TECHNICAL REPORT WRITING NOTES FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS UNIT ONE: Technical Report Writing A report is an organized presentation of factual information, often aimed at multiple audiences that may present the results of an investigation, a trip, or a research project. They are a way of informing and persuading people as well as initiating change. In Engineering, one of the major forms of communication is the technical report. This is the conventional format for reporting the results of your research, investigations, and design projects.
1.1 Technical Report defined?

The term "technical" refers to knowledge that is not widespread, that is more the territory of experts and specialists. Technical Report is a document that records the procedures adopted and results obtained from a scientific or technical activity or investigation. A technical report (also: scientific report) is a document that describes the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. It might also include recommendations and conclusions of the research. Technical reports are the primary written work products of engineers. As such, they present facts and conclusions about designs, experiments, and other projects. They include research about technical concepts and often include visual depictions of designs and data.
1.2 Technical Report Purpose

 

The primary purposes of technical report are to disseminate the results of scientific and technical research and to recommend action. Technical report is useful to report plans, progress, and problems of an organisation or activity.

At university, reports are read by lecturers and tutors in order to assess your mastery of the subjects and your ability to apply your knowledge to a practical task.



In the workplace, they will be read by managers, clients, and the construction engineers responsible for building from your designs. Also, as an employee in a company, you will be asked to prepare or contribute to annual, project or progress reports. The ability to produce a clear, concise, and professionally presented report is ,therefore, a skill you will need to develop in order to succeed both at university and in your future career
1.3 Technical Report Features: Difference Between Technical Report and other

Writings General writings can be subjective in nature. They reflect the writer’s personality. Reports have a highly structured format. The reader/audience is the most important person in report. The audience for technical writing documentation is very small and specific.

The style is quantitative—it includes details, and uses facts, data, measurements, and statistics.
1.4 Technical Writing Audiences: characteristics and level of expertise

A. What is audience?  Audience refers to the real and the imagined readers (users) who use texts (products) to do something in their own environment. Other real or imagined audiences include fellow students, engineering colleagues, or customers seeking engineering services or product.  Audience is the real, flesh-and-blood people that we can interview in their workplace and observe doing their jobs.  Audience is also the imagined interpreters of our products whose questions we attempt to anticipate when designing/writing report. It must, therefore, be identified as a possible area of difficulty before the writing starts. B. Identifying Audience Characteristics Before you begin writing, identify and consider such important audience characteristics as: • Educational and professional background, • Knowledge and experience levels, • English-language ability, • Reading context (the physical and psychological conditions under which the audience reads the document).


The identity of the reader will determine not only the approach but also the technical level and the style of the writing. In the engineering workplace, readers of technical reports include supervisors assessing progress on specific projects or corporate officers evaluating professional recommendations and proposals to invest in new technologies. Usually, readers will have a technical or engineering background, but it is your responsibility as the report writer to explain the specifics of the subject of your experiment, process, or project. C. What is the value of information about audience? Considering the needs of your audience is crucial to achieving your purpose. This is because:  Without exposure to audience, we cannot design effective, user-centered products  observations of audience can lead to improvements in a specific product design (paper), and also in future designs  Technical communicators need access to usability information to build and test their own theories of audience In the workplace, your readers are usually less familiar with the subject than you are. You have to be careful, therefore, when writing on a topic that is unique to your area of specialization. Be sensitive to the needs of those whose training or experience lies in other areas; provide definitions of nonstandard terms and explanations of principles that you, as a specialist, take for granted.
1.5 Technical Report Writing Steps

A technical report‘s purpose is for an engineer to communicate information gained through a process of technical or experimental work. Therefore, the writing follows a strict sequential process. That is, sometimes product driven, and which can be replicated exactly. The following stages are involved in writing the report: 1. Planning and preparation/clarifying your terms of a reference Terms of a reference of a report is a guiding statement used to define the scope of your investigation.


emphasizing exactness and clarity rather than elegance or allusiveness. while for others you will require a great deal. You must first be absolutely sure of the purpose of your report. 2. Collecting and handling information 3. such as consumers or employees learning to operate unfamiliar equipment. it is what you intend to achieve. technical report should convey information in an objective.4 Before you write a single word you must:  Set your objective. 1) Readability/Clarity Technical writing is often—but not always—aimed at readers who are not experts in the subject. An objective is not what you intend to write. Checking and re-drafting and completing the document.  Decide what information you will need. you will need to collect very little information. But if you do not know your readers. try to find out answers to these five questions: • • • • • Are the readers alike or mixed? Are they used to reading and understanding reports? How much time will they spend on this report? What do they already know? What else will they need to know?  Prepare your skeletal framework. 1. If you know who will be reading your report. Like most scientific or technical writing. Because such audiences are inexperienced and the procedures described may involve hazardous 4 . style and structure to their level of knowledge and expertise.  Assess your readership. considering the overall structure of the report and considering how information will be presented within the main body. This is partly because the goal of technical writing is to enable readers to use a technology or understand a process or concept.6 Technical Report Styles Good style is the best way to get your message across each time you write. fact-based manner. you can match the detailed content. writing the first draft 4. For some reports. The writing style should be direct and utilitarian. There are three stages involved in the preparation of a skeletal frame work: writing a working title.

but Computer-based tutorials associated with applications soft ware have become readily available since the development of Microsoft Windows. Accept the facts. excess words. Experts nowadays agree that the factors that most affect readability are:     an attractive appearance non-technical subject matter a clear and direct style short and familiar words and sentences Say What You Mean Do not expect readers or translators to understand what you ―meant‖ instead of what you ―wrote. This sentence is illogical because departments do not earn salaries—employees do. conclusions and recommendations. findings. not to impress. 5 . Understand everything in it without undue effort.5 material or equipment. Besides. Write to express. grouped by department. Prefer words your readers are likely to understand.  Prefer plain words: Do not be afraid of plain English. What the author meant was: This report compares the salaries of employees who have the same education level.  Avoid overwriting and padding: Weed out any meaningless. 2) Selectivity/choice of words: Careful choice of words can enable you to convey many subtleties of meaning.‖ This report compares the salaries of different departments for employees who have the same education level. a good report style must ensure that the persons for whom the report is intended: Read it without unnecessary delay. Decide to take the action recommended. not The ready availability of computer-based tutorials associated with applications software has become prevalent since the development of Microsoft Windows. Certainly material which goes outside the writer’s own company must always conform to a high standard of stylistic propriety. clarity becomes an ethical as well as a stylistic concern.

Such words should be added if they are likely to be used frequently. History suggests that our prospects are bright. Avoid them unless there are no good English equivalents – and unless you are sure that your audience will understand them.  Prefer English words to Latin/Greek origin words and phrases: Using uncommon foreign-language terms like inter alia. There are two main ways to shorten a sentence: to replace wordy constructions with simpler ones. second. and a second person should check what is added. and sine die may look like showing off. to break complex and compound sentences into two or more sentences: 6 .  Avoid redundant words: Repetition of a word can keep the reader aware of the topic.  Prefer the positive: Try to use positive statements wherever possible. easily-read style for factual material. document is the responsibility of its writer. saying the same thing twice over in different words for no good reason is tautology. However. not But We do not believe the backup files are adequate. 3) Accuracy: Check that everything you write is factually accurate. per se. not But Past history suggests that our future prospects are bright. it should be checked for spelling and typing errors. Short sentences produce a clear. But many technical writers are led into grammatical confusion because their sentences are so long that by the end both writer and reader have lost sight of the beginning. We believe the backup files are inadequate.6 Not Accounts Receivable is not concerned with the follow-up of any of the items with the exception of delinquent accounts. Some guidelines are given below a) Spelling: When the engineer has completed a section of the report. but Accounts Receivable follows up delinquent accounts only. The accuracy of a b) Technical words: Engineers sometimes avoid the spell-check because it highlights too many technical words which are not in the computer‘s dictionary. C) Sentences: Good style involves variety in sentence length.

Several paragraphs on a page. Nearly every E2 and E3 has trouble with the th sound (especially unvoiced) and many Asian languages struggle with l and r. or companies. encourage reading. with the resulting spaces. systems. Paragraphs have a psychological effect on the reader. changed their image in 1996. When General Instrument Corporation of Horsham. So. Similarly. d) Paragraphs: A good style in report writing involves constructing sentences and paragraphs in such a way that the message you wish to convey is conveyed accurately and quickly to the reader. Notice the effect. words that are hard to pronounce will as they read slow the reader. To avoid this. Nearly every E2 and E3 has trouble with the th sound (especially unvoiced) and many Asian languages struggle with l and r. saying words mentally to themselves silently. In 1998. This advice is particularly germane in naming products. systems. words that are hard to pronounce will slow the reader. but a page which is filled by only one paragraph even if it is logically cohesive.) After: Remember that nearly all readers subvocalize. changed their image in 996. This advice is particularly germane in naming products. saying words mentally to themselves as they read silently. After: We guarantee no specific return on these funds. or companies. When General Instrument of Horsham. they will restore the original name. its length may discourage and frustrate the reader. use the three ways below: Break Apart Long Paragraphs: The following paragraph (also justified to make it less inviting) is arbitrarily split. they also adopted the more high-tech sounding name of NextLevel.7 Before: We make no specific guarantees with respect to future rate of return on these investment instruments. Pennsylvania. Before: Remember that nearly all readers subvocalize. they also adopted the more high-tech sounding name of NextLevel. In 1998. mainly because most of their Asian customers for cable-TV converter boxes have trouble with 7 . mainly because most of their they Asian customers for cable-TV converter boxes have trouble with saying NextLevel. So. they will restore the original name. the spokes clown for McDonalds restaurants in Japan is called Donald McDonald not Ronald. Pennsylvania.

a simple table will be far easier to follow. Further. please consider that our company has 15 years’ experience in the construction of oil and gas pipelines. Instead of: In evaluating alternative offerors. please consider that our company: • Has 15 years’ experience in the construction of oil and gas pipelines • Holds the patents on the most advanced pumping technology • Maintains business offices in all the major Middle Eastern capitals. we maintain business offices in all the major Middle Eastern capitals. (Similarly. the spokes clown for McDonalds restaurants in Japan is called Donald McDonald not Ronald. Also. We hold the patents on the most advanced pumping technology. Prefer User New User User wanting to change preferences Other users file New ( new file ) or open ( existing file) Menu Select . Write: In evaluating alternative offerors. Old users who don’t want to change their setup in any way should go to the File menu and select either New or Open (for existing file). maintenance Set up maintenance Set up 8 .8 saying NextLevel. . . o Convert Some Paragraphs into Tables: In most cultures. old users may select Setup from the Maintenance Menu if they want to change their Preferences. Instead of: New users should open the Maintenance Menu and select Setup.) o Convert Some Paragraphs into Lists: Proposals or reports that contain items or steps in a process are far more understandable in list form.

Simplicity: Most written reports should avoid using overly complicated language. tone. the language used has to be formal. you. (Writing tip: do a search for ―I. Why?  Doing so keeps your writing looking/sounding objective and helps you to put emphasis on processes and things. technical writing style uses an objective. passive voice because technical report is usually written impersonally. The role is similar to that of a sports referee or a High Court judge. our.9 4) Use of language Formality: Reports are formal. my. not A good manager will gain the respect of his staff. we. and using words correctly. Avoid sexist language: The tone of your writing should not reflect a gender bias–or any other bias. Remain mostly in the third person. not it’s). Objectivity (voice and tone): Because the subject matter is more important than the writer‟s voice. see if you can rework the sentences so that the emphasis is not on you. This confuses even the most informed reader. Therefore. or an interpretation of the evidence –not on personal opinions and feelings. i. but rather on the science and technology 9 . rather than on yourself as a technician or scientist. passive sentences are used quite frequently and personal pronouns like ―I. In these situations. decisions are based on the results. brief or justify. but not grandiose (or in a boastful or pretentious way). the evidence. age or disability. Stay objective. Formal writing simply means writing in full (it is. etc. its message must be clear. such as race. e. Avoid using unnecessary jargon. but A good manager will gain the respect of staff. religion. avoiding slang or colloquialisms. If you find those words. You must look at all sides of a problem with an open mind before stating your conclusions.‖ and ―my‖ in your report. not a subjective. A report should not reflect personal emotions and opinions. If a report is to persuade. Eliminate opinions and (―I think‖ or ―I feel‖) from your writing so that the emphasis remains on the technical and scientific processes and facts.‖ ―me.‖ are avoided.

because they are used to it. measuring procedure or similar is described.. While none of your reports will be as short as this.” Passive: “. Here an example of formulating the same fact once in active and once in passive voice: Active: “. The frequently used tense in technical report is present tense. I saw. the following alternatives have been evaluated . Use present tense to indicate those things that are still occurring. Vidi. if a previously used part. if you avoid personal pronouns and use the passive voice instead. At least 2. You have to decide carefully for your Technical Report. we have evaluated the following alternatives . In doing this. to speak of “we” or “our”.5cm margin on all sides Bound with heavy cover Information on the title page is also shown on the cover 10    . Tense: Use past tense and present tense appropriately.. too. Conciseness: Veni. I conquered). how much and where you want to use active sentences instead of the usual passive. Future tense is rarely used in technical reports. whether. you should ask: ‘Is it necessary for this information to be included?’ 5) Mechanical Details of the Report: Presentation/Layout The following suggestions will help you to produce an easily read report:  Final report should be neat and businesslike form Leave wide margins for binding and feedback comments for your instructor.. do not mistake brevity for conciseness. in a summary or critical appreciation it is OK. You are “on the safe side”..) However. A concise report is short but still contains all the essential details. you should aim to keep them concise. To ensure this.10 under discussion.. because reports focus mainly on work that has been completed or that is in progress. you should not ask: ‘Can this information be included?’ Rather. if the own working group or department is meant. That is how Julius Caesar reported his visit to our shores.” Vii...  Most technicians got used to the impersonal way of writing during their education and professional practice.. The customers will probably prefer impersonal writing as well. Vici (I came. Past tense is only used.

All diagrams and illustrations should be labeled and numbered. and the writer is allowed much flexibility in choosing the type of presentation. development. Formal reports are often encountered as research. survey-type results. letters.11  Printed on good grade of paper One side printing on double space All pages should be numbered in sequence starting at executive summary Separate equations are centered on the page on separate line and numbered All standard units. and is less formal than a letter. and similar items in which the major purpose is to present a result without including detailed information. In effect.1 Memorandum Purpose A memo (short for memorandum) is a very short document. Informal reports include memorandums. it's an adaptation of a business letter. minutes.1. usually up to a page long. A memo is headed by the word MEMORANDUM and followed by the side headings: To: Cc: From: Date: Subject: 11 . 2.1 Informal reports 2. progress notes.       Unit Two: Technical Report Types and applications Reports can be designated as formal and informal. measurements and technical terminology should be listed in a glossary of terms at the back of your report. Memo Format: How to write it Memo format can be used not only for routine correspondence but also for short reports. Explain symbols immediately after the equation Headings should be clear-highlighted in bold or underlined. The memo heading: it is quite different from those of a letter. and other internal documents. or design reports. proposals. They present the results in considerable detail.

