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.


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

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

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

changed their image in 1996. Pennsylvania. saying words mentally to themselves silently. its length may discourage and frustrate the reader. So. saying words mentally to themselves as they read silently.) After: Remember that nearly all readers subvocalize. with the resulting spaces. This advice is particularly germane in naming products. or companies. In 1998. but a page which is filled by only one paragraph even if it is logically cohesive. they will restore the original name. they will restore the original name. words that are hard to pronounce will as they read slow the reader. they also adopted the more high-tech sounding name of NextLevel. mainly because most of their they Asian customers for cable-TV converter boxes have trouble with saying NextLevel. words that are hard to pronounce will slow the reader. systems. This advice is particularly germane in naming products. they also adopted the more high-tech sounding name of NextLevel. Pennsylvania. Paragraphs have a psychological effect on the reader. When General Instrument of Horsham. encourage reading. or companies. To avoid this. Several paragraphs on a page. the spokes clown for McDonalds restaurants in Japan is called Donald McDonald not Ronald. changed their image in 996. So. Nearly every E2 and E3 has trouble with the th sound (especially unvoiced) and many Asian languages struggle with l and r. In 1998.7 Before: We make no specific guarantees with respect to future rate of return on these investment instruments. When General Instrument Corporation of Horsham. systems. Notice the effect. Similarly. Nearly every E2 and E3 has trouble with the th sound (especially unvoiced) and many Asian languages struggle with l and r. After: We guarantee no specific return on these funds. Before: Remember that nearly all readers subvocalize. use the three ways below: Break Apart Long Paragraphs: The following paragraph (also justified to make it less inviting) is arbitrarily split. mainly because most of their Asian customers for cable-TV converter boxes have trouble with 7 . 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This area was chosen primarily for its location on the CSU campus and its proximity to the downtown area. We have considered possible disturbances that the construction of the performing arts center on this plot might cause. 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. Green Hall will be torn down first. MASK Engineering believes that this will be the case for the residents in Allison and Parmelee when they return in the fall as the performing arts center is finished. but this department could easily move back to its old location at Aylesworth Hall. we have decided to begin construction early in the summer. Cable-stayed Technology A cable-stayed support system was chosen for the design of the CSU Performing Arts Center. 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. using cables to support the roof. which is located near the Morgan Library construction site. This technology was eventually adapted to buildings. after classes have ended. Green Hall is a condemned building and is not currently used for anything beyond university storage. According to the front desk at Braiden Hall. Due to the close proximity of Green Hall to Allison Hall and Parmelee Hall. Some office space has been granted to the branch of the CSUPD dealing with parking violations. 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. Each tower is buttressed by two sets of 30 . residents do not have a problem with noise and there have been no complaints of disturbances..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). 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.

The other extreme is a time that is too long. This leads to the production of a more full.6 seconds will lead toward a dry. a multipurpose stadium in San Antonio. For orchestral or band music. then the sound will become brittle (Beranek 1962 1). and the blending of incompatible chords ( Beranek 1962 ). Without a roof load to support.3 Main Hall Acoustics Background One of the key characteristics of a concert hall that greatly influences sound quality. transferring the load into the ground. and can be lowered to create this effect. If the middle frequencies of a sound have longer reverberation times than the low tones. only the cables are used to hold up the roof. Retractable banners will be built into the ceiling.1 and 3.31 cables. and down to the ground. For a building. dead sound ( Beranek 1962 ). The walls do not support the roof as they normally would. 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. Our model is based on this design. the ideal reverberation time is approximately two seconds. Materials Table 4. Any times approaching 1. to the towers.2). Cloth 31 . is its reverberation time (the time before the decay of the reflected sound). It also eliminates any tension and/or compression force (Figures 3.1 gives the absorption coefficients of different frequencies for common surfaces. Texas (Figure 3. Sound quality is also greatly determined by the warmth of the sound. 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. 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. columns are not needed in the complex and the space can be used in more ways. as independent of audience size as possible. Figure 3. an excessive loudness.3). Warmth is determined by the fullness of the bass tones. warm sound. the load of the roof is directed through the cables. An example of a cablestayed building is the Alamodome. 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.

