School of Computing Writing Formal Reports



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School of Computing

Writing Formal Reports


Anne Siedle

Elisabeth Yaneske


Revised July 2010


ABSTRACT


This document has been produced to aid students in the preparation and production of formal reports for the purpose of assessment and for work-based contexts. The stages and format provided have been tested over a number of years and have been found to be appropriate over a range of courses.
The stages involved in the production of a formal report, and all sections which might be found in a report, are discussed within the document. In addition, sections on writing style and readability have also been included.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I am grateful to a number of people for their comments and assistance during the production of this document. In particular, thanks are due to Rosemary Thomas for her referencing guidelines and to Dr A Oswald for kindly allowing me to extract parts of his document, ‘The Preparation and Layout of Student Project Reports’, (1995).
This document was revised by Elisabeth Yaneske in July 2008.

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT i

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii

1.INTRODUCTION 4

2.PREPARATION 5

GETTING STARTED 5

2.2 ANALYSE THE READERSHIP 6

2.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 6

2.4 COLLECTING THE INFORMATION 7

3. PLANNING 9

3.1 STRUCTURE AND LAYOUT 9

3.1.1 Title Page 10


3.1.2 Abstract 10

3.1.3 Acknowledgments 11

3.1.4 Contents Page 11

3.1.5 Page Numbers 11

3.1.6 Chapter and Section Headings 12

3.1.7 Tables and Figures 12

3.1.8 Margins and Page layout 13

4. WRITING STYLE 14

4.1 READABILITY 16

5. WRITING THE REPORT 18

5.1 INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT 18

5.2 METHODOLOGY 19

5.3 MAIN BODY 19

5.4 CONCLUSION TO THE REPORT 20

5.5 RECOMMENDATIONS 20

5.6 REFERENCES, CITATIONS AND PLAGIARISM 21

5.6.1 Reasons for including Citations and References: 21

5.6.2 Citing 22

5.6.3 Compiling a list of References and a Bibliography 23



5.7 APPENDICES 38

7. CONCLUSION 40

REFERENCES 41

APPENDIX A University Definitions of Plagiarism and Cheating…………………...40

  1. INTRODUCTION

All organisations require information in order to run successfully. It is common practice within the business environment to produce formal reports in order to convey information to clients, managers, teams etc.

Although it is possible to present information orally, in many instances the volume and complexity of data requires that it be transmitted in written form. Information presented in a written format can be read at the convenience of the recipient and can also be retained as a record for future reference.
Within the field of Computing, reports are essential for a variety of reasons. For example, clients may require maintenance documentation once a system has been handed over, systems may need to be reviewed, software may require evaluation, new programmes may be developed. In all these cases, the quality of the documentation produced will play a vital role in demonstrating the expertise of the author. Presenting a badly written report may result in a lack of confidence in the author and reduce their chances of employment or promotion. This document has been produced to aid in the production of formal reports.
As with all tasks, when writing a report, a methodical approach is necessary to ensure any measure of success. This document provides a guide to the various stages of report writing. In chapter 2 the initial preparation required is described in detail. Chapter 3 outlines the planning, structure and layout necessary for formal reports. Chapter 4 provides help with writing style and readability whilst chapter 5 deals with the actual writing of the report and the contents of both the introduction and conclusion. Finally, chapter 6 outlines the review stage necessary to ensure the production of a high quality report.


  1. PREPARATION


Before beginning to write a formal report, a certain amount of preparation must be undertaken by the author. For example, it is necessary to clarify the key questions, analyse the readership, set objectives which the report will achieve, and collect and store information.

    1. GETTING STARTED


Before beginning any type of report there are some key questions you should ask yourself:


  • what is the purpose of your report?

  • are you writing the report:

  • to inform?

  • to persuade?

  • to explain?

  • to place on record?

  • to provide a basis for action?

  • what is the scope of your report?

  • essential facts only?

  • comprehensive and detailed analysis?

  • recommendations?

  • is there a limit on word length?

  • is there a preferred format?

  • who is the report intended for?

These key questions are the “Terms of Reference” for your report.


2.2 ANALYSE THE READERSHIP


It is important to think about the needs of the readership before you start writing a report. A successful report must be easily understood by the intended reader and allow them to get the information they need.
Is the report for:


  • a specialist/technical reader

  • a non-specialist/non-technical reader

  • an employer

  • an examiner

  • are there any secondary readers?

Once you have defined your readership you will then need to determine what this means for your report.


