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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your signature An example of a very short memo (half page long) MEMORANDUM To: Dr Peter Brown. not 8/10/01) Subject: A clear. 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. Department of Mechanical Engineering C: Prof. I look forward to discussing the visit with you on my return. Agendas for Meetings 12 . don't use Yours sincerely/faithfully. NO salutation or closing. my main activity will be to discuss the progress of our joint research program. our proposals for future development and the next round of funding. Head of Department. i. informative title. Recommendation (if necessary) Note.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. As we previously discussed. containing the main message of your memo. All headings justified to the left-hand margin. It is often sideheading in short memo short memo (about half a page) or a centered title in a longer memo. Don't lead up to them and place them at the end. Jennifer Green.e. 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). Note that the supporting data are placed after the conclusion(s) or main point.

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

2. Discussion points (list the items to be discussed and the reasons for discussing them) 5.1. and why – keep it fairly general) 3. action to be taken. about who attended and did not. 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. Why do we write Meeting Minutes?  To capture the essential information of a meeting – decisions and assigned actions. and clear. Heading (including where and when the meeting will take place) 2. they must be accurate.) Because minutes are often used to settle disputes. what it hopes to achieve and why members should attend and contribute) 7. More precisely.  To save and use them for reference or background material for future meetings relating to the same topic. How to write effective minutes: The way the minutes are recorded may differ depending on the type of meeting it is.g. Introduction (what will be discussed. minutes are a record of the proceedings of a meeting (e. time the meeting closed. Discursive agenda A discursive agenda could be structured as follows: 1. Between them come all other items requiring the attention of the committee. Papers required for the meeting (in the order that they will be needed). Summary (the reason for the meeting. Include the following information: 14 . 2 Minute Writing Organizations and committees that keep official records of their meetings refer to such records as minutes. 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. By this I mean. Possible action (what options are open to the committee?) 6. make sure you aren’t a major participant in the meeting. discussion that took place. minutes of meetings are official and can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. You can’t perform both tasks well. complete.14 Items 1–3 and 8–10 are standard. When approved.

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

2 Formal Technical Report 2. 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. PLANNED IT UPDATES It was proposed that these would be undertaken by Ace Technology during October and November to minimize disruption to operations.. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING The minutes of the previous meeting were taken as read.. you may be required to include or exclude specific sections. However. Be sure to check with your instructor before Date--------------------- 16 . George Coney will meet with Ace next week to discuss plans 6. A copy of the surveyor’s letter was circulated and will be discussed in a meeting to be arranged for next week..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. This specific format allows readers to quickly locate the information they need.16 etc Jo Smith (Secretary) (JS) ACTION 1. MATTERS ARISING George Coney reported that the recent fire drills had been successful and all the issues raised last time had been resolved. agreed as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairperson 3. Most technical reports include the parts listed below. Members agreed that all staff must be informed of the implications. NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS These were effective from 1 October 20XX. 4. DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING/Adjournment It was agreed that the next meeting should be held at 4pm on 10 October 20XX Signed ……………………………. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE Apologies were received from Brian Jones and Angela Green 2.2 . (Chairperson) 2. 5.

To adequately describe the contents of your document in the fewest possible words. many organizations have a preferred style for formal reports and furnish guidelines for report writers to follow. 17 . or within front cover. Purpose (a) To provide the recipient with a specific context within which to place the document. (b) To give the sender a permanent record of having sent the material. Typically. 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.17 using the format outlined here. briefly describe the project and preview the conclusions – if the reader is supportive. 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. the letter includes information not found in the report. (c) To show willingness to provide further information. 2 To give the reader immediate access to the main subject matter. Cover letter is not bound within the letter. Transmittal letters often inform readers of a report's context. A covering letter is any letter that is sent together with any document. For example. Further. but it is inserted within package. The letter is used when the report is addressed to a person outside of the writer’s organization. Transmittal Letter Purpose 1.