As we previously discussed. Mechanical Engineering From: Pat Black Date: 8 October 2001 Subject: My visit to Composites Construction Ltd This is to let you know that from 14 to 17 November I shall be visiting the research labs at Composites Construction Ltd in Middletown.e. NO salutation or closing. informative title. Department of Mechanical Engineering C: Prof. containing the main message of your memo. my main activity will be to discuss the progress of our joint research program. In separate paragraphs (body of the memo) write: purpose of the memo your conclusion(s) or main point & facts/data to support the conclusion(s). Don't lead up to them and place them at the end. our proposals for future development and the next round of funding. not 8/10/01) Subject: A clear. Your signature An example of a very short memo (half page long) MEMORANDUM To: Dr Peter Brown. Head of Department. don't use Yours sincerely/faithfully. Note that the supporting data are placed after the conclusion(s) or main point.12 MEMORANDUM To: (Name and title of the person to whom you are writing) C: (Names and titles of other people to be sent copies of your memo (if required)) From: (Your name) Date: (In the style 8 October 2001. Agendas for Meetings 12 . It is often sideheading in short memo short memo (about half a page) or a centered title in a longer memo. Recommendation (if necessary) Note. All headings justified to the left-hand margin. i. I look forward to discussing the visit with you on my return. Jennifer Green.

and for reminders of routine annual. quarterly or monthly recurring items. the kind of meeting to which it refers. 7. 13 Items requiring the attention of the committee . 6. bear these points in mind:    Talk to the chairperson and other committee members who may have business to include. Keep a special file of documents which are likely to be required at the next meeting. Apologies for Absence 3. The standard agenda simply lists the subjects to be discussed. Here are two common forms of committee agenda: the standard agenda the discursive agenda. An agenda may take various forms. and the order in which they will be taken.13 An agenda is a list of items to be discussed during a meeting. The discursive agenda is designed to stimulate thought before and comment at the meeting. Heading (including where and when the meeting will take place) 2. half-yearly. Refer to the minutes of previous meetings for any business or discussions which were then deferred. Sort and arrange them before drafting the agenda. in some cases. It must be drawn up in advance. Be sure you know precisely what is expected of you. It is often used for „one-off‟ meetings. Papers required for the Meeting (in the order that they will be needed). according to the requirements and. 8. Date of Next Meeting (also give the time and location) 10. What would be a suitable format? Standard agenda A suitable format for a standard agenda would be as follows: 1. Any Other Business (‘leftovers’. 5. Minutes of the Previous Meeting 4. not items that should have been discussed within section 4–7) 9. In deciding what to include on an agenda.

2 Minute Writing Organizations and committees that keep official records of their meetings refer to such records as minutes. Include the following information: 14 . minutes of meetings are official and can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. Discursive agenda A discursive agenda could be structured as follows: 1. Possible action (what options are open to the committee?) 6. When approved. You can’t perform both tasks well. make sure you aren’t a major participant in the meeting. and why – keep it fairly general) 3. More precisely. 2. Heading (including where and when the meeting will take place) 2.14 Items 1–3 and 8–10 are standard. they must be accurate. you may need to record all the discussion as well as the resolutions or you may only need to record the resolution and not worry about the discussion leading up to the resolution. discussion that took place. and clear. complete.1. about who attended and did not. Between them come all other items requiring the attention of the committee.  To save and use them for reference or background material for future meetings relating to the same topic. Why do we write Meeting Minutes?  To capture the essential information of a meeting – decisions and assigned actions. Discussion points (list the items to be discussed and the reasons for discussing them) 5. Summary (the reason for the meeting. minutes are a record of the proceedings of a meeting (e. action to be taken. By this I mean. Papers required for the meeting (in the order that they will be needed). Make sure you leave some blank space to record your notes. Scope (what are the boundaries of the discussion?) 4. Before the Meeting: If you are recording the minutes.g. what it hopes to achieve and why members should attend and contribute) 7. How to write effective minutes: The way the minutes are recorded may differ depending on the type of meeting it is. Introduction (what will be discussed.) Because minutes are often used to settle disputes. time the meeting closed.

Health & Safety Officer (Chairperson) (ES) Ian Jones. not discussion. Number the pages as you go so you aren’t confused later . Staff Welfare Co-ordinator (AH) Bradley Pitt. Estates Manager (GC) 15 . This is a business document. This will be helpful later when you are recording assigned tasks or decisions. Be objective. If you are the person nominated to take the minutes. ensure you receive a copy of the agenda when it is distributed so that you are familiar with the matters to be discussed. Dull writing is the key to appropriate minutes. When you’re writing out your notes. check off their names on your attendee list. Ask the meeting lead to introduce you to meeting attendees you aren’t familiar with. Administration Officer (IJ) Aarlif Hussain.15 Date. Sample minute TEACHING COLLEGE MINUTES Minutes of the Health and Safety Committee Meeting held in room G104 at 4pm on 9th July 20XX. time and place of the meeting The purpose of the meeting The meeting lead or chair’s name Assigned action items Decisions made During the Meeting: As people enter the room. or clarify what you didn’t understand right after the meeting. the better. Focus on action items. If you need to refer to other documents attach them in an appendix or indicate where they may be found. Department Representative (BP) George Coney. Don’t rewrite their intent or try to summarize them. Avoid inflammatory or personal observations. Who will take the Minutes? : Minutes are usually taken by the Secretary or Minute Clerk. not about who said what. After the Meeting: Review the notes and add additional comments. Write in the same tense throughout and usually avoid using people’s names except for motions or seconds. The fewer adjectives or adverbs you use. PRESENT Erin Smith. use some of the following tips from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

2 . This specific format allows readers to quickly locate the information they need.. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE Apologies were received from Brian Jones and Angela Green 2. MATTERS ARISING George Coney reported that the recent fire drills had been successful and all the issues raised last time had been resolved. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING The minutes of the previous meeting were taken as read. DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING/Adjournment It was agreed that the next meeting should be held at 4pm on 10 October 20XX Signed ……………………………. you may be required to include or exclude specific sections.. A copy of the surveyor’s letter was circulated and will be discussed in a meeting to be arranged for next week. Most technical reports include the parts listed below. ANY OTHER BUSINESS Aarlif Hussain raised the issue of bank holidays and has asked members to give him their thoughts at the next meeting 7..1 Formal Technical Report Structure General Format Technical reports have an organized format because a majority of your audience may not read the entire report in one reading. 5. PLANNED IT UPDATES It was proposed that these would be undertaken by Ace Technology during October and November to minimize disruption to operations. agreed as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairperson 3.2 Formal Technical Report 2. George Coney will meet with Ace next week to discuss plans 6.16 etc Jo Smith (Secretary) (JS) ACTION 1. (Chairperson) 2. Members agreed that all staff must be informed of the implications. 4. NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS These were effective from 1 October 20XX. Be sure to check with your instructor before Date--------------------- 16 . However.

many organizations have a preferred style for formal reports and furnish guidelines for report writers to follow.17 using the format outlined here. Transmittal Letter Purpose 1. To adequately describe the contents of your document in the fewest possible words. or within front cover. 17 . briefly describe the project and preview the conclusions – if the reader is supportive. the letter includes information not found in the report. Typically. The letter is used when the report is addressed to a person outside of the writer’s organization. (b) To give the sender a permanent record of having sent the material. For example. A covering letter is any letter that is sent together with any document. Transmittal letters often inform readers of a report's context. (c) To show willingness to provide further information. but it is inserted within package. the letter contains information about the particular project in which the technical report writer: • • announce the topic and explain who authorized it and the date of authorization. Cover letter is not bound within the letter. Purpose (a) To provide the recipient with a specific context within which to place the document. Cover letter( optional) Title Page Transmittal Letter/Letter of submittal (optional) Acknowledgments Table of Contents List of Illustrations/List of Figures & List of Tables Abstract Executive Summary Report Body References Glossary of terms (optional) Appendices Transmittal Letter and covering letter: They are business letters. 2 To give the reader immediate access to the main subject matter. Further.

Here is a Sample title page: 18 . that you requested. Depending on the project. verbose or too terse. you may also need to include contact information. Always check with your instructor to determine whether or not you should attach a transmittal letter to your report. CO 80524 Dear Mr. Sincerely. Tom Siller Colorado State University Fort Collins. suggesting follow-up actions. Letter of submittal immediately follows Title Page. you should include the recipient's address. your address. This report also discusses cable-stayed technology. 1996 Dr. The report is entitled CSU Performing Arts Center. The purpose of the report is to inform you of our design decisions for the center. and offering to answer questions. The content of this report concentrates on the structural and acoustical aspects of the CSU Performing Arts Center.18 • close expressing appreciation for assignment. A Transmittal Letter is a business letter and should be formatted accordingly. Siller: We are submitting to you the report. but not wordy. that is. December 12. Look at the sample Transmittal Letter below. 1996. If you should have any questions concerning our project and paper please feel free to contact Mike Bridge at 491-5048. A technical report should always include a title clearly identifying the report. A title should be descriptive and accurate. acknowledging the help of others. Mike Bridge Lead Engineer Title Page The title should tell the reader what the report is about. a salutation and closing. due December 13.

and methods used to arrive at the reported findings. race. Types of Abstracts: Informative Vs. brief description of the report's content.19 Abstract Abstracts are formal summaries writers prepare of their completed work. the informative abstract summarizes any results. and recommendations. Generally. ABSTRACT The Effects of Long-Distance Running on Male and Female Runners Aged 50 to 72 Years by Sandra Young The long-term effects of long-distance running on the bones. including a summary of your research methodology  highlights of the conclusions and recommendations Since an Abstract is a brief summary of your report. Recent studies conducted at Stanford University and the University of Florida tested and compared male and female long-distance runners aged 50 to 72 with a control group of runners and non runners. It is a slightly expanded table of contents in sentence and paragraph form. That is. The Florida study used only male runners who had run at least 20 miles a week for five years and compared them with a group of runners and non runners. with the addition of the sentences that detail the conclusions of the report. omitting its details. scope. for example. abstracts are often classified as descriptive or informative. the abstract becomes informative. In addition to information about the purpose. Informative abstracts work best for wide audiences that need to know conclusions such as proceedings and progress reports that do not contain conclusions or recommendations. Abstracts define the report's purpose and content. if your report is eight pages long. This section should give a true. and research methods used. and occupation. Purpose: to allow a reader to get a quick picture of the report's content and make a judgment. The informative abstract retains the tone and essential scope of the original work. joints. you shouldn't use more than 150 words in the Abstract. The content may present the:  scope of the report  major points. A descriptive abstract summarizes the purpose. A descriptive abstract need not be longer than several sentences. The groups were matched by sex. education. whether to read the work in full or to decide what to pass over. The first four sentences of the abstract shown in Figure A–1 alone would be descriptive. its length corresponds with the report's length. keep your abstract concise (preferably one page). conclusions. Both studies 19 . An informative abstract is an expanded version of the descriptive abstract. to enable readers to decide what to read. Descriptive Depending on the kind of information they contain. scope. and general health of runners aged 50 to 72 can help determine whether physicians should recommend long-distance running for their older patients. So. Generally.

Both studies support the role of exercise in retarding bone loss with aging. In 1997 four journals published by the British Psychological Society began publishing structured abstracts. an. together with the title. however.  writers know what they have achieved. an abstract follows the title page and is numbered page iii. become so terse that you omit articles (a. combine ideas by using subordination and parallel structure. Aims. ‗results‘ and ‗conclusions‘. The aim of the studies reported here was to assess the effects of these structured abstracts by comparing them with original versions written in a traditional. Write with clarity and conciseness. the) and important transitional words and phrases (however. eliminating unnecessary words and ideas. Types of Abstracts: Structured & unstructured Structured Abstracts are typically written using five sub-headings –‗background‘. Figure A1: Informative Abstract (for an Article) Writing Strategies Write the abstract after finishing the report or document.  Or. but avoid stringing together a group of short sentences end to end. Write complete sentences.20 based findings on medical histories and on physical and X-ray examinations. Sometimes the wording of these sub-headings varies a little – ‗objectives‘ for ‗aim‘. Both studies conclude that long-distance running is not associated with increased degenerative joint disease. Method. Control groups were more prone to spur formation. and  partly because it is not easy to write an abstract. Decide what material is relevant to your abstract-distinguish primary ideas from secondary ones. next). instead. although it heads the article. is often written last. the abstract may not accurately reflect the longer work. Do not. ‗method‘. for example. The abstract. ‗aim‘. This is partly because. but the meaning is much the same. therefore. The authors of the articles accepted for publication in the four journals were asked 20 . The investigation concludes that the health risk factors are fewer for long-distance runners than for those less active aged 50 to 72. The investigation recommends that physicians recognize that an exercise program that includes long-distance running can be beneficial to their aging patients‘ health. Spell out all but the most common abbreviations. unstructured format. In a report. Female long-distance runners exhibited somewhat more sclerosis in knee joints and the lumbar spine area than matched control subjects. but. and joint-space narrowing and showed more joint degeneration than runners. sclerosis. Background.

