MSc Individual Project Handbook
Academic Year 2021-22 (Semester A)
|Aerospace, Automotive and Design Engineering (EIMASTAD) Aerospace Engineering Automotive Engineering Mechanical Engineering Manufacturing Management Operations & Supply Chain Management||Electronics (EIMASTE) Communications and Information Engineering Communications and Information Engineering Power Electronics and Control Engineering Electronics Engineering|
Dr Yuen-Ki Cheong MSc Project Tutor
School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB, United Kingdom.
table of contents
- INTRODUCTION 1
- PROJECT ALLOCATION PROCESS 2
- PROJECT TIMELINES 3
- ASSESSMENT 4
- SUPERVISION 7
- USE OF UNIVERSITY PC/SOFTWARE BY REMOTE ACCESS 8
- LATE SUBMISSION OF DISSERTATION AND ABSENCE IN SEMINAR 8
- IET ACCREDITATION 8
- EXEMPLAR BENCHMARK STATEMENTS for MSc REPORTS 9
|MSc Project Tutor||The MSc Project Tutor has the duty of overseeing the project allocation process and assessment process in addition to coordinating the various aspects of the project.|
Each student has a supervisor who guides him or her throughout the project period. The supervisor plays a major role in the marking of all aspects of the project.
The second assessor marks the project report and attends final seminar presentation in conjunction with the project supervisor.
Subject Group (also known as Moderation Group). In order to ensure the maximum possible fairness in assessment, a student is assigned to a Moderation group. This is a group of academics with knowledge of the broad subject area of the project. This group attends the online seminar session and makes the final decision on project.
Head of the Department or their nominee who moderates the work for fairness and accuracy of the marks awarded to the student.
This handbook contains the necessary information needed to undertake individual MSc projects. A brief list of points that will help students to optimise their performance over the coming months is also included.
The project is equivalent to a total of four modules (60credit points). Typically, it should take 600hours to complete and should be an intellectually competent piece of work. The marks achieved in this project have a strong influence on the final degree classification. A pass in the project mustbe achieved for the MSc degree to be awarded. The completion of this project is the sole responsibility of the individual student. The academic project supervisors are available for guidance only.
The main aim of the project is to provide an opportunity for students to plan, organize and execute an individual programme of work, which addresses engineering, scientific, technological or management issues. Students are expected to demonstrate a critical understanding of a subject area, the analysis and synthesis of results, alternatives concepts, the use of problem solving and analytical skills, the demonstration of initiative and evidence of original thought.
Students are expected to maintain an electronic Project Logbook, in which they should record all work on their project, including ideas, analysis, research, etc. This is expected to be a working document, which whilst legible in English, may include rough notes, scribbles and sketches, etc.
It is advisable to print out reference lists and store in the logbook in the event of any other losses due to technical losses on your laptop, PC or USB memory stick.
The project allocation is via StudyNet. Students will register their project as the first stage of the project allocation process. When registering, students express subject area they are interested in and choice of staff suggested projects along with any self-proposed project titles. The allocation of a particular project to an individual student is then made by the MSc Project Tutor.
You must register your interests for a particular area of project work via the method confirmed by the project tutor, likely by completing an online form. Please complete the online Project Registration Form and fill in all the sections.
As you proceed with the project registration, you are given an opportunity to select your preferred project titles from the staff suggested titles and you can also suggest your own project title provided it is appropriate to the degree course on which you are studying and the areas of expertise within the School.
The allocation of project titles to individual students is the responsibility of the MSc Project Tutor and will be done at the start of the project period. The allocation process ensures that every student is given a title and/or supervisor and that every project demands the same level of academic challenge appropriate to each student’s degree course.
The details to be entered in the registration form are:
- Student name, student ID and cohort / pathway point group,
- Study mode: full time or Part-time,
- Indication of area of interest/self-proposed title(s).
Shortly after your registration, the MSc Project Tutor will inform you of your supervisor via StudyNet/Canvas project module website. Every student must meet or e-meet his/her allocated Supervisor within one week of allocations being posted on StudyNet to confirm the exact requirements of the allocated project title. If you have any concerns about the project you have been allocated, then you must raise this with your supervisor at the first meeting. The Project Agreement Form (see Appendix A of this booklet) must be carefully read when you begin your project. Once you begin your project, you are agreeing to a ‘learning contract’ with your supervisor as mentioned in the Appendix- A, which clearly states the supervision agreement you are making.
