Document Sample

                                By Claire M. Hay
                      Metropolitan State College of Denver
                   Earth and Atmospheric Science Department

                              Revision Date: 19 January 2010

19 January 2010
Technical Report Writing Requirements

                               Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION ______________________________________________________________________ 1

REPORT FORMAT ____________________________________________________________________ 1


EXERCISES) _________________________________________________________________________ 1
 A. INTRODUCTION SECTION ___________________________________________________________     2
 B. OBJECTIVE OR GOAL STATEMENT(S) ___________________________________________________   2
 C. APPROACH OR METHOD SECTION ____________________________________________________      2
 D. RESULTS SECTION ________________________________________________________________     3
 E. DISCUSSION OF RESULTS SECTION ____________________________________________________   3
 F. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION _______________________________________________________       4
III. REFERENCE SECTION______________________________________________________________ 4

HOW) _______________________________________________________________________________ 4

YOU PREFER AND KNOW HOW) ________________________________________________________ 4

VI. APPENDICES _____________________________________________________________________ 4

Technical Report Writing Requirements

In order to gain practice and competence in report writing, students will be required to document their work
using the report format described below. In this manner, it is hoped that the student will develop a report
writing methodology that will reduce the sometimes ‘formidable’, task to a ‘doable’ effort that can be
approached in smaller bite-sized portions.
Students are expected to be familiar with word processing software available either in Campus Computer
Labs or on other systems available to them. ONLY word-processed reports, i.e. NO HANDWRITTEN or
typewritten reports, will be accepted.

For this class, you will use the following project report format for your exercise reports. In general, a
complete report consists of the following six sections:
I) Abstract
II) Body of the report,
III) Reference section, (if any and if applicable)
IV) Tabular support data (Tables), if applicable
V) Result Illustrations (e.g., Maps and figures), and
VI) Appendices (e.g., additional textual, tabular, or graphic material), if applicable.
A good report at a MINIMUM consists of sections II, III, IV, and V and/or VI, arranged in the sequence
outlined above. For this class you will NOT always be required to write material for each of these sections
so pay attention to the specific requirements for each exercise.
In general, the information to be presented in each of the above listed sections is as follows:

I. ABSTRACT (not usually required for classroom exercises)
An abstract should be no more than 300 words. In the abstract, one briefly describes the purpose of the
report, the general approach taken in the analysis or study that is described in the report, the data used in the
analysis, the results achieved, and a brief summary of your results or findings.

II. BODY OF THE REPORT (Significant sections are usually required for
classroom exercises)
The body of the report is partitioned into several sections in which very specific types of information are to
be provided. The sections contained within the body of the report consist of the:
    a. Introduction section
    b. Objective section
              i.   Model Design Criteria (if Applicable)
    c. Approach or Methods section
    d. Results section
    e. Discussion of Results section, and

Technical Report Writing Requirements

    f.   Summary and Conclusion section

The introduction is a very important section in any report. The introduction serves to set the stage for the
work by describing your perspective on the problem and by describing the background context in which you
wish the reader to evaluate your work. If the reader is not fully familiar with the problem area, the
introduction should provide sufficient, general context so that a reader can determine the general knowledge
domain relating to the material in your report.
In this section you will present the CONTEXT for your work. The following questions should be addressed
and answered in this section.
    1. WHAT is the MOTIVATION for the work you are about to describe, i.e., what situation, event, or
        need (from a resource management point of view, not because it was required for class) prompted
        the undertaking of this work or exercise?
         For the purposes of this class, you can develop a hypothetical situation that may have motivated this
         work. In other works, the motivation stated in your report should NOT state that “this work was
         required as part of an exercise in class such and so”.
    2. WHO should/would be interested in this report or study?
         Briefly describe who should be interested in the analysis or study. That is, what type of resource
         professionals, scientists, and technicians would be interested in the information produced from this
    3. WHY are they, or should they, be interested in this work?
         Include brief statements of why they should be interested or how the study would relate to their
         interest area.
    4. What is the MAIN FOCUS of your study/exercise, and how will it significantly address the points in
        items 1 through 3 above?

B. OBJECTIVE or Goal Statement(s)
The most critical section in any report is the objective section. This section describes the highest priority
goals and the specific objectives of the project or study. The objective should be clearly stated so that a
reader does not have to ‘dig’ for it or ‘surmise’ it from ambiguous rambling statements describing
background for the study or general goals or intents for the study. Phrase your objective statement very
specifically and precisely. For example, “the objective for this study was to explore the use of
neighborhood functions, the appropriate situations in which to use neighborhood functions, and the use
of those functions to extract population density, mean property values, and diversity of land use types
within the Seattle Downtown area.”

