

We take immense pleasure to announce that Dr. Sarah Williams, a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability, has been highly commended in the category of Masters’ Teacher of the Year 2021 by findamasters.com. This was for her role as Module Leader in the Robert Kennedy College online residency module delivered by the University.  

In the judges’ view, “Sarah’s teaching has a global impact, and the judges agreed that this was reflected in the large number of students from around the world who supported Sarah’s nomination for this award.”    

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Dr. Sarah Williams

The University is incredibly proud of this achievement, and so is Robert Kennedy College. It highlights the calibre of academics working at the university and reflects positively on the partnership with Robert Kennedy College.  

One is known by the company they keep, and Robert Kennedy College is indeed in good company with some of the best teaching faculty. Have a look at profiles of our key faculty members  

Internationally Recognized  

The University of Cumbria received the University title and degree awarding powers from Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council in 2007. The University is fully recognised by the British Government and duly listed on the United Kingdom’s Department for Education list of recognised UK awarding institutions. Upon successful completion of the online Masters’ programme, you receive an Internationally recognised British degree from the University of Cumbria. Undertake the Master’s programme today, with complete confidence and faith that your Masters’ degree is accepted worldwide and has the highest level of recognition.  

For the details about this award: The award was run by https://www.findamasters.com/, a directory of worldwide Postgrad qualifications. The information on the awards is detailed at https://www.findamasters.com/events/awards/generic.aspx?bpid=7160

#DILO – A day in the life of an RKC student – Antonio  

We continue with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) frequently get from students looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled online learning challenges. Hopefully, this will, in turn, help you make an informed decision.  

I believe learning is a life-long process. You never know when an opportunity to learn is thrown your way. Would you grab the opportunity, or would you think it’s too late to learn and study when you reach a certain age? But is age just a number?  

Antonio, an RKC student from Mozambique, is a shining example of how age is just a number when it comes to studying for your Masters. Let’s hear his story!  

Who you are, really?   

Antonio M, from Mozambique. A senior citizen still willing to learn and upgrade my skills in new areas associated with my country development.  

Which Uni are you studying at?   

University of Salford  

Which programme did you choose and why?  

Online MSc in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management  

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

Initially, I thought 2h a day would suffice, but I learned that I needed to spend at least an additional hour every day. Let me say, for someone with my slow thinking speed, you need an average 3h a day to be comfortable and do all the homework (forum discussions, contributions). Do this for 6 days a week, 1 day to rest if you can afford it.  

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What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g., early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)   

In my case, evenings due to silence and more available bandwidth for Internet data.  

How did travelling impact your ability to study?    

Being an online course, travelling did not impact too much. When travelling, the main issue was Wi-Fi availability.  

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?   

Most of my peers were around the same or close time. Having a platform and forums eased the interaction. It was not immediate, but I would get the reaction soon enough. With those closer peer friends or people with closer affinity, we shared our mobile numbers, and if required, we would use the mobile phone and interact.  

How much time did you devote to each assignment?    

A lot of time. As soon as you get the assignment brief, start immediately and dedicate at least 3h a day for the assignment. Make sure you state an initial outline as soon as you understand the problem to be solved. Having the outline, Google Scholar all the required stuff, minimum of 15 peer-reviewed references per assignment (my opinion).  
  

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What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

6-7h sleeping, 6-8h working and 3-4h studying, 3h solving family issues, 2h socialising with other people. My community, Rotary, and family would require more of my time and reschedule this time outline.  

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies?    

Please make sure you do participate in the weekly activities since usually they prepare you for your assignments. If you do it right, you may have a considerable part of your assignment done, at least in terms of the referencing. Going straight to the assignments is the wrong strategy. I did learn with some pain later that if I had done the week activities it would have made my life easier and would have saved time for my assignments. Otherwise, while busy with the assignment, you understand that you still need to do the work you avoided.  

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If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher degree, now is the time! Take valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your unique study strategies, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one day on our college blog.    

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time. 