housing such devices as the heating. References: Whenever you cite information (this includes graphics) from another source. A large classroom is provided for dance classes as well as rehearsals. The main hall is 5. The building's main floor (Figure 5. computer print-outs. This problem will be dealt with by limiting the length of the room. A recording studio is also located on this floor as an added bonus. Always check with your instructor to determine which reference style to use. ventilating. The top floor of the CSU Performing Arts Center (Figure 5. Design considerations The intensity of the direct sound should not be too weak. This allows sound within the hall to be independent of audience size.1 ) includes two main dressing rooms with shower facilities as well as four private dressing rooms with individual restrooms for guest performers. The mechanical room for the building will be in the basement.3 ) includes a walk. maps. Another problem arises with the seats placed under a balcony. The basement and ground floors consist of 20. A coffee shop and art lounge have been included in this plan for the enjoyment and convenience of the patrons.around balcony overlooking the main lobby as well as a balcony for the main performance hall.32 seats will be used as they best assimilate an occupied audience area ( Beranek 1962 ). Sufficient office space is included adjacent to the center's box office. The basement level of this center (Figure 5. An elevator is provided for travel between the first and second floors. (For more information. but at the same time.500 square feet apiece. The second floor has a square footage of 15. see page 59-) Appendices: Appendices include information that is too large to fit within your report. When making decisions about what to place in 32 .200. The low sound absorbance of plaster also makes it ideal for the creation of the desired reverberation time of two seconds. For example. A spacious performers' lounge has also been added in to the basement to provide a relaxing environment for the center's performers. To prevent a muddiness within the sound. and by designing the surfaces above and around the stage to project the sound evenly throughout the concert hall.500. The total area of the complex is 56.500 square feet. yet information necessary to your report. it must not become uncomfortably loud.000 square feet and has a seating capacity of 1. you must credit the source in your References. the depth under the balcony should not exceed the height of the opening beneath the balcony. and air conditioning equipment as well as the mechanics for the elevator. or sample codes are best placed in Appendices. large graphics.2 ) includes the main performance hall as well as a small rehearsal hall. Floor Plans The Colorado State University Performing Arts Center consists of three levels.

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

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

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

As you conduct research. The Internet versions of established. Because anyone can publish on the Web. it is sometimes difficult to determine authorship of a document. engineering. computer software.3 . it is also helpful at this stage to email or write to the authors of original papers to obtain copies of the materials used in experimental studies for. numerous sources of information are available to you. passing it off as your work. including Web sites. 36 .3 . bailing to reference it. • reveal inadequacies in the literature and point to where further research needs to be done. These different purposes define and control how and where writers search for the relevant information to review. When you review.2 Sources of Information for Review Literature. and Web intranet documents 2. and the like merit the same level of trust as the printed versions. including the following: • Your own knowledge and that of your colleagues • The knowledge of people outside your workplace. and connect them to your own work. archives. evaluate the major works/findings. Typically. and frequently a person‘s qualifications for speaking on a topic are absent or questionable. For Internet sources. including databases and indexes of articles as well as books and reference works • Printed and electronic sources in the workplace. gathered through interviewing for information • Internet sources. 2.4. management.1 Honesty & Plagiarism Plagiarism is using the work of others and. reports. and discussion groups • Library resources. If it is appropriate. the brief descriptions of such materials in journal articles do not do them justice.3 Evaluating Sources The easiest way to ensure that information is valid is to obtain it from a reputable source.36 • evaluate the current state of evidence for a particular viewpoint. be especially concerned about the validity of the information provided. The accumulating information (it never ceases) can be filed – electronically or in paper-based folders.4 Referencing 2. researchers start by following up the references provided in several key papers and then proceed to the Internet. such as various correspondence. directories. to show how you will draw upon or depart from the literature in your research. in my experience. 2. reputable journals in medicine.