The key activities, which make up the main MSc Project stages and an indication of submission deadlines, are shown inTable 1.
|PROJECT STAGE||Maximum Mark %||Timelines/Deadlines|
|Project Proposal & registration||0%||w/c 17th January 2022|
|Project allocation and supervisory meeting||0%||w/c 24th January 2022|
|Feasibility Report Submission||20%||25th February 2022|
|Dissertation Submission||60%||29th April 2022|
|Project presentation submission||0%||6th May 2022|
|Viva with Presentation||20%||9th – 13th May 2022|
All students are expected to manage their own time throughout the project period and to meet all the deadlines, and to meet their supervisor regularly. Remote access to a software/hardware PC, if essential of the project, may be available and will be arranged by you and supervisor.
The assessment of the projects is as follows:
|Assessment Element||Assessor(s)||Maximum Mark %|
|Feasibility Report||Supervisor & moderator||20%|
|Dissertation||Supervisor & 2nd Assessor||60%|
|Viva with Presentation||Supervisor & 2nd Assessor||20%|
To ensure a fair and uniform standard, two academic members of staff including the project supervisor are involved in the assessment of each project dissertation and presentation. Dissertation and presentation elements will be double blind marked by the supervisor and the second assessor. Feasibility report will be marked by the supervisor only, however will be moderated for consistency and fairness by another academic member of staff (the moderator).
Inordertopasstheproject,studentsmustpassboth‘WrittenDissertation’elementANDthe‘VivaPresentation’elementoftheassessment.Referralopportunity(i.e.FREFC)willbegivento students who have passed the ‘Project Work’ but have failed the ‘Written Dissertation’ orwho have failed the ‘Viva Presentation’. Student who have failed both elements will beawardedaFREN(Fail,re-enrol)grade.
The aim of the feasibility study is to ensure that the student and supervisor understand and agree to the aims and objectives of the project. It should be no more than 15 pages in length, excluding attached appendices. The objective of the study is to establish whether the project is technically and financially feasible and practically viable. It is also important to demonstrate commercial awareness when possible within the context of the particular project. It should include details of the action plan showing how the project work is to be undertaken together with planned time scales and any difficulties foreseen in obtaining components or specific items of hardware or software.
It is very important that your feasibility study is concise, as vagueness will hinder your progress at the start of the project period.
The project feasibility study must consist of, at least, the following elements:
- The FORMALTITLEof the project, as agreed with the project supervisor.
- A clear description of the PROJECTAIMSANDOBJECTIVES.
- ANOUTLINEOFTHEVARIOUSSTAGESOF WORK that will be undertaken during the project, together with the purpose and objectives of each stage in relation to the overall objectives.
Some examples of ‘work stages’ might be:
- ‘Literature search’ (objectives here might be to find references to previous work on the topic, or might be to learn about the subject, etc)
- ‘Block diagram design’ (objective might be to allow a larger problem to be broken down into manageable parts, etc)
- Experimental design for projects which involve experimental investigation the purpose is to design the actual experiments.
- ‘Write pseudo-code’ for software-based projects (to decide logical integrity of proposed algorithms prior to coding)
- A PROJECTTIMEPLAN / Ganttchartfor the work stages, showing anticipated start and finish times for each work stage, and for the overall project. Tasks may overlap or run in parallel.
- A very important part of your project is timemanagement, and how well you manage your time is one of the factors used in assessing your project.
- Project plans are NOT intended to be restrictive. It is part of good project management to recognise when time plans are not being met, and to react appropriately either to bring the project back into the planned timescale or to modify the timescale in the light of new information and ideas, if appropriate.
- A RESOURCES ANALYSIS to identify what is required to carry out the project and this should be included in your feasibility. This should be finalized with your supervisor.
- When you submit your feasibility report it is deemed that you understood and agree with the
Students are to submit an electronic copy in word format of their final dissertation to Studynet. A report template for WORD will be available for download from StudyNet (project website). Students should ensure that the filename of their project report has their Student Registration Number in it, e.g. 04325678.doc. Students mustnotplace any password protection on the file.
The dissertation must not exceed 120 pages in total (including appendices and diagrams, etc) or24,000words, whichever is the least. The criteria for the style and layout of the dissertation are provided in the document ‘Guidelines for Report Writing’, which can be found Appendix E.
Dissertations that are submitted after the deadline will be subject to the standard University lateness penalty as described within the student handbook.
The criteria for the assessment of the MSc dissertation can be found in the Exemplar Benchmark Statements in section 9.
The electronic copy of the dissertation will be used to check for cheating, plagiarism and collusion. Students should refer to the TURNITIN software for students which can be found using this link if Studynet is opened on your browser: http://www.studynet2.herts.ac.uk/ptl/common/LIS.nsf/lis/Turnitin
Any student found to have breached these regulations will be subject to the standard University disciplinary process, see ‘Regulations relating to Cheating, Plagiarism and Collusion on modulewebsite. Toavoidaccusationsofplagiarism,studentsshouldensurethattheymakefullreferencetoanyworkthatisquotedorcopied(howeversmall)fromothersources(thisincludesotherindividual project reports). Students should be aware that whilst a critical review of literature isessential, dissertations that consist predominately of other people’s work, without their ownintellectualcontribution,willnotattracthigh marksasthestudents’contributionis minimal.