21 to supply copies of their traditional abstracts (written when the paper was submitted for publication) together with copies of their structured abstracts requested by the editor when their paper was accepted. therefore. The abstracts were then compared on a number of measures. We recommend. The authors of the articles accepted for publication in the four journals were asked to supply copies of their traditional abstracts (written when the paper was submitted for publication) together with copies of their structured abstracts requested by the editor when their paper was accepted. The abstracts were then compared on a number of measures. Figure 2: An original abstract in structured form. The aim of the studies reported here was to assess the effects of these structured abstracts by comparing them with original versions written in a traditional. Results. therefore. Judges assessed the contents of the structured abstracts more quickly and with significantly less difficulty than they did the traditional ones. Analysis showed that the structured abstracts were significantly more readable. significantly longer and significantly more informative than the traditional ones. The structured abstracts fared significantly better than the traditional ones on every measure used in this enquiry. that editors of other journals in the social sciences consider adopting structured abstracts. Forty-eight such requests were made and thirty pairs of abstracts were obtained. Almost every respondent expressed positive attitudes to structured abstracts. the structured abstracts fared significantly better than the traditional ones on every measure used in this enquiry. significantly longer and significantly more informative than the traditional ones. Almost every respondent expressed positive attitudes to structured abstracts. Conclusions. and thirty pairs of abstracts were obtained. The same can be written in unstructured form below: In 1997 four journals published by the British Psychological Society began publishing structured abstracts. Analysis showed that the structured abstracts were significantly more readable. In short. that editors of other journals in the social sciences consider adopting structured abstracts. unstructured format. Judges assessed the contents of the structured abstracts more quickly and with significantly less difficulty than they did the traditional ones. Key words typically: 21 . Forty-eight such requests were made. What are ‘keywords’? These are the most important words in your paper that are specifically related to your topic. Your editor may want you to identify these so that they can be printed at the end of the abstract (or sometimes after the title in the journal‘s contents list). We recommend.

c. the end of-year issues of a particular journal or a set of conference proceedings. Tom Siller for his aid in our research and use of his research materials. Example abstracts Key words Abstract An Overview of Rotating Stall and Surge Control for Axial Flow Compressors Modeling and control for axial flow compression systems have received great attention in recent years. technicians or computer centre staff. Here are Sample Acknowledgments: MASK Engineering would like to thank Dr. provide readers with suitable terms to use in web-based searches to locate other materials on the same or similar topics. d. rotating stall.. This paper surveys the research literature and summarizes the major developments in this active research field. We would also like to thank Dr. for example. The success of this research field will significantly improve compressor performance and thus future aeroengine performance.22 a. allow readers to judge whether or not an article contains material relevant to their interests. people) who assisted you in compiling and writing up the information in the report. b. and to enlarge domains of attraction of stable equilibria using feedback control methods. The objectives are to suppress rotating stall and surge. surge Acknowledgments: Briefly thank (e. help indexers/editors group together related materials in. and e. to extend the stable operating range of the compressor system. This may be from librarians. 22 . Annie Cleveland from the CSU Theater Department for their expertise and input for the CSU Performing Arts Center. focusing on the modeling and control perspectives to rotating stall and surge for axial flow compressors. Keywords: axial flow compressor. say. allow editors/researchers to document changes in a subject discipline (over time). Michael Schaff of the CSU Music Department and Ms. link the specific issues of concern to issues at a higher level of abstraction.g.

-do not want to read the report -do not have specialist knowledge of the report The length is usually no longer than 10% of the report. In the construction of the main hall for the CSU Performing Arts Center a balance will be determined that will create a reverberation time of two seconds. It should summarize the key points and conclusions from your report. Simon. we specify the exact location of the structure and why we believe it is a prime location. Materials 23 . It can be anywhere from 1-10 pages long. Purpose: written for readers who. . You might include an executive summary with your report. and Karen concentrated on the structural plans. our group split into two smaller groups.do not have time to read the entire technical report. To achieve this goal. depending on the report's length.23 Executive Summary The body of the report begins with the executive summary. Alice concentrated on acoustical aspects of the complex. Some reports only include an abstract while others include an executive summary. Sample Executive Summary Introduction Our main goal was to design a Performing Arts Center for the CSU campus that would blend well with the rest of the campus. Mike. Location In this section. Cable-stayed Technology Here. we present our rationale for using cable-stayed technology. Main Hall Acoustics One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality. Always check with your instructor to determine which to include or if you should include both. Alice in one and Simon. Mike. and Karen in the other. which provides a more complete overview of the report than an abstract does. as independent of audience size as possible. is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). or the summary can be a separate document. We base this technology on several other existing structures. An executive summary consolidates the principal points of a report or proposal.

... the depth under the balcony should not exceed the height of the opening beneath the balcony.24 In this section......... To prevent a muddiness within the sound........... the following entry is wrong: 5...... The low sound absorbency of plaster also makes it ideal for the creation of the desired reverberation time of two seconds.............. It goes on its own page... but at the same time....... 35 (correct) 24 ...... and by designing the surfaces above and around the stage to project the sound evenly throughout the concert hall. The main hall will have a seating capacity of 1......... A cable-stayed support system for the roof will allow for a compact facility and an unobstructed view for patrons... Another problem arises with the seats placed under a balcony.......1 Experiment set-up. The second floor has a square footage of 15.. Floor Plans The Colorado State University Performing Arts Center consists of three levels.... it must not become uncomfortably loud........... The total area of the complex will be 56...... This allows sound within the hall to be independent of audience size.. 35-36 (wrong) 5. Conclusion During the duration of the project.........500 square feet split into three levels.. and can be lowered to create this effect..200........500 square feet... We have also designed the hall so that the depth under the balcony does not exceed the height of the opening beneath the balcony........... we have designed a rectangular hall made of plaster..1 Experiment set-up ..500......... Design Considerations The intensity of the direct sound should not be too weak.... Retractable banners will be built into the ceiling... we accomplished our goal of designing a Performing Arts Center for the CSU campus that would blend well with the rest of the campus.....g.......... The total area of the complex is 56. Cloth seats will be used as they best assimilate an occupied audience area (Beranek 1962 ). The basement and ground floors consist of 20........500 square feet apiece......... In order to achieve the best acoustical results in the main performance hall.. pages: e. we discuss the materials to be used. Table of Contents Table of Contents is a list of the main sections/headings of the report and the page number on which they first appear.... This problem will be dealt with by limiting the length of the room..........

appealing format. If you use tables or figures in your report. Typically. (See page 22 for details) Each list identifies its components by number. you can shorten a figure or table's title when you create these lists. title. you need to present both of these in an organized. immediately after your Table of Contents page. Example List of Figures Example List of Tables 25 .25 placed at the end of the report in their own section (not the same as an Appendix) Sample Table of Contents List of Figures and List of Tables List of Figures & List of Tables Like the Table of Contents. Do not list any tables or figures that appear in the appendices. you must list them in the preliminary pages of your report. and page number.

makes recommendations. demonstrate how results were obtained. you must credit these sources within your text.26 Example List of Figures Example List of Figures Report Body In a technical report. if appropriate. you should include text (both your own and research from other sources). and lists. draws conclusions. context for the report. Defines the scientific purpose or objective for the experiment. graphics. and. Check with your instructor to know which reference style to use. detail methods and procedures used to generate the report. Therefore. describes the results. Introduction This section provides a context for the work discussed in the report. Throughout the body. Whenever you cite information or use graphics from another source. 26 . it: Defines the experiment/work performed. the body typically presents an Introduction.

They should be discussed in context with the prior work reported in the introduction. and the discussion section explains why it happened. describe the experimental methods. The outcomes of the experiments are reported in this section. the results are analyzed and interpreted. and statistical methods used to analyze the precision or experimental errors. The discussion section of a report is where you explain the results to the reader and present closing arguments for your thesis. for example. It is the final outcome of. and the comparison of the results with the work of others. Discussion The section on results describes what happened. the investigation. the analysis of results. Sometimes results and discussion are combined into a single section. Experimental procedures. but this practice can lead to ambiguity.27 Includes a description of the problem and reasons for the work being done. for example. Summary/Conclusions A conclusion is a judgment based on results of a body of work. A summary or statement of conclusions should always be included at the end of the report to provide closure. as follows: participants. measures (or materials used in the study) and procedures. You describe the reasons why you think the results happened as they did. The order of presentation need not always correspond to the chronological order of the tasks. The results should be arranged in a logical sequence appropriate to the experiment and should include pertinent figures and tabulated data. In other words. including the materials used and specific procedures followed. Must answer the questions: Why was this study performed? What is the specific purpose of the study? Methods/Procedures Most method sections are usually subdivided (with subheadings) into three sections. Gives sufficient background information to the report. The description of the experimental procedure should allow the reader to evaluate and reproduce the experiment. the results obtained in the investigation. Results Results are tabulations of facts. Often a busy reader will 27 . It should be made clear what is new and what is from previous work.

28 . It is important to not present a result as a conclusion. the technical person. and now are writing the report. and they often are the final product of a study in formal reports. Must explain the implications for your particular field of study. The conclusion section usually needs no transition.28 turn to this section before deciding whether to read the paper. or disproved. A conclusion from the survey simply could be that most people prefer red over gray. business. Recommendations come at the end of reports. The analysis and discussion section explains why you think the color red had the higher percentage in the preference survey. you received funding. This section should briefly summarize the significant results of the experiment. Recommendations are normally written in the imperative mode: Recommendation Reduce production rate 50 percent. and it is put in the results section. proposed a study (with a proposal report). and so forth. If a survey conducted on preference between the colors red and gray yields a result that 75 out of 100 prefer red and 25 out of 100 prefer gray. did the work. Must explain why the experiment is significant. You. Studies or investigations are done because there may be insufficient information available on which to base a decision. discovered. The report should close with a statement to the funding organization on a course of action. this is the result of the study. It is the logical closure for reports with the purpose of analyzing a process. The conclusion: Must answer any questions raised in the introduction regarding what was shown. It can be introduced with a statement as simple as: Simple Lead-In Based on the laboratory tests and the corroborating field trials. Should not include discussion of new information not already mentioned in the report. the following conclusions are made: Recommendations A recommendation is a statement suggesting a particular course of action. material. Management people want the technical people to tell them what to do. proved. verified.

Such a facility will lead to the improvement of the performing arts programs on campus.N.. These changes at the university will result in a heightened cultural awareness in the community. A new facility will bring community and university events together and will allow a greater variety of outside events to be brought to Fort Collins. community events are held at the Lincoln Center. but will also continue the growth of these programs. and utilities. making CSU a leader in the education of the performing arts. while hiring other firms to handle the parking. The location of this complex on campus will bring a greater number of students to these events due to the elimination of transportation problems.. The amount of space that is available to these students is inadequate for their performances. and M. K. and dance programs at the university. location. and an efficient use of space.B. L. We are planning for the construction of this complex to begin within the next few years. MASK Engineering has focused on the structural and acoustical aspects of the CSU Performing Arts Center. A cable-stayed support system has been chosen. mechanical and electrical operation. and a floor plan has been drawn up that will produce the best acoustical results. while CSU sponsored events are held at the Lory Student Center theater.29 Body: Sample Report Introduction The purpose of designing a performing arts center on the CSU campus is to provide adequate capacity and higher quality of sound and aesthetics as compared to the existing structures in the region. theater. cost effectiveness.1: Map of campus circled area represents site where Green Hall currently stands 29 . while S. Factors that MASK Engineering considered included accessibility. eventually increasing enrollment in these disciplines. Currently. The construction of this complex will not only provide them with the space they need. It will directly affect the students and professors in the music. handled the acoustical aspects of the complex. Figure 2. There are approximately 230 students in the performing arts programs at CSU right now. Our intent was to preserve the open space of the CSU campus and to design the complex in such a manner that it will blend well with its surrounding environment. concentrated on the structural plans.C. We at MASK Engineering believe that this project will greatly benefit both the CSU campus and the surrounding Fort Collins community. A.

German engineers established the design of cable-stayed bridges in the 1950's and 1960's. The original use of cable-stayed technology was seen in bridges. we have decided to begin construction early in the summer. Cable-stayed Technology A cable-stayed support system was chosen for the design of the CSU Performing Arts Center. This area was chosen primarily for its location on the CSU campus and its proximity to the downtown area. Green Hall is a condemned building and is not currently used for anything beyond university storage. Our firm believes that this space would be better used as a home for the performing arts than as the site of a crumbling warehouse. but this department could easily move back to its old location at Aylesworth Hall. Another reason was to give patrons an unobstructed view of events by eliminating the need for columns. using cables to support the roof.30 Location The site chosen for the Colorado State University Performing Arts Center is the plot of land upon which Green Hall now stands (Figure 1). Due to the close proximity of Green Hall to Allison Hall and Parmelee Hall. This will allow us a good start on the project while students are not living in the nearby residence halls.. We have considered possible disturbances that the construction of the performing arts center on this plot might cause. after classes have ended. which is located near the Morgan Library construction site. Green Hall will be torn down first. Each tower is buttressed by two sets of 30 . MASK Engineering believes that this will be the case for the residents in Allison and Parmelee when they return in the fall as the performing arts center is finished. residents do not have a problem with noise and there have been no complaints of disturbances. One reason for choosing this system was to allow for a more compact facility because the space available on campus was limited. and construction of the performing arts center will begin immediately. According to the front desk at Braiden Hall. Some office space has been granted to the branch of the CSUPD dealing with parking violations. This technology was eventually adapted to buildings.

the ideal reverberation time is approximately two seconds. An example of a cablestayed building is the Alamodome. Without a roof load to support. to the towers. The other extreme is a time that is too long. Any times approaching 1. the load of the roof is directed through the cables. warm sound. Retractable banners will be built into the ceiling. This causes the music to lose its clarity. Our model is based on this design. It shows that materials such as heavy curtains or thick carpet absorb are the ideal choice for decreasing the intensity of higher frequencies. For orchestral or band music. then the sound will become brittle (Beranek 1962 1).1 gives the absorption coefficients of different frequencies for common surfaces. Sound quality is also greatly determined by the warmth of the sound. If the middle frequencies of a sound have longer reverberation times than the low tones. as independent of audience size as possible. It also eliminates any tension and/or compression force (Figures 3. Figure 3. Cloth 31 . transferring the load into the ground. dead sound ( Beranek 1962 ). The walls do not support the roof as they normally would. Texas (Figure 3. A hall's reverberation time can be affected by such things as the volume of the room or the number of people in the audience. Materials Table 4.31 cables. The concept behind cable-stayed technology is to have the supporting reactions to the load directed in only vertical directions as opposed to vertical and horizontal.3). columns are not needed in the complex and the space can be used in more ways.2). is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). only the cables are used to hold up the roof. an excessive loudness. This leads to the production of a more full. For a building. and can be lowered to create this effect.6 seconds will lead toward a dry.3 Main Hall Acoustics Background One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality. a multipurpose stadium in San Antonio. and down to the ground. Warmth is determined by the fullness of the bass tones.1 and 3. In the construction of the main hall for the CSU Performing Arts Center a balance will be determined that will create a reverberation time of two seconds. and the blending of incompatible chords ( Beranek 1962 ).

