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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Members agreed that all staff must be informed of the implications. MATTERS ARISING George Coney reported that the recent fire drills had been successful and all the issues raised last time had been resolved. Be sure to check with your instructor before Date--------------------- 16 . However. DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING/Adjournment It was agreed that the next meeting should be held at 4pm on 10 October 20XX Signed ……………………………. you may be required to include or exclude specific sections. Most technical reports include the parts listed below. ANY OTHER BUSINESS Aarlif Hussain raised the issue of bank holidays and has asked members to give him their thoughts at the next meeting 7. (Chairperson) 2. George Coney will meet with Ace next week to discuss plans 6. 4.2 . MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING The minutes of the previous meeting were taken as read. 5. A copy of the surveyor’s letter was circulated and will be discussed in a meeting to be arranged for next week. NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS These were effective from 1 October 20XX.16 etc Jo Smith (Secretary) (JS) ACTION 1. This specific format allows readers to quickly locate the information they need. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE Apologies were received from Brian Jones and Angela Green 2.2 Formal Technical Report 2.. PLANNED IT UPDATES It was proposed that these would be undertaken by Ace Technology during October and November to minimize disruption to operations.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... agreed as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairperson 3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This causes the music to lose its clarity. It shows that materials such as heavy curtains or thick carpet absorb are the ideal choice for decreasing the intensity of higher frequencies. It also eliminates any tension and/or compression force (Figures 3. The other extreme is a time that is too long. a multipurpose stadium in San Antonio.1 gives the absorption coefficients of different frequencies for common surfaces. the load of the roof is directed through the cables. Cloth 31 .3). and the blending of incompatible chords ( Beranek 1962 ). Warmth is determined by the fullness of the bass tones.3 Main Hall Acoustics Background One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality.2). 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. and can be lowered to create this effect. For orchestral or band music.31 cables. warm sound. For a building. The walls do not support the roof as they normally would.6 seconds will lead toward a dry.1 and 3. is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). An example of a cablestayed building is the Alamodome. 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. an excessive loudness. Our model is based on this design. then the sound will become brittle (Beranek 1962 1). transferring the load into the ground. the ideal reverberation time is approximately two seconds. Figure 3. columns are not needed in the complex and the space can be used in more ways. Materials Table 4. only the cables are used to hold up the roof. This leads to the production of a more full. dead sound ( Beranek 1962 ). Without a roof load to support. to the towers. Sound quality is also greatly determined by the warmth of the sound. If the middle frequencies of a sound have longer reverberation times than the low tones. 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. as independent of audience size as possible. Texas (Figure 3. Retractable banners will be built into the ceiling. Any times approaching 1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and a reference list at the end of the text (which provides full details of all references cited in-text). 2008) -When a work has two authors. its impact so deep. 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.). -If the author has written more than one paper in the same year. For the first citation of a work with three to six authors. for the World Health Organization. . NHS. 2008. 2008a) Some departments prefer it if you also use page numbers. In short. -If the APA parenthetical citation follows a block quotation. which appear within the text (a citation number in a square bracket). For example. 40 . For example. 2008). For subsequent citations and for works with more than six authors. 2007). include only the last name of the first author followed by et al. p. then you can use an alphabetical appendix: (Sargeant. a close collaboration with the nursing staff and the hospital bed safety committee is essential. (Jackson. list the citations alphabetically and use semicolons to separate them: (Hinduja & Nguyen. place it after the final punctuation mark. you use the name of the organization or a recognized abbreviation. cite both names joined by an ampersand: (Hinduja & Nguyen. ―the Singularity‖ (Kurzweil. . 7). In this case. place them after the closing quotation marks and continue with the rest of the sentence. -When APA parenthetical citations are needed midsentence. we will witness a ―pace of technological change that will be so rapid. (Sargeant 2008. 2006.40 -According to Kurzweil (2006). that human life will be irreversibly transformed‖ (p. for the National Health Service. and the source was written by an organization. or WHO. 17) When there is no author mentioned. if possible. include all names. . 9) is a blending of human biology and technology that will help us develop beyond our human limitations. (not italicized and with a period after al. When two or more works by different authors are cited in the same parentheses. Townsend.