Any work in the report that is not the student’s own must be cited in the main body of the dissertation and a full reference provided in the references section. Students must use a referencing style as detailed in the ‘Requirements for Individual Project Reports’. If elements of the report (whether text, diagrams, graphs or other material) that are not student’s own are not attributed to the author then the student may be accused of plagiarism and the project could be declared null and void. This means that no mark is awarded for the project and a degree cannot be awarded.
The final assessment of all the work you have done for your project will take place at the end of the Semester depending on your intake in the academic. Your project work will be assessed by your supervisor and the second assessor. The final project work mark is then agreed by moderation. This mark is then confirmed by the Group once the student presents the work and defends it in a Viva for 20 minutes in total. A zero mark for Project Work assessment will be awarded if student is absent from the Seminar/Presentation (also see section 9).
Students are required to produce a Power Point Presentation that communicates the purpose, method, results and conclusions of their project clearly and concisely. The presentation should include text, diagrams, figures, pictures, images or tables of data, video clips etc. The audience should be able to understand the purpose of the project quickly and effectively from this 20-minute Seminar/Presentation.
The MSc Project supervisor will agree with student of the date and time for the online project presentations. Trial connections will be done the week before. Academic staff will question each student on their project, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Staff will use the seminar presentation and discussion to finalise the mark for the Viva with presentation assessment.
Students will be allocated an academic supervisor who will be available to offer guidance during project period. In particular, the supervisor will assist the students in establishing their project on a sound foundation, but their input will be limited throughout the middle and latter stages of the work, where the student will be expected to execute the project themselves. Towards the end of the project, supervisors may be willing to comment on draft chapters of the dissertation, but this is not arequirement of their role. Students should be aware that many supervisors will be away from the University during public and summer holidays (i.e. July and August), and should plan their work accordingly. It is the responsibility of the student to manage their project in line with their project specification and should not rely on their supervisor for progressing their work. Correction of English spelling and grammar is similarly not partof the supervisors’ role.
Due to the nature of the project, some students may need to use specialist software (e.g. simulation software). It is important that student discusses the need of a specialist software for completion of their project and accessibility to the software in their initial meetings with the supervisor.
Use of free software alternatives, where possible are strongly recommended, as this reduces any dependencies on remote access/specialist software at UH and reduces any risk of project getting stalled due to potential technical glitches in accessing the hardware/software.
If a student must use a specialist software, the student must discuss this with their supervisor. Student’s supervisor can arrange for access to specialist software/PC, where it is possible to do so.
Dissertations that are submitted late will be penalised in line with the University Policy and Regulation on lateness penalty. Guidance on penalties can be found in the student handbook. Extensions for all submissions are notnegotiable.
Failuretopresentanddefend yourworkatthedefence sessionwillresultinamarkof0awardedforyourprojectworkand willseverelyaffectyourprojectreportmark.
If a student fails the project at the first attempt and subsequently seeks professional registration through IET will be deemed not to hold an IET accredited degree.
|Fail||A report that displays significant weaknesses across a range of relevant topics or headings encompassed by the project aim. Little evidence of knowledge or understanding about the subject area and limited or superficial use of external material to support the work presented. The report may be unstructured, poorly written or presented and often containing points that are not substantiated with evidence. Likely to be uncritical in tone, with large portions devoted to routine methods, background material, or the unimaginative reproduction of test methodology. The report does not lend itself favourably to the view that it is from a postgraduate who may in due course be required to demonstrate a capacity for intellectual work. Does not address the project aim(s).|
|Pass||A competent attempt with a reasonable, if modest, knowledge and understanding of relevant material, but which is clearly at a level above that found in a good (2ii or C standard) undergraduate final year project. Would make use of evidence from outside sources but not always properly related to the research problem or aim. Some important / salient points, factual and intellectual, are made but may have some significant omissions. There is evidence of attempted critique but often some information may be used uncritically, without a serious attempt at analysis, evaluation or interpretation. May have some material with no direct relevance to the project aim but is able to apply successfully routine methods already taught. Adequate use of experimental / computer modelling / design methods within the work. Evidence of an awareness of the basic principles of design, problem solving or science and engineering, together with a selection of mathematical methods. Although limited evidence of initiative, the student is likely to have required some assistance, though not extensive. The argument, if in evidence, may have some weaknesses in overall structure and organisation. The report, whilst well presented, may have weaknesses in a few areas, either in terms of clarity of expression or in terms of the presentation of data, ideas or results, although there should be evidence of a thoughtful consideration of the use of results or outcomes in meeting the project aim.|
