Below is an indication of what each part of the structure could include, and an indication of how many words it might require. Please do not take the indications to be prescriptive. Every project is different, and you can adjust the length of each chapter to suit your own project. The only limit that is fixed is the total word limit for the report, which is set at 12,000 words (excluding the title page, reference section and any appendices).
Providing an Executive Summary of your research is an essential requirement of a Management Report, and you MUST provide one. It should provide a brief summary of the management problem, an outline of the solution that you have developed and an indication of how effective the solution is. As a general rule, the Executive Summary should fit on one page of A4, and certainly no more than two pages. Write the executive summary when you have completed the rest of your project report.
This is arguably the most important piece of writing. The introduction provides a roadmap for the reader, explaining what the report covers, how it is structured and an indication of what is to follow. At the end of the introduction, the reader should be keen to carry on reading. It needs to be rather more than a list of the subsequent chapters. Good report writing involves three stages, commonly defined as:
- tell them what you’re going to tell them
- tell them
- then tell them what you told them.
The introduction is the first phase, the main body of the report is stage two and the conclusion represents stage three. Typically, the introduction will take up about 10% of the report (around 1,200 words), but don’t worry if you can write it more concisely. Again, it may be best to write the introduction once you have completed the rest of the report. This way you can make sure that it reflects what you have actually written, rather than what you had originally planned to write.
This section informs the reader about your organisation, the issues that it is facing, the specific problem you have identified and an indication of why addressing the problem is important. The focus of your writing needs to reflect the problem you are seeking to address. If you are considering a problem relating to corporate strategy, the focus will be on the macro-level: the external environment and the internal business units and their competences and capabilities. If you are focussing on a local issue (tactical or operational), although the wider organisation (and the external environment) needs to be described briefly, the context needs to be focussed on the micro-level.
Do not feel that you need to provide extensive organisational histories or provide detailed organisational structures, unless these are relevant to the problem and its solution. You will also need to think about confidentiality and disclosure. You can create context without divulging precise, possibly sensitive, information. Indicating that a company is “struggling to maintain budgeted levels of profitability” works just as well as saying “the company made a pre-tax loss of £10 million”. Try not to reveal anything that would be commercially damaging to the organisation. If you want or need to keep the identity of the organisation anonymous, that is fine, but remember that means doing more than giving the organisation a fictitious name. Also, it is a good idea to let the reader know that you are attempting to maintain anonymity.
There is no reason why this chapter needs to be overly long. In the later sections you will be able to provide additional details that your reader may require. As a guide, try to keep it below 1,200 words. This is a section that you should be able to write early in your project. It will be a good way of providing the context that your supervisor will need to support you through the project.
The problem definition essentially sets out the objectives of the project. Here you need to clearly define what the management problem is, explaining and quantifying the scale and scope of the problem. This should include an estimate of the financial or commercial impact of the problem as it currently exists. It also needs to indicate what should be happening (how things would be if the problem was removed) and importantly the benefits that would be produced by solving the problem. Again, quantifying the benefits would be beneficial, including calculating the potential financial benefits of providing a solution. It shouldn’t identify the solution precisely, as this will only emerge as you carry out your research, but you could indicate the sorts of solution you are trying to deliver. Doing all this will probably require around 800-1,500 words, which will probably include some use of literature.
The problem definition should be written early in the management project. Without a problem definition, solving the problem will be difficult, so you should be able to do this soon after you have completed your project proposal. Note that it is good practice not to change your problem statement. If, as the project develops, you realise that the statement is not quite accurate, you can reflect this in later sections (discussion). The report should acknowledge any changes in the project. Adapting in response to new knowledge should be seen as a positive management skill, not a weakness. The problem definition therefore reflects and records your initial objectives.
Methods and methodological approach
Methodology is a term that can be used in a variety of ways and is often associated with research philosophies. There is no requirement that you engage with philosophy although you may choose to, but it is important that you explain, in reasonable detail, how you went about developing a solution to the problem. Describing and justifying the methods you adopted, what sorts of data you collected, how it was collected and analysed are all important things that you need to detail. You would not include all of the data analysis, simply outline the methods you planned to use.
