Project Report Writing: SPSC 4091

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1 Project Report Writing: SPSC 4091 Objectives of the Report All projects are different, BUT there are conventions for reports. Your supervisor will give advice on issues specific to your project report - and will give detailed comments on a 1st draft Your supervisor can also recommend examples of past reports for you to look at Project Report Writing: December To set out what you did, why, and your interpretation of results. To demonstrate an understanding of research methodology To demonstrate critical and analytic argument in the interpretation of your findings and those of others The quality of your report is the main determinant of the mark for the unit. Project Report Writing 2 Standard Report Structure Title Abstract Introduction Method Results Discussion and Conclusions Acknowledgements Bibliography Appendices (if needed) Project Report Writing 3 Structured writing especially important for introduction and discussion sections Look for a sequence of connected points and/or questions to use as an outline This may take some time and several attempts but is well worth the effort Use headings to make this structure explicit Often very useful to set out a skeleton structure of headings before you write the content under each head Make sure each section is clearly linked to the next. Avoid extensive diversion from your main path Project Report Writing 4 Title Abstract State clearly and concisely the nature of the research. The title does not have to be same as the one on the Project Choice form. Include your name and your supervisor s name The abstract should be self-contained. It should summarise the research for a reader who wants a preview. Normally between 200 and 400 words. State briefly the motivation for the study, and summarise the methods, results and conclusions. Project Report Writing 5 Project Report Writing 6 1

2 Introduction Set the scene and introduce the major issues - BRIEFLY. For example, alternative theoretical positions that have been pitted against each other, or a particular practical problem. Tell the reader why this is an interesting and important question leave details to later Then, give a critical review of the relevant background literature Comparing and contrasting different studies can be useful here An uncritical catalogue of prior work is not very useful Work from primary sources for key studies, not someone else s summary Use your own words in preference to extensive quotation Avoid plagiarism Project Report Writing 7 Review the background studies as evidence related to your questions Review key background in enough detail to make a clear case - but avoid unimportant details The reader doesn t want to have to read the cited articles to understand your argument Markers like to be shown that you understand the relations between data, hypotheses and conclusions Consider methodological and conceptual weaknesses in the reviewed research and how these may qualify any conclusions made Think about alternative explanations of research findings and unanswered or unasked research questions Project Report Writing 8 Final Part of Introduction Method Section Lead into the questions that your own project addresses, and state these clearly (without details of your methodology) The objective is to set out what you have done in a way that would enable someone else to repeat a comparable piece of research. Conventionally there are four sub-sections but this is not always the ideal Design Subjects Materials Procedure Project Report Writing 9 Project Report Writing 10 Method - Design Aim is to ensure sure that the reader understands your research design. E.g., for an experimental design, make clear exactly what the independent and dependent variables are and how these relate to your hypotheses. Indicate any special steps taken to ensure that the each variable captures what is intended. Different types of project vary widely in design. Consult your supervisor, and reports of projects similar to yours, for further guidance. Method - Subjects State all of the relevant defining characteristics of your subjects in such a way that someone else could assemble a comparable group Ages (give mean and standard deviations or median and range) - use a table if there are several defining statistical measures. Confirmation of normal hearing, vision, IQ etc. where relevant for groups of normals. Say how your sample was selected (volunteers may have characteristics that are not representative of the population as a whole). For clinical populations, give full information about all aspects of the subjects that may be expected to influence the results. Project Report Writing 11 Project Report Writing 12 2

3 Method: Materials Method - Procedure Give all the information that would be needed to repeat a comparable piece of research: for example -- Materials or stimuli presented to subjects Any special apparatus used to present materials or record responses. Computers are usually very standard these days, but the programs you use may need to be specified. Give the manufacturer and model number of any critical non-standard equipment. For projects involving recordings or listening tests, describe the acoustic characteristics of the room used briefly (e.g. a sound-isolated room, an anechoic chamber, a school medical room without acoustic isolation) Project Report Writing 13 Covers the events that occur during the conduct of the research, including the order in which they took place: again the aim is to ensure that an equivalent procedure could be replicated by others. Include, for example --- Instructions to subjects (quote if this is easiest) the sequence of stimuli and the response actions made by the subject if applicable state clearly how many observations were made in each of the measurement conditions Project Report Writing 14 Results Covers the method of data analysis and the results of the analyses Structure the presentation around your questions - Include clear graphs illustrating summary results in preference to tables. It is almost always very useful to include an indication of data variability in these graphs Meaningful labels on graphs make them easy to read SPSS is pretty good for graphing most data but you usually have to edit the graphs to improve clarity. Choose and lay out your graphs so that they display and compare data in a way that is linked to your main questions. If complete results tables need to be included, put these in an appendix. Project Report Writing 15 A poor summary graph Project Report Writing 16 The same data Same data as error bar graph Visual structure Meaningfu l labels Shows median and range of scores This is a box plot Visual structure Meaningful labels Shows mean and 95% confidence intervals Project Report Writing 17 Project Report Writing 18 3