|Commendation||Good in almost all respects but several areas where further work could have been merited or where additional analysis or consideration might have been useful. A good knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the project topic is clearly present with evidence of reading and study beyond the guidance given by the supervisor, and that expected of a threshold report. Examples are well chosen and salient points are emphasised. Good appreciation of the limitations of the methods employed and the student is able to demonstrate an ability to independently select appropriate approaches to problem solving. Able to apply methods taught previously with success and evidence of being able to identify new approaches and apply them successfully. Good ability to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and argue a perspective in the context of the research question or aim. There is a healthy focus on key factors, with some superfluous material but not to such an extent that it deflects from the thrust of the report. Evidence of a sound knowledge of engineering principles and independence of thought. Some assistance required throughout the process but usually of a minimal nature. A well-balanced response, accurate, well-organised and clearly communicated report. The report may have a number of minor errors or omissions but the predominant impression gained should be that the work is scholarly in nature with evidence of some originality.|
|Distinction||Excellent in almost all respects. Extensive knowledge and understanding clearly evident and includes evidence of substantial reading and study beyond the guidance given by the supervisor, and that expected of a good report. Examples are well chosen, salient points are emphasised and the relevance to engineering, management, the profession or other practice is highlighted. Good ability to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and argue a perspective in the context of the research question or aim, and in the knowledge of the wider technological world. There is a strong focus on key factors, with little superfluous material. Evidence of a comprehensive and sophisticated knowledge of engineering principles and independence of thought together with a keen awareness of the limitations of the work. Very little assistance required throughout the process. A well-balanced response, an accurate and well-organised report that clearly communicates complex engineering or technological issues in an imaginative and convincing manner. The report would have a few minor errors or omissions but the predominant impression gained should be that the work is of a high scholarly standard with extensive evidence of originality and flair. The final dissertation should be a robust piece of intellectual work.|
UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
SCHOOL OF PHYSICS, ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
MSc Project Supervision Agreement
Your individual project is an important part of your MSc course but a great deal of staff time is required to supervise all the MSc project students. You are therefore required to abide by the following agreement.
- The choice of project title and supervisor is final and I will not seek to change it.
- I will make every possible effort to attend regular meetings with my project supervisor on the agreed day and will arrive promptly at the agreed time. If I am unable to attend, I will inform my supervisor by phone or Email if at all possible.
- I realise that my project supervisor may sometimes be unavoidably delayed after giving a lecture or supervising a laboratory and will wait at least ten minutes for him/her to return. I also accept that my project supervisor may occasionally need to reschedule my appointment due to other meetings, etc…
- I will check my Email and pigeon hole every day when I sign in and will act promptly on any messages from my project supervisor.
- If I go to see my project supervisor at any time and he/she is not in the office, I will leave a note under the door stating the date and time when I tried to see him/her.
- If I miss an appointment with my project supervisor for any reason, I will make contact with him/her as soon as possible to arrange another appointment.
- If I am finding the project difficult, I will see my supervisor for advice.
- If I am making adequate progress on my own, I will still see my supervisor regularly to report my progress.
- I understand that it is my responsibility to back up all data relating to the project on a regular basis. Loss of data resulting from technical problems will not be accepted as a mitigating circumstance.
- I will keep an electronic project logbook and regularly share/send this to my supervisor.
I certify that the work submitted is my own and that any material derived or quoted from the published or unpublished work of other persons has been duly acknowledged.
THIS STATEMENT IS DEEMED TO BE AGREED WHEN YOU SUBMIT YOUR FINAL REPORT
APPENDIX B (continued) – Assessment Offences and Academic Misconduct
Detailed guidelines to Students on academic offenses and misconduct can be found at https://ask.herts.ac.uk/assessment-offences-and-academic-misconduct
Industrially based project proposals may be submitted by part-time students. For these projects, an industrial guarantor is required.
Student and industry proposed projects are particularly important for part-time students who do not have official timetabled project sessions at the University and are expected to undertake their project at their place of work. Part-time students are encouraged to make early investigations into the possibility of undertaking a project at their place of employment.
Industrial guarantor’s agreement
This form is relevant to those projects that are being undertaken in industry. For an industrial project to run, this form must be completed and signed by the industrial guarantor and the student.
The role of the industrial guarantor:
All MSc students are required to undertake an engineering project as part of their degree. Some students, particularly those undertaking a part-time course while working in industry, choose to undertake projects in an industrial environment. For this group of students, each will have an academic supervisor at the University and an industrial guarantor at the workplace.
The role of the industrial guarantor is to provide the student with technical support in the workplace, and to guarantee that the student has undertaken the work as reported and without undue assistance.