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

In addition to information about the purpose. The informative abstract retains the tone and essential scope of the original work. Abstracts define the report's purpose and content. 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. its length corresponds with the report's length. with the addition of the sentences that detail the conclusions of the report. and methods used to arrive at the reported findings. joints. brief description of the report's content. Generally. if your report is eight pages long. race. and occupation. The content may present the:  scope of the report  major points. and research methods used. It is a slightly expanded table of contents in sentence and paragraph form. keep your abstract concise (preferably one page). conclusions. A descriptive abstract summarizes the purpose. So. 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. An informative abstract is an expanded version of the descriptive abstract. and recommendations. education. scope. This section should give a true. scope. the informative abstract summarizes any results. omitting its details. and general health of runners aged 50 to 72 can help determine whether physicians should recommend long-distance running for their older patients. whether to read the work in full or to decide what to pass over. you shouldn't use more than 150 words in the Abstract. The first four sentences of the abstract shown in Figure A–1 alone would be descriptive. Descriptive Depending on the kind of information they contain. Types of Abstracts: Informative Vs. to enable readers to decide what to read. A descriptive abstract need not be longer than several sentences. 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. abstracts are often classified as descriptive or informative.19 Abstract Abstracts are formal summaries writers prepare of their completed work. including a summary of your research methodology  highlights of the conclusions and recommendations Since an Abstract is a brief summary of your report. for example. Purpose: to allow a reader to get a quick picture of the report's content and make a judgment. Generally. Both studies 19 . That is. The groups were matched by sex. the abstract becomes informative. 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.

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

The abstracts were then compared on a number of measures.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. unstructured format. The structured abstracts fared significantly better than the traditional ones on every measure used in this enquiry. Almost every respondent expressed positive attitudes to structured abstracts. What are ‘keywords’? These are the most important words in your paper that are specifically related to your topic. therefore. We recommend. Forty-eight such requests were made and thirty pairs of abstracts were obtained. 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). that editors of other journals in the social sciences consider adopting structured abstracts. 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. Conclusions. 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. Key words typically: 21 . that editors of other journals in the social sciences consider adopting structured abstracts. The same can be written in unstructured form below: In 1997 four journals published by the British Psychological Society began publishing structured abstracts. Results. 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. 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. 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. The abstracts were then compared on a number of measures. Figure 2: An original abstract in structured form. Almost every respondent expressed positive attitudes to structured abstracts. and thirty pairs of abstracts were obtained. Forty-eight such requests were made. We recommend. In short.

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

Alice concentrated on acoustical aspects of the complex. and Karen in the other.do not have time to read the entire technical report. we specify the exact location of the structure and why we believe it is a prime location. Alice in one and Simon. 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. Always check with your instructor to determine which to include or if you should include both. Purpose: written for readers who.23 Executive Summary The body of the report begins with the executive summary. You might include an executive summary with your report. -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. as independent of audience size as possible. is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). Materials 23 . . We base this technology on several other existing structures. or the summary can be a separate document. which provides a more complete overview of the report than an abstract does. To achieve this goal. Main Hall Acoustics One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality. It can be anywhere from 1-10 pages long. depending on the report's length. 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. and Karen concentrated on the structural plans. Mike. An executive summary consolidates the principal points of a report or proposal. Cable-stayed Technology Here. Some reports only include an abstract while others include an executive summary. Simon. Location In this section. we present our rationale for using cable-stayed technology. our group split into two smaller groups. It should summarize the key points and conclusions from your report. Mike.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cable-stayed Technology A cable-stayed support system was chosen for the design of the CSU Performing Arts Center. which is located near the Morgan Library construction site. and construction of the performing arts center will begin immediately. after classes have ended. Green Hall is a condemned building and is not currently used for anything beyond university storage. This technology was eventually adapted to buildings. Each tower is buttressed by two sets of 30 . We have considered possible disturbances that the construction of the performing arts center on this plot might cause. This will allow us a good start on the project while students are not living in the nearby residence halls.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). 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. Due to the close proximity of Green Hall to Allison Hall and Parmelee Hall. Some office space has been granted to the branch of the CSUPD dealing with parking violations. using cables to support the roof. According to the front desk at Braiden Hall. This area was chosen primarily for its location on the CSU campus and its proximity to the downtown area. Another reason was to give patrons an unobstructed view of events by eliminating the need for columns. One reason for choosing this system was to allow for a more compact facility because the space available on campus was limited. 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. Green Hall will be torn down first. 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.. but this department could easily move back to its old location at Aylesworth Hall.

