Research and Analysis Project (RAP) Due to ACCA’s flexible entry routes, many students enrolling are non-graduates. I joined ACCA straight from A levels and never went to university. The partnership between ACCA and Oxford Brookes University is a chance for such students to get a Bachelors degree. I recently completed my Research and Analysis Project (RAP). I chose Topic 8, ‘The business and financial performance of an organisation of your choice. ’ An article in Student Accountant referred to this as the most popular choice.
Completing the project is a challenge, as it requires you to demonstrate not only what you have learnt during the ACCA Qualification, but also to exhibit the existence of ‘key graduate skills’ of self-reflection and communication. Fortunately, my project mentor was there to support me throughout, and without his help I don’t think I would have been able to complete my RAP on time. I would like to share some tips with you on completing the RAP, and hope you will find them useful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to post a comment on this blog page.
If you have tips you would like to share, you can do so by using the comment box below. Tips on preparing the RAP Be concise and do not exceed the word limit The 6,500 word limit can easily be exceeded if you ramble on about a single issue. The university reserves the right to send your project back to you unmarked if you fail to meet the word limit. Note that there are individual word limits for different sections of the RAP and you should restrict yourself to these limits. Use graphs and other graphical modes of presentation Graphs and charts help you analyse data and make it easier for the reader to understand trends.
Tables are a convenient way of organising your results. Information displayed in graphs and tables does not form part of the word limit. Analyse There needs to be evidence of analysis in your project. In case of topic no. 8, simply calculating ratios won’t cut it. You need to provide evidence that you understand what the ratio means and the possible reasons why a ratio improved/worsened. Remember to link an organisation’s business activities to its financial performance. For example, simply stating that stock turnover days increased because the company is carrying higher levels of inventory at the year end is not enough.
Why are their higher inventory levels? Is it because it has introduced new product lines that have proved to be unpopular? Is it because it is pricing its products too high resulting in reduced demand? Compare Use competitor information when conducting financial and business analysis. Ratio analysis is of little use in the absence of comparative information. For example, when commenting on the organisation’s performance with reference to working capital ratios you may want to provide corresponding ratios for a close competitor or the industry average.
This will allow you to assess, for example, whether it is slow in collecting debts or if it is common practice to allow for delays in debt collection. Recommendations During your analysis you may identify weaknesses in the way an organisation is being run. Providing recommendations at the end of your project is a way of demonstrating that you understand the issues affecting the organisation and how they can be dealt with. You can come up with suggestions by studying other companies in the industry. How are they dealing with similar problems?
Plagiarism Be sure to mention all the sources from where you have derived your information. Your work should be referenced properly using the Harvard system. If you are referencing someone else’s work properly, you are plagiarising it. Plagiarism can result in disciplinary action being taken against you by ACCA. Appropriate models Make sure the accounting and business models you are applying are consistent with your project objectives. Presentation Avoid using large fonts. Only use italics and bolds when it is appropriate.