For some projects this may be relatively straightforward, especially if all the data you need is already available within the organisation. However, in many cases you will need to draw on a variety of data sources and combine different data sets to generate a solution. If this is the case, you will need to outline how you achieved this.
In terms of word count, the methods you adopt will shape the amount you need to write. It could be as few as 500 words, but in some cases, it could be 1,200. You can explore this with your supervisor. If your methodology is relatively simple, it may not warrant a separate chapter and it could be included as a section in the chapter (or chapters) on solution development.
This part of your report should be the area where much of your work is reported. It will certainly require that you refer to literature to support the solution you adopt. If you identified several possible solutions, you may also wish to report how you selected or developed your chosen solution. This might warrant a separate chapter.
It is likely that this section is where you explore the data analysis in considerable detail. This will probably mean the solution development is a major part of your report, taking between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Because of this, it may be worthwhile breaking it up into several sections or chapters.
Implementation and evaluation
If you are able to implement a solution (and ideally you will), then detailing how it was implemented is essential. However, whether or not the solution is implemented, it is essential that you evaluate it. This may involve the analysis of additional data, although it could be more qualitative in nature, considering the strengths and weaknesses of the approach that you have identified. It could involve asking others within the organisation to give feedback on what you have implemented or proposed.
Using relevant literature to strengthen your evaluation will improve its overall quality. The key requirement is to establish whether your solution has delivered what you hoped it would achieve. In this sense, it can be seen as verifying whether you have achieved your initial objectives as outlined in the problem definition. Remember that you should be willing to be self-critical. It is unlikely that your solution will be perfect or could not be improved. Identifying weaknesses and the limitations of your work can strengthen the quality of your report. This chapter (or chapters) will probably need at least 1,500 words, but you may need up to 3,000 words.
Recommendations and discussion
Arguably this is the most important part of the management report. It is in this chapter that you can build on your evaluation, in a number of different ways. These include:
- identifying how the solution could be implemented within the organisation if you haven’t done this already
- exploring the impact or likely impact that your solution will have on the organisation
- further refinements and revisions to your solution to increase its impact within the organisation
- considering the wider implications of your research and how it could be used beyond your organisation, to shape engineering management practice
- a reflection on what you have learned through the process and the impact it will have on your own practice as an engineering manager and on your future career.
You may choose to include recommendations that are specific to the organisation in one chapter and have another chapter to discuss both the wider implications and the personal learning that have emerged from the project. In total, this part of the report will probably require between 1,500 and 2,500 words.
With a lengthy discussion and recommendations, the conclusion can be left quite brief. Like the introduction, one or two pages of A4 should be sufficient to provide a brief summary of your findings to finish your report.
References and appendices
It is important that you show that you have engaged with appropriate literature and make efforts to explicitly cite all the sources that you have used or have shaped your thinking. All sources that you draw on in your report should be correctly referenced using the Harvard style. See the Library webpages for guidance.
You should include data tables in the appendices so that the reader can view the data from which any analysis has been produced. However, avoid simply ‘dumping’ all the data in your appendices. Only provide the data which has driven the analysis documented within the report, and make sure you refer to the appendices at the relevant point in the report. You need to include all your main points in the body of your text. There should be nothing included in the appendices that is central to your narrative – a reader should be able to read and understand your report without referring to any of the appendices. The appendices provide additional information that the reader way wish to refer to. Everything else needs to be in the main text. References and appendices are not included in the word count.