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

more than half a million Australians (3.² and participation in regular physical activity is one of the major recommendation of the evidence based guidelines for the primary prevention of diseases. New York. Canada: New Society.1 According to the 2004-05 National Health Survey. Haenfler. A consecutive number is allocated to each source as it is referred to for the first time. as with the ISCME (International Steering Committee of Medical Editors) system. and the numbers are enclosed in square brackets.4 Reference/Bibliographic Citations Many different styles of referencing have developed over the years.42 The Vancouver style: The in-text citation Here. NY: Random House. N. 42 --- . starting with the name and the initials of the author(s) followed by the date of publication for each entry. E. obesity and physical inactivity play a role in the onset of Type 2 diabetes. R. Better world handbook: Small changes that make a big difference. Entries in the reference list are listed alphabetically.. A superscript number is inserted in your text at the point where you refer to (cite) your source of information. N.1but it has been shown that increased physical activity substantially reduces the risk.5% of the population) have diabetes mellitus which had been medically diagnosed and most of these people have the Type 2 condition. rising steadily between 2000-01 and 2005-06. Look at this example: An unhealthy diet. B. & Johnson. Multiple Authors Jones.. The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. Currently there are four main styles of referencing as follows: 1 The APA style. (2007). Gabriola Island. For example: PRINTED BOOKS Single Author Taleb. (2007). the authors are numbered in the text in order of their appearance.³ Gestational diabetes is also on the increase. British Columbia.

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

Journal titles are sometimes abbreviated. [4] B. [2] V. ‘Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results?’ Learning and Instruction. Ed. ‘Effects of collaborative learning on the quality of assignments. Collaborative Writing:An Annotated Bibliography. B. The reference list is numbered sequentially. pp. T. Pp. London: Verlag. Heaton. Sharples. Tang. 1993. The Vancouver style. Victoria L. Tang. 1995. [3] C. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. 5. 1999.44 Speck. pp. or at the ends of the references for books etc. C.. Zammuner. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Barry Dart and Gillian Boulton-Lewis. Eds. 44 Springer- . followed by surnames. Bruce W. L. 102–23. etc. Zammuner. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 1999. and Leon B. The key feature of the Vancouver style is its ‘spare’ typography and punctuation. ‘Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results?’ Learning and Instruction 5 (1995) 101–24. followed by their initials.’ in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Westport. ‘Effects of collaborative learning on the quality of assignments. Speck. 103–23. M. R. For example: [1] M. 101–24. 3 IEEE Reference List style.The reference list is then numbered sequentially. An alternative version is to list (and number) the authors alphabetically in the reference list. but the authors are listed surnames first.. Westport. Dates of the publications are given after journal titles. Eds. no.2. Names are presented with the initial(s) first. W. Johnson. Dart and G. 1998. editor.’ Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. P. Heaton. and to assign these numbers to the authors in the text as appropriate. Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. Catherine Dice. Computer supported collaborative writing. and the use of abbreviated journal titles. London: Springer-Verlag. B. Teresa R. For example: 1 Sharples M. 1993. 1998. vol. Collaborative Writing: An Annotated Bibliography. or at the end of the references for book. Johnson. Catherine. Boulton-Lewis. Dice and L. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. Again the dates of publications are given after journal titles.

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

Scope. Total annual operating costs $117. Background. and (2) purchase of an Icardo 60 with expandable peripherals to replace the Aurora processor currently in operation. [The feasibility report would also discuss the second option— purchase of the Icardo 60 and its long-term savings. Then write a purpose statement. the Information Development Group put the MACRON System into operation. average response time has increased from 10 seconds to 120 seconds. . . such as ―The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of expanding our Pacific Rim operations.] Conclusion A comparison of costs for both systems indicates that the Icardo 60 would cost $2.‖ 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. . . . Since then.500 . increased energy costs. salary for a second computer specialist. . . • • • Annual maintenance costs $35. . in fact. .200 more in first-year costs.000 to 5. and a one-time construction cost for necessary remodeling and installing Internet connections. Annual increased energy costs 7. Additional Aurora Processor Purchasing a second Aurora processor would require increased annual maintenance costs. . An additional Aurora would reduce current downtime periods from four to two per week.000 The installation and operation of another Aurora processor are expected to produce savings in system reliability and readiness. analyze the needs of the audience as well as the context and purpose of the study. Downtime recovery averages 30 minutes and affects 40 users. 46 . This increase has severely impaired system response time.000 Total first-year costs $167.000 Construction cost (one-time) 50.500 . In October 2008. . Annual costs for computer specialist 75.500 . We have investigated two alternative solutions to provide increased processing capacity: (1) purchase of an additional Aurora processor to supplement the one in operation.000 updates per day). the volume of processing transactions has increased fivefold (from 1. .46 Before beginning to write a feasibility report. System Reliability.