Before completing this section, the prospective industrial guarantor should discuss the project with the student and broadly understand the terms of reference of the project and the student’s role in the project.
The letter on company notepaper should be posted to MSc Project Tutor and should contain the wording given below before the project work is started.
I (industrial guarantor name printed) agree to my role as industrial guarantor for the (student’s name printed)
Signed (guarantor): Date:
Contact address & telephone number of guarantor
Signed (student): Date:
Contact address & telephone number of student
UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING and COMPUTER SCIENCE
Project report writing guide2020/21
This document provides guidelines for writing the final project report. Its generic style should enable students from all the Pathways in the School of Engineering & Computer Science to manage and prepare their project report according the normal and the University of Hertfordshire standards. It illustrates the structure of a typical report and details the requirements of each individual section. The general report structure is presented in part 1, while the contents of each individual section are detailed in part 2. The guidelines on general layout and appearance of the report are presented in part 3.
Students are always advised to consult their supervisors on the final structure and contents of their report.
A typical structure of a final project report is detailed below. The report should be sub-divided into various sections as shown in Fig. 1. It may be necessary for the main body section, shown in both part (j) and in Fig. 1, to itself be subdivided or split into several main sections, depending upon the topic being investigated. Students need to adapt the sections which are relevant to the project undertaken.
- Title page
- Contents table
- Glossary (if required)
- Nomenclature or notation
- List of Figures and tables
- The Main Body of the report which may include any or all of the following parts: Literature survey
Theoretical consideration and background Experimental set up Computer model generation, analysis and calculations Results
- Conclusion and recommendations
- References and Bibliography
- Appendices (A…..Z)
The details and contents of the individual section listed above are summarized in part 2 of this document. Each of the above Sections/Chapters should start on a fresh page.
FOR DETAILSOFTHECONTENTS OF EACHSECTION PLEASEREFER TO THE MAINBODYOFTHEREPORT
Appendices (A Z)
References & Bibliography Conclusions & Recommendations.
Literature survey ….etc Body of the Report
Nomenclature or Notation List of Tables and Figures
Glossary (if Required) Contents table
Fig. 1 Typical report structure
- Title Page
This is the 1st page or the front cover which shows the title, the full name of the author, the particular course and date of completion. Often the Title will be a shortened version of the study aim(s). The title page template is placed on the module website.
This should be a concise summary of the project report. It should refer to the topic being investigated, the project methodology and the main findings. It should be written in a short and effective sentences and provide an overall summary of the project.
This enables the author to express thanks to those who have helped in the study. Be explicit; give the individuals’ names, followed by their job title (if appropriate) and the nameof the organisation together with the nature of their help. The acknowledgement page is not usually numbered.
- Contents table
This is self-explanatory. Page numbers are a great asset and must be included; if you need/want to number any pages before the Contents use Roman numerals – i, ii, … etc., for the contents table. For the main body use Arabic numerals, 1, 2, 3 … etc. The pages of any Appendices should also be numbered, perhaps as A.1, A.2, …, C.1, C.2, …etc., making a reference to Appendices A …C…etc.
Not every small section needs to be included in the Contents list; typically, only the Chapters and their major Sections are listed.
If the study includes abbreviations or technical jargon, these should be defined in a Glossary located after the Contents and before the Introduction. The purpose of the glossary is to explain commonly used terms and phrases so as to avoid confusion.
- Nomenclature or notation
Mathematical symbols, if any, may also be listed in a section called Nomenclature or Notation, and it may be appropriate to quote the units of physical quantities, too.
- List of Figures and Tables
A list of Figures and Tables can also be included to help readers find specific information.
This sets the scene and motivates the reader. It must include the overall aim(s) and specific objectives of the study. It must provide enough background information for the reader to
understand the context of the study undertaken, the history of problem under consideration, the aim/s and objective/s of the study and a brief review of the report contents. It must also include a section which briefly directs the reader to the important chapters and/or sections, enabling them to some extent to pick and choose which to read, particularly if they are an expert in the topics under discussion.
The report should be written in the “third person” and the past tense style. For example the report should not make a reference to I, we or they; instead words such as author, participants, investigators, researchers …etc should be used.
The above details explain the necessary contents of an academic report introduction. However, these may also be used in the construction of a report on a major assignment.
The background to the project or the problem being investigated must be clearly stated in order to demonstrate the importance and the relevance of the project. For example, the background to this guide is the need for students, at various stages of their studies, to be able to produce a coherent, well-laid out and effective report on a project or major assignment.
The study or project may be focusing on a particular situation or problem. The relevant events and influences that have led up to the point of study could be outlined.
- Aims and Objectives
The aim(s) of the study should be spelt out simply and as unconditionally as possible; they will usually be wide, high level, broad, but may also impose some form of measure on the outcome of the study.