Will the report:


  • provide background information

  • define specialist terms

  • explain processes

  • go into detail about the methods you have used



2.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

Your aims and objectives will clearly define what you intend to achieve. Once the Terms of Reference have been clarified and the readership identified, the aims and objectives can be set. Put simply, these are refined closer definitions of the key points in the Terms of Reference. For example, Terms of Reference which request the design and implementation of a new computer system which will replace an existing system might generate the following aims/objectives:



  • to document the current system

  • to identify problems with the current system

  • to design a new system – which removes any problems found in the old system and incorporates any improvements deemed necessary

  • to implement the new system

  • to test the new system

Your aims and objectives should be stated clearly, concisely and accurately. At the end of your report you will use these aims and objectives as a measure of whether you have successfully achieved what you intended to do.



2.4 COLLECTING THE INFORMATION


There are five main methods of collecting information:


  • Interviews

  • Observations

  • Questionnaires

  • Tests

  • Literary Research

The method or methods best suited for collecting information will be dictated by the type and scope of the requested report and together form the research methodology. Once the methodology has been identified, relevant sources must be consulted and the information found should be stored for future use. Relevant sources of information include books, articles, internet sources and people It is much easier to write a report when all the information necessary is available to hand.



When undertaking literary research remember to record the Author, Title, Publisher and Year of Publication of all works consulted as they may be required for the reference page.

3. PLANNING

During this stage, it is necessary to select relevant information for inclusion in the report and plan the structure of the selected information. Here, particular attention must be paid to organising the 'Body' of the report in a logical fashion with appropriate chapter and section headings. Anything that is not directly relevant to the subject must be discarded as nothing should be in the report without good reason. This is vital because reports should:



  • contain nothing that is off the subject

  • be complete in that they contain everything that the reader requires

  • contain accurate information



    1. STRUCTURE AND LAYOUT


Although many organisations have their own preferred report format, all reports have a similar fundamental structure. An example is provided below:


  • Title page

  • Abstract (optional)

  • Acknowledgments (optional)

  • Contents page

  • Terms of Reference

  • Introduction

  • Body of the report

  • Conclusion/Recommendations

  • References

  • Appendices



Consistency of layout helps to make the report well presented and as accessible as possible to the reader. This includes:


  • page numbering

  • headings and sub-headings

  • margins

  • spacing of the text

  • bullet points

  • use of capitals



      1. Title Page


A Title Page should contain the name of the organisation, the title of the report, the author’s name and the date. For example, a report submitted for examination at the University of Teesside should contain the following information:


  • The name of the institution: University of Teesside

  • The school: School of Computing

  • Module Title

  • Title of the report

  • Author’s name

  • Readership (e.g. the Module Leader)

  • Date of submission


      1. Abstract

An Abstract to a report is usually optional, however, it is a requirement for the final year project report and for postgraduate reports. The abstract is simply a summary of the report and it should cover the whole of the report including the setting, methodology (if applicable), main findings, conclusions and any major recommendations. Its main purpose is to provide the reader with a quick overview of the contents of the report. It is usually written last and must not exceed one sheet of paper.

      1. Acknowledgments


An Acknowledgments page, which is optional, is included if it is necessary to thank anyone for providing assistance during the preparation and production of the report. For example, thanks might be given to external organisations or technical staff who have provided material and/or support. In such cases it is essential to indicate the name and title of the person or company.


      1. Contents Page


The Contents page(s) should include the titles of the chapters and the main sections within each chapter together with the page number at which they begin. The references section and page number should also be included. The abstract, acknowledgements and title page are not included in the table of contents. Chapter and section numbers should be provided at the left of the contents page and the page number at which they begin should be provided at the right. Appendices should also be listed providing details of the reference letter and title. For an example of a Contents Page, please see the Table of Contents for this document. Microsoft Word can relatively easily generate a Contents page for you.

      1. Page Numbers

Page numbering in Arabic numerals (1,2,3,4...) begins with the first page of the introduction. The numbers should be printed at the foot of the page in the middle. Any numbering of pages prior to the introduction should be done using Roman numerals (i,ii,iii,iv...). However, the title page is never numbered. Note that page numbering should be sequential so that a switch from Roman to Arabic numbering should not involve restarting the numbering. For example, page iv is followed by page 5.