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

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

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

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

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

.1but it has been shown that increased physical activity substantially reduces the risk. A consecutive number is allocated to each source as it is referred to for the first time. Multiple Authors Jones. The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. Gabriola Island. New York.³ Gestational diabetes is also on the increase. Haenfler. For example: PRINTED BOOKS Single Author Taleb. the authors are numbered in the text in order of their appearance.4 Reference/Bibliographic Citations Many different styles of referencing have developed over the years. 42 --- . B.42 The Vancouver style: The in-text citation Here. rising steadily between 2000-01 and 2005-06.5% of the population) have diabetes mellitus which had been medically diagnosed and most of these people have the Type 2 condition. (2007). & Johnson. more than half a million Australians (3. 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. British Columbia. E. R. (2007).1 According to the 2004-05 National Health Survey. obesity and physical inactivity play a role in the onset of Type 2 diabetes. N. N. Look at this example: An unhealthy diet. Better world handbook: Small changes that make a big difference.. Canada: New Society.² and participation in regular physical activity is one of the major recommendation of the evidence based guidelines for the primary prevention of diseases. Currently there are four main styles of referencing as follows: 1 The APA style. and the numbers are enclosed in square brackets. as with the ISCME (International Steering Committee of Medical Editors) system. NY: Random House. starting with the name and the initials of the author(s) followed by the date of publication for each entry.

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

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

Dice CP. CT: Greenwood Press. Johnson TR. they are often referred to as recommendation reports. 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. expanding a customer base. or moving operations—they first try to determine the project‘s chances for success.2. Collaborative writing: an annotated bibliography. In the condensed feasibility report shown in Figure F–1. Further. 2. Most formal reports are divided into three primary parts—front matter. many organizations have a preferred style for formal reports and furnish guidelines for report writers to follow. Westport. Heaton LB.2 Formal Reports types Formal reports are usually written accounts of major projects that require substantial research. Feasibility Reports When organizations consider a new project—developing a new product or service. a consultant conducts a study to determine how to upgrade a company‘s computer system and Internet capability. 45 . and the kinds of material covered. the length of the report. purchasing equipment. 1999. If you are not required to follow a specific style. The number and arrangement of the elements may vary depending on the subject. The following list includes most of the elements a formal report might contain. the report offers logical conclusions and recommends whether the project should be carried out. body. When feasibility reports stress specific steps that should be taken as a result of a study of a problem or an issue. A feasibility report presents evidence about the practicality of a proposed project based on specific criteria. I. 5 (Pt 2): 101–24.45 Zammuner VL. in the order they typically appear. and back matter—each of which contains a number of elements. Individual and co-operative computer writing and revising: Who gets the best results? Learn Instruction 1995. use the format recommended in this entry. and they often involve more than one writer. 4 Speck BWM.

analyze the needs of the audience as well as the context and purpose of the study. • • • Annual maintenance costs $35. Annual increased energy costs 7. .500 .000 Total first-year costs $167.000 updates per day). . the Information Development Group put the MACRON System into operation. This increase has severely impaired system response time. 46 . . and a one-time construction cost for necessary remodeling and installing Internet connections.200 more in first-year costs.000 The installation and operation of another Aurora processor are expected to produce savings in system reliability and readiness. System Reliability.46 Before beginning to write a feasibility report.500 . . . . An additional Aurora would reduce current downtime periods from four to two per week. . increased energy costs. Since then. Total annual operating costs $117. the volume of processing transactions has increased fivefold (from 1. . salary for a second computer specialist. Scope. .000 to 5. We have investigated two alternative solutions to provide increased processing capacity: (1) purchase of an additional Aurora processor to supplement the one in operation. Additional Aurora Processor Purchasing a second Aurora processor would require increased annual maintenance costs.500 . . in fact. . [The feasibility report would also discuss the second option— purchase of the Icardo 60 and its long-term savings. Then write a purpose statement.‖ 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. .000 Construction cost (one-time) 50. Annual costs for computer specialist 75. average response time has increased from 10 seconds to 120 seconds. and (2) purchase of an Icardo 60 with expandable peripherals to replace the Aurora processor currently in operation. such as ―The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of expanding our Pacific Rim operations. Downtime recovery averages 30 minutes and affects 40 users. In October 2008.] Conclusion A comparison of costs for both systems indicates that the Icardo 60 would cost $2. Background.