4 Results: Analysis Structure reporting of analyses around key questions use analyses to answer questions rather than just to describe the data. Sometimes analyses suggest more questions that can be tested Be explicit in describing the analysis methods Report tests that your data meet the assumptions of the main analysis Results: Analysis II Reporting statistical tests Give a complete account of each statistical test result of interest (e.g. test statistic, degrees of freedom, probability associated with test statistic) Use summary tables to make the presentation of multiple statistical test results clearer but don t include the full statistical analysis printouts in the main report - put them in an appendix if they are needed (they rarely are). When you state each result, give the reader a brief indication of what the result may signify don t just list all the test outcomes. Project Report Writing 19 Project Report Writing 20 Discussion This section brings together your findings with the questions covered in the introduction. A clear structure here is just as important as in the introduction. Start by reminding the reader of these questions, then summarize your findings and what they may mean. Compare your findings to those of other studies - comment on any inconsistencies and why these may have arisen. Discussion: more Discuss any problems there may be in the interpretation of your results - be critical. Even if you found nothing consistent, comment on possible reasons for this. Discuss how your results fit into and contribute to the research area Discuss further research that could follow to clarify your own findings to address inconsistencies between your results and others to introduce new research questions that your results have suggested. Project Report Writing 21 Project Report Writing 22 Reference List Use a standard system either HARVARD or APA styles are recommended Example formats: See Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for full details or summary of formats at Research Style Crib Sheet.htm The formats given here for in-text citations and the reference list are very helpful. The rest of the guidelines mainly deal with formatting, and are intended for authors writing for APA journals, and are not important for your project report. Book without editors: Baken, R. J. (1987). Clinical Measurement of Speech and Voice. London: Taylor and Francis Ltd. Chapter in edited book Burnham, D. (1998). Language specificity in the development of auditory-visual speech perception. In R. Campbell, B. Dodd, & D. Burnham (Eds.), Hearing by Eye II: Advances in the Psychology of Speechreading and Auditory-visual Speech (pp ). Hove, UK: Psychology Press. Edited Book: Campbell., R., Dodd, B., & Burnham, D. (Eds.). (1998). Hearing by Eye II: Advances in the Psychology of Speechreading and Auditory-visual Speech. Hove, UK: Psychology Press. Journal Article: DeFilippo, C. L., & Scott, B. L. (1978). A method for training and evaluation of the reception of on-going speech, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 63, Project Report Writing 23 Citing web pages document title or description date (the date of publication or update or the date of retrieval) an address (URL: e.g. ) Whenever possible, identify the authors of a document as well. See Consider what might be the hallmarks of reliable web information Project Report Writing 24 4

5 Ethical considerations You will need to include in the appendix a summary of the ethical issues relating to your project. A proforma for this is on the project web page What ethical approval if any was obtained How were participants recruited? How was consent to participate obtained? How was data stored? Anonymity security Any other ethical issues? Sensitive ethical issues Your data may have implications for the clinical or educational management of subjects e.g., evidence of bullying non-ideal clinical management If so, make clear how this was handled e.g., was data kept confidential? were clinicians or teachers informed? Make sure you discuss any possible sensitive issues with your supervisor Project Report Writing 25 Project Report Writing 26 General Remarks Don t write for yourself, but for other researchers. Throughout the report, especially in the introduction and discussion, always keep in mind the main questions and arguments. Don t be tempted into excessive diversion from this main path. Be sure to tell the reader all he or she needs to know to repeat your study. Use formal written English - Avoid the personal pronoun, use passive constructions - Avoid contractions such as can t Use serious and easy to read fonts like Arial or Times TAKE FREQUENT BACK-UP COPIES Make sure you get a first draft of each section to your supervisor in plenty of time to get feedback - ask for more explanation if you are not sure what is meant by a supervisor s comment Colour can look good but is best used sparingly and only when needed for clarity (e.g. in graphs) Project Report Writing 27 General remarks continued Title page: Your Name, your degree, the year, project title, your supervisor s name and the word count Expected length 8000 to words for full unit (no additional margin before penalty) 5000 to 7700 words for half-unit Title page, abstract, tables of contents, appendices, and reference list are excluded from the word count. Where is it important to make unusually extensive reports of data e.g. in quoting passages of speech subject to conversation analysis, this reported data can be excluded from the word count. Project reports exceeding the word limit will receive a penalty mark deduction according to current UCL regulations. In previous years, the word limit could exceptionally be exceeded without penalty, but changes to UCL regulations from January 2013 mean that this in no longer possible. Project Report Writing 28 Electronic submission You must word-process your report and you will submit only an electronic copy. Put everything in one document. Avoid the use of hand-written or drawn materials if at all possible. Where hand-drawn figures are needed you will need to scan these and paste into the document. Hand in via MOODLE You can submit a word document or a PDF file. If you use phonetic fonts or other special symbols be sure to embed fonts in the file. You can do this in WORD, or when making a PDF file. Making your own PDF file is the safest way to be sure you know what the document will look like. MOODLE will convert your word file to PDF but this may not happen until some hours after you submit UCL cluster computers in Chandler House have PDF making tools (but may not have your special fonts installed) Project Report Writing 29 Marking criteria for report - a clear and useful abstract - clarity of expression throughout - good and logical structure - coherence in arguments - appropriate style, spelling and punctuation - thorough and accurate referencing - appropriate use of clearly labelled appendices For more on marking criteria see the 2012/13 BSc Project Guide available on the projects web page at: Or see the links on the Moodle page for SPSC4901 Project Report Writing 30 5

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