The top floor of the CSU Performing Arts Center (Figure 5.500. large graphics. When making decisions about what to place in 32 . The basement and ground floors consist of 20. Another problem arises with the seats placed under a balcony.200. Sufficient office space is included adjacent to the center's box office. Always check with your instructor to determine which reference style to use.500 square feet apiece. Design considerations The intensity of the direct sound should not be too weak. and by designing the surfaces above and around the stage to project the sound evenly throughout the concert hall.500 square feet. maps. ventilating. the depth under the balcony should not exceed the height of the opening beneath the balcony. but at the same time. The second floor has a square footage of 15. see page 59-) Appendices: Appendices include information that is too large to fit within your report. or sample codes are best placed in Appendices. For example. The main hall is 5. A recording studio is also located on this floor as an added bonus. you must credit the source in your References. (For more information. An elevator is provided for travel between the first and second floors.around balcony overlooking the main lobby as well as a balcony for the main performance hall. The mechanical room for the building will be in the basement.32 seats will be used as they best assimilate an occupied audience area ( Beranek 1962 ). References: Whenever you cite information (this includes graphics) from another source. The low sound absorbance of plaster also makes it ideal for the creation of the desired reverberation time of two seconds. it must not become uncomfortably loud. and air conditioning equipment as well as the mechanics for the elevator. The building's main floor (Figure 5.3 ) includes a walk.000 square feet and has a seating capacity of 1. This allows sound within the hall to be independent of audience size. housing such devices as the heating. A large classroom is provided for dance classes as well as rehearsals. yet information necessary to your report. computer print-outs.1 ) includes two main dressing rooms with shower facilities as well as four private dressing rooms with individual restrooms for guest performers. A coffee shop and art lounge have been included in this plan for the enjoyment and convenience of the patrons. To prevent a muddiness within the sound. The basement level of this center (Figure 5. A spacious performers' lounge has also been added in to the basement to provide a relaxing environment for the center's performers. The total area of the complex is 56.2 ) includes the main performance hall as well as a small rehearsal hall. Floor Plans The Colorado State University Performing Arts Center consists of three levels. This problem will be dealt with by limiting the length of the room.

six pages of calculations would obviously cause readers to lose their train of thought. List of Illustrations/Diagrams Diagrams are an essential part of many technical reports. and then. If it contains only tables. Positioning: Diagrams/illustrations must be presented when and where the user needs them. The term illustrations include tables and figures (graphs. etc). For instance. Tables: These are the most common form of diagram in technical reports. If both of them are brief. Overall trends. are more easily conveyed in graphs and other visuals. list all the figures first. title and page of each illustration. as always. into parallel rows and columns that allow readers to make precise comparisons. Appendices always appear at the end of a report.the numbers. Purpose: To list . All graphs must be clearly labelled. It is. or any other non-verbal illustrative material. List the number.separate from the Table of Contents . Graphs/Graphics: Graphs are used either to show trends or to give accurate technical information. put them on the same page with the Table of Contents first. Place the List of Illustrations immediately after the Table of Contents. the need of the reader which is all-important. titles and corresponding page numbers of all your tables and figures. such as statistics. If you are using List of Illustrations. and scales identified. Probably the most useful method of numbering is to use first the number of the report section in which the diagram appears. Tables can give a great deal of accurate information if they are effectively presented.33 an Appendix. line drawings. maps. if only figures. How to write it Use the title List of Illustrations if your document contains both tables and figures. however. call it List of Tables. after a decimal point. Diagram references: Diagrams of all types must be numbered and clearly referenced in the text. They also provide 33 . A table organizes data. and then list all the tables. the sequential number. consider whether or not the material interrupts the reading flow. in some circumstances giving a great deal of information more easily than continuous prose could do. List of Figures. photographs.

formulae and chemical abbreviations are used in this work. Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations (or List of Symbols. and this is dangerous. Space: Sometimes diagrams outgrow their pages. it may be appropriate to state: S. to define them would look silly. Make sure. graphics are useful when concepts.g. or processes are too complex or cumbersome to describe in written or oral form. figure number and title. and to allow for the binding of the document.Greek or other symbols . though. designs. How to write it Decide the terms that need definition. or at the end.specific technical terms . Margins must be sufficient on all sides to allow for clarity. Where to put it The Glossary of Terms can be placed either at the beginning of the document immediately after the Table of Contents or the List of Illustrations (this is the optimal position for the reader).your referees will appreciate a list of clearly defined terms. Remember that a term self-evident to you may not be as generally well known as you think. that you don't include terms that are generally very well known. In general. Terms that need to be dealt with include: . and to carry as appropriate the page number. e. graphics are designed to make it easier for readers to understand your report. when dealing with only mathematical symbols) Purpose: To define the specialist terms. Other abbreviations are listed below. symbols and abbreviations (including acronyms) that you use in the main text of the document. immediately before the Appendices. PLC: programmable logic controller. (Systeme International d'Unit~s) abbreviations for units and standard notations for chemical elements. PCR: polymerase chain reaction. Even when you are writing a specialist document that will be read only by experts – such as a thesis . Before you list the terms and abbreviations. These are often in the form of the initial letters in capitals of a series of words.34 illustrated information to readers. Often. 34 .I.abbreviations (usually called acronyms).

3 Collecting existing knowledge on the subject. 4 Systematically organising the literature. The literature review serves two purposes. Suggested wording: Explanations of terms and abbreviations used in this document are given of Terms and Abbreviations. 2 Understanding how the library works. It is descriptive in that it describes the work of previous writers and it is analytical in that it critically analyses the contribution of others with the view of identifying similarities and contradictions made by previous writers. • integrate and synthesize work from different research areas. It can be both descriptive and analytical. it is normal practice to begin with a literature review. . research design.1 Rationale for undertaking a literature review In order to be able to make an original contribution to knowledge in your research area. • review the work done in a specific time period – for example ‗The annual review of . First. the literature review should demonstrate that you have a comprehensive grasp of existing knowledge. it seeks systematic reading of previously published and unpublished information relating to your area of investigation. referring them to the page number of the glossary. 3 Appraising and writing up the literature review. There are five main activities involved in undertaking a literature review: 1 Knowing the sources of information. and how they are tackled depends upon their purpose. namely. The gathered information will develop issues and themes and should drive you to the next important stage. reading and note-taking.3 Literature reviews/Survey of Related Literature The literature review involves reading and appraising what other people have written about your subject area. • plot the development of a line of reasoning. The aims of these reviews can vary.‘. 2.35 If the glossary is large and you feel that it needs to be at the end of the document. however. Second. the literature review will help you to improve your research. Literature reviews can: • show the history of a field. Whether it be a thesis or a paper. 2. readers would appreciate a note placed immediately before the Introduction. 35 .3 . . page x.

management. and the like merit the same level of trust as the printed versions. engineering. Typically. including databases and indexes of articles as well as books and reference works • Printed and electronic sources in the workplace. and discussion groups • Library resources. it is sometimes difficult to determine authorship of a document. passing it off as your work. researchers start by following up the references provided in several key papers and then proceed to the Internet. The accumulating information (it never ceases) can be filed – electronically or in paper-based folders.3 . evaluate the major works/findings. • reveal inadequacies in the literature and point to where further research needs to be done. bailing to reference it. The Internet versions of established. including Web sites. to show how you will draw upon or depart from the literature in your research. and frequently a person‘s qualifications for speaking on a topic are absent or questionable. be especially concerned about the validity of the information provided.1 Honesty & Plagiarism Plagiarism is using the work of others and. in my experience.36 • evaluate the current state of evidence for a particular viewpoint. numerous sources of information are available to you.4 Referencing 2. For Internet sources. including the following: • Your own knowledge and that of your colleagues • The knowledge of people outside your workplace. reports. such as various correspondence. 36 .2 Sources of Information for Review Literature. 2. archives. directories. gathered through interviewing for information • Internet sources. 2. computer software.3 . and Web intranet documents 2. reputable journals in medicine. As you conduct research. and connect them to your own work. When you review.4. it is also helpful at this stage to email or write to the authors of original papers to obtain copies of the materials used in experimental studies for. These different purposes define and control how and where writers search for the relevant information to review.3 Evaluating Sources The easiest way to ensure that information is valid is to obtain it from a reputable source. the brief descriptions of such materials in journal articles do not do them justice. Because anyone can publish on the Web. If it is appropriate.

images. Furthermore. Common knowledge in the field is generally fine. etc. involve building upon the research of others. and avoid accusations of plagiarism. 2. WHEN TO USE AN IN TEXT CITATION: Most of your introduction. (no copying from other sources) Plagiarism could END your academic or professional career in some circumstances. The names and details of the author(s) work you have used MUST be included in your writing AND in your references section. It is always best to over cite. hence there is NO LENIANCY To avoid plagiarism you must comply with the following: 1. too. you must maintain the highest moral and ethical standards –breach of this trust may place public lives in jeopardy. which are able to check. in seconds.2 Honesty: Acknowledging Source In-text Citations: Any information you derive from an external source of information-quotes.should be cited within the text of your paper. If you copy material exactly. Common knowledge does not need to be referenced. or parenthetical references. data. and much of your discussion. not just on your List of References (Works Cited) page. if your work is original or not. placing your research project in the context of previous findings in the field. so you do not need to reference that if it from your own head. For example. statistics. Copying the work of other students is also plagiarism although this is often referred to as collusion. a psychologist will be aware of Pavlovian conditioning. there are some extremely good plagiarism checkers available on the internet. enclose it in quotation marks or indent it and reference it in your text. 2. These are called in-text citations. General knowledge. A biochemist will be aware of how ethanol is made. and you can assume that any reader is fairly knowledgeable about the field. such as ‗Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA.. but there are a few times that citation is not necessary. Your supervisor or lecturer will be familiar with publications relating to specific areas of engineering and will be likely to recognize any plagiarized writing. If you summarize or paraphrase material you must still reference the source in your text. 37 .4.37 Don’t plagiarize under ANY circumstances. As ENGINEERS. although you should err on the side of caution.‘ will not need referencing. paraphrases.

If you incorporate the author's name into your text. For example: According to Krushke. from a textbook or journal. or (2) at the end of the sentence or paragraph. Citing multi-volume works: citing a single volume of a multi-volume work. 17) If there are more than two authors listed.38 If you use class notes.‘ afterwards. For multiple authors. separate the volume number from the page number by a colon and a space. some lecturers are not too worried about citations. include the author's last name before the page number: An assault weapon can be defined as "any weapon used in an assault on another individual" (Krushke 375).) If there are six or more authors. (Sargeant et al. you can use the If the context does not identify the author. the author/page number. ―(Moulton 4: 27). The MLA style in text citation has two variations. it is usual to mention them all the first time. although it is usually good practice to find a source saying the same information. but to use ‗et al. MLA STYLE IN-TEXT CITATIONS: In this version. although the modern trend is for author/year/page number. 2008). the authors’ surnames (with or without the dates) appear in the text. The following examples adhere to MLA standards: (1) the author's name incorporated into the text with the page number in parenthesis at the end of the statement. give only the page number in parentheses. For example. then the usual standard is to mention both (Sargeant & McEvoy. For example: abbreviation straightaway. an assault weapon can be defined as "any weapon used in an assault on another individual" (375)." 38 . such as: (Sargeant 2008.

and variations of the author/date style are used by many scientific disciplines. you should cite material from the original source. If you use one style all of the way through. as the ‘name (date)’ system . If you cannot obtain this source. 2006). such as an author's reference to an unpublished document or a statement made in an interview. sometimes the only available source is an indirect one. It is used in most social and psychological papers. Check with your supervisor which exact technique you should be using. and be consistent." Citing works by a corporate author: If the author is a company. you include the surname of the author and the date of writing. This is because an author’s surname in the text is followed by the date of the publication in brackets. 2008) or put the abbreviation "qtd. in" (quoted in) before your citation. an organization. after every paraphrase. in Jacobs 105). it is called a corporate author. (Sorgheloos. For example. "David Hemenway. use the title or a shortened version of the title in your parenthetical reference. For example. This will allow any readers to find your work in the reference list and check the original source for themselves. However. 39 . For example. as cited in Sargeant. but mixing the styles makes things unclear to the reader and may well be punished by your supervisor. then you need to use a two-stage referencing system. You can cite corporate authors in parentheses along with the page numbers. "(Center to Prevent Handgun Violence 46). there should be no problem.39 Citing works listed by title: When there is no author. APA STYLE IN TEXT CITATIONS This system is also known as the Harvard or. more colloquially. -Technology has the potential to produce a transformational impact on human life that will enable the human brain to reach beyond its current limitations (Kurzweil. For this style. for example." HOW TO FORMAT AN IN TEXT CITATION There are a number of ways in which you can reference the source. For example. or other group. 1967." Citing indirect sources: If at all possible. director of the Harvard School of Public Health. believes that keeping a gun loaded and unlocked at home is a 'potentially dangerous practice' (qtd. "(Gun Control 68).

-When APA parenthetical citations are needed midsentence. In this case. For example. In short. for the National Health Service. place it after the final punctuation mark. (Sargeant 2008. 17) When there is no author mentioned. (not italicized and with a period after al. 2006. that human life will be irreversibly transformed‖ (p.).40 -According to Kurzweil (2006). which appear within the text (a citation number in a square bracket). ―the Singularity‖ (Kurzweil. For subsequent citations and for works with more than six authors. Townsend. if possible. 2007). we will witness a ―pace of technological change that will be so rapid. or WHO. -If the APA parenthetical citation follows a block quotation. 7). then you can use an alphabetical appendix: (Sargeant. include only the last name of the first author followed by et al. for the World Health Organization. p. . you use the name of the organization or a recognized abbreviation. cite both names joined by an ampersand: (Hinduja & Nguyen. (Jackson. . 9) is a blending of human biology and technology that will help us develop beyond our human limitations. 2008a) Some departments prefer it if you also use page numbers. 40 . list the citations alphabetically and use semicolons to separate them: (Hinduja & Nguyen. For example. and the source was written by an organization. and a reference list at the end of the text (which provides full details of all references cited in-text). When two or more works by different authors are cited in the same parentheses. -If the author has written more than one paper in the same year. 2008). For the first citation of a work with three to six authors. a close collaboration with the nursing staff and the hospital bed safety committee is essential. NHS. . include all names. The Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) in-text citation The IEEE Style is a number style with two key components: In-text citations. its impact so deep. 2008) -When a work has two authors. 2008. place them after the closing quotation marks and continue with the rest of the sentence.

" "The theory was first put forward in 1987 [1]. The title of an article (or chapter.. etc." 41 . This differs from other styles where author's last name is first." "Several recent studies [3.41 The citations in the reference list are numbered and appear in the same order that they appear in the text. Here are some examples of this kind of referencing: ".. with a space before the bracket. Each reference number should be enclosed in square brackets on the same line as the text.) is in quotation marks. [1] or [26]. before any punctuation. 2. The author name is first name (or initial) and last.end of the line for my research [13]. The title of the book or journal is in italics.. The IEEE citation style has 3 main features: 1. When referring to a reference in the text of the document. Citation within the text Please note the following when you refer to references within the text: A number enclosed in square brackets. 3. Once a source has been cited. No distinction is made between print and electronic references when citing within the text. 4. the same number is used in all subsequent references. patent. see [7].. indicates the relevant reference. put the number of the reference in square brackets. Citations are numbered in the order in which they appear in the text and each citation corresponds to a numbered reference containing publication information about the source cited in the reference list at the end of the publication. eg. essay or assignment.g. e. conference paper. 15.: [1]." "For an example. placed in the text of the essay. 16] have suggested that.