The introduction states the purpose of the report.47 Aurora Icardo 60 Net additional operating costs $56. Conclusion. It makes recommendations on such subjects as whether to fund a research program. and a recommendation. Feasibility Report Sections Every feasibility report should contain an introduction. or acquire a company or technology.000 24.000 One-time construction costs 50. Recommendation. and other relevant requirements. and includes any pertinent background information. The body of the report presents a detailed review of the alternatives for achieving the goals of the project. describes the circumstances that led to the report. such as cost and financing. ----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. a body. lunch a project. and any limitations of the study. develop a new product. Recommendation Report Recommendation report is report submitted to management as the basis for decisions or actions. Examine each option according to specific criteria. The recommendation section clearly presents the writer‘s (or team‘s) opinion on which alternative best meets the criteria as summarized in the conclusion. Introduction.500 First-year total $106. any procedures or methods used in the analysis of alternatives. a conclusion.500 Installation of an additional Aurora processor would permit the present information-processing systems to operate relatively smoothly and efficiently. Body. 47 . It may also discuss the scope of the report. buy a piece of capital equipment. identifying the subsections with headings to guide readers. II.300 $108.300 $84. availability of staff. The conclusion interprets the available options and leads to one option as the best or most feasible.

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

000. Costs Materials used to date have cost $78. necessary materials. expenditures. methods used. techniques. The introduction to the first progress report should identify the project.000 (including some subcontracted plumbing). 2012 Walter M. materials. 49 (808) 769-0832 Fax: (808) 769- . remaining labor costs should not exceed $64. Our estimate for the remainder of the materials is $59. Wazuski County Administrator 109 Grand Avenue Manchester. TX 79409 5327 August 14.600. a statement of the work completed.49 over a period of time and are issued at regular intervals to describe what has been done and what remains to be done.hobardcc. and labor costs have been $193. and perhaps an estimate of future progress. NH 03103 Dear Mr. and other information important to the project. including details such as schedules and costs. The body of the progress report should describe the project‘s status. All progress reports for a particular project should have the same format. Although the cost of certain materials is higher than our original bid indicated. The report ends with conclusions and recommendations about changes in the schedule.000. Wazuski: Subject: Progress Report 8 for July 1–July 29. Subsequent reports summarize the progress achieved since the preceding report and list the steps that remain to be taken. 2012 The renovation of the County Courthouse is progressing on schedule and within budget. 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. and completion date. Hobard Construction Company 9032 Salem Avenue www.com Lubbock.

As with any plan. in which you describe how you will approach the task. the upgrading of the records-storage room. 6 If needed. 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. and all the subfloor wiring. and the replacement of the air-conditioning units from November 23 to December 16. The upgrading of the courtroom. and the replacement of the air-conditioning units are in the preliminary stages. Initial report at the start of the activity This is likely to be similar to a project proposal. Use the principles given in 1.50 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. 7 Allocation of responsibilities individuals in the team 50 . Tran Nuguélen Tran Nuguélen ntran@hobardcc. 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. Possible structures for a series of progress reports 1. we had finished the installation of the circuit-breaker panels and meters. the level-one service outlets.com A project team's progress reports Purpose: To report at intervals on the progress of a management project undertaken by several individuals. Sincerely yours. Schedule of Tasks. it will involve intelligent and informed guesswork.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.60 . Table 2: Research Budget Resource 1Good quality personal recorder with battery indicator light. Data analysis Write report Prepare oral presentation • Qualifications. Then. Summarize the expertise of those who will conduct the research. including costs of all resources needed to carry out your research plan. Continue to categorize returned questionnaires.58 conducting the research. Outline realistic deadlines for specific research tasks that will help you achieve your objectives and meet the final deadline. If you are a student you may not have to include this section in your proposal. Table 1: Survey Timetable Date January – 5 February 6 February – 7 March 8 March – 9 April 10 April – 21 April 21 April – 1 May 1 May – 1 July 2 July – 3 August Action Literature search Primary research (talk to relevant people) Develop and pilot questionnaire Continue literature search Analyze pilot work and revise questionnaire Ask relevant people for comments Send out questionnaire. • Work Schedule/Timetable.99 6 50 70 58 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. focus on your research methods—how you plan to achieve your objectives (through interviewing? on the Web? through other sources?). First. 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. You might also include their résumés in an appendix. 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. Funding bodies also need to know that you have not over-budgeted and expect more money than you‘re going to use. as appropriate. Data input. Provide a list of projected costs for your research project. focus on your research objectives—what specifically you plan to investigate. • Budget. Categorize returned questionnaires Send out reminder letter for no responses.99 55 0.