Attribution, to avoid retribution: referencing and citations for academic writing

In my previous blog, I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective abstract for academic papers. Continuing further in the same direction, this week I would like to discuss referencing and citations. As I mentioned earlier, writing an abstract is not rocket science, and neither are referencing and citating.  

Now, referencing is an important academic practice. But it becomes even more important when you are studying at University level. It is thus imperative to understand the correct way to reference and cite your sources in your master’s degree assignments, academic papers, or dissertation. This blog is your one-stop shop about what, how and where, style guides, and examples of referencing and citations.  

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Let’s begin! 

So, first things first, what is the difference between referencing and citations? 

While undertaking your masters’ studies, you will constantly hear from your professors to reference your work and cite the sources of your research and ideas.  

Referencing 

As the name suggests, referencing refers to the source of work that you used in your paper. The readers should be able to find and read for themselves the original source of information that one has read or considered in their academic piece.  

Citations 

Citations, on the other hand, are brief mentions of the author or the external source used in writing the paper. A citation is, in other words, an abbreviated reference. While both inform the reader of the sources of information used, there is a fine difference between a reference and a citation.  Here are some key differences between references and citations: 

Scope  

A reference is a complete record of the source that has been sought or cited in the paper.  

A citation is disclosing the source within the main body and thus is also referred to as an ‘in-text’ citation. It provides just basic information such as the authors’ names, year of publication, and perhaps the page number if a sizeable quote is provided.  

Placement  

References are listed at the end of the document, on a page having its own title (“List of references”, “References”, “Works cited”). 

Citations are presented within the body of the document where we speak of the ideas or results of the source we are citing..  

Format  

References provide the reader with information such as the authors’ names, the publication date, the title (of the book or article), page numbers, publisher and place of publishing, etc. 

A citation provides less information, such as the last names of the authors and the publication year, such that it does not disrupt the reading flow. 

Both references and citations give credit to the authors whose ideas have been discussed in your work, in addition to supporting or criticizing an argument. This is additionally critical to avoid plagiarism in academic writing (topic for another blog!). 

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Different styles of referencing and citating 

Different academic disciplines prefer specific referencing styles. In business programmes (such as the MBAs, MSc’s), you will often be asked to use Harvard or APA styles, whereas in Law programmes (LLM, LLB) you will most often be asked to use Oxford or OSCOLA. You should always check the programme handbooks and assignment briefs, and in doubt, with your instructor what referencing style they expect for the assignment or academic paper you are writing.   

The references should be regrouped on a new page at the end of the paper. This list gives the complete information to identify and locate all sources used in the paper. There should be a corresponding entry in the list of references for all in-text citations that were used. References typically follow an alphabetical order of authors’ last names but under certain styles the order of appearance will rather be used. 

Among the different styles used by different disciplines, here are the 6 most frequently used styles in writing academic papers, each with a very specific purpose they fulfil: 

  1. APA (6th or 7th Edition) 
  1. Harvard 
  1. Oxford (OSCOLA) 
  1. Chicago 
  1. Vancouver  
  1. MHRA  

The style guides specify the kind of information and how it should be displayed for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, images, ebooks, etc.) – ensuring consistency across not only your work, but across the entire field of study that uses that style. 

At first look, these may all seem complicated, and daunting, but there are tools that can help you manage your sources, references, and citations. 

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For example, Word has a tool called “Citations & Bibliography” which allows you to enter your sources in a database (“Manage Sources”), to insert in-text citations that are automatically updated if needed (“Insert citation”), and to generate your list of references (“Bibliography”) according to the specific style you need (“Style”). 

External tools also exist, such as Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, or CiteThemRight – which have pretty much the same functionalities – managing your references with one of these tools will save you a gigantic among of time and effort, so by all means, pick the one that works best for you and run with it. 

Examples 

I promised you some examples, so here goes: 

Harvard / APA styles 

In-text citation 

Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2019), or Saunders et al. (2019), when the author’s names are part of the sentence, or (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2019) or (Saunders et al., 2019) when they are not. 

Reference list entry 

Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2019) Research methods for business students. Eighth Edition. New York: Pearson. 