The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. as with the ISCME (International Steering Committee of Medical Editors) system. N.1 According to the 2004-05 National Health Survey. 42 --- . obesity and physical inactivity play a role in the onset of Type 2 diabetes. more than half a million Australians (3. Entries in the reference list are listed alphabetically. and the numbers are enclosed in square brackets.. starting with the name and the initials of the author(s) followed by the date of publication for each entry. A superscript number is inserted in your text at the point where you refer to (cite) your source of information. For example: PRINTED BOOKS Single Author Taleb. New York. Look at this example: An unhealthy diet. Haenfler. Gabriola Island. Multiple Authors Jones. NY: Random House. rising steadily between 2000-01 and 2005-06.42 The Vancouver style: The in-text citation Here.² and participation in regular physical activity is one of the major recommendation of the evidence based guidelines for the primary prevention of diseases. A consecutive number is allocated to each source as it is referred to for the first time. E. R. Better world handbook: Small changes that make a big difference. & Johnson.4 Reference/Bibliographic Citations Many different styles of referencing have developed over the years. the authors are numbered in the text in order of their appearance.1but it has been shown that increased physical activity substantially reduces the risk. Currently there are four main styles of referencing as follows: 1 The APA style..5% of the population) have diabetes mellitus which had been medically diagnosed and most of these people have the Type 2 condition. Canada: New Society. British Columbia. N. (2007). (2007).³ Gestational diabetes is also on the increase. B.

Michael (Ed. and an address (URL) that links directly to the document or section. (2007). Edition Other Than First Kouzes. such as a journal article. Dates of the publications are given after journal titles. 43 . 1993. etc. (2007). the date of publication or update (use ―(n. NY:Wiley.. such as on a Web site. For example: Sharples.) Online Book-Use this form for books made available online or for e-books.. (2006. M. Basic economics: A common sense guide to the economy (3rd ed. Redmond. 77.webmonkey. perceived corporate social responsibility and job satisfaction.org/wgbh/amex/pipeline/timeline/index The Modern Languages Association (MLA) style. April 4).)‖ if no date is available). The first author’s surname comes first in the reference list.43 Corporate Author Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from http://www. Retrieved from http://www. J. (2006. Retrieved from http://books. A. Journal Article Valentine.Windows Vista: The new experience. Cookies make the Web go ’round. Ethics programs. B. Journal of Business Ethics. T. 159–172. (2007). with an Author DuVander. & Posner. Z. & Fleischman. The list is ordered alphabetically. the title. a reference to a Web site should provide an author (whenever possible).). but first names then come first for any additional authors. S.). June 29). at minimum. Sowell. ELECTRONIC SOURCES: Entire Web Site The APA recommends that. (2008).com/webmonkey/06/26/index3a. or at the end of the references for books. Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. If the content could change or be deleted. London: Springer-Verlag.pbs. The leadership challenge (4th ed. with an Unknown Author Timeline: Alaska pipeline chronology. (The retrieval date is not necessary for content with a fixed publication date. include the retrieval date also. G.).google. This is followed by his or her first name. A: Microsoft Press.html Short Work from a Web Site. New York.com/ Short Work from a Web Site.d.

L. B.’ in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. pp. or at the ends of the references for books etc. Collaborative Writing: An Annotated Bibliography. Heaton. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. An alternative version is to list (and number) the authors alphabetically in the reference list. 102–23. followed by surnames. Johnson. Boulton-Lewis. C. and the use of abbreviated journal titles. Ed. Westport. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. Names are presented with the initial(s) first. Catherine Dice. The reference list is numbered sequentially. Sharples. M. 1998. vol. Tang. For example: [1] M.. [4] B. P. Dice and L. Catherine. ‘Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results?’ Learning and Instruction. and to assign these numbers to the authors in the text as appropriate. Computer supported collaborative writing. 1993. Dart and G. 44 Springer- . Zammuner. or at the end of the references for book. Tang. Again the dates of publications are given after journal titles. 101–24. 5.44 Speck. Eds. Speck. followed by their initials. etc. Johnson. 1999. Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. London: Verlag. 103–23. [3] C. and Leon B. R. The key feature of the Vancouver style is its ‘spare’ typography and punctuation. T. editor. no. ‘Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results?’ Learning and Instruction 5 (1995) 101–24. ‘Effects of collaborative learning on the quality of assignments. Pp. London: Springer-Verlag. Dates of the publications are given after journal titles.The reference list is then numbered sequentially. Heaton. For example: 1 Sharples M. Victoria L. W. Barry Dart and Gillian Boulton-Lewis. The Vancouver style.2. 1993. ‘Effects of collaborative learning on the quality of assignments. [2] V. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. 3 IEEE Reference List style. Journal titles are sometimes abbreviated. Eds. Bruce W. Teresa R. 1998. B. but the authors are listed surnames first. Collaborative Writing:An Annotated Bibliography. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Westport.. pp. Zammuner.’ Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 1995. 1999.

they are often referred to as recommendation reports. and they often involve more than one writer. in the order they typically appear. I. 2. body. purchasing equipment. The number and arrangement of the elements may vary depending on the subject. 5 (Pt 2): 101–24. Johnson TR. use the format recommended in this entry. 1999. 4 Speck BWM. A feasibility report presents evidence about the practicality of a proposed project based on specific criteria. Most formal reports are divided into three primary parts—front matter. the length of the report. In the condensed feasibility report shown in Figure F–1. and the kinds of material covered. or moving operations—they first try to determine the project‘s chances for success.45 Zammuner VL. many organizations have a preferred style for formal reports and furnish guidelines for report writers to follow. When feasibility reports stress specific steps that should be taken as a result of a study of a problem or an issue. The following list includes most of the elements a formal report might contain. 45 .2. a consultant conducts a study to determine how to upgrade a company‘s computer system and Internet capability.2 Formal Reports types Formal reports are usually written accounts of major projects that require substantial research. CT: Greenwood Press. Further. expanding a customer base. Heaton LB. Collaborative writing: an annotated bibliography. It answers such questions as the following: • • • Is new construction or development necessary? Is sufficient staff available? What are the costs? Is funding available? What are the legal ramifications? Based on the findings of this analysis. and back matter—each of which contains a number of elements. Westport. Dice CP. Feasibility Reports When organizations consider a new project—developing a new product or service. If you are not required to follow a specific style. Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results? Learn Instruction 1995. the report offers logical conclusions and recommends whether the project should be carried out.

000 updates per day).000 The installation and operation of another Aurora processor are expected to produce savings in system reliability and readiness. such as ―The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of expanding our Pacific Rim operations. • • • Annual maintenance costs $35. Total annual operating costs $117. . Annual costs for computer specialist 75.200 more in first-year costs.] Conclusion A comparison of costs for both systems indicates that the Icardo 60 would cost $2. . Additional Aurora Processor Purchasing a second Aurora processor would require increased annual maintenance costs.46 Before beginning to write a feasibility report. . and a one-time construction cost for necessary remodeling and installing Internet connections. in fact.500 . Downtime recovery averages 30 minutes and affects 40 users. . . the volume of processing transactions has increased fivefold (from 1. . Since then. Annual increased energy costs 7. . increased energy costs.000 Total first-year costs $167. and (2) purchase of an Icardo 60 with expandable peripherals to replace the Aurora processor currently in operation. We have investigated two alternative solutions to provide increased processing capacity: (1) purchase of an additional Aurora processor to supplement the one in operation.000 Construction cost (one-time) 50.‖ to guide you or a collaborative team Sample Feasibility Report Introduction The purpose of this report is to determine which of two proposed options would best enable Darnell Business Forms Corporation to upgrade its file servers and its Internet capacity to meet its increasing data and communication needs. 46 . . [The feasibility report would also discuss the second option— purchase of the Icardo 60 and its long-term savings. . Background. In October 2008. . An additional Aurora would reduce current downtime periods from four to two per week. System Reliability. Then write a purpose statement.000 to 5. . salary for a second computer specialist.500 .500 . the Information Development Group put the MACRON System into operation. This increase has severely impaired system response time. analyze the needs of the audience as well as the context and purpose of the study. Scope. . average response time has increased from 10 seconds to 120 seconds.

The introduction states the purpose of the report. a conclusion. Feasibility Report Sections Every feasibility report should contain an introduction.300 $84. 47 . and any limitations of the study.500 First-year total $106.300 $108. develop a new product. describes the circumstances that led to the report. II. and other relevant requirements. a body. and includes any pertinent background information. and a recommendation. Examine each option according to specific criteria.47 Aurora Icardo 60 Net additional operating costs $56. The body of the report presents a detailed review of the alternatives for achieving the goals of the project. availability of staff.000 One-time construction costs 50. such as cost and financing. It may also discuss the scope of the report. Recommendation. any procedures or methods used in the analysis of alternatives.000 24. The recommendation section clearly presents the writer‘s (or team‘s) opinion on which alternative best meets the criteria as summarized in the conclusion. It makes recommendations on such subjects as whether to fund a research program. ----Recommendation The Icardo 60 processor should be purchased because of the long-term savings and because its additional capacity and flexibility will allow for greater expansion in the future. identifying the subsections with headings to guide readers. Recommendation Report Recommendation report is report submitted to management as the basis for decisions or actions. lunch a project. buy a piece of capital equipment. Conclusion. The conclusion interprets the available options and leads to one option as the best or most feasible. Body. or acquire a company or technology.500 Installation of an additional Aurora processor would permit the present information-processing systems to operate relatively smoothly and efficiently. Introduction.

List of References Appendices III. Or instead. together with appropriate background material. supported by a reasoned argument. uses section called Conclusions and Recommendations and place it at the end of the report (see below).48 Purpose: To make a recommendation or a series of recommendations. How to write it • A recommendation report is focused towards the future: it should show the ability to objectively assess a set of conditions. place it here at the end of the report and omit the Recommendations section after the Abstract. either before the Introduction/Background or as sections of it: Purpose Statement Scope (or Scoping) Statement Procedure statement Problem statement Introduction or Background Subheadings appropriate to the topic. They are used mainly for projects that involve many steps 48 . and covering the methods and results. Recommendations: List your recommendations. Possible structure of a recommendation report Title Page Executive Summary or Summary or Abstract: Summarize the background material and your investigation. • No recommendation should come out of the blue: your report should contain adequate supporting information for each recommendation. facts and data. Table of Contents List of Illustrations (if needed) The following four sections may be effective in a RECOMMENDATION REPORT. In this case. Conclusions: You may be required to write a section called Conclusions and Recommendations. Progress report A progress report provides information to decision-makers about the status of a project—whether it is on schedule and within budget. and to recommend actions to be taken. But this doesn't mean you can go into wild flights of fancy. • Recommendations are your subjective opinions about the required course of action.

000 (including some subcontracted plumbing). The body of the progress report should describe the project‘s status. NH 03103 Dear Mr. necessary materials. The introduction to the first progress report should identify the project. Costs Materials used to date have cost $78. and labor costs have been $193. 2012 Walter M. including details such as schedules and costs. TX 79409 5327 August 14. materials. Hobard Construction Company 9032 Salem Avenue www.600. methods used. 49 (808) 769-0832 Fax: (808) 769- . and completion date.hobardcc.com Lubbock. expenditures. Although the cost of certain materials is higher than our original bid indicated. Our estimate for the remainder of the materials is $59.49 over a period of time and are issued at regular intervals to describe what has been done and what remains to be done. remaining labor costs should not exceed $64. and other information important to the project. Wazuski County Administrator 109 Grand Avenue Manchester.000. a statement of the work completed. Subsequent reports summarize the progress achieved since the preceding report and list the steps that remain to be taken. Wazuski: Subject: Progress Report 8 for July 1–July 29. and perhaps an estimate of future progress. The report ends with conclusions and recommendations about changes in the schedule. we expect to complete the project without exceeding the estimated costs because the speed with which the project is being completed will reduce overall labor expenses.000. techniques. 2012 The renovation of the County Courthouse is progressing on schedule and within budget. All progress reports for a particular project should have the same format.

and the replacement of the air-conditioning units are in the preliminary stages. together with a brief description of the methods you will use. 6 If needed. Initial report at the start of the activity This is likely to be similar to a project proposal. Work Scheduled We have scheduled the upgrading of the courtroom to take place from August 31 to October 7. in which you describe how you will approach the task. The upgrading of the courtroom. it will involve intelligent and informed guesswork. the upgrading of the records-storage room from October 12 to November 18. Use the principles given in 1. the level-one service outlets. and the replacement of the air-conditioning units from November 23 to December 16. Sincerely yours. the upgrading of the records-storage room. Schedule of Tasks.com A project team's progress reports Purpose: To report at intervals on the progress of a management project undertaken by several individuals. we had finished the installation of the circuit-breaker panels and meters. Possible structures for a series of progress reports 1. 7 Allocation of responsibilities individuals in the team 50 .50 Work Completed As of July 29. Executive Summary 2 Objectives 3 Initial analysis of the problem 4 A preliminary literature survey 5 A clear statement of how you propose to tackle the first stages of the project. We see no difficulty in having the job finished by the scheduled date of December 23. As with any plan. and all the subfloor wiring. Tran Nuguélen Tran Nuguélen ntran@hobardcc.

use the principles given in this section for 'A progress report to the funding body or organization'. and any recommendations.51 2 Intermediate reports For intermediate progress reports. usually to your boss or a colleague. the problems encountered. you should present the results of the laboratory investigation clearly and precisely. General characteristics of design documentation 1 The report should be self-contained. except for references to other specific documents {contracts. V. If appropriate. It should concentrate on the results. use the principles given above for A progress report to the funding body or organization. page 10-11. Engineering Design Report Purpose: design reports are used to communicate your solution of a design problem. a description and possibly a peer review of the tasks undertaken by the various individuals. A Laboratory Report A laboratory report communicates information acquired from laboratory testing or a major investigation. and also take the following into consideration: This report will probably need to be longer than the preceding reports. IV. integrate them into your report as described in the entry visuals. a description of how the work you have done could be further developed in the future. 3 The final report Again. textbooks. 51 . Although this emphasis often requires the use of the passive voice. it should also list the equipment and methods used during the test. drawings. standards etc. Readership: The report should be written for another person of equal or greater competence than yourself.). page 10/11. It should begin by stating the reason that a laboratory investigation was conducted. conclusions and recommendations. If your report requires graphs or tables. A laboratory report emphasizes the equipment and procedures used in the investigation because those two factors can be critical in determining the accuracy of the data and even replicating the procedure if necessary. It will need to tie up the whole body of work into a logical story. the results and conclusions reached. If required.

you need to decide the relative importance of the criteria to be used in making your decision. How did you model the problem? Outline very briefly the factors influencing how you went about your design: The analysis that was needed. 2. write up the first two before you start the design. You need to explain this in a subsequent section. To make sure you don't solve the wrong problem.  Sometimes there are other constraints such as national standards that must be met. 3. and answer the following questions. How many different options were considered? The main factors influencing the design. This needs to be clearly set out in your documentation. just refer to this briefly and accurately rather than restate the whole problem. 2 Development of a Model. this section would be very short.52 3 Your report must contain all the information needed for someone to check how you arrived at your recommended solution. if these were defined in writing just refer to the original document. and obviously you must know this before you start designing. Again. 52 .  If the criteria were incomplete or contradictory. for example between the cost and durability of a new product. Your reader will already know what you were supposed to be doing. What criteria were set for deciding on an adequate solution?  You can only make a sensible design recommendation if you understand the criteria that are to be used in judging the success of your design. tender or contract document). Note If you are designing something that is routine. The Summary: Purpose of this section: The Summary should state precisely what the report is about. summarize why you chose your particular solution. 4 What did you conclude?  Refer to drawings or other details of your recommended solution. While carrying out your design you will have used analysis to demonstrate that your design will actually solve the problem. These should also be stated. 1 What problem does the report address?  If the problem was defined in writing (assignment. Suggested structure of design documentation 1 Summary. 4 Design Calculations. If you considered various options.