is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). and down to the ground. 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. 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. It also eliminates any tension and/or compression force (Figures 3.3). warm sound. Retractable banners will be built into the ceiling.6 seconds will lead toward a dry. Warmth is determined by the fullness of the bass tones. This leads to the production of a more full. For orchestral or band music. Sound quality is also greatly determined by the warmth of the sound. Any times approaching 1. Figure 3. columns are not needed in the complex and the space can be used in more ways. Texas (Figure 3. an excessive loudness. the ideal reverberation time is approximately two seconds. This causes the music to lose its clarity. The other extreme is a time that is too long. and the blending of incompatible chords ( Beranek 1962 ). dead sound ( Beranek 1962 ).3 Main Hall Acoustics Background One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality. Cloth 31 . Our model is based on this design. Materials Table 4.2). the load of the roof is directed through the cables. transferring the load into the ground.1 and 3. The walls do not support the roof as they normally would. and can be lowered to create this effect.1 gives the absorption coefficients of different frequencies for common surfaces. a multipurpose stadium in San Antonio. If the middle frequencies of a sound have longer reverberation times than the low tones. to the towers. An example of a cablestayed building is the Alamodome. only the cables are used to hold up the roof.31 cables. Without a roof load to support. For a building. then the sound will become brittle (Beranek 1962 1). as independent of audience size as possible. It shows that materials such as heavy curtains or thick carpet absorb are the ideal choice for decreasing the intensity of higher frequencies. 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.

large graphics. An elevator is provided for travel between the first and second floors.1 ) includes two main dressing rooms with shower facilities as well as four private dressing rooms with individual restrooms for guest performers. the depth under the balcony should not exceed the height of the opening beneath the balcony. The top floor of the CSU Performing Arts Center (Figure 5. For example. housing such devices as the heating. References: Whenever you cite information (this includes graphics) from another source. A coffee shop and art lounge have been included in this plan for the enjoyment and convenience of the patrons. The mechanical room for the building will be in the basement. A spacious performers' lounge has also been added in to the basement to provide a relaxing environment for the center's performers. When making decisions about what to place in 32 .3 ) includes a walk. Always check with your instructor to determine which reference style to use. see page 59-) Appendices: Appendices include information that is too large to fit within your report.around balcony overlooking the main lobby as well as a balcony for the main performance hall.32 seats will be used as they best assimilate an occupied audience area ( Beranek 1962 ). To prevent a muddiness within the sound. computer print-outs. and air conditioning equipment as well as the mechanics for the elevator. yet information necessary to your report.2 ) includes the main performance hall as well as a small rehearsal hall.000 square feet and has a seating capacity of 1. maps. Sufficient office space is included adjacent to the center's box office. The main hall is 5. The building's main floor (Figure 5. (For more information. A recording studio is also located on this floor as an added bonus. Another problem arises with the seats placed under a balcony.500 square feet apiece. 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. or sample codes are best placed in Appendices. This problem will be dealt with by limiting the length of the room. Floor Plans The Colorado State University Performing Arts Center consists of three levels. and by designing the surfaces above and around the stage to project the sound evenly throughout the concert hall. The total area of the complex is 56. This allows sound within the hall to be independent of audience size. A large classroom is provided for dance classes as well as rehearsals.200. Design considerations The intensity of the direct sound should not be too weak. The second floor has a square footage of 15. The basement level of this center (Figure 5.500. but at the same time.500 square feet. ventilating. The basement and ground floors consist of 20. you must credit the source in your References.

