Library Research Project

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Technical Report Assignment Guidelines

This report assignment requires you to write a recommendation report on a topic of your choice.

TOPIC: You work at a local library. Your supervisor has lamented that college students are not using the library services as much.Write a recommendation report to your supervisor suggesting ways to attract college students to use the library more frequently.

A recommendation report assesses a troublesome or unsatisfactory situation, identifies a solution to the problem, and persuades decision makers to pursue a particular course of action that will improve matters.

PROJECT GOALS

The overall goals of this project are to acquaint you with research and the publication process involved in technical report writing. This is a pedagogical goal: in doing the project, you are to learn about various professional journals, bibliographic aids, research practices, and directions of communication. This experience should enable you to study other topics in technical communication. Likewise, this experience should help you prepare for similar projects in the “real world” – the world of work that you will enter after you graduate from Bowie State University.

TOPIC SELECTION & AUDIENCE

Your topic may come from your work, community, or college experience.Preferably, pick a topic that you’re really interested in because, we generally do our best work on topics of personal interest. Because we generally do our best work on topics we are interested in, choose a topic that has something that has to do with your career field, and or that you feel strongly about.

You will write your report to a real decision maker, an executive reader who has the means to act on your recommendations.As you prepare your report, you should do so with this reader in mind. In other words, write the report as if that person is the reader.You aren’t required to submit the report to that reader; however, when I grade your report, I will be evaluating it to assess how convincing it would be for that reader.Again, I am not your primary reader.

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS

This section lists your requirements for successfully completing the ENGL 361 Technical Report project.

Tasks

  • Choose, research, and propose a recommendation to a situation of your choosing.
  • Use bibliographic search techniques to identify all relevant research published within the last ten years. (Pre-2008 material is acceptable, but concentrate on the most current publications. You must defend inclusion of any material over 20 years old.)
  • Conduct and show relevant primary (interviews, surveys, experiments) and secondary research to test the validity and applicability of research findings to your client’s particular interests. (Often, this mainly involves interviewing the client to identify the kind of information most pertinent to the client’s interests.)
  • Read and synthesize information from no fewer than 6 published sources that your bibliographic search identified. Your report must include citations from these sources (vary your sources to include secondary works that are not exclusively online–i.e. books, government documents, newspaper or magazine articles, abstracts, or other sources).

*Remember your reference page must be in APA format.

  • Write a 5-10 page (body) recommendation report synthesizing your research findings and directing them to your client’s particular needs. Include at least one graphic illustration (table, graph, and/or figure)
  • Attach any documents that may be pertinent to the readability of your report (to be placed in the Appendix).

Design

Your report should be a formal report. It can be double-spaced or single-spaced

just be consistent. Number the pages, and allow at least one-inch margins on all sides. Use headings to guide the eye quickly through the report. In addition to discussing your preliminary library research, you must attach a reference page. Use the current APA style for bibliographic and internal documentation (that’s parenthetical, not footnotes).

Length

You must meet all the specifications rendered in this memorandum. It may take you 5-7 pages to do this, or 8-10 depending on the information that you need to present. Nonetheless, excluding front and back matter, your report body must be 5-10 pages.

Format

Your research report should have all the parts of a formal report (outlined on page 476—Table 18.1): letter of transmittal, cover page, title page, abstract, table of contents, list of illustrations, general introduction, body, conclusion, recommendation, and references.

Listed below is Table 18:1 as outlined in your textbook; additional guidelines are explained below.