‘ Design calcula53tions: Purpose of this section This is the part which proves that your design will work as it should. BODY. and a conclusion. and that you are the right person or organization to provide the proposed product or service. • • • you must convince readers that they need what you are proposing. and underline the important results. The introduction should define the purpose and scope of your proposal as well as the problem you propose to address or solve. that it is practical and appropriate. VI.  Your design report should contain only your final recommended solution. This section should explain how you went about this. INTRODUCTION.  Include details of all components (material and dimensions of parts. electrical components etc. formality.) plus all the physical properties you have used (strengths. density. Informal proposals are relatively short (about five pages or fewer) and typically consist of an introduction.). elastic modulus. Proposal Forms Proposals are written within a specific context. Proposals A proposal is a document written to persuade readers that what is proposed will benefit them by solving a problem or fulfilling a need. and will consist mostly of small sketches and steps in solving equations. specific heats etc. Development of a Model: Purpose of this section The first step in an engineering design is to be able to conceptualize the problem in a way that allows standard methods of analysis to be used.53 2. a body. Understanding the context will help you determine the most appropriate writing strategy as well as the proposal‘s length. Therefore. 53 . and structure. The body should offer the details of your plan to address or solve the problem and explain (1) what service or product you are offering. Form of this section  Use subheadings to make it clear what each section is about. when you write a proposal. Informal Proposal Structure. You may also include any relevant background or context that will help readers appreciate the benefits of what you will propose in the body.

• Body. and your company name and logo. the name and logo of the organization to which it is being submitted. If your proposal has six or more figures. Effective conclusions show confidence in your proposal. or service over any competing ideas or projects. Briefly summarize the proposal‘s highlights in persuasive. a breakdown of project costs. • List of Figures. which should be listed according to beginning page numbers. the date. product. as well as encouraging your reader to act on your proposal. In the cover letter. and your willingness to provide further information. • Table of Contents. and the scope of the proposal. (See the sections Grant and Research Proposals) • Conclusion. • Title Page. and any prior positive associations with the customer. nontechnical language for decision-makers. your appreciation for the opportunity to submit the proposal.54 (2) how you will perform the work and what special materials you may use. FRONT MATTER of Formal Proposal • Cover Letter or Letter of Transmittal. The number of sections in a proposal depends on the audience. The conclusion should persuasively resell your proposal by emphasizing the benefits of your plan. include a list of figures with captions as well as figure and page numbers BODY • Executive Summary. ((See the sections Grant and Research Proposals) 54 . You may also need to include details about the time period during which the proposal is valid. Include a table of contents in longer proposals to guide readers to important sections. Then summarize the proposal‘s recommendations and express confidence that they will satisfy the customer‘s or decision-maker‘s needs. (3) the schedule you plan to follow that designates when each phase of the project will be completed. and (4) if appropriate. Formal Proposal Structure. any help from the customer (or decision-maker). express appreciation for the opportunity to submit your proposal. solution. Include the title of the proposal. • Introduction. Proposals longer than five pages are often called formal proposals and typically include front matter and back matter. the purpose. CONCLUSION.

55 BACK MATTER • Appendixes. your plan for achieving those goals. For example. Background. and your qualifications to perform the research. Research proposals request approval to conduct research to investigate a problem or possible improvements to a product or an operation. What can readers expect as a result of the proposed research. such as research studies. Illustrate how both your primary audience and others will benefit from the results of your proposed research. Provide résumés of key personnel or material of interest to some readers. an engineer may submit a research proposal to a manager for permission to research a new method that improves cement strength for bridges. Describe the problem your research will address so that readers are confident that you understand the problem completely. Grants are not loans and usually do not have to be repaid. List sources of primary references consulted in preparing the proposal. the president of Habitat for Humanity may write a grant proposal to a lumber company asking for a donation of lumber to help construct new housing for disadvantaged families. organizational charts. Similarly. • Introduction. or thesis projects. such as statistical analyses. • Glossary. This should be short and explanatory. This section should contain a rationale for your research. list and define them in the glossary. If your proposal contains terms that will be unfamiliar to your intended audience. Grant proposals request funds or material goods to support a specific project or cause. students often submit research proposals to request approval of their research plans for term projects. they do not focus on particular solutions or ultimate results. Proposal Types: Based on Purposes Grant and Research Proposals. Why are you undertaking the project? Why is the research needed? This rationale should be placed within the context of existing research or within your own experience and/or observation. and standards. and workflow diagrams. Grant and Research Proposals Structure -The proposal typically includes the following key components: Title page. Explain the reasons for and the benefits of the proposal. • Bibliography. For example. such as formal reports. specifications. and what is the value of your potential findings? 55 . Because their purpose is to gain approval to conduct research. Grant and research proposals are persuasive when they clearly define your research goals.

They describe what the research hopes to achieve or discover through the study. Objectives-The objectives are statements within the strategic statement of aim. working with one independent variable in each which impacts on the dependent variable of the study. It suggests a relationship between an independent and a dependent variable and the nature of that relationship. (4) To develop and test a model for maintenance of UK local authority school buildings Hypotheses. especially for objectives. 56 . it is good discipline to restrict the project to a single aim and the objectives to about three. A hypothesis is often described as an attempt by the researcher to explain the phenomenon of interest.56 Aim-The aim of a research project is a statement of what the research will attempt to do – often in the form of what is to be investigated. (3) To determine the factors which impact on maintenance work execution for UK local authority school buildings. Example (1) To investigate any linkages between construction types and maintenance requirements. especially smaller ones. depending on the question being asked and the type of study being conducted. Example To investigate the ‗maintenance path‘ for local authority school buildings in UK through establishing maintenance needs and work execution mechanisms. each selfsufficient. Keep the statements simple. Objectives take the aim of the research and translate the aim into coherent. which is more appropriate for qualitative research. (2) To examine any relationship between age of buildings and their maintenance needs. and provide maintenance information to designers in an environment of resource constraints. For most research projects. These are statements which relate to each other logically but which are. The statement concerns direction in the relationship. they are statements at the actual/operational level. and ensuring that those variables can be identified.a hypothesis is simply an educated—and testable—guess about the answer to your research question. or what impact the main independent variables are believed to have on the dependent variable. Such restriction promotes rigor in considering what the research is about and what can be achieved realistically. Hypotheses can take various forms. known as causality. operational statements. an approach which is more suitable for quantitative studies.

and the hypotheses can either be supported or refuted (falsified) on the basis of the data. Methodology/methods. Researcher‘s attempt to explain the phenomenon being studied should involve a prediction about the variables being studied. This raises issues of what may be said about support for the hypothesis if.‘ This statement contains two dependent variables– project performance and participants‘ satisfaction. Discuss in detail your plan for 57 . then their cholesterol levels will be reduced. It is the overall approach to studying your topic and includes issues you need to think about such as the constraints. methods of data analysis and ethical considerations. For research at postgraduate level you may need to split the methodology and methods section into two. The performance–satisfaction relationship is implied in the hypothesis. numbers of people to be contacted. for most projects they can be combined. Your research methodology is different to your research methods – these are the tools you use to gather data.‖ This hypothesis makes a prediction about the effects of exercising on levels of cholesterol. a researcher may hypothesize that ―if people exercise for 30 minutes per day at least three days per week. it would be preferable to split the hypothesis into two. or even three: • programming–performance • performance–satisfaction • programming–satisfaction. In their simplest forms. it could be determined from theory and previous work but. method of data collection. For example. it should form an element of the research. Consider the following hypothesis: ‗The method of programming construction projects employed by contractors influences project performance. for rigor and completeness. Clearly. and hence participants‘ satisfaction with those projects. Describe your proposed research methodology and methods and justify their use. These predictions are then tested by gathering and analyzing data. dilemmas and ethical choices within your research. However. such as questionnaires or interviews. hypotheses are typically phrased as ―if-then‖ statements. Methodology is the philosophy or the general principle which will guide your research.57 A key feature of all hypotheses is that each must make a prediction. Why have you decided upon your methodology? Why have you decided to use those particular methods? Why are other methods not appropriate? This section needs to include details about samples. and the prediction can be tested by gathering and analyzing data. To retain this in the study. after testing. one part is supported and the other is not.

If you are a student you may not have to include this section in your proposal.99 55 0. First.99 6 50 70 58 0. Summarize the expertise of those who will conduct the research. Table 1: Survey Timetable Date January – 5 February 6 February – 7 March 8 March – 9 April 10 April – 21 April 21 April – 1 May 1 May – 1 July 2 July – 3 August Action Literature search Primary research (talk to relevant people) Develop and pilot questionnaire Continue literature search Analyze pilot work and revise questionnaire Ask relevant people for comments Send out questionnaire. You might also include their résumés in an appendix.58 conducting the research. Funding bodies also need to know that you have not over-budgeted and expect more money than you‘re going to use. Continue to categorize returned questionnaires. Table 2: Research Budget Resource 1Good quality personal recorder with battery indicator light. although some tutors will want to know that you have thought carefully about what resources are needed and from where you expect to obtain these. If you‘re applying to a funding body you need to think about what you will need for your research and how much this is likely to cost. as appropriate. Outline realistic deadlines for specific research tasks that will help you achieve your objectives and meet the final deadline. focus on your research methods—how you plan to achieve your objectives (through interviewing? on the Web? through other sources?). Data analysis Write report Prepare oral presentation • Qualifications. Categorize returned questionnaires Send out reminder letter for no responses. • Work Schedule/Timetable. • Budget. self turning mechanism and headphones 10 90-minute audio cassette tapes 20 long-life batteries 40 second class postage stamps COST Unit price (in Birr) Unit price (in cents) 500 0.60 . focus on your research objectives—what specifically you plan to investigate. You need to do this so that you apply for the right amount of money and are not left out of pocket if you have under-budgeted. Data input. Provide a list of projected costs for your research project. including costs of all resources needed to carry out your research plan. Then.

08+ petrol (to be notified) • Conclusion. e) Substantive sections or chapters. 59 . f) Annexes as appropriate.95 00 0. 120 scissors Travel expenses – petrol. paper clips. 4) Different means and methods which could be utilized to achieve the goals of the project. b) An abstract of the documentary output or a list of KEYWORDS reflecting the principal subject fields of the project. 5) Future expected results on implementation of the included study. Remind the reader of the benefits from your research and any specific products that will result. 3) Specific purposes the project is intended to serve. d) A summary of findings and recommendations.50 5. ring binder. envelopes.59 Stationery – paper. Close with a request for approval by a specific date and offer to answer any of the readers‘ questions. such as a formal report. c) An introduction providing information on: 1) Project activity or sub-activity related to the project proposal. PROJECT PROPOSAL The contents of project proposal can be structured as follows: a) Title page. overnight stay at five Petrol to be notified locations at usual college allowance Total accommodation=8000 Advert in local paper 500 1000 Leaflets 3000 Total Expenditure 11746 00 0. 2) Project staff responsible for the production.

followed by title page. and so on? (See the chapter on report format for details. followed by figure list. is it positioned properly in relation to the other report components. transmittal letter.) Do you identify in the introduction what background the audience needs to read and understand your report? Does your report contain specific.) Is page 1 of your introduction designed according to the standard for this course? (See the chapter on report format for details. and is it written according to the specifications in the chapter on abstracts? Do you include an informative abstract in your report.) Do you address your report to a real or realistic audience that has a genuine need for your report? (See this chapter and the chapter on audience for details. factual detail focused on the purpose of the report and the needs of the audience and aimed at their level of understanding? Does your report accomplish its purpose? Is that purpose clearly stated in the introduction? Does your report use information sources and do you properly document them? (See the chapter on finding information and the chapter on documenting borrowed information for details.60 CHECKLIST FOR THE TECHNICAL REPORT Use the following questions to ensure that your technical report is structured properly according to common expectations: Do you include all the required components in the required order.) Does your report use graphics and tables? Does your report use the format for graphics and tables that is standard for this course? Specifically.) Does your report use the format for headings that is standard for this course? (See the chapter on headings for details.) Does every new section (which starts with a first-level heading) start on a new page? Have you check for widowed headings (headings that start at the very bottom of a page)? stacked headings (two or more consecutive headings without intervening text)? lone headings (a single heading within a section)? parallelism in the phrasing of headings? (See the chapter on headings for details.) Does your report use the format for lists that is standard for this course? (See the chapter on lists for details. and is it written according to the specifications in the chapter on abstracts? Specifically.) Does the title page of your report include a descriptive abstract. for example. does your informative abstract summarize the key facts and conclusions of your report rather than act as just another introduction or descriptive abstract? 60 . are your figure titles (captions) to our class specifications? (See the chapter on graphics and tables for details.

or having an introduction that is all background? (See the chapter on introductions for details. For Woody (2011: online). collecting. Blaxter.2. research means. open ended problems:  tend to be complex  existence may be difficult to identify. however.  finding a solution is hard and may require novel ideas (e. through ‗brainstorming‘).  situation is likely to be dynamic and so. 3. Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization.‖ Fellows and Liu (2008:8) believe that ―most problems requiring research for their solution are likely to be open-ended.61 Does the introduction of your report include the elements necessary in good introductions. formulating hypothesis.g. Fundamental (pure) research focuses on: ‗gathering knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself‘ developing a sampling technique or an instrument that can be applied to a particular situation 61 .1 Applied vs. making deductions and reaching conclusions. say.) Unit three: Research methods 3. Pure Research can be applied research or pure (or basic or fundamental) research on basis of the application of the research study. such as audience. purpose? Do you avoid the problem of having too much background in the introduction.defining and redefining problems. Or many alternative solutions are likely to be possible. Examples include copy research or marketing research. But pure research is mainly concerned with generalizations and the formulation of a theory. there seems to be no uniform consensus among writers in defining research but the definitions appear to suggest that research should be systematic. and carefully--testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis.‖ According to Fellows and Liu (2008).1 The concept of Research Different meanings are given for the term research.2 Classifications of research 3. the variables are difficult to isolate. overview. use logical and scientific procedures to answer a ( an open-ended problems) question.‖ Here. organizing and evaluating data. some scholars define it as a search for knowledge or the search for new knowledge. Broadly. ―Research is a systematic investigation to find answers to a problem. Hughes and Tight (2006)."--.