      1. Chapter and Section Headings


The report should be divided into Chapters each beginning on a new page. If appropriate, each chapter should be further divided into sections. Chapters and sections should be numbered as follows:
1. CHAPTER HEADING - bold, 14pt

1.1 SECTION HEADING – bold, 12pt

1.1.1 Sub-Section Heading – bold, italics, 12pt
The references section is not numbered. Chapter and section headings are important as it is easier to achieve a logical arrangement of information in a report if appropriate headings are used. They help the reader identify and isolate any particular section that is relevant to their interests. Consequently, headings should be:


  • self-explanatory and illuminating

  • independent of the text

  • words or phrases, not sentences



      1. Tables and Figures


Any diagrams included in the main body should be numbered and given a title. The numbering of diagrams should be sequential and indicate the chapter and the position within the chapter but not the position within a section of a chapter. For example, a diagram titled Figure 2.4 Context Diagram would inform the reader that it is the fourth diagram in Chapter 2. The figure number and title should appear below the diagram.

Tables included in the main body should also be numbered and given a title. A “Table” is anything that consists of columns and rows of alphabetical or numeric data. The numbering of tables follows the same rules as for diagrams. For example, a table titled Table 3.1 Average Response Times would be the first table in Chapter 3. The table number and title should appear above the table.

Tables and figures should be referred to from the main text. For example, “For the response times see Table 3.1”. Note that Figures and Tables can share the same number. When referred to they should always be prefixed, therefore, either by Figure or by Table.

      1. Margins and Page layout


As reports are often bound, and must, as previously stated, be well presented, the following conventions are normally applied:


  • Margins:

    • Left hand side - 3.75 centimeters (1.5 inches)

    • Right hand side – 2.5 centimeters (1.0 inch)

    • Top (Header) – 2.5 centimeters (1.0 inch)

    • Bottom (Footer) – 2.5 centimeters (1.0 inch)




  • Layout:

    • New Chapter - new page

    • Text - one and half or double spaced

    • Paragraphs – one blank line between paragraphs




  • Font

    • 12pt Times New Roman or Arial

4. WRITING STYLE


As it is essential to pay attention to the writing style in order to produce a successful report this section, taken from Oswald (1995) is included to provide some guidance within this area.

The underlying principle that should govern the writing style in any report is that of persuasive communication. Simple, clear and unambiguous language should be used; long-winded sentences should be avoided. Avoid padding the text with unnecessary adjectives and phrases. Jargon and acronyms should be explained where they first occur (if necessary an index of special terms can be included in the report as an Appendix).

It is important to remember that a sentence needs at least a verb and usually both a subject and an object. Sentences like “I cried” contain a verb and a subject and ones like “Jim ran the marathon” contain a subject, verb and object. Make sure you write sentences. While on the subject of sentences, punctuation marks connect to the words preceding them. Thus, “It rained last night.” is correct but “It rained last night .” is not since the full stop has been separated from the word before it (night). Also remember that sentences begin with capital letters and that, except at the end of a paragraph, two spaces follow a sentence terminator (i.e. full stop, question mark, exclamation mark) but only one follows a comma, colon or semicolon.

The language of the report should be formal. The following language would not be acceptable. Writing in the style of what is heard rather than what is meant, for example, the use of ‘of’ when ‘have’ is meant. Thus “I should of begun my write-up of the report earlier.” should be written “I should have begun my write-up of the report earlier.”. The use of ‘Text’ language should also be avoided. For example, the use of “u” instead of “you”. Avoid the use of exclamation marks e.g. “I did not manage my time well!” and do not use slang terms e.g. “It was a cool design but the users did not have a clue how to find anything”.

A report containing spelling errors is unsatisfactory and produces a bad impression; spelling errors lose marks. In these days of spell checkers, a report prepared on a word processor should not contain any misspelling of common words. In addition, a good thesaurus can help the author to find alternative words either to simplify a sentence or to avoid the overuse of a particular word. Good grammar is more difficult to check with the computer but, as in the case of the law, ignorance is no defence. Poor grammar will incur penalties. One area where students often have difficulty is in the use of apostrophes. A good resource for help with apostrophes is the Drop-In Student Skills Centre (DISSC) live website at the following URL: http://dissc.tees.ac.uk/Mistakes/apostrophes/intro.html



    1. READABILITY


This section presents a number of illustrations of ways in which material can be made more readable. The examples below, slightly modified, are taken from Hall (1980).
Over inflated language


Original


Translation

a number of


several

a variety of


various

in short supply


scarce

can be time consuming


takes time

The quantitative findings reported by Smith were analysed and seemed, according to our interpretation,

to contain significant inconsistencies.

Our reasons for entertaining these diverse opinions are ...