To climb Everest.
… is too broad an aim, (to the top, just halfway, who, when?) whereas …
To enable Fred to climb to the top of Everest by January 31 next year.
… is a better description of a precise and measurable aim.
The objectives should be formulated concisely and written as a list of numbered steps (1, 2, 3….) to be taken to achieve the aim(s). Strictly, report the steps you took, and, if there was a formal proposal of objectives, why you did not achieve the other proposed objectives! Number the objectives, even though some steps may be conducted in parallel, and others may be conditional on achieving earlier ones.
The objectives should include statements indicating what is to be measured or achieved, and how that measure determines success or otherwise in that objective.
As an example; theaimof this guide is to clarify the general content and layout required for any report and to complement any course specific requirement. The objectives, however,
can be written as
- To producea review of existing guidelines for undergraduate and postgraduate reports from a selection of Universities
- To consolidatethe advice to produce a single set of guidelines
- Toshowby means of explanation and example how a finished report should bestructured.
- Toprovidea general reference guide that can be used for presenting any study or in conjunction with course-specific report requirements.
- Review of the Report Contents
The Introduction must also introduce the report and how it is organised, so tell the reader, in a line or two, what is in each major section, usually, in each Chapter. Tell them which Chapters they can skip if they are an expert, which they should read if they are not!
This sets out the means by which the author carried out the study. It aims to establish the reliability of the facts and to support the purpose of the report. Detailed descriptions of the method should be assigned to Appendices rather than be given in the text of the Methodology section. It is important to note the following points: –
- A report must be a persuasive communication. If it is to succeed, it must stand up to the reader’s evaluation and especially to any scepticism s/he may have about the reliability and validity of the facts that are to be presented. In essence the report must be impregnable to attacks on its credibility.
- A student needs to choose an appropriate methodology depending upon the research question to be answered and what is to be achieved. Frequently this condenses to a choice of research strategy and the selection of an appropriate data gathering technique. In terms of strategy, choices might be to use survey (interview, questionnaire, etc), experiment, case study, grounded theory or action research.
- The methodology section explains how the study was conducted: what assumptions were made; what theories were considered and what hypotheses were formed and tested and by what means; what pilot studies were made; what conventions were observed. In particular you may wish to consider a sub section on experiment design.
- If questionnaires were used, they should be explained in this section but actual examples of the questionnaires should form part of the Appendices at the end of the report. The sampling techniques used should be described and justified.
- Use of questionnaires is subject to ‘Ethics’ approval. Hence prior to use of any questionnaire, you must seek advice from your project supervisor, complete the Ethicsform and submit the full questionnaire for approval. Further guidance on this can be obtained from your supervisor or the Project Tutor.
- If circumstances limited your ability to enquire into certain aspects, this should be made clear in this section.
- The Body of the Report
The main body of the report represents an account of the study – the methods used, the
tests/experiments carried out and the results obtained, the facts discovered. There is no specific format for this part of the report but it must be divided into major sections andsubsections to give it a logical structure that will lead the reader to the point where the conclusions can be drawn.
Normally, this section starts with a survey of the literature on the topic being investigated. Such survey enables you to justify the study, erect hypotheses to be tested, propose valid methods of investigation, and, overall, to allow the findings and conclusions of the study to be tested against, compared or contrasted with, a well-defined and coherent body of knowledge.
Thus, the survey may begin with a brief resume of standard texts, go on to identify the leading contributions in the field of study and then to those sources that make particular contributions to the problem in hand. However, a survey is not just a list of these sources
– it must be evaluative, critical and conclusive. All reviewed literature must be clearly referenced in the main text using conventions detailed hereafter.
As an example the main body might include sections on experimental set-up, experimental results, survey results, interview summaries, analysis of data, theoretical considerations and discussion. The specific list will be dependent upon your project. It is usual for the final section in the main body to be a discussion. This section is designed to draw together all theissues developed over the preceding sections, most notably to compare and contrast theory and literature with your results, to highlight areas where differences are evident and to try and quantify the significance of your work. The discussion section would also include an assessment of the extent to which the research can be generalised, i.e. it’s range of applicability or scope.
All reports should be written in a critical and objective style. Comments must be demonstrability supported by facts, evidence or data, and should not be based on supposition, opinion or data that does not support the general case which is being argued. Reports are professional documents and grand assumptions and statements which cannot be substantiated do not reflect well on the author. A critical evaluation of data, analysis, ideas, concepts or designs is required so that the implication of these can be quantified. For example there is a clear distinction between saying “these results are 10% lower than other tests”, and “I think the results look lower”. The former is objective (factual), the latter is subjective (speculative).