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

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

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

3 . 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. The Internet versions of established. • reveal inadequacies in the literature and point to where further research needs to be done. Typically. The accumulating information (it never ceases) can be filed – electronically or in paper-based folders. When you review. such as various correspondence. For Internet sources. including the following: • Your own knowledge and that of your colleagues • The knowledge of people outside your workplace. engineering. and connect them to your own work. reputable journals in medicine. reports. computer software. researchers start by following up the references provided in several key papers and then proceed to the Internet. it is sometimes difficult to determine authorship of a document. passing it off as your work. including Web sites. bailing to reference it. management. and Web intranet documents 2.36 • evaluate the current state of evidence for a particular viewpoint. to show how you will draw upon or depart from the literature in your research. evaluate the major works/findings. archives. 2.2 Sources of Information for Review Literature. gathered through interviewing for information • Internet sources. 2.3 . directories. numerous sources of information are available to you.4. including databases and indexes of articles as well as books and reference works • Printed and electronic sources in the workplace.3 Evaluating Sources The easiest way to ensure that information is valid is to obtain it from a reputable source.1 Honesty & Plagiarism Plagiarism is using the work of others and. Because anyone can publish on the Web. 36 . and discussion groups • Library resources. These different purposes define and control how and where writers search for the relevant information to review.4 Referencing 2. the brief descriptions of such materials in journal articles do not do them justice. If it is appropriate. be especially concerned about the validity of the information provided. and the like merit the same level of trust as the printed versions. in my experience. and frequently a person‘s qualifications for speaking on a topic are absent or questionable. As you conduct research.

so you do not need to reference that if it from your own head. a psychologist will be aware of Pavlovian conditioning. but there are a few times that citation is not necessary. although you should err on the side of caution. enclose it in quotation marks or indent it and reference it in your text. (no copying from other sources) Plagiarism could END your academic or professional career in some circumstances. For example. Furthermore. It is always best to over cite.37 Don’t plagiarize under ANY circumstances.4. Copying the work of other students is also plagiarism although this is often referred to as collusion. paraphrases. which are able to check. there are some extremely good plagiarism checkers available on the internet. or parenthetical references. in seconds. The names and details of the author(s) work you have used MUST be included in your writing AND in your references section. and avoid accusations of plagiarism. data. images. 2. A biochemist will be aware of how ethanol is made.should be cited within the text of your paper. 2.. statistics. Common knowledge does not need to be referenced.2 Honesty: Acknowledging Source In-text Citations: Any information you derive from an external source of information-quotes. too. 37 . As ENGINEERS. placing your research project in the context of previous findings in the field. not just on your List of References (Works Cited) page. These are called in-text citations. etc. and you can assume that any reader is fairly knowledgeable about the field. such as ‗Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA. If you copy material exactly. you must maintain the highest moral and ethical standards –breach of this trust may place public lives in jeopardy. Your supervisor or lecturer will be familiar with publications relating to specific areas of engineering and will be likely to recognize any plagiarized writing.‘ will not need referencing. and much of your discussion. hence there is NO LENIANCY To avoid plagiarism you must comply with the following: 1. if your work is original or not. involve building upon the research of others. General knowledge. If you summarize or paraphrase material you must still reference the source in your text. Common knowledge in the field is generally fine. WHEN TO USE AN IN TEXT CITATION: Most of your introduction.