f) Annexes as appropriate. e) Substantive sections or chapters. 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. c) An introduction providing information on: 1) Project activity or sub-activity related to the project proposal. PROJECT PROPOSAL The contents of project proposal can be structured as follows: a) Title page. Close with a request for approval by a specific date and offer to answer any of the readers‘ questions. Remind the reader of the benefits from your research and any specific products that will result. 3) Specific purposes the project is intended to serve. 120 scissors Travel expenses – petrol. 59 . ring binder. b) An abstract of the documentary output or a list of KEYWORDS reflecting the principal subject fields of the project. envelopes. d) A summary of findings and recommendations. 5) Future expected results on implementation of the included study.50 5.95 00 0. such as a formal report.08+ petrol (to be notified) • Conclusion. paper clips. 2) Project staff responsible for the production. 4) Different means and methods which could be utilized to achieve the goals of the project.59 Stationery – paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

in principle. or event/project. They apply to action research. 5. to case studies and to surveys as well Advantages and disadvantages of experiments Advantages 1. etc. ethical issues around the use of experiments involving people. If both pre. group/organization. 4.66 As already indicated. It is often difficult to choose the ‗control‘ variables so as to exclude all confounding variables. Generally viewed as the best way of getting a definitive answer to a research question. are held approximately constant and the consequences for the major dependent variable are measured. 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. Disadvantages 1. A common approach is to undertake comparative studies on similar projects executed at about the same time by similar firms employing similar organizational arrangements. Such approaches are called quasi-experiments. objectives and service inputs which may contribute to outcomes in natural settings. Yet. The data for case studies can come from a variety of sources. Experiments cannot capture the diversity of goals. in other words. Case studies: A case study is a detailed study of a single individual. There are. 3. quality. cost. 2. 2. It is difficult to design experiments so as to represent a specified population. 3. interviews. as measured in terms of time. The modern design of experiments permits greater flexibility. Quasi-experiments The usual approach to experimental design is to devise a study in which the main independent variables. the social sciences are concerned with human behavior and perspectives. yield causal relationships. including observation. 66 . efficiency and powerful statistical manipulation.and post-testing is conducted this controls for time-related threats to validity. and difficult to judge in advance–while denying it to others. The experiment is the only research design which can. while they appear particularly evident in the case of experiments. 4. except the one of interest. Through random assignment of people to intervention and control groups the risk of extraneous variables confounding the results is minimized. Such a study could investigate the impact of different management styles of project managers on project management performance. questionnaires. Contriving the desired ‗natural setting‘ in experiments is often not possible. these issues are just as strong for other research approaches.

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

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

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

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

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

to a list of topic areas on which the respondent‘s views are recorded. Observations The observation method involves the researcher in watching. They vary in form quite widely.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. if not to the entire interview or questionnaire. the interviewer administers a questionnaire. at the extreme. the interviewer introduces the topic briefly and then records the replies of the respondent. perhaps by asking the questions and recording the responses. Participant observation. knowledge and opinion. The more sensitive the category of questions. sociology and psychology. they can be: structured. The major differences lie in the constraints placed on the respondent and the interviewer. recording and analyzing events of interest. This may be almost a monologue with some prompts to ensure completion of the statements. In unstructured interviews . clearly the respondent can say what and as much as she/he desires. unstructured. Direct observation tends to be used in areas such as health. 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. factual are least sensitive. In a structured semi-structured and interview. It involves the observation of a ‗subject‘ in a certain situation and often uses technology such as video cameras or one-way mirrors. Interviews vary in their nature. Semi-structured interviews fill the spectrum between the two extremes. you could make some use of prompt cards. particularly for sensitive questions. with little scope for probing those responses by asking supplementary questions to obtain more details and to pursue new and interesting aspects. Overt 72 . distinguishes three types of questions: factual. the more important it is that the questions are not perceived by the respondent to be ‗threatening‘. as a research method. from a questionnaire-type with some probing. and ask your interviewee to point to the answer. Opinion questions are the most sensitive category. 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.


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.


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

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

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

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