- Conclusions and Recommendations
The findings detailed in the body of the report lead to conclusions and, where appropriate, to recommendations. Conclusions and recommendations are presented in separate sections, appropriately titled.
Mostimportantly, the Conclusions and Recommendations mustrelate back to the Aims and Objectives specified in the Introduction; it may be appropriate to list them again in the Conclusions.
This section draws inferences from the information presented in the body of the report. NO newinformationshouldbeincludedatthisstage.Conclusions should be succinct and identify the key benefits or findings of the research.
Unless they have been asked for specifically, it is not essential to provide this section although it is often very useful to do so. The author may consider that the Conclusions contain enough indications for the organisation to decide possible actions. If recommendations are made, they must be based solely on the material presented in the conclusions.
In particular, this section may also make recommendations as to how the conclusions and/or outcomes of study may be implemented. For example, if you have designed and/or produced software/hardware, how will the operators be trained, what impact will the introduction of this product have on the organisation’s other activities, what are the priorities for implementation, what is the logical sequence of activities, what resources will be required, is the duration in line with expectations, what will it cost …?
- References and Appendices
The final sections of the report contain supporting material that would not be appropriate in the main text. Ordinarily the references section is not numbered.
- References and Bibliography
These set out, in an accepted convention (see Appendix A), literature that supports the citations made in the report and gives additional information for the reader who may wish to enquire further. References result from citations in the main text and are numbered and listed sequentially. The Bibliography lists all literature and other information sources that informed the study and is arranged alphabetically by author.
Supporting documents are assigned the annotation’ ‘Appendix A, ‘Appendix B’ etc., as they are mentioned in the text of the report; (see Appendix A, Appearance and Layout of the Report). If original documents such as questionnaires, forms or maps are to be Appendices, they should as far as possible conform to the paper size of the report.
A Table of Contents for the Appendices should precede the Appendices.
A report template for MS Word must be followed or you will be marked down for poor presentation. The template will dictate font sizes and general text layouts.
If appropriate, a confidentiality note should follow the title page specifying readership limits. If required by an employer or project sponsor, the word confidential may appear on each page.
- Size and Typing
- Unless you are instructed otherwise, the report should be typed (in 1.5 line spacing throughout on ONE side of A4 white paper, in 10 point Arial font,) as dictated intemplate.
- Allow a left-hand margin of 4 cm for binding. All other margins are at least 2.5 cm. Using single spacing between paragraphs, use plenty of ‘white space’ to enhance the appearance and make reading easier. Justified text and a consistent choice of indentation of sections/paragraphs, as in this guide, will also enhance the general appeal of the report.
- Page Numbering
The pages are numbered consecutively starting after the Contents page. Appendices are numbered separately Appendix A, Appendix B, etc., and on each page of that Appendix if appropriate. A table of contents for Appendices should precede them.
These serve 2 purposes: they act as a guide to the reader and they give the report writer a disciplined framework within which to construct a well organised report. A hierarchyofheadingstyleshelps also to attract the reader’s attention and distinguish sections.
- MAIN HEADINGS
Main Headings are usually best in just bold capitals (no underlines!), like this, and are used to indicate main sections (or Chapters). They should normally be used to start a fresh page.
- Group (or Section Headings)
These normally control a group of paragraphs. Use bold, with a line space above and below.
- Paragraph and Sub-Paragraph Headings
No extra line spacing as in this example of a paragraph heading. There is no optimum length for a paragraph but it must contain related material.
These can be used to break up the flow of a very long paragraph or to tabulate a number of items or points.
- Minor Conventions
- Numbers are usually given in Arabic numerals.
- Dates are written in the style ’19 October 2017′.
- Verbatim quotations within the text are placed between quotation marks and referenced.
- Footnotes are interference in the flow of the report. It may be better to place these in brackets, or in an Appendix.
- Abbreviations should be written out fully the first time with the abbreviation in brackets afterwards. The abbreviation can then be used subsequently within the text.A glossary must be provided where abbreviations are frequent or numerous. This should follow the Contents page and be listed in the Contents.
These should be numbered in such a way as to locate the table in each chapter, e.g. as Table 1.1, Table 1.2, etc in chapter 1. Tables should be placed immediately after the text referring to them, ideally in the same vertical format. Each should have its own heading which is usually placed at the top of the table. The reference source should be added at the bottom of the table if data is from a secondary source.
- Diagrams & Graphs
If placed in the text, graphs, histograms, pie charts, sketches, maps, illustrations and photographs should be given a title or explanatory heading. The heading or caption is usually placed at the bottom of the diagram. It is best to use a numbering system that locates the figures in each Chapter
e.g. as Figure3.1,Figure3.2, etc., in Chapter 3. Preferably they should be presented in the vertical format and again reference sources placed at the foot.