We think Smith's measurements are wrong because ...

A method which was found to be expedient, not very difficult to accomplish and which possessed

a high degree of accuracy in its

results was devised whereby ...


An easy, accurate way to ...

Of the utmost importance is the need

to examine quantitatively the various instars which have not reached

maturity in order to evaluate and determine the validity of the theory advocated by Przibram.



To test Przibram's theory, all immature instars must be measured

One might well be censured for so tenaciously propounding this hypothesis in view of the weight of evidence to the contrary.


I was wrong.

Some semi-humorous phrases




Original

Translation

Of great theoretical and practical importance.

Interesting to me

While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions ...

The calculations didn't work out but I figured I could at least get a publication out of it.

Three of the methods were chosen for detailed study.

The results of the others didn't make sense and were ignored.

Presumably at longer times ...

I didn't bother to take time to find out.

The agreement with the predicted values is

... excellent.

... good

... satisfactory

... fair

... as good as can be expected considering the approximations made in the analysis.



The agreement with the predicted values is
... good

... fair


... poor

... imaginary

... non-existent


These results will be reported at a later date.

One day I might do some more work on this.


It is generally believed that ...

A couple of other people think so too.

It might be argued that ...

I have such a good answer to this objection that I will now raise it.

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding ...

I don't understand it.

Unfortunately a quantitative theory to account for these effects has not been formulated.

Neither does anyone else.

Correct within an order of magnitude.

Wrong

Thanks are due to Joe Smith for assistance with the calculations and to John Brown for valuable discussions.

Smith did the work and Brown explained what it meant.

5. WRITING THE REPORT


When writing the report, thinking about your headings and sub-headings first and creating a draft Contents page can help to break down the task. It may be useful to note that it is advisable to write the 'Body' of the report first as it is the heart of the document. Then, the Introduction and the Conclusion should be written and after these the abstract (if applicable). On completion of these elements, the task of dealing with References and any Appendices can be undertaken.
It should also be noted that it is now conventional to avoid the use of the first person when referring to the author of the report. Given that depersonalisation is the preferred writing style, it is better to write:
A program was written….

rather than


We wrote a program….

or


I wrote a program….


Abbreviations should only be used after the term has first been written out in full. For example, the abbreviation WWW can be used after its first appearance as World Wide Web (WWW). Numbers up to twelve should be written out in full. For example, “ten errors were found” should be used rather than “10 errors were found”. Dates should be written in the format 6 July 1994.

5.1 INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT


The introduction to the report is the start of the report proper. Its purpose is to set the scene for the remainder of the report and to provide an overview that gives greater detail than the abstract. The introduction should include the background to the report and the aims and objectives of the report. In addition, a summary of the contents of the different sections should be included. However, if there is no separate methodology chapter, then some indication of any methods used should also be included. Note that the introduction should be:


  • consistent with what follows in the body of the report

  • consistent with the conclusion



5.2 METHODOLOGY


Some reports involve the development or utilisation of standard methods in order to achieve the objectives. In such cases a chapter describing these should be included. This might include details of background literature consulted, why a particular methodology was selected rather than another, who was interviewed, and so on. Also, in cases where questionnaires are used, the reasoning behind their construction and what they were intended to achieve should be explained here. However, the actual copies of the questionnaire should be included as an appendix.

5.3 MAIN BODY

Given that the type and scope of reports vary considerably, it is impossible to make comments regarding the actual content of the main body. However, it should be set out in a logical and readable fashion determined by the nature and requirements of the particular report. Moreover, it should be:


  • consistent with the introduction

  • consistent with the conclusion

  • valid regarding the reasoning

  • based on logical analysis of the material given or obtained

  • Concise and unambiguous.



5.4 CONCLUSION TO THE REPORT


The conclusions chapter of the report draws on the evidence, argument and facts set out in the introduction and the main body of text and must not introduce any new material. Each point made in the conclusion should be allocated a separate paragraph, and reference can be made to the main body of the report by using the section numbers. In simple terms, the conclusion should state some or all of the following:


  • what has been achieved

  • what the situation now is/is not

  • what might happen

  • what could/could not be done

  • what constraints have had to be considered

  • what courses of action were taken

Whatever is stated, the conclusions made should:




  • be consistent with the introduction and the body of the report

  • list the essential points the author wants remembering

  • leave the reader with the impression you wished to make.



