A Business IA consists of a relatively large portion of your grade. Whether you’re SL or HL, you’re going to want to do everything you can to get into those higher grade boundaries.
From personal experience, I’ve come up with 5 simple tips to doing well on your Business IA. Although I did SL, there’s plenty of handy tips HL students can take away.
So, let’s dive into it.
Planning For Your Business IA
Ever heard the phrase:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail?”
To be fair, that’s a bit of an extreme quote. Nevertheless, putting genuine effort into knowing exactly what to write and how your IA will flow in terms of content is extremely useful.
To clarify, by ‘exactly’ what you want to write, I mean that you should have a basic idea of what you want to write. As long as you’ve got some notion of what to include in your IA, you should fine.
Create a simple one page plan with headings and points under each heading and jot down some ideas. From my own experience, even though I didn’t have much trouble with my Business IA, I definitely could have taken the planning stages more seriously.
Understand The Research Process (For HL and SL)
This is where it’s going to break into two sections. I’m going to write advice for HL and then SL students:
HL – Primary Research
HL students need primary research. This means you’re going to retrieve information from the business itself. For this, you’ll need to understand the limitations when it comes to which companies to research.
Big companies like Apple, Samsung, or Tesla won’t be much help with primary research such as interviews, personal phone calls, or simple things like requesting data directly from them. They’re simply too busy.
For HL students, it’s wise to do research on smaller, local businesses. There’s a higher chance you’ll be able to make appointments and carry out interviews or request certain information like cash flow statements for example.
HL – Secondary Research
For HL students this may be challenging because you need to be looking for articles, books, magazines or trustable sources on the internet to help you.
I would advise researching secondary sources before your primary research on your particular business or inquiring where you can find more information on them such as in newspapers or magazines they’ve been featured in or whether they’ve been interviewed by any news media.
This is important because you don’t want to be doing secondary research on a company so small that there’s nothing on the internet about them to use in your IA.
The conclusion? Find a small business for primary research but ensure you can find a decent amount of secondary research on them beforehand (or ask where their company has been featured if possible).
SL have an easier time as far as research goes since it’s only secondary research. Now that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easier. You still need to write a good IA based on secondary sources.
That is unless you want to carry out primary research yourself, which is possible and in which case I highly recommend following the advice I just gave for HL students. I advise taking the time to thoroughly go through the secondary research phase for SL students.
While you don’t have the primary research worries of the HL students, you need to work on developing points and cherry picking which sources will support your arguments best as well as finding some potential conflicting research. This benefits your evaluation.
Integration Of Sources In Your Business IA
You need to know where you’re going to input all your sources, which references go where, and for which point. This is why planning is important.
Ensure that you’re constantly citing and using up the sources you’ve read about. That’s not to say shoving a bunch of references together such as the following is a good idea:
“…from source A, source B, and source C Samsung has clearly lost sales because of the aforementioned failure to use XYZ marketing strategies.”
Firstly, ‘clearly’ is a word I’d steer clear of unless necessary. You don’t know everything and the point of the IA is to make an argument and not a textbook fact. There’s also too many sources in this sentence so it wouldn’t make an ideal piece of writing.
Notice the source is stated first. While you can technically do this, I personally prefer to state my case first and then use evidence.
For example, if we refined that statement we could get:
“Samsung’s decline in sales might have resulted from improper use of the aforementioned XYZ marketing strategy. This is further supported by the analysis of source A that shows Samsung’s loss of market share. Another reason Samsung may have lost market share, as stated by source B, is they failed to understand the smartphone market which may imply that…..”
This isn’t a perfect paragraph either but it’s an example of how to integrate your sources. Notice the sources are spread out. Ideally you want to make your arguments longer so as not to eat up all your resources in one sentence.
Think about it this way. For each source, think up an argument consisting of at least 200 words. This number can change depending on the number of secondary or primary resources but my point is that your IA should be one big argument supported by evidence.
Research and source integration is key to a great IA.
For HL students, you can integrate your primary research with the same method above:
Argument/point first followed by evidence/research.
For example, if you did an interview with the CEO of a small business, you could do something like this:
“Although XYZ company showed negative cash flow for May 2017, CEO ABC is confident that June will bring in positive cash flow as he stated in my interview with him:
[Insert part of transcript here]
Despite this, XYZ company still faces HR challenges as a result of problems arising from LMNOP as stated by source D which could further imply that XYZ….”
That’s an example of how you could include your primary and secondary research.
Your writing will depend on what you find in your research and how you implement it. Remember that your writing needs to flow well and not feel like a poorly unexplained point followed by sources used as ‘proof’ instead of support for your argument.
Take Feedback Positively
IB is a draining curriculum so believe me, this tougher than it sounds. Simply put, take feedback in stride. If your teacher has metaphorically ripped up your IA draft, good. We learn from our mistakes.
Your teacher will critique you on your IA first draft. Don’t worry too much. It’s a first draft and nobody ever writes a perfect first draft. This is a relatively simple step to follow but too often, IB students will take it personally and fall into a depressed state before getting back on their feet and trying again.
The time it takes to do this may vary but ultimately, you don’t want to feel more rushed for time than you already are trying to meet a deadline because you were upset for a while.
Take the feedback from the teacher seriously, analyze what they’ve said, written, and most importantly, focus on the advice they give you for your improvement. This is what will bump you up a few grade boundaries.
So that’s it for this piece. I hope you’ve found this advice useful. It was a bit lengthy. Imagine if I had gone with 5 tips instead of 4 huh?
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