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

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

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

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

more than half a million Australians (3. (2007).. Multiple Authors Jones. obesity and physical inactivity play a role in the onset of Type 2 diabetes.1 According to the 2004-05 National Health Survey. the authors are numbered in the text in order of their appearance. Better world handbook: Small changes that make a big difference. Currently there are four main styles of referencing as follows: 1 The APA style. R. British Columbia. Look at this example: An unhealthy diet. N. NY: Random House. rising steadily between 2000-01 and 2005-06. & Johnson. A consecutive number is allocated to each source as it is referred to for the first time. (2007). as with the ISCME (International Steering Committee of Medical Editors) system. starting with the name and the initials of the author(s) followed by the date of publication for each entry. Entries in the reference list are listed alphabetically. N. 42 --- . The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable.42 The Vancouver style: The in-text citation Here. Haenfler.² and participation in regular physical activity is one of the major recommendation of the evidence based guidelines for the primary prevention of diseases. Canada: New Society. New York.³ Gestational diabetes is also on the increase. E.. Gabriola Island.5% of the population) have diabetes mellitus which had been medically diagnosed and most of these people have the Type 2 condition.1but it has been shown that increased physical activity substantially reduces the risk. For example: PRINTED BOOKS Single Author Taleb. A superscript number is inserted in your text at the point where you refer to (cite) your source of information. B.4 Reference/Bibliographic Citations Many different styles of referencing have developed over the years. and the numbers are enclosed in square brackets.

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

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

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

Annual increased energy costs 7. Since then. . . in fact. . Scope. salary for a second computer specialist. An additional Aurora would reduce current downtime periods from four to two per week. In October 2008. such as ―The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of expanding our Pacific Rim operations. . the volume of processing transactions has increased fivefold (from 1. [The feasibility report would also discuss the second option— purchase of the Icardo 60 and its long-term savings. Additional Aurora Processor Purchasing a second Aurora processor would require increased annual maintenance costs. average response time has increased from 10 seconds to 120 seconds. and (2) purchase of an Icardo 60 with expandable peripherals to replace the Aurora processor currently in operation. Downtime recovery averages 30 minutes and affects 40 users.000 to 5. the Information Development Group put the MACRON System into operation. This increase has severely impaired system response time.000 Total first-year costs $167. We have investigated two alternative solutions to provide increased processing capacity: (1) purchase of an additional Aurora processor to supplement the one in operation. . System Reliability. Background. .‖ 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. analyze the needs of the audience as well as the context and purpose of the study.000 updates per day).] Conclusion A comparison of costs for both systems indicates that the Icardo 60 would cost $2. . . Then write a purpose statement.000 Construction cost (one-time) 50. . .46 Before beginning to write a feasibility report. Annual costs for computer specialist 75.000 The installation and operation of another Aurora processor are expected to produce savings in system reliability and readiness.500 . increased energy costs.500 . 46 . .500 . and a one-time construction cost for necessary remodeling and installing Internet connections.200 more in first-year costs. • • • Annual maintenance costs $35. . Total annual operating costs $117.

identifying the subsections with headings to guide readers.300 $84. describes the circumstances that led to the report. ----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. The recommendation section clearly presents the writer‘s (or team‘s) opinion on which alternative best meets the criteria as summarized in the conclusion. Body.000 One-time construction costs 50. Conclusion.500 Installation of an additional Aurora processor would permit the present information-processing systems to operate relatively smoothly and efficiently. and other relevant requirements. Introduction. Feasibility Report Sections Every feasibility report should contain an introduction.000 24. such as cost and financing.300 $108. and includes any pertinent background information. develop a new product. any procedures or methods used in the analysis of alternatives. It may also discuss the scope of the report. The body of the report presents a detailed review of the alternatives for achieving the goals of the project. It makes recommendations on such subjects as whether to fund a research program. or acquire a company or technology. availability of staff. buy a piece of capital equipment. Examine each option according to specific criteria. Recommendation Report Recommendation report is report submitted to management as the basis for decisions or actions. and any limitations of the study. a conclusion. and a recommendation. Recommendation. The introduction states the purpose of the report.47 Aurora Icardo 60 Net additional operating costs $56. a body.500 First-year total $106. lunch a project. II. 47 . The conclusion interprets the available options and leads to one option as the best or most feasible.