5.5 RECOMMENDATIONS

Not all reports will require a Recommendations chapter but for those that do the following should be kept in mind:



  • all recommendations should be logical consequences of the material set out in the Conclusions

  • no new issues or arguments should be introduced

  • each recommendation should be brief and direct

  • each recommendation should be numbered and set out in a separate paragraph



5.6 REFERENCES, CITATIONS AND PLAGIARISM


In the production of a report, it will prove necessary to consult a variety of books, articles, journals, the Internet and so on, and all references and citations must be included in this section.

Appendix A contains the University definitions of plagiarism and cheating. To avoid any possibility of suspected plagiarism, whenever you carry out any research it is important to record details of the sources of information you have used. The information provided below will help you to reference and cite your work correctly.


The Harvard system of referencing is an approved system for referencing within any project or report and although the format of Harvard referencing may vary slightly, you should adhere to the guidelines provided below.

        5.6.1 Reasons for including Citations and References:


  • To attribute a quote

  • To acknowledge where information came from

  • To provide justification for a statement or argument

  • To demonstrate the body of knowledge upon which your work is based

  • To enable all those who read your work to locate your sources easily

  • To help avoid plagiarism

The process is made up of two parts:



  • Citing: the way a writer refers within their text to the sources utilised (i.e. the references)


  • Reference list: a full description of each source used in alphabetical order that should appear in the References section - i.e. a consistent description of sources containing identifying elements e.g. author, title, publisher.



        5.6.2 Citing


Whenever you mention or refer to the work of another author in the main body of your written work then that author must be acknowledged by inserting their surname into the text, together with the date of publication of the item to which you have referred and, if you can, the relevant page number. An example of this is given below:
Most undergraduate computing students have little understanding of what research is and why they should care about it (Ward, 2005, p170)
or
Ward (2005, p170) argues that most undergraduate computing students have little understanding of what research is and even less understanding of why they should care.
If you use a direct quote from a cited work instead of paraphrasing the text, the words must be placed in quotation marks or single inverted commas, and the reference must include the page number. For example:
In an undergraduate program, however, most students have little understanding of what research is and even less understanding of why they should care.” (Ward, 2005, p170)

In the case of two authors, give both surnames separated by “and” (Smith and Brown, 2007). If there are three authors, all three names should appear in the citation (Smith, Brown and Green, 2002). If there are more than three authors, the surname of the first author is given followed by the words “et al.” together with the year of publication (Kelly et al., 1976).


        5.6.3 Compiling a list of References and a Bibliography


A list of references should be presented in alphabetical author order at the end of your work. This list should not be split down by the format of the source, i.e. books should not appear in a separate list from websites. The References section should contain all the items you have referred to in the body of your report. A bibliography is not the same as your list of references. A bibliography is a list of all relevant and useful items that you have consulted, regardless of whether or not you have cited them in your text. Whether you are compiling a list of references or a bibliography, the format for each entry is the same. The main aspects to keep in mind are:


  • Consistency – are all your references presented in the same way? In particular, make sure that your punctuation is consistent.

  • Accuracy – have you made sure that all your spellings and page numbers are correct?

  • Completeness – have you included all the required information?

The minimum requirements for references are identified below.


Books

For a book, the following elements should be included:




  • Author’s surname and initials - put the surname first – for up to three authors. If there are more than three, list the first, followed by et al.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of publication (italics, bold or underlined – whichever method you use be consistent throughout your list)

  • Edition – if there is more than one edition of the book, use (ed.) or (eds) after the title but only include the edition number if it is not the first.
  • Place of publication – followed by a colon


  • Publisher

For example:

Oates, B.J. (2005) Researching information systems and computing. London: Sage.
Ames, A.L., Nadeau, D.R. and Moreland, J.L. (1997) VRML 2.0 Sourcebook. 2nd ed. New York; Chichester: Wiley.
A Chapter in a Book

The essential elements are as follows:




  • Contributing author’s surname and initials

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of the chapter followed by in

  • Editor(s) surname(s) and initials followed by (ed) or (eds)

  • Title of book (italics, bold or underlined)

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher

  • Page numbers of the chapter

For example:

Parnas, D.L. (2002) The Secret History of Information Hiding in Broy, M. and Denert, E. (eds) Software Pioneers: Contributions to Software Engineering. Berlin; London:Springer, 399-409.
Journal Articles

For a journal article, the following elements should be included:




  • Author’s surname and initials - put the surname first – for up to three authors. If there are more than three, list the first, followed by et al.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of the article or paper

  • Title or name of the journal (in italics, bold or underlined) then comma

  • Volume number

  • Issue or part number (in brackets) then comma

  • Page numbers of the article

For example:

Ward, K. (2005) Research with undergraduates: a survey of best practices. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 21 (1), 169-176.