Oxford style (OSCOLA) 

In-text citation 

OSCOLA uses numeric references, with the full reference given in a correspondingly numbered footnote. So, in your text, you would simply put a superscript number by inserting a footnote1 and then the footnote would contain the reference as: 

Mark NK Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019). 

Reference list entry 

Saunders MNK, Lewis P and Thornhill A, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019) 

Note the difference between the footnote reference and reference list entry – in the footnote, you give the author names in “firstname, lastname” format, whereas in the reference list you give it in “lastname, f.” format. 

If this looks complicated, it is! 😊 Which is why I reiterate my advice to use a reference management tool – whichever one works for you. 

Hope this prepares you well for writing your academic paper or assignments.  If you are stuck or have any questions, our highly qualified, world class faculty will guide you through using the correct methods and techniques for referencing and citations.  

Meet the Dean, Dr. iur. David Costa – in an exclusive Live Session

The Dean of Robert Kennedy College, Dr. iur. David Costa recently held an online presentation and live discussion session about our 100% Online BA, MSc, MBA, and LLM programmes. The online Master’s programmes are offered in exclusive partnerships with the University of Cumbria, the University of Salford, and York St John University. The participants – the potential and current students accepted into our programmes –  had a chance to ask the Dean questions directly.   

Introducing the Dean  

Professor David Costa is one of the founders of Robert Kennedy College. In his current capacity as Dean of Faculty, he oversees the faculty review process and several of the college’s academic programmes.  

He holds a Dr. iur. (Doctor Iuris, Doctor of Laws) degree from the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he researched the law and regulations related to synthetic investment products. With other Law degrees from Scotland (Robert Gordon University, LL.B), England (the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, LL.M International Trade Law), and the United States (Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, LL.M in U.S. Law), he has acquired extensive expertise in Comparative Law.   

In addition to his legal qualifications, Dr Costa holds a BA in Business Studies from the University of Derby, an MBA in eCommerce from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, a PhD in Strategy, Programme, and Project Management from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Lille for which his doctoral thesis was a study of index-based commodity investments. 

David is a frequent guest on business TV channels such as CNBC Europe and Bloomberg Television. His recent research on risk-adjusted portfolios with both stocks and commodities has been used for the creation of a Swiss publicly traded investment certificate issued by the second-largest German Bank, Commerzbank AG. In addition, he is the author of The Portable Private Banker.  

Professor David Costa lectures at Robert Kennedy College in Contracts Law, Transnational Business Law, Investment Law and Money Management  

The Presentation  

Professor David Costa began with a short presentation providing details about each of our exclusive partner universities. Then, he introduced the programmes offered – the MBAs, MSc, LL.Ms, and the BA (Hons) that was recently added to the list of the wide range of programmes RKC offers. He then gave the programme overview and explained what makes our Master’s programmes so unique. Here are some of the highlights that set RKC’s Online programmes apart:  

  1. Duration – Minimum 12 months and maximum 5 years  
  1. Contemporary, practical courses  
  1. No Exams. Evaluation based on assessments   
  1. Flexible Learning  
  1. 100% online courses  
  1. British Degrees that are recognized worldwide  

Further, he dived into the real reason they were all gathered together, and it was the pursuit of higher and quality education. David himself has been studying for over 20 years. With several academic degrees and two PhDs, he said that education had been his best investment, and each programme he studied gave him the best return on investment. He went on to tell why: 

  1. Knowledge  
  1. Self-confidence  
  1. Career progression  
  1. Discovering new horizons  
  1. Applicable learning – learn it today and apply it today!  

Finally, the Q&A round! The Dean himself answered several questions by the students from the questions about the programme, the payment plan, eligibility requirements, the study schedules, and many more.   

Watch the recordings of the live sessions held by Dr. iur. David Costa to find out for yourself if any questions that you might have have already been answered.  

Zoom conference recording 1
Zoom conference recording

It is indeed a very informative session. Would you like to attend a similar session in the future? Let us know in the comments section below, and we will notify you of the dates for future live session.