There is a quick test academics use in assessing a management project. Read the introduction and read the conclusion. They should match. Next, look at the references. Are there a sufficient number of references from established authorities? Are the date ranges what we would expect? If the acid test is passed, it is probably a good project. Remember the audience for your management project comprises of two people: your academic mentor (who will be your first marker) and the second marker. Please note, though, we read your project thoroughly and take your work very seriously. We realise this is not a trivial task.
|Purpose||The purpose of this assessment is to allow you to carry out a substantial individual project in a chosen aspect of engineering management.|
|Key information||Guided by your supervisor, you are expected to produce a professional report that reflects the activities you have undertaken during the project and is suitable for both an academic and business audience. You are required to submit your report six months after you begin the module. Guidance on Minerva will help you to create an appropriate structure and style for your report.|
|Task||The assessment requires you to use your knowledge of engineering management to carry out a substantial individual project in a chosen aspect of your choice. You are expected to work independently on your project, but will have access to an academic supervisor who will provide six hours of supervision to guide and support you. You will be assessed on the basis of the quality of your management report. The management report will be assessed against predefined criteria that reflect the learning outcomes of the module. These criteria will be used to determine the final mark that will be awarded for the module. You will also be required to answer questions on your final submission in a virtual meeting (colloquially termed a Mini-Viva). These questions will be posed by your assessors (including your supervisor). The purpose of the meeting is to uphold academic integrity and verify that the work presented is your own. Your responses to the questions posed will not be given a mark and do not contribute directly to the final mark awarded.|
|Presentation||Your report should adhere to the guidelines on presentation of coursework as set out in Section 3.2a of the Code of Practice on Assessment. |
This is a piece of academic writing adopting a formal style, so you should avoid using apostrophes and contractions such as “it’s” and “couldn’t”. Instead, use “it is” and “could not”.
|Referencing||It is important that you show that you have engaged with appropriate literature and make efforts to explicitly cite all the sources that you have used or have shaped your thinking. All sources that you draw on in your report should be correctly referenced using the Harvard style. See the Library webpages for guidance.|
|Submission||The management report must be submitted via Turnitin as a single document of no more than 12,000 words in length. You can find the Turnitin submission area by clicking on “Submit my work” in the left hand module menu. There is no definitive prescribed structure for the report, although some aspects of the report’s structure and format are defined. These are detailed in a separate document which you must adhere to.|
|Marking||Based on the Learning Outcomes of the module, your work will be assessed based on the following criteria: |
Content and level of analysis (worth 60%)
Evidence of the ability to: identify, define and systematically analyse an engineering management or organisational problem demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the business principles and commercial drivers which influence engineering management endeavours (or activities) collect and analysing relevant data to develop appropriate solutions to an engineering management problem use appropriate tools and methodologies to determine the success or otherwise of a solution (or solutions) to a business problem undertake independent subject-related critical thinking and analysis in order to reach insightful conclusions act professionally and ethically while undertaking work-based research effectively manage a research project.
Report structure, style and appearance (worth 25%)
Evidence of the ability to: demonstrate the ability to structure a logical and coherent argument, drawing on relevant theories communicate complex ideas effectively to a specific audience, creating a clear, insightful and credible narrative that supports a clear argument create an appropriate structure to guide the reader through a range of inter-related ideas and concepts, using appropriate figures, tables and appendices to support the narrative of the report.
Academic Practice (worth 15%)
Evidence of the ability to: act professionally and ethically while undertaking work-based research effectively manage a research project cite appropriately utilised and formatted within the text provide a complete, appropriately formatted reference list that accurately reflects all the works that have been cited.
Marks will be allocated for each criteria based on the following framework: Here is the scale to check against each of the three elements: 91-100 All criteria are fulfilled in a highly effective, consistent and sophisticated manner 81-90 All criteria are fulfilled very effectively and consistently 71-80 All criteria are fulfilled effectively and frequently 61-70 Most of the criteria are fulfilled most of the time 51-60 Fulfils an adequate number of the criteria to fulfil the task 41-50 Attempts to complete the task using some of the criteria some of the time 31-40 Limited achievement of any of the criteria 21-30 An attempt but very little, if any fulfilment of the criteria 0-20 Little or no attempt to achieve any of the criteria.
|Feedback||You will receive your mark and feedback via Minerva, in the My Grades and Feedback section, accessed from the main left-hand navigation menu. We will notify you by email when your feedback is available. You will usually receive feedback within 15 working days of the assignment deadline.|
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