Table 18.1 Elements of a Typical Report

Section of the report

Purposes of the section

Required elements in the section

Front matter

  • to orient the reader to the subject
  • to provide summaries for technical and managerial readers
  • to help readers navigate the report
  • to help readers decide whether to read the document
  • letter of transmittal
  • cover (p.479)
  • title page (p. 479)
  • abstract (p. 479)
  • table of contents (p. 480)
  • list of illustrations

(p. 479)

(p. 481)

Body

  • to provide the most comprehensive account of the project, from the problem or opportunity that motivated it, to the methods and the most important findings
  • introduction (p. 476)
  • methods (p.477)
  • results (p. 477)
  • budget—required only if needed.
  • conclusions (p. 478)
  • recommendations

(p. 478)

Back matter

  • to present supplementary information, such as more-detailed explanations than are provided in the body
  • to enable readers to consult the secondary sources the writers used
  • glossary—required only if needed. (p. 484)
  • list of symbols—required only if needed. (p. 484)
  • references (p. 486)
  • appendix (p. 487 )
  • attachments (see below)

Additional Guidelines

Your textbook provides information on how to write the required elements for the front matter, body and back matter of your report. Additional requirements and guidelines that your report must include are outlined below.

Cover—Create your own design.

Title Page—Must be in APA format.

Letter of Transmittal—The letter of transmittal introduces the readers to the report. It should be brief, and include the following:

  • An address to the recipient by title and surname
  • A brief summary of the background leading up to the report.
  • The key findings of the report
  • Summary of the report
  • Special problems
  • Financial implications
  • Conclusions and recommendations

Table of Contents—The table of contents should be numbered and titled appropriately. List of Tables and Figures: This project only requires one illustration, but you most certainly may include more.

Abstract or Executive Summary—Do not include both unless it is absolutely necessary.

Introduction—Open with a summary paragraph introducing and incorporating the essentials of the report (Why is the report being written?). You will probably write this last, but make it the first thing the reader sees. Identify your topic and purpose clearly. Forecast the report with a brief introduction of the conclusions or recommendations drawn. Answer all of the questions

Findings—Methods: Identify your methodology (What steps or tasks did you take to conduct your report?). Results: Carefully present the results of your findings. What data and/or evidence did you collect to illustrate your observations. Discuss the purpose of the report. Indicate specific questions you will be answering.

Budget (optional)—Depending on your topic, you may need to include a budget. Your budget should indicate the cost that your client will incur.

Conclusion—Describe the interpretation of your results.

Recommendations—Use your findings and conclusions to indicate your

recommendations.

NOTE: If you have conclusions that lead to separate recommendations, create two separate sections, one for Conclusions, another for Recommendations. If your conclusions are essentially recommendations, then create a header titled, “Conclusions and Recommendations.” It is usual to list and number specific conclusions and recommendations.

**IMPORTANT** Do not introduce new information under these headings. All

conclusions and recommendations need to be derived from facts and arguments

from the body of the report.

References and Bibliographic Information—References are the sources you refer to in a report. The APA style requires that you attach a page titled, “References” at the end of your report and list them in alphabetical order. A bibliography is an alphabetical list of works used (but not referred to in the report) in preparing the report. For your report, references are required; a bibliography is optional. In addition to print sources, your references may include interviews, private papers, unpublished lecture notes, etc… If you include a complete bibliography of works identified or consulted, place it after the Reference Page, and give it a meaningful title (e.g., “Comprehensive Listing of Published Research on Online Help Conversations”).

Appendix (Optional)—Follows the bibliography. An appendix provides supplemental information that is not essential to the report. Each appendix bears a label and letter (e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B), and pages of each appendix are usually numbered separate from each other and from the report (e.g., A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2).

Attachments—(1 required, photo-copy of a key print source). Attachments are stand alone documents included for the reader’s convenience. They follow all appendices, and are numbered rather than lettered (e.g., Attachment 1, Attachment 2). Label your required attachment as follows: “Attachment 1: Key Source,_____” and fill in the title of the print source you chose to include to enable me to quickly check the quality of your documentation and paraphrase.

Attached is a sample of what your report body should include. Please view the report carefully, paying special note of how sources are integrated (APA format), how sources are used to support major claims, how graphs and charts work to validate claims, and how the material while in sections, is still cohesive.

Format may be your choice (for example, you may choose to organize the Methods section by task, as they do in the sample report in your textbook); but the content is representative of what is required for this assignment.

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