Conference Papers

For a conference paper, the following elements should be included:




  • Author’s surname and initials - put the surname first – for up to three authors. If there are more than three, list the first, followed by et al.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of conference paper

  • Title or name of the conference proceedings (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Location of conference

  • Publisher

  • Page numbers of the paper

For example:

Greening, T. and Kay, J. (2002) Undergraduate research experience in computer science education. ITiCSE '02: Proceedings of the 7th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education, Aarhus, Denmark. ACM Press, 151-155.
Musical scores


  • Composer’s surname and initials. For up to three authors, put the surname(s) first. If there are more than three authors, state the first followed by et al.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of score or programme (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Notes

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher

Francis, A. (1961) Seen and Unseen. Edited from composer’s notes by Ryan Woods. London: Elite Sounds.


Painting/Art work

This is a general guide only. Different galleries/artists may reference in a different format.




  • Figure, if appropriate

  • Title (in single quotes)

  • Artist
  • Year of creation. If the artwork has been worked on over a number of years include the start and finish year if known.


  • If artist is deceased, artist’s date of birth and death (in brackets) if known.

  • Medium

  • Canvas size e.g. 4' x 5' (feet) or 4" x 5" (inches) or 28cms x 21cms, if known

  • Description i.e. framed or mounted or canvas or giglee print or archival paper etc. if appropriate

  • Price (in brackets) if appropriate

Figure ?? ‘Nude Descending a Staircase No 2  Marcel Duchamp 1912 (1887-1968) oil, 58” x 35”. 

‘Star World’ II Maggie Parker 2008 Digital Media, A4. (£1000)

Figure 9 'Self-Portrait as a Small Bird' 2002 Appliquéd blanket © Tracey Emin  

Figure 14 ‘Untitled’ Cindy Sherman 2000

Figure 23 ‘Fur-Lined Tea-Cup’ Meret Oppenheim 1936
Illustration in a book


  • Author’s surname and initials. For up to three authors, put the surname(s) first. If there are more than three authors, state the first followed by et al. If the book is edited, use (ed.) or (eds) after the name or names.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of book (use italics, bold or underlining, but be consistent)

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher

  • Page reference

  • Type of illustration e.g. ills./fig./table/map

Norvig, R. (2003) Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. New Jersey: Pearson Education, p288, fig 9.7.


Secondary referencing

In some cases you may wish to quote an idea or a text which has been referred to in something else you have read. This is known as secondary referencing as you have not read/seen the original work. Your report must make it clear that you have not read the original.

For example:

Software problems contributed significantly to the Three Mile Island nuclear failure (Neumann, 1995, cited in Bishop, 2003, p481).


In your list of references at the end of your report you should only include the reference for the book you have actually read/seen (i.e. Bishop for the above example).
Web Sites

For a web site, you should try to include the following elements:




  • Author where available. If there is a personal author, put the surname first as for books. For many web sites, the author will be an organisation e.g. British Computer Society. For web pages where no author can be identified, put the web page’s title first

  • Year that the site was published/last updated (in brackets). If no obvious date of publication/revision can be found, leave this out

  • Title of web site (in italics, bold or underlined) – if not already used

  • URL

  • Date of access [in square brackets]

For example:

British Computer Society (2005) BCS code of conduct. http://www.bcs.org/BCS/AboutBCS/codes/conduct/ [Accessed 20 December 2005]

Internet journal

Internet journals are journals that are published online with no printed version available.



  • Author’s surname and initials. For up to three authors, put the surname(s) first. If there are more than three authors, state the first followed by et al

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of the article or paper

  • Title or name of the journal (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Volume number

  • Issue or part number (in brackets) then comma

  • [Online] then full stop

  • URL
  • Date of access [in square brackets]

Goodyear, P., Ellis, R.A. (2008) University students' approaches to modelling ecosystems. Online Journal of Software Engineering,29 (2), [Online]. http://www.tand.co.uk/journals/ojse.asp [Accessed 22 July 2008].



Electronic Books (e-books)

  • Author’s surname and initials. For up to three authors, put the surname(s) first. If there are more than three authors, state the first followed by et al. If the book is edited, use (ed.) or (eds) after the name or names.

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of publication (use italics, bold or underlining, but be consistent)

  • Edition – include the edition number if it is not the first edition.