If too large, then they should be photocopied in the vertical format and folded so that the reader can open the page out and read without turning the report sideways. If inserted in a horizontal format, the bottom of the diagram should be at the right hand side of the page before the work is turned sideways. If too numerous or complicated, then assign them to an Appendix with appropriate referencing.
Points to consider;
- If the diagrams and/or tables are not your own, then their source mustbereferenced
– that is, you must say where they came from!
- Plot all experimental data points on graphs and ensure that all lines are clear. Data points must be shown on all graphs and any curve fitting should not obscure these. Only reliable statistical curve fitting should be used to show trends within the data, e.g. least squares.
- All graphs and charts should be presented in black and white. There is no need for coloured shading or other art work associated with these diagrams. Distinguish different types of data using different symbols, for example squares, circles and triangles, or through the use of hatching or shading.
- Do no extrapolate beyond the presented data with curves unless justified
- Carefully consider the scales shown on axes with regard to the required precision in relation to the measured accuracy.
- References and Bibliography
A citation is used to support a statement or follows a quotation in the text. The referencesfor all citations are placed in a references section after the conclusions and recommendations section, but before the appendices. Each reference provides enough information on where to obtain the information that the citation refers to. There are two main conventions for making citations in the main body of the report and subsequently providing the full reference in the references section. The two methods are the Harvard referencing system and the Vancouver style. The Vancouver style has several variants, two of which willbe discussed here.
In the Harvard system the citation in the main body of the document might look something like
….. This is supported by the work of Bloggs & Smith (2000b)….. Here the author is giving the surnames of the authors and the year of its publication. The inclusion of the letterb indicates that the author has referred to another article by Bloggs and Smith which was also published in 2000. Within the references section the full details of the article cited in the main body is provided. In the Harvard system the references are listed alphabetically. In the example above the reference might be: Bloggs, S. & Smith, F. 2000, Methodsof conditioning to preventplagiarism in undergraduate students, Journal of Psychological Adaptation, 3(4), pp 45 – 49. This is an example of a Journal Article but books can be similarly referenced using the Author, the title of the book, the year of publishing, the publisher and the city where it was published.
The Vancouver system has several variants. In this system the citations are numbered sequentially,
e.g. Handy2, (Handy 1985)2 or Handy , in the main text, and in the references section the full reference is again positioned numerically 2 Handy C., … One version of the Vancouver system does not use the authors name in the citation at all, simply using  or [1,3,7] in the main body with the full reference listed numerically as usual in the references section.
Our recommendation is that you use the Vancouver system for citations and references in your dissertations and reports.
A Bibliography lists the main texts you consulted or recommend to your reader, listed alphabetically by author. All entries in References and Bibliography use the conventions given below; note the order of presentation of information.
- 1 Books and papers (and lecturer’s handouts!):
- The author’s name, or the name of the organisation that issued the material.
- The full title, in quotes or underlined
- The page number.
- (The name of the editor, if applicable).
- The edition, if other than the first edition, or volume number.
- The name of the publisher.
- The date of the edition.
Suppose in the text, you write:
As Handy points out ‘negative power is the ability to filter or distort information, instructions or requests from one part of the organisation to another` (Handy
Then, in the References section, the entry is:
2 Handy C., ‘Understanding Organisations’ p.127, 3rd edition, Penguin, 1985.
- 7.2 Articlesinjournals
- The author’s name.
- The full title of the article.
- The title of the journal or newspaper, in quotes or underlined.
- The Journal volume number and/or date.
- The page(s).
Citations to newspapers usually refer only title and date.
- 7. 3 Organisations, persons:
- The full name of the person, together with qualifications.
- His/her status in the organisation.
- The full name of the organisation.
- Its address.
- The date on which the information was supplied.
- Articles on/from the World Wide Web
These are now a major source of useful information and the source must be adequately referenced; your reader may wish to access the same information, to check your version of it or for research purposes of their own.
Where possible provide not only the original URL – ‘address’ – but also the page or ‘link’ which provides the exact text, figure or table you are referring to.
For example www.feis.herts.ac.uk/home.asp?filename=/manusys/home.asptakes you to the Manufacturing Systems page on the University website.
However, it is important to realise that much material on the WWW may be unreliable – someone (could have) made it all up! Technical, scientific material can only be regarded as reliable if it has in some way been vetted, checked by the originator’s peers, or published at a conference, or reviewed by referees before it was published in a journal.
Thus, the ‘paper’ source of the WWW material should be quoted if at all possible; if no such source is given, treat the WWW material with a pinch of salt!
In the Bibliography, works are listed alphabetically by author. If two works written in the same year by one author are cited, the first reference would be for example, Handy1985aand the second Handy1985betc.