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

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

hobardcc. and perhaps an estimate of future progress. and other information important to the project. remaining labor costs should not exceed $64. materials. Although the cost of certain materials is higher than our original bid indicated. The introduction to the first progress report should identify the project. a statement of the work completed. necessary materials.600. and completion date. NH 03103 Dear Mr. Subsequent reports summarize the progress achieved since the preceding report and list the steps that remain to be taken. The report ends with conclusions and recommendations about changes in the schedule. including details such as schedules and costs. Costs Materials used to date have cost $78. All progress reports for a particular project should have the same format. expenditures. techniques.000 (including some subcontracted plumbing).000. Hobard Construction Company 9032 Salem Avenue www. Our estimate for the remainder of the materials is $59. 49 (808) 769-0832 Fax: (808) 769- . TX 79409 5327 August 14.com Lubbock. Wazuski County Administrator 109 Grand Avenue Manchester. methods used. and labor costs have been $193. 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. 2012 The renovation of the County Courthouse is progressing on schedule and within budget. Wazuski: Subject: Progress Report 8 for July 1–July 29.49 over a period of time and are issued at regular intervals to describe what has been done and what remains to be done. The body of the progress report should describe the project‘s status.000. 2012 Walter M.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.08+ petrol (to be notified) • Conclusion. 59 . f) Annexes as appropriate. 5) Future expected results on implementation of the included study. ring binder.95 00 0. 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. such as a formal report. Remind the reader of the benefits from your research and any specific products that will result. e) Substantive sections or chapters. Close with a request for approval by a specific date and offer to answer any of the readers‘ questions. d) A summary of findings and recommendations. 4) Different means and methods which could be utilized to achieve the goals of the project. c) An introduction providing information on: 1) Project activity or sub-activity related to the project proposal.50 5.59 Stationery – paper. paper clips. 120 scissors Travel expenses – petrol. envelopes. PROJECT PROPOSAL The contents of project proposal can be structured as follows: a) Title page. 3) Specific purposes the project is intended to serve.

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

 situation is likely to be dynamic and so. But pure research is mainly concerned with generalizations and the formulation of a theory. Hughes and Tight (2006). Blaxter.) Unit three: Research methods 3. use logical and scientific procedures to answer a ( an open-ended problems) question.‖ Fellows and Liu (2008:8) believe that ―most problems requiring research for their solution are likely to be open-ended. or having an introduction that is all background? (See the chapter on introductions for details. 3. making deductions and reaching conclusions.  finding a solution is hard and may require novel ideas (e.1 Applied vs. purpose? Do you avoid the problem of having too much background in the introduction. research means. Broadly. the variables are difficult to isolate. there seems to be no uniform consensus among writers in defining research but the definitions appear to suggest that research should be systematic. organizing and evaluating data. such as audience.‖ Here.2.1 The concept of Research Different meanings are given for the term research.61 Does the introduction of your report include the elements necessary in good introductions. through ‗brainstorming‘). 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 ."--.‖ According to Fellows and Liu (2008). open ended problems:  tend to be complex  existence may be difficult to identify. formulating hypothesis. For Woody (2011: online).defining and redefining problems. ―Research is a systematic investigation to find answers to a problem. Or many alternative solutions are likely to be possible. say. however. and carefully--testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis.2 Classifications of research 3. overview. Pure Research can be applied research or pure (or basic or fundamental) research on basis of the application of the research study. Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization.g. collecting. some scholars define it as a search for knowledge or the search for new knowledge. Examples include copy research or marketing research.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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

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

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

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