62 . development and applications cannot exist without the basic. and aims to achieve ‗depth‘ rather than ‗breadth‘. in as much detail as possible. chiefly non-numeric. This is because. Therefore. using methods such as questionnaires or structured interviews. Qualitative research. and how the information is analyzed) and the type of information needed through the research activity.2 Quantitative Research vs. 3. but the contact with those people is much quicker than it is in qualitative research. smaller numbers of instances or examples which are seen as being interesting or illuminating. particularly in contexts like construction. applied research seeks to address issues of applications: to help solve a practical problem (the addition to knowledge is more ‗incidental‘ than being the main purpose). Quantitative research generates statistics through the use of large-scale survey research. as possible. It tends to focus on exploring. research is classified in to qualitative or quantitative. on the other hand. Pure research is undertaken to develop knowledge. the vast majority of research is a combination of ‗pure‘ and ‗applied‘ research–of theory and applications. the difference between applied and pure research concerns the questions to be addressed rather than the approaches adopted. However. Key features include formal and systematic measurement and the use of statistics..g. is concerned with collecting and analyzing information in as many forms. pure research while pure research is unlikely to be of great benefit to society without development and applications. how the variables are measured. based on the research methods (e. most practitioners/industrialists tend to pursue development work and applications while academics are encouraged to undertake ‗pure‘ research. Of course. Hence.62 the discovery of theories. mainly pure research develops scientific knowledge and so asks ‗is it true?‘ whilst applied research uses scientific knowledge and so asks ‗does it work?‘ Most research in social sciences is applied. etc generalizations about human behavior Often. It provides information in-breadth and allows you to sample large numbers of the population. to contribute to the body of theory which exists – to aid the search for the ‗truth‘. Quantitative research tends to involve relatively large-scale and representative sets of data.2. laws of nature. Quantitative research involves studies that make use of statistical analyses to obtain their findings. Qualitative Research Broadly.

(e. Qualitative research explores attitudes. Such data would be obtained through questioning of those participants‘ identification of the variables and hypothesizing of their inter-relations. Qualitative research is often used as a source of hypotheses for later testing in quantitative research. 63 . behavior and experiences through such methods as interviews or focus groups. corrections required due to defects recorded during the maintenance period – measured by number. but the contact with these people tends to last a lot longer. it is structured. value etc. behavior and experiences. how many people have a particular problem? How many people hold a particular attitude?) . Qualitative studies typically involve interviews and observations without formal measurement. A case study. Because it focuses on attitudes. Since quantitative research is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity. and does not yield the reasons behind behavior or why people hold certain attitudes.. It attempts to get an in-depth opinion from participants. Qualitative research one can analyze the various factors which motivate people to behave in a particular manner or which make people like or dislike a particular thing. Research could proceed by endeavoring to hold all but one of the independent variables constant and examining the effects of controlled changes in the remaining independent variable on the dependent variable.63 Qualitative research involves studies that do not attempt to quantify their results through statistical summary or analysis. Example Consider investigating client satisfaction with the provision of a construction project. which is an in-depth examination of one person. actual. fewer people take part in the research.g. is a form of qualitative research. time and quality. quality might be considered from records of re-worked items. What quantitative and what qualitative data are likely to be available readily on a case study of a construction project? Quantitative data would comprise time and cost performance derived from project records – predicted v. Qualitative data could present participants‘ perceptions of client satisfaction with respect to the performance criteria of cost.

Typically. or to systematically identify and record (all the elements of) a phenomenon. interpretation of results) or a complex array of variables is identified and hypotheses are produced to be tested by further research. Either an hypothesis is set up and then tested via research (data collection. Explanatory–to answer a particular question or explain a specific issue/phenomenon. process or system. Also. behavioral. A central feature is the use of hypotheses. say. Exploratory–done to test. can be used to develop the hypotheses which the research will test. Research design is closely allied to statistical analysis of data. Such identification and recording it should always be done as objectively (accurately) and as comprehensively as possible (this is important for later analysis). If you plan your research design properly. conclusions. this could be a-follow-on from exploratory research which has produced hypotheses for testing. economic. Therefore. or psychological characteristics of some group of people. Its critical consideration is the logic that links the data collection and analysis to yield results. social. aspects of theory. an interview that is conducted within. and how the data are to be analyzed. Thus. and usually refers to the approach or paradigm that underpins the research. Research Design Research design is concerned with determining the most appropriate approach (methodology and method(s)) to adopt. thence. the research design must take into account the research questions. as the situation is known better (or is defined more clearly). theory etc. Methodology has a more philosophical meaning. or explore. analyses. Types of Design: which to use and how to use them The term method relate principally to the tools of data collection or analysis: techniques such as questionnaires and interviews.64 Other types of research Descriptive research The purpose of descriptive research is to describe the characteristics or behaviors of a given population in a systematic and accurate fashion. The group of interest may be as large as the population of the world or as small as the students in a particular school. determine what data are required. The main priority is to ensure that the research maximizes the chance of realizing its objectives. As in exploratory studies. a 64 . to the main research question being investigated. descriptive research is not designed to test hypotheses but rather is conducted to provide information about the physical. then whatever you find should be a useful contribution to knowledge. for sound reasons. and. hypotheses are used but here. The research may be undertaken as a survey (possibly of the population identified) or as case study.

hypothesized with some confidence. widely used as a research approach in a number of the social sciences. and seeing the results. particularly psychology (which is often classified as a science rather than a social science). the experimental or predictor variable) is carefully manipulated by the investigator under known. perhaps. you‘re doing something to people. The experimental method is particularly associated with the physical sciences. the experiment consists of an experimental group which is exposed to the intervention under investigation and a control group which is not exposed. which produces events. You have no control over what sort of people are happening along. However. or by natural occurrence. the precise size will depend on the statistics you‘re using. tightly defined and controlled conditions.) Field experiments give you answers to a lot of questions that you can‘t answer through case studies and surveys. Experiments and quasi-experiments What is an Experiment? An experiment is an activity or process. and investigated systematically under conditions that are identical (apart from the exposure of the experimental group). however. the intervention. possible outcomes. at least. Experiments are. but also economics. with its practice of formulating and testing hypotheses through carefully designed and controlled tests. where materials and nonhuman life forms are more amenable to experimentation. (As with surveys. experiments are devised and conducted as tests to investigate any relationship(s) between the activities carried out and the resultant outcomes. one major limitation of the field experiment is that you‘re doing it out in the field. The experimental style of research is. a combination of activities. in scientific contexts. experiments are at the heart of what is known as the scientific method. The experiment is a situation in which the independent variable (also known as the exposure. In a field experiment. Usually.65 qualitative approach or paradigm will have a different underlying purpose and produce broadly different data from an interview conducted within a quantitative paradigm. suited best to ‗bounded‘ problems or issues in which the variables involved are known. health care and education. or. Field experiments It‘s different from an interventionist case study because you‘re using a larger sample size: large enough to give you some idea how your results would scale up to the population at large. The experimental and control groups should be equivalent. in order to minimize variation between them. 65 . to any apparently suitable people that you can find. Indeed. At its most basic.

The modern design of experiments permits greater flexibility. are held approximately constant and the consequences for the major dependent variable are measured. as measured in terms of time. There are. 2. to case studies and to surveys as well Advantages and disadvantages of experiments Advantages 1. They apply to action research. interviews.66 As already indicated. Yet. etc. 4. except the one of interest. The experiment is the only research design which can. objectives and service inputs which may contribute to outcomes in natural settings. 4. Through random assignment of people to intervention and control groups the risk of extraneous variables confounding the results is minimized. questionnaires. in principle. ethical issues around the use of experiments involving people. Generally viewed as the best way of getting a definitive answer to a research question. Disadvantages 1. while they appear particularly evident in the case of experiments. or event/project. Quasi-experiments The usual approach to experimental design is to devise a study in which the main independent variables. It is difficult to design experiments so as to represent a specified population. Case studies: A case study is a detailed study of a single individual. 5. in other words. If both pre. Contriving the desired ‗natural setting‘ in experiments is often not possible. cost. and difficult to judge in advance–while denying it to others.and post-testing is conducted this controls for time-related threats to validity. Experiments cannot capture the diversity of goals. The data for case studies can come from a variety of sources. Such a study could investigate the impact of different management styles of project managers on project management performance. including observation. the social sciences are concerned with human behavior and perspectives. 66 . A common approach is to undertake comparative studies on similar projects executed at about the same time by similar firms employing similar organizational arrangements. quality. 2. It is often difficult to choose the ‗control‘ variables so as to exclude all confounding variables. 3. efficiency and powerful statistical manipulation. group/organization. A strict application of an experimental approach to research in these areas would suggest exposing one group of individuals to the experiment–which might be beneficial or disadvantageous. Such approaches are called quasi-experiments. yield causal relationships. these issues are just as strong for other research approaches. 3.

it is difficult to know where ‗context‘ begins and ends. (Some articles. take notes from all the sources of primary and secondary research available to you. a clique. 2. Normally. The purpose of such observation is to probe deeply and to analyze intensively the multifarious phenomena that constitute the life cycle of the unit with a view to establishing generalizations about the wider population to which that unit belongs. in fact. asking questions.67 reports and archival records (such as minutes of meetings). Begin your research with a careful review of the literature to establish what has been published about your topic. The method of choice when the phenomenon under study is not readily distinguishable from its context. a school or a community. It is drawn from people‘s experiences and practices and so it is seen to be strong. representative samples of individuals. All research involves the collection and analysis of data.) As you compile that information. A review of the relevant information in your field can be insurance against writing an article that has already been published. Collecting Data As you gather information. or a combination of these or other strategies. begin with a literature review. Advantages and disadvantages of case studies Advantages 1. a class. and because only a small number of cases are studied. include all the information you need to document the source. Access and Ethics 67 . While the contextualization of aspects of the case strengthen this form of research. the case study researcher typically observes the characteristics of an individual unit–a child. observation. record your references in full. whether through reading. 3. the purpose is to secure theoretical validity (as for experiments). The disadvantages of case studies are linked to their advantages. Disadvantages 1. in particular: 2. The very complexity of a case can make analysis difficult. but the studies are in-depth. 3. Unlike the experimenter who manipulates variables to determine their causal significance or the surveyor who asks standardized questions of large. Ideally suited to the needs and resources of the small-scale researcher. measurement. 4. rather than the (more common) statistical validity required of surveys. Case studies allow for generalizations from a specific instance to a more general issue.

These risks may range from minor discomfort or embarrassment caused by somewhat intrusive or provocative questions (e. It is often necessary to impinge upon the rights of individuals. These issues are also likely to be a continuing concern throughout the process of data collection. the risks and benefits of participating in the study.mechanism for describing the research study to potential participants and providing them with the opportunity to make autonomous and informed decisions regarding whether to participate is informed consent. places of work. Virtually all studies with human participants involve some degree of risk. the participants must voluntarily agree to participate in the study. how you get it and how you use it. Through a process called informed consent. in the wider community. questions about sexual practices. • people. ethical issues are thought to arise predominantly with research designs that use qualitative methods of data collection. Common Ethical Issues. all potential study participants are informed about the procedures that will be used in the study. There are. • institutions.Ethics refers to the choices we make that affect others for good or ill. Most commonly. They have to do with what data you are able to collect.. access to any or all of the following: • documents. Access-Gaining access to the people. in their homes. Our research topic may necessitate your gaining. such as private companies. it is a continuous and potentially very demanding process. institutions or documents you wish to study for your research is not just a one-off exercise. or over the Internet. schools or government departments. and their rights as study participants. and it is therefore important that researchers become knowledgeable about when informed consent is required. held in libraries or by institutions. and possibly also afterwards.68 Two key issues are likely to confront you as a researcher as soon as you begin to consider collecting data for your project are access and ethics. Informed consent. a few limited instances in which researchers are not required to obtain informed consent from the study participants.g. This is because of the closer relationships between the researcher and researched. drug and alcohol use) to much more severe effects on participants‘ physical or emotional well-being. 68 . These risks present researchers with an ethical dilemma regarding the degree to which participants should be placed at risk in the name of scientific progress. and maintaining. however. Rather. Prior to your collecting any data from study participants.

the envisaged outcomes. for most projects. in which case it might be possible to contact everyone.e. If trust and confidence have been established. unless you have a huge budget. but in the vast majority of cases a sample must be taken. Researchers overcome this problem by choosing a smaller. Confidentiality is a similar to anonymity. Despite assurances of confidentiality. 69 . This is called a census. all buildings on Hong Kong Island or all buildings in Greater London can be viewed as populations. However. such as. Also. It is useful if the letter contains an explanation of the research. This technique is called sampling. any data provided will be treated as confidential and used for the purposes of this research only. benefits and purpose of the work as well as an explanation of its role in a degree course etc. you have to account for non-response and you may need to choose a higher proportion of your research population. whilst both of these are also samples of all buildings in the world. there will be only a small number of people within your research population. it will be difficult to speak to every person within your research population. The two issues are closely related such that confidentiality concerns neither revealing data to anyone nor using the data for purposes other than those for whom the respondents have given permission.69 Confidentiality & Anonymity. ‗. the sample is representative. a full population ‗sample‘ may be researched. The first question new researchers tend to ask is ‗how many people should I speak to?‘ For some research projects. more manageable number of people to take part in their research. i. The assurances can be given verbally but should be confirmed in writing in the formal letter of request for response in which the purpose and legitimacy of the research should be explained. If the population is sufficiently small. the more trust in the researcher which is required by the provider. You are probably restricted by time and money–you have to make sure that you construct a sample which will be manageable. Sampling: strategies The objective of sampling is to provide a practical means of enabling the data collection and processing components of research to be carried out whilst ensuring that the sample provides a good representation of the population. the identity of respondents will not be revealed‘. respondents may require further restrictions to apply concerning publication of results. Anonymity refers to persons and organizations whilst confidentiality relates to the data. Such restrictions should be considered carefully as they could ‗stifle‘ the work and its value. limitless timescale and large team of interviewers. it is likely to be easier to obtain data and it may be possible to obtain data which might not be available otherwise. . For example. Trust and confidence are important considerations in data collection–the more sensitive the data. .

it is believed that if this sample is chosen carefully using the correct procedure. and the method used will depend upon the area of research. In quantitative research. In probability samples. predict or generalize to the whole research population. for large scale. purposive samples are used if description rather than generalization is the goal. it is then possible to generalize the results to the whole of the research population. research methodology and preference of the researcher. after collecting data from each one. groups or strata. The sample size will also depend on what you want to do with your results. Probability sampling: • Simple random sampling –selection at random • Systematic sampling –selecting every nth case. Applying Techniques for Collecting Data 70 . quantitative surveys you will need to contact many more people than you would for a small. the larger the sample the more accurate your results. the researcher may identify a (very) small number of sources (respondents) and. • Stratified sampling –sampling within groups of the population. in quantitative research. Basically there are two main types of sample: probability samples purposive samples. Therefore. perhaps because the individual sources of data cannot be identified readily. the researcher collects data from a sample which can be accessed readily (it is convenient). These types of sample are used if the researcher wishes to explain. Generally. all people within the research population have a specifiable chance of being selected. Stratified sampling is appropriate where the population occurs in ‗distinct‘. In such situations. • Cluster sampling –surveying whole clusters of the population sampled at random Non-probability sampling: • Convenience sampling – sampling those most convenient.70 There are many different ways to choose a sample. For many qualitative researchers however. requests that source to identify further sources thereby progressively building a sufficient sample. the ability to generalize their work to the whole research population is not the goal. On the other hand. Convenience sampling may be used where the nature of the research question(s) and the population do not indicate any particular form of sample and so. qualitative piece of research. • Voluntary sampling – the sample is self-selected • Quota sampling – convenience sampling within groups of the population • Purposive sampling – handpicking supposedly typical or interesting cases • Snowball sampling – building up a sample through informants involves data which are difficult to access.