  • Name of e-book supplier

  • [Online] then full stop

  • URL

  • Date of access [in square brackets]

Dickens, C. (1859) A Tale of Two Cities. ebooks@Adelaide [Online]. http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/d/dickens/charles/d54tt/ [Accessed 31 July 2008].


Online Images

  • Author’s/Artist’s surname and initials

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of image (use italics, bold or underlining, but be consistent)

  • [Online image] then full stop

  • URL

  • Date of access [in square brackets]

Rogers, P. (2007) Tyne Millennium Bridge [Online Image]. http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/content/image_galleries/northumbria_icons_tyne_bridges_gallery.shtml?65 [Accessed 20 May 2007].


Blogs

  • Author’s surname and initials
  • Year that the site was published/last updated (in brackets). If no obvious date of publication/revision can be found, leave this out


  • Title of message

  • Title of web site (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Day/Month of posted message

  • URL

  • Date of access [in square brackets]

Thompson, B. (2007) Shouting ‘bug’ on a crowded internet…. the billblog, 22 July. http://www.thebillblog.com/billblog/index.php/2008/07/22/shouting-bug-on-a-crowded-internet/ [Accessed 24 July 2008].


Electronic discussion board

  • Author’s surname and initials

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of message

  • Title of discussion board (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • in

  • Name of academic module (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • [Online] then full stop

  • URL

  • Date of access [in square brackets]

Jones, A. (2008) Peer assessment. Group 1 discussion board in Learning in Graphical Models, [Online]. http://e@t.tees.ac.uk [Accessed 12 February 2008].



Computer Programs

  • Author’s surname and initials. For up to three authors, put the surname(s) first. If there are more than three authors, state the first followed by et al. If there is no obvious author, leave this out.

  • Year (in brackets). If no obvious date of publication/revision can be found, leave this out.

  • Name of program (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Version (in brackets)

  • Form e.g. Computer Program [in square brackets]

  • Availability i.e. Distributor, address, order number (if given) or URL

Richter, G., Greant, Z., Suraski, Z. (2005) mysql (Version 1.0) [Script]. http://pecl.php.net/package/mysql [Accessed 21 September 2006].


Photographs


  • Photographer’s surname and initials (if the author is an organisation rather than an individual then the work should be cited under the organisation that commissioned it)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title or name of the photograph (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • [Photograph]

  • Place of publication (if from a website this will be the URL followed by the date of access [in square brackets])

  • Publisher (if available)

 

Black, R. (2007) Sony Playstation. [Photograph]. London:Sony.


White, T. (2007) Sony Playstation. [Photograph]. www.sony.com [Accessed 11 December 2007]:Sony.

Television programme

  • Title of programme

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Name of episode (in italics, bold or underlined) if appropriate, if not leave this out

  • Series if appropriate, if not leave this out

  • Name of channel

  • Date of transmission (day/month)

The Simpsons (2008) All About Lisa. Series 11. Fox, 18 May.


To quote from a character

In text:


“doh” (Simpson, 2008)

Reference:

Simpson, H. (2008) All About Lisa. The Simpsons, Series 11. Fox, 18 May.

Radio programme


  • Title of programme

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Name of episode (in italics, bold or underlined) if appropriate, if not leave this out

  • Name of channel
  • Date of transmission (day/month)

The Archers (2004) BBC Radio 4, 2 September.



Audiocassette

  • Author’s/Artist’s surname and initials (if not available use the title instead)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of recording (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • [Audiocassette]

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher

Bailey, T. (2008) Introduction to the Internet [Audiocassette]. Massachusetts:Harvard University.



Audio CD

  • Author’s/Artist’s surname and initials (if not available use the title instead)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of recording (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • [CD]

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher

The Doors. (1990) The Doors [CD]. New York: Elektra.



Song/Speech from a recording

  • Lyricist /Speaker’s surname and initials

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Title of song/recording (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Place of publication:

  • Publisher

Morrison, J. (1967) Light My Fire. New York: Elektra.



Film/Movie

  • Title of film (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Directed by

  • [Film]

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher


Psycho (1960) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock [Film]. Hollywood, California. Paramount Pictures.
Videocassette
  • Title of film or programme (in italics, bold or underlined)


  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Directed by

  • [Videocassette]

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher


Citizen Kane (1941) Directed by Orson Welles [Videocassette]. Hollywood, California. RKO Radio Pictures.

DVD

  • Title of film or programme (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Directed by

  • [DVD]

  • Place of publication

  • Publisher


Toy Story (2000) Directed by John Lasseter [DVD]. Burbank, California. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Email

  • Sender’s surname and initials.

