Report Guidelines

SECTION 1: PRACTICAL NOTES

Submission of Projects

The report and dissertation submission process is organised via your FYP or Dissertation module in Blackboard and has three phases. When you have completed each part the next will be available in Blackboard.

  1. Entering the dissertation title
  2. Uploading the dissertation abstract and any electronic resources
  3. Uploading a signed declaration page
  4. Uploading a single PDF containing the dissertation.
  1. This first stage provides the data needed to manage your submission. The title as entered here will be used internally, and on the web site if the dissertation is published. It must match exactly the title as used in the main dissertation document.
  2. Uploading the dissertation abstract and any electronic resources. In this step you upload a single page PDF containing the dissertation abstract, and a zip file containing any electronic resources (source code, etc) produced as part of the project.
  3. Upload a signed copy of a declaration page. Please do not sign the declaration page in a copy of your report or dissertation document. We would like to avoid publishing a report or dissertation that includes your signature.
  4. Finally, upload a single PDF containing the dissertation or report. Please ensure that the document e.g. the title page, does not contain your student ID! If your report contains confidential material (e.g. material received form a company under an NDA) you should make sure the file is password protected before uploading, and supply the password to the SCSS teaching unit who will make it available to the examiners!

Multiple submissions of each phase are permitted, and the latest version supplied by the deadline is what will be recorded for marking and publication.

If you want to use Latex you may find our reference styles useful; styles are available on Overleaf e.g. https://www.overleaf.com/read/nqskvdkvjgvp.

SECTION 2: AN AID TO WRITING UP

Please bear in mind that these are only suggestions to aid you with writing up your project.

You might also find it helpful to look at the powerpoint slides for the presentation on how to write a report.

Introduction

The Project Report is the principal means by which the work carried out will be assessed and therefore great care should be taken in its preparation. Aim to be clear and concise. It should be possible to say everything that is worth saying in under 50 pages. The Report should be pitched at a level which would make it comprehensible to your colleagues in the class i.e. the reader should be viewed as having a general knowledge of Computer Science, but is not necessarily a specialist in the particular field addressed in the project.

Preparing for write-up

  • Do some critical thinking and write down the aim of your project in one sentence. This sentence or statements serves as a declaration of your belief and the main portion of your report will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief.
  • Make a tentative outline which will help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other.
  • Include in your outline an Introduction, a Body and a Conclusion.
  • Introduction: state your project and the purpose of your report clearly. State how you plan to approach the topic. Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover and why readers should be interested in the topic
  • Body: present the arguments to support your statement above.
  • Conclusion: restate your project and summarize your arguments. Explain why you have come to a particular conclusion.

Again, please remember the above is by way of suggestion and is not intended to be followed to the letter.

The Project Report Chapter by Chapter

Chapter 1 should contain a brief description of what the project is about together with a reader’s guide to the report, chapter by chapter and should conform to what is discussed above re Introduction.

In most cases, Chapter 2 should consist of a description of the background to the project, e.g. motivation, state-of-the-art. In some cases it may be necessary to split this review into two chapters. This information is absolutely essential since the project must be viewed in context and the relevance of the work must be clearly stated. It is not a technical exercise done in isolation.

The main body of the Report should contain details of what you have done and how you have done it. Where appropriate, this section should be illustrated with diagrams and examples.

The final chapter should be divided into two parts: namely, conclusions and future work.

  • The conclusions should be a critique of your work: it should examine what has been achieved in the project and relate this to the initial aim of the project. Any problems encountered in the course of the project should be mentioned here.
  • The section on future work should give some indication of how work done could be improved and developed. Do not be afraid to discuss disadvantages of your approach. Negative results are useful.

Bibliography

It is permissible to quote the work of other people and indeed it is good scholarship to do so, but you must credit the sources. If you do not do so, you may be guilty of plagiarism i.e. the unacknowledged appropriation of other peopleÂ’s work. Note also that the copyright laws forbid the verbatim quoting of large chunks of textbooks, papers, sales literature etc.; such information must be paraphrased.

Systematic and complete reference to sources used and a classified list of all sources used must be included in the Report. The titles of journals preferably should not be abbreviated; if they are, abbreviations must comply with an internationally recognised system (the format may vary according to the precedents and customs of the subject area; consult your supervisor for guidance.)

Style of English

An impersonal style keeps the technical factors and ideas to the forefront of the discussion and you in the background. Try to be objective and quantitative in your conclusions. For example, it is not enough to say vaguely “because the compiler was unreliable the code produced was not adequate”. It would be much better to say “because the XYZ compiler produced code which ran 2-3 times slower than PQR (see Table x,y), a fast enough scheduler could not be written using this algorithm”. The second version is more likely to make the reader think the writer knows what he/she is talking about, since it is a lot more authoritative. Also, you will not be able to write the second version without a modicum of thought and effort. Examiners know this! You should have picked up this style already from writing Technical Lab. Reports in earlier years.

Marking

In general, FYP reports and dissertations will be marked by the supervisor and a 2nd reader. These examiners will complete the following forms:

Before writing your report or dissertation, make yourself familiar with the criteria that the examiners will be looking for to evaluate your project and make sure that you address these points in your report or dissertation.

Final Checklist

Use a dictionary or thesaurus as needed. It is essential to use a spelling checker to check for spelling mistakes and “typos”, but remember that this is not a substitute for careful proof-reading of the text. There are at least two aims of proof-reading: (i) to find spelling errors, repeated words (“are are”) etc. and (ii) to find English and style errors. It is not easy to do both concurrently so it is a good idea to get someone else to read over the report.

You may find the following checklist helpful:

  1. Is my project statement concise and clear?
  2. Did I follow the outline or did I miss anything?
  3. Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence?
  4. Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarising?
  5. Have I proved my arguments with strong supporting evidence?
  6. Have I made my intentions and points clear?
  7. Does each paragraph begin with a proper topic sentence?
  8. What have I used to support my arguments? (e.g. documented proof and or examples)
  9. Are there any unfinished sentences, unnecessary words or repetitions?
  10. Make sure ideas or paragraphs flow smoothly into the next.
  11. Check again for spelling or grammatical errors.
  12. Are all quotes accurate in source, spelling and punctuation?
  13. Are all citations accurate and in the correct format?
  14. Avoid use of contractions (e.g. use “cannot” instead of “can’t”, “do not” instead of “don’t”)
  15. Use third person as much as possible: avoid phrases such as “I think”, “I guess”, “I suppose”.
  16. Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective?
  17. Did I leave a sense of completion for my readers at the end of the Report?