and do not need to worry about initial sorting. If you have decided to carry out a number of interviews for your research project. give appropriate eye contact and non-verbal communication. They might. It can be a very useful technique for collecting data which would likely not be accessible using techniques such as observation or questionnaires. already been given to the techniques of reading for research. Interviews The interview method involves questioning or discussing issues with people. whether fellow researchers.  Note-taking gives you an instant record of the key points of an interview. as well as other forms of questioning like questionnaires. Considerable attention has. • have a policy focus. when you don‘t make a note. You can focus your attention on the interviewee. therefore. making use of available archival and other surviving documentary evidence. one of the basic decisions you will have to take is whether to record the interview or to take notes. aimed at producing a critical synopsis of an existing area of research writing. the use and analysis of documents. Recordings also take a long time to transcribe and analyze. categorizing and analyzing of the data collected.71 Documents All research projects involve. Each of these strategies has associated advantages and disadvantages:  Using an audio or digital recorder means that you need only concentrate on the process of the interview.  However. Researchers are expected to read. Another key issue in carrying out interviews. You will have a verbatim record of the whole interview. examining materials relevant to a particular set of policy decisions. for example: • be library-based. they may think that you find their comments unimportant. Putting pen to paper may lead interviewees to think that they have said something significant. You do not need to acquire an audio or digital recorder. is how best to ask potentially sensitive questions. note-taking can also be distracting.  Recording may. understand and critically analyze the writings of others. make respondents anxious. and less likely to reveal confidential information. • be work-based. drawing on materials produced within an organization. to a greater or lesser extent. Conversely. • have a historical orientation. About age: • ask for year of birth • or the year when they left school • or how old their first child is 71 . however. • be computer-based. consisting largely of the analysis of previously collected data sets. practitioners or policy-makers.

particularly for sensitive questions. the interviewer introduces the topic briefly and then records the replies of the respondent. Participant observation. recording and analyzing events of interest. sociology and psychology. Observations The observation method involves the researcher in watching. unstructured. knowledge and opinion. They vary in form quite widely. It involves the observation of a ‗subject‘ in a certain situation and often uses technology such as video cameras or one-way mirrors. average or below average • or which of a number of income bands they come in Hint: Instead of asking all of your questions directly and verbally. clearly the respondent can say what and as much as she/he desires. Semi-structured interviews fill the spectrum between the two extremes. at the extreme. you could make some use of prompt cards. can be a covert participant observer-entering organizations and participating in their activities without anyone knowing that they were conducting research. In a structured semi-structured and interview. to a list of topic areas on which the respondent‘s views are recorded. distinguishes three types of questions: factual. from a questionnaire-type with some probing. The more sensitive the category of questions. Direct observation tends to be used in areas such as health. as a research method. A ‗threatening‘ question reduces the response rate to individual questions. This may be almost a monologue with some prompts to ensure completion of the statements. the more important it is that the questions are not perceived by the respondent to be ‗threatening‘. factual are least sensitive. Overt 72 . they can be: structured. perhaps by asking the questions and recording the responses. Interviews vary in their nature. the interviewer administers a questionnaire. Opinion questions are the most sensitive category. if not to the entire interview or questionnaire. The major differences lie in the constraints placed on the respondent and the interviewer. with little scope for probing those responses by asking supplementary questions to obtain more details and to pursue new and interesting aspects. and ask your interviewee to point to the answer.72 • or when they are due to retire About ethnic group: • ask them to select from a range of options • or to write it down for you • or ask them how they would like you to describe their ethnic group • or make an assessment yourself About income: • ask them if they could afford to buy a new car or house • or whether they would regard their income as above average. In unstructured interviews .


participant observation, where everyone knows who the researcher is and what she is doing, however, can be a
valuable and rewarding method for qualitative inquiry. Questionnaires Questions occur in two primary forms–open or closed. In open questions respondents use their own words to answer a question, whereas in closed questions prewritten response categories are provided. Open questions are designed to enable the respondent to answer in full; to reply in whatever form, with whatever content and to whatever extent the respondent wishes (in interviews, the researcher may probe). Such questions are easy to ask but may be difficult to answer, the answer may never be full/complete and, often, the answers are very difficult to analyze. It is essential that answers to open questions are recorded in detail and in. Closed questions have a set number of responses as determined by the researcher. Thus, it may be preferable to place open questions before related, closed questions. It is possible to ask more closed than open questions, as responses to closed questions can be given more easily and quickly. Questionnaires may be administered by post or email/web to respondents, to groups by the researcher or particular individuals, such as to a class of students, by a lecturer, or to individuals by the researcher–perhaps to form the basis of an interview. Wording and Structure of Questions Questions should be kept short and simple. The questions should be unambiguous and easy for the respondent to answer, they should not require extensive data gathering by the respondent. Check that a question is not double-barreled, that is, two questions in one. If it is, ask two questions rather than one. Also, avoid negative questions – the type which have ‗not‘ in them as this can be confusing, especially when a respondent is asked to agree or disagree. Make sure that your questions don‘t contain some type of prestige bias. This phrase refers to questions which could embarrass or force respondents into giving a false answer. They might do this if they do not want to look ‗bad‘ in front of the researcher, or they might do it because it is expected behavior. Questions about income or educational qualifications might illicit this type of response, so you need to be careful about how you try to obtain this information. Avoiding leading questions-The question ‗How often do you wash your car?‘ might seem innocuous enough. However, it makes two assumptions. Firstly, it assumes that the respondent has a car and secondly, it assumes the respondent washes his car If you need to ask this question, you should ask a filter question first to find out whether the respondent actually owned a car. Then you would need to ask: ‗If you


wash your car, how many times a year?‘ By wording the question in this way and by being careful about the frequency list, you‘re not leading the respondent into answering in a certain way. Some issues may be very sensitive and you might be better asking an indirect question rather than a direct question. Promising confidentiality and anonymity may help, but many respondents can, understandably, be skeptical about these promises. They should not contain requests for unnecessary data, for instance, they should not request a name when the respondent is known, if the questionnaire was sent to the person by name, especially when anonymity is to be provided or when the identity of the respondent is not needed. Observations An important component in any scientific investigation is observation. In this sense, observation refers to two distinct concepts—being aware of the world around us and making careful measurements. Observations of the world around us often give rise to the questions that are addressed through scientific research. For example, the Newtonian observation that apples fall from trees stimulated much research into the effects of gravity. Therefore, a keen eye to your surroundings can often provide you with many ideas for research studies. In the context of science, observation means more than just observing the world around us to get ideas for research. Observation also refers to the process of making careful and accurate measurements, which is a distinguishing feature of well-conducted scientific investigations. When making measurements in the context of research, scientists typically take great precautions to avoid making biased observations. For example, if a researcher is observing the amount of time that passes between two events, such as the length of time that elapses between lightning and thunder, it would certainly be advisable for the researcher to use a measurement device that has a high degree of accuracy and reliability. Rather than simply trying to ―guesstimate‖ the amount of time that elapsed between those two events, the researcher would be advised to use a stopwatch or similar measurement device. By doing so, the researcher ensures that the measurement is accurate and not biased by extraneous factors. Piloting: All questionnaires should be piloted initially; completed by a small sample of respondents. Piloting, or re-assessment is the process whereby you try out the research techniques and methods which you have in mind, see how well they work in practice, and, if necessary, modify your plans accordingly. The piloting will test whether the questions are intelligible, easy to answer, unambiguous etc. Through obtaining feedback


from these respondents, there will be an opportunity for improving the questionnaire. Here is a model questionnaire: Triangulation Triangulation is the use of two or more research methods to investigate the same thing, such as experiment and interviews in a case study project. A postal or other questionnaire to a generalized, representative sample of respondents would assist the researchers to appreciate the general validity of the findings from the particular case study and would serve to aid understanding of its unique and generally applicable features. Many researchers believe this is a good way of approaching research as it enables you to counteract the weaknesses in both qualitative and quantitative research. Analyzing Data After conducting the study and gathering the data, the next step involves analyzing the data, which generally calls for the use of statistical techniques. The type of statistical techniques used by a researcher depends on the design of the study, the type of data being gathered, and the questions being asked. The methods you use to analyze your data will depend on whether you have chosen to conduct qualitative or quantitative research, and this choice will be influenced by personal and methodological preference and educational background. Deciding Which Approach to Use: Quantitative & Qualitative Approaches The basic broad distinction between the quantitative (i.e. numbers) and the qualitative (i.e. words and everything else) has a major influence on how data may be analyzed. This is because, qualitative data may be quantified, and quantitative data qualified. For example, it is common practice in analyzing surveys to assign, sometimes arbitrarily, numerical values to qualitative data, such as, ‗successful‘ (1), ‗unsuccessful‘ (2). Similarly, if you conduct your research entirely through interviews, and analyze the results by searching for similarities and differences in the interview records, you are quite likely to end up using numbers or their written equivalents in your writing: e.g. ‗all of the interviewees‘, ‗most of the respondents‘, ‗half of the women I spoke to‘, etc. Or, if you base your study wholly on numerical data, you will still introduce qualitative factors in your analysis, as in discussing the relative worth of different data sources, and in interpreting what your results mean for practice.


which encourages a numerical or quasi-numerical summary of the results. and their common focus on representation. Analyses of such data tend to be considerably more difficult than with quantitative data. either from the respondents or from the researcher.76 Quantitative approaches For quantitative data analysis. a variety of external. However. and if it is a large survey. opinions. Generally. quantitative approaches provide ‗snapshots‘ and so. are used to address questions such as what. environmental variables are likely to impact on the data and results and the researchers are likely to be intimately involved in all stages of the work in a more active way than usually is acceptable in quantitative studies. how much. 76 . number of firms in an industry. how many? Thus. either numbers or words which can be coded and represented as numbers. and hence ‗rich‘ in content and scope. issues of validity and reliability are important. with most software packages producing well presented graphs. compressive strength of a concrete cube. at least in their ‗raw‘ form.g. pie charts and tables which can be used for the final report. For quantitative data. often requiring a lot of filtering. and results. the data. are instantaneous or cross-sectional (e. The data collected by questionnaires may. For this type of analysis time has to be put aside for the data input process which can be long and laborious. This emphasis is also partly due to the larger scale of many questionnaire surveys. understandings. of people are investigated–the data gathered may be unstructured. views etc. involving transcribing interviews etc. market price of an item. the analysis can be left until the end of the data collection process. Clearly. Analytic techniques for qualitative data may be highly laborious. Questionnaires do. and analyzing the content of conversations. This is partly because they are designed to collect mainly discrete items of information. content of an Architect‘s Instruction). Qualitative approaches In qualitative research. but will tend to be detailed. They want to make sure that their measurements are stable and consistent and that there are no errors or bias present. statistical software is the easiest and most efficient method to use. Quantitative researchers endeavor to show that their chosen methods succeed in measuring what they purport to measure. however. lend themselves more to quantitative forms of analysis. be either qualitative or quantitative. the beliefs. once this has been done the analysis is quick and efficient. sorting and other ‗manipulations‘ to make them suitable for analytic techniques. of course.

One should judge how the findings may be used in other research and in application in practice. require 77 . to the overall aim of the research. with few rigid rules and procedures. For qualitative data. To analyze interview of qualitatively. Reporting the Results: Results. your personal preferences and the time. The method you use will depend on your research topic. This may be because they have studied different subjects. limitations of the study must be made explicit. This includes practical details about the time and place. and details about the content and emerging themes. the objectives set and. equipment and finances available to you. the data collected and analyzed. Inferences and Conclusions Once the research project has been structured. by making inferences. Particularly. qualitative data analysis is a very personal process In most contexts. Such diagrams should comprise (as near as is practical) the raw data. it is useful to produce an interview summary form or a focus group summary form which you complete as soon as possible after each interview or focus group has taken place. The results relate to the analyses of data. whilst the conclusions use those results. results are what emerge from analyses and. or because they come from different political or methodological standpoints. Part of such appreciation leads to recommendations for further research – this is identification of additional areas of study to extend and complement the work which has been carried out. There are many different types of qualitative data analysis. the duration of the interview or focus group. it will inform the development of subsequent research projects. as patterns and relationships often emerge. to determine what has been found out through the execution of the study. hence. this is relatively simple for quantitative data but will be the result of the initial scrutinies where categories of qualitative data are required. the next stages are to produce results and. the researcher might analyze as the research progresses. Thus. visual aids and diagrams can be extremely helpful in analyzing data.77 Qualitative data analysis is a very personal process. continually refining and reorganizing in light of the emerging results. It is important to be sure of the validity and reliability of the work – the confidence which someone may have in the findings. conclusions must relate to any hypotheses proposed. examine and discuss the results of empirical work in the context of theory and literature. the theory and literature studied. as such. Also. together with the theory and literature. Ask two researchers to analyze a transcript and they will probably come up with very different results. to draw conclusions and make recommendations. the participants.

thence. Six weeks after the end of the campaign. For example. adopting an incremental approach to generalizations which may be made. In interpreting results. looking at the research executed as a whole. but focusing particularly on the hypotheses. 78 . variables are considered in pairs. statistical inference is employed to determine the applicability of the results to the issues under investigation and. independent and dependent variables. Usually. objectives and aim of the research. the drawing of conclusions. They must demonstrate what has been found out through the execution of the research. associations and causalities between variables are investigated. The results suggest that the campaign was successful but other factors (variables) could have been influential–consider ‗social class‘ and ‗age group‘. For quantitative studies. Interpretation: Inferences and discussions enable the researcher to present the issues arising out of the research from two perspectives separated in time–that prior to the execution of the empirical work and that following its execution and production of results. they are asked whether they have given up smoking: Viewed Not viewed Total (V) Still smoking (S) 500 Given up (G) 1000 1500 (N) 300 200 500 800 1200 2000 67% of those who viewed the campaign had given up smoking whilst only 40% of those who did not view the campaign had given up. Inferences: Inference is the process by which the meanings and implications of the results are determined in order that conclusions may be drawn. Conclusions take a ‗broad perspective‘.78 interpretation to give meaning in the context of what the research sought to discover. A random sample of 2000 people who smoke is selected to investigate whether a short TV campaign will induce them to give up smoking.

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