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

techniques. The body of the progress report should describe the project‘s status. Our estimate for the remainder of the materials is $59. Wazuski: Subject: Progress Report 8 for July 1–July 29. TX 79409 5327 August 14. Subsequent reports summarize the progress achieved since the preceding report and list the steps that remain to be taken. remaining labor costs should not exceed $64. The introduction to the first progress report should identify the project. 2012 Walter M. including details such as schedules and costs. The report ends with conclusions and recommendations about changes in the schedule. 2012 The renovation of the County Courthouse is progressing on schedule and within budget. Costs Materials used to date have cost $78. and completion date. expenditures. and perhaps an estimate of future progress.com Lubbock. NH 03103 Dear Mr. Hobard Construction Company 9032 Salem Avenue www. Although the cost of certain materials is higher than our original bid indicated. a statement of the work completed.hobardcc. and labor costs have been $193. materials. 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. 49 (808) 769-0832 Fax: (808) 769- . and other information important to the project. methods used. All progress reports for a particular project should have the same format.000.000 (including some subcontracted plumbing). necessary materials.600. Wazuski County Administrator 109 Grand Avenue Manchester.49 over a period of time and are issued at regular intervals to describe what has been done and what remains to be done.000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

focus on your research objectives—what specifically you plan to investigate. Outline realistic deadlines for specific research tasks that will help you achieve your objectives and meet the final deadline.60 . 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. If you are a student you may not have to include this section in your proposal.99 6 50 70 58 0. 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. Funding bodies also need to know that you have not over-budgeted and expect more money than you‘re going to use.58 conducting the research. Then.99 55 0. Provide a list of projected costs for your research project. You might also include their résumés in an appendix. Data analysis Write report Prepare oral presentation • Qualifications. Categorize returned questionnaires Send out reminder letter for no responses. 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. Summarize the expertise of those who will conduct the research. • Budget. First. Data input. as appropriate. 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. focus on your research methods—how you plan to achieve your objectives (through interviewing? on the Web? through other sources?). 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. • Work Schedule/Timetable. Continue to categorize returned questionnaires. including costs of all resources needed to carry out your research plan. Table 2: Research Budget Resource 1Good quality personal recorder with battery indicator light.

3) Specific purposes the project is intended to serve. ring binder. 120 scissors Travel expenses – petrol.08+ petrol (to be notified) • Conclusion. paper clips.59 Stationery – paper. 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. 2) Project staff responsible for the production.95 00 0. e) Substantive sections or chapters. PROJECT PROPOSAL The contents of project proposal can be structured as follows: a) Title page. such as a formal report. Remind the reader of the benefits from your research and any specific products that will result. envelopes.50 5. Close with a request for approval by a specific date and offer to answer any of the readers‘ questions. c) An introduction providing information on: 1) Project activity or sub-activity related to the project proposal. 59 . f) Annexes as appropriate. d) A summary of findings and recommendations. 5) Future expected results on implementation of the included study. 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.

) 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. and is it written according to the specifications in the chapter on abstracts? Specifically.) Does your report use the format for headings that is standard for this course? (See the chapter on headings for details. followed by figure list. is it positioned properly in relation to the other report components. and is it written according to the specifications in the chapter on abstracts? Do you include an informative abstract in your report.) Does your report use the format for lists that is standard for this course? (See the chapter on lists for details.) Does your report use graphics and tables? Does your report use the format for graphics and tables that is standard for this course? Specifically. are your figure titles (captions) to our class specifications? (See the chapter on graphics and tables for details. transmittal letter.) Does the title page of your report include a descriptive abstract.) Do you identify in the introduction what background the audience needs to read and understand your report? Does your report contain specific. followed by title page. does your informative abstract summarize the key facts and conclusions of your report rather than act as just another introduction or descriptive abstract? 60 .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.) 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. for example.) Is page 1 of your introduction designed according to the standard for this course? (See the chapter on report format for details. and so on? (See the chapter on report format for details.