The words approach and method are often used interchangeably. There are differences between the two
however. One might label this section of their report as APPROACH, if what they intend to describe is a
general method or technique for ‘approaching’ the problem. If, however, one intends to describe in detail
specific steps or protocols to be used in solving or studying the problem, then one may label this section as
METHOD. One could have both an Approach and a Methods section within a given report
In this section, you must present a clear and concise description of how you approached or plan to approach
the solution to the problem being addressed. This should include a statement of why the adopted approach

Technical Report Writing Requirements

was appropriate for this specific study and a description of the techniques used to develop the plan or solve
the study problem.
In this section also discuss any problems you encountered in trying to implement your approach and how
you solved these difficulties. For example:
        "Soil permeability rates were required for the model. This data, however, was not available for
        the project’s study site. Soil permeability rates for similar soil types that were known from a
        nearby region, namely the Richfield region, were substituted in place of the missing soil
        permeability rates.”

D. RESULTS section
In the Results section, briefly present the results or outcomes achieved in the project. In this section, a
DESCRIPTION of the results is all that is required- DO NOT include a DISCISSION of the
results in this section. For example,
GOOD Results Statement:
        "Response times from station #1 to all locations within the planning area ranged from a maximum
        of 25 minutes to a minimum of 2 minutes. Response times from station # 12 to all locations ranged
        from a maximum of 35 minutes to a minimum of 6 minutes. Minimum response times from the most
        optimal, responding station to any specific location ranged from a maximum of 15 minutes to a
        minimum of 2 minutes. See Figure 5 (Minimum response time map) for the distribution of minimum
        response times over the planning area”.
Bad Results Statement in that it includes further discussion of the results. The discussion goes in the
Discussion of Results section.
        "Response times from station #1 to all locations within the planning area ranged from a maximum
        of 25 minutes to a minimum of 2 minutes. The maximum of 25 minutes is beyond the allowable
        limits allowed by the Fire District’s Terms of Service agreement with the County and a plan to
        mitigate the response times for areas falling outside of the allowable limits is being developed.

E. DISCUSSION of Results section
This section is primarily for the discussion of results – not for the discussion of approach or method issues.
Discussion of issues related to the approach or methods goes in the Approach or Methods section.
In this section, discuss the significance and ramifications of the results you obtained with respect to:
    1. the project or study objectives,
    2. the critical design criteria (if appropriate), and
    3. other desired outcomes that you specified in your objective or goals statement.
    4. surprising or contradicting results. How do you explain the surprises or contradictions?
Example Discussion Statement in that it includes further discussion of the results.
        "The response time from station #1 to some locations within the planning area exceeded the
        allowable maximum of 15 minutes which is the limit specified in the Fire District’s Terms of Service
        agreement with the County. For those areas that have a response time beyond 15 minutes, a
        mitigation plan needs to be developed. Potential mitigating actions could include the building of
        new fire stations to reduce response time to the distant areas, the upgrading of certain narrow
        mountain roads so that fire truck travel time is reduced, or full-time staffing of the fire station so
        that travel time of firefighters from out-of-station sites can be eliminated.

Technical Report Writing Requirements

In this section
    1. briefly restate the project or study objectives,
    2. briefly restate critical results that bear on those objectives, and
    3. clearly state the final conclusions about the significance of the results relative to the planning or
       project context.
    Often, summary and concluding statements, if they are short (e.g., a sentence or 2 or a single paragraph)
    are more appropriately placed at the end of the Discussion of Results section if there are not a lot of
    conclusions that need to be addressed within the context of the given study..

Include all critical references to
    1. sources of data, if not collected by project personnel,
    2. reference materials used in developing the approach,
    3. references to software systems employed in the implementation of your study,
    4. references to others results which you may have used for comparison purposes,
    5. other pertinent references.

IV. TABLES (You may embed tables in the body of the report if you prefer and know how)
Any tables of data or results to which you refer in the body of the report can go here. It is also possible to
embed short data tables in the Approach or Method section, and table of results in the Results section of the
report depending upon where they are referenced in the text. Longer tables are more appropriately placed in
an appendix section.

V. RESULTS ILLUSTRATIONS (You may embed illustrations in the body of the report if
you prefer and know how)
The illustrations will consist mostly of your important intermediate themes and final output themes.
However, any other illustrations of results, such as graphs or photos would also go here. It is also possible
to embed the illustrations in the Results section of the report depending upon where they are referenced in
the text.

Other material that may be of interest to the reader, and which provides more detailed support or data for the
project objective or approach can be placed in appendices at the end of the formal report.