  • Year (in brackets)

  • [email]

  • To receiver

  • Day/Month

Atkinson, J. (2007) [email] to Jane McCormick, 22 September.



Video game

  • Title of video game (in italics, bold or underlined)

  • Platform (in brackets)

  • Year of publication (in brackets)

  • Designed by

  • [Video Game]

  • Series (if appropriate)

  • Developer

  • Publisher

  • URL (if obtained online)

  • Date of access [in square brackets] (if obtained online)

Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3) (2008) Designed by Dan Houser [Video Game]. Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar North, Take-Two Interactive.

Episode 201: Ice Station Santa (PC) (2007) Designed by Steve Purcell [Video Game]. Sam and Max Season Two. Telltale Games. Telltale Games. http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/icestationsanta [Accessed 27 December 2007]

Organising your references

As you collect useful references, one of the problems you will come across is how to keep an accurate record of all the necessary information. One tool that you can use to assist you with this is RefWorks. To find out more about using Refworks go to http://www.tees.ac.uk/lis/refworks (or follow the link from the Study and Information Skills section of L&IS’s web site). For further help you can also consult the following:


Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2004) Cite them right: referencing made easy. Newcastle: Northumbria University.
University of Teesside (2005) How to do references: DISSC live.

http://dissc.tees.ac.uk/references/Content.htm [Accessed 01 August 2008]

5.7 APPENDICES


When producing a report, it is necessary to remove any detail that is not essential within the main body to an appendix so that the report remains uncluttered with supplementary and illustrative materials. Examples of such supporting documentation are transcripts of interviews, returned questionnaires, test plans, and computer listings. If material is important to the reader’s understanding of the text then it should be included in the main body of the report. Material used in the appendices should also be referenced where appropriate. Each appendix should be on a separate page, marked sequentially as Appendix A, Appendix B etc. and given a title. Appendices should be listed in the Table of Contents. They should appear in the order in which they are referred to in the text. An example might be as follows:
Appendix A Context Diagram

Appendix B Top Level Dataflow Diagram

Appendix C Structure Chart

Appendices should be referenced from within the main text. For example:

The context diagram can be found in Appendix A.

A structure chart was created (see Appendix C).



6. REVIEW
The last stage in report production is to undertake a review of the work completed. This element is vital to ensure that the finished report is of a professional standard. Reports should be checked thoroughly for:
Accuracy of facts

Completeness of argument and/or information

Conciseness and lack of ambiguity

Consistency of layout

Grammar

Typographical and/or spelling errors



Appropriateness of language i.e. formal

Written in the third person


7. CONCLUSION


This document has dealt with the main features of report writing. It has shown that the four stages to good report writing are Preparation, Planning, Writing, and Reviewing. The elements contained within the four stages have been identified and discussed in detail. In addition, the document has shown the order of the chapters that make up the report, and provided information on the purpose and content of each chapter. Information has also been given with regards to the recording of References and the content of appendices.

REFERENCES


Hall, W. S. (1980) A guide to student report writing. Teesside Polytechnic

Department of Mathematics and Statistics Mathematical Report Series 80/04.


Oswald, A. (1995) The preparation and layout of student project reports.

https://outranet.scm.tees.ac.uk/users/u0000636/ppr06/assets/FinalReport.doc [Accessed 16 July 2007]

University of Teesside (2005) Regulations Relating to Plagiarism & Cheating (Taught Programmes). http://www.tees.ac.uk/docs/DocRepo/Student%20Regulations/Academic%20Regulations/Regulations%20Relating%20to%20Plagiarism%20and%20Cheating%20-%20Taught%20Programmes.doc [Accessed 16 July 2007]



APPENDIX A
University Definitions of Plagiarism and Cheating (University of Teesside, 2005)

The two concepts of Cheating and Plagiarism overlap to some extent but it is necessary to draw broad distinctions so that the most appropriate action can be taken.


Cheating” is defined by the University as engaging in any action with the intent of gaining an unfair advantage over other students taking the same assessment.

Plagiarism” is defined by the University as the deliberate incorporation of another’s work in an assessment without proper acknowledgement. Proper acknowledgement means that when you are copying from another source, that section must appear in quotation marks with an acknowledgement of the source by the provision of a detailed reference and page number. Where you are reproducing someone’s ideas, but in your own words to a greater or lesser extent (or paraphrasing), you must cite the original source and page number.



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