‖ Here. such as audience. or having an introduction that is all background? (See the chapter on introductions for details. 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 . For Woody (2011: online).  finding a solution is hard and may require novel ideas (e. research means.1 The concept of Research Different meanings are given for the term research.1 Applied vs.) Unit three: Research methods 3.2 Classifications of research 3. there seems to be no uniform consensus among writers in defining research but the definitions appear to suggest that research should be systematic. making deductions and reaching conclusions. But pure research is mainly concerned with generalizations and the formulation of a theory. use logical and scientific procedures to answer a ( an open-ended problems) question. Pure Research can be applied research or pure (or basic or fundamental) research on basis of the application of the research study. through ‗brainstorming‘). open ended problems:  tend to be complex  existence may be difficult to identify. 3. the variables are difficult to isolate. Blaxter. purpose? Do you avoid the problem of having too much background in the introduction. however. formulating hypothesis. ―Research is a systematic investigation to find answers to a problem."--. collecting. say. Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization. Or many alternative solutions are likely to be possible. organizing and evaluating data.‖ According to Fellows and Liu (2008). some scholars define it as a search for knowledge or the search for new knowledge. Examples include copy research or marketing research.‖ Fellows and Liu (2008:8) believe that ―most problems requiring research for their solution are likely to be open-ended. Hughes and Tight (2006).2.defining and redefining problems. and carefully--testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis. Broadly.  situation is likely to be dynamic and so.61 Does the introduction of your report include the elements necessary in good introductions.g. overview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

such as. 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. more manageable number of people to take part in their research. in which case it might be possible to contact everyone. a full population ‗sample‘ may be researched.69 Confidentiality & Anonymity. This technique is called sampling. . Confidentiality is a similar to anonymity. 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. there will be only a small number of people 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. For example. It is useful if the letter contains an explanation of the research. the envisaged outcomes. the more trust in the researcher which is required by the provider.e. any data provided will be treated as confidential and used for the purposes of this research only. all buildings on Hong Kong Island or all buildings in Greater London can be viewed as populations. This is called a census. respondents may require further restrictions to apply concerning publication of results. Also. You are probably restricted by time and money–you have to make sure that you construct a sample which will be manageable. ‗. The first question new researchers tend to ask is ‗how many people should I speak to?‘ For some research projects. Trust and confidence are important considerations in data collection–the more sensitive the data. Anonymity refers to persons and organizations whilst confidentiality relates to the data. it is likely to be easier to obtain data and it may be possible to obtain data which might not be available otherwise. limitless timescale and large team of interviewers. it will be difficult to speak to every person within your research population. for most projects. you have to account for non-response and you may need to choose a higher proportion of your research population. unless you have a huge budget. However. i. . benefits and purpose of the work as well as an explanation of its role in a degree course etc. Such restrictions should be considered carefully as they could ‗stifle‘ the work and its value. If the population is sufficiently small. Researchers overcome this problem by choosing a smaller. If trust and confidence have been established. Despite assurances of confidentiality. but in the vast majority of cases a sample must be taken. 69 . whilst both of these are also samples of all buildings in the world. the sample is representative. the identity of respondents will not be revealed‘.

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

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

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


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.


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

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

statistical inference is employed to determine the applicability of the results to the issues under investigation and. Inferences: Inference is the process by which the meanings and implications of the results are determined in order that conclusions may be drawn. 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‘. looking at the research executed as a whole. For example. adopting an incremental approach to generalizations which may be made. Usually. For quantitative studies. independent and dependent variables. but focusing particularly on the hypotheses. Six weeks after the end of the campaign. They must demonstrate what has been found out through the execution of the research. Conclusions take a ‗broad perspective‘. the drawing of conclusions. 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. variables are considered in pairs. thence. A random sample of 2000 people who smoke is selected to investigate whether a short TV campaign will induce them to give up smoking. 78 . 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. In interpreting results.78 interpretation to give meaning in the context of what the research sought to discover. objectives and aim of the research.

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