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Technical report writing: Starting your report Research Proposal

Technical report writing: Starting your report Research Proposal. ACTIVITY: How do you intend to start?. Answer: How do you intend to start? 6 practical tips for starting your report Engage with the subject as soon as possible

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Technical report writing: Starting your report Research Proposal

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  1. Technical report writing: • Starting your report • Research Proposal

  2. ACTIVITY: How do you intend to start?

  3. Answer: How do you intend to start? 6 practical tips for starting your report Engage with the subject as soon as possible Allocate a substantial period of time to carry out initial reading around your subject Clear the desks Start note-making Work through the rough patches – some days will be good, others not Make sure you are keeping on track – What went well? Am I keeping up with my timetable? What do I need to do next?

  4. Choosing a research topic

  5. Deciding on a theme for your report: Closed option list / Semi- closed list In many cases, you may find that the research topic/ project work is prescribed (Restricted) to you. Academics may provide broad topic but leave the student to choose the detailed perspective that they wish to pursue.

  6. Constraints of a given topic You may feel restrictive because you do not know the details of the topic outlined.

  7. Closed option list/ Semi closed list These topics are designed to provide you with a degree of freedom within parameters controlled.

  8. Your own topic If you have a specific topic in mind that is NOTon a prescribed list of research project options, you could try approaching a potential supervisor and asking whether it might be considered. If you do this, be prepared to answer searching questions about its viability as a research theme. This may require some detailed research.

  9. Approval of your topic Where approval on the topic or perspective is required, you may need to present a written proposal that outlines the question and the method of approach to be adopted. This may involve presenting a reasoned argument justifying the research topic and approach. This then goes to the supervising academic or a panel of academics for consideration and approval.

  10. Make your decision with speed but not haste If a list of research options is presented, find out about it as quickly as possible. Why? There may be competition for specific topics. Make sure you take all relevant factors into account in a deliberate decision – making process rather than hastily choose under pressure

  11. Activity Question: What are the possible factors that will influence your decision (on your topic)?

  12. Answer: 6 possible factors • 1) Potential research approaches: • Is it possible for you to identify the approach that might be required? • How exactly will you set about researching the topic?

  13. 2) Time aspects: • Do you have enough time to demonstrate through your written work? • Do you have enough time to read, analyse, or present the material? • If you spend too much time on this research paper, how will this affect your other course work?

  14. 3) Availability of resources or experimental material: • Will you run into difficulty because it is not possible to obtain the material required to carry out the work • How can you find out what sources are available?

  15. 4) Depth • Do you have sufficient depth to allow you to show off your skills? • Is your ability to think critically through analysis and evaluation evident? • Avoid choosing a well-worked area, or even one likely to provide easy results (this will not allow you to demonstrate advanced skills)

  16. 5) Extent of support and supervision • You need to be clear from the beginning about what you can expect in terms of this support • In some cases, supervision is mapped onto the research / writing process with regular student – supervisor meetings. • Be sure that you reach an understanding with your supervisor about the extent to which you can expect them to review and provide feedback on your written work. Often this will NOT extend to reading your whole report.

  17. 6) Impact on your CV and career options • Although this is rarely the primary aspect to consider, it is a factor to bear in mind. • Take into account specific skills you might gain that will be of interest to an employer.

  18. Writing a research proposal How to structure a successful research proposal

  19. How long should the research proposal be? Research proposal can be from 4 to 7 pages depending on the length of your report.

  20. The 10 elements of the research proposal

  21. i) Proposed Research Topic Provide a brief description or a descriptive title or a research question

  22. ii) Purpose Expand on the topic/question by describing what you hope to accomplish, and the desired outcomes (especially the practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)

  23. Example - Alvesson(1996) claims that a situational approach enables leadership to be viewed and studied as “a practical accomplishment” (p. 476) rather than starting with a conceptualisation of leadership as whatever the appointed leader does. (1. expand broadly) This approach seems particularly well suited to self-managing teams (SMTs), in which leadership is presumably shared. (2. narrow down) In this project, I will explore how members of a self-managing team enact leadership in their regular team meetings. In particular, I will focus on how SMT members influence the direction of the team as well as the relationships and identities of individual members and the identity of the team as a unit, and how their interaction is enabled and constrained by social and cultural influences (eg, organisational culture, national/ethnic culture, and gender). (3. what you hope to accomplish) Such a study should give insights into the workings of SMTs, an organisational form that is rapidly gaining in popularity and acceptance. Also, the study will test the usefulness of a perspective (the situational approach) that is underdeveloped in the leadership literature. (4. practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)

  24. iii) Background Describe the context of the proposed research, making it clear how this context will allow you to accomplish your stated purposes

  25. Example - Background: Iwill conduct my study in a team that is within the Roadworks Division within the Hamilton City Council. Roadworks has 12 SMTs, each of which is responsible for maintenance of roads within one geographical section of Hamilton. This particular team includes four men and a woman. Three of the men are in their thirties and one in his early 50s; the woman is in her thirties. They are assigned to an area around Chartwell. They start each day with a brief (15-45 minute meeting) on an agreed upon site, often just gathering around the back of a truck for their meeting. I will attend these three mornings a week for four weeks, and will stay on to observe their work for approximately 20 hours during the four week period. My primary focus will be on their interaction in meetings, although I will also observe (and perhaps enquires about) interactions during their other work.

  26. iv) Scope What exactly are you looking for when you conduct your interviews etc. Details on specific areas you are going to cover during the allocated timings discussed in the background earlier.

  27. Example- Scope: I will engage in participant-observation over a six-week period, from 8 October to 22 December for approximately four hours per week. I will typically observe the morning meetings and stay for an hour or so to observe their other work. On some days I may come at other times of the day for comparison. I will not schedule structured interviews, but will interview team members informally, as needed to clarify and provide insight into specific conversations.

  28. v) Theoretical framework: Briefly identify and explain the theoretical framework you will use to guide your investigation, how it fits your purpose and its implications for the research methods.

  29. Example- Iwill be guided most generally by the interpretive perspective, and more specifically by Alvesson’s (1996) situational approach. The interpretive perspective places the focus on interpreting the meanings and perspectives of cultural members, and how these meanings are negotiated (Trujillo, 1992). I am exploring the meanings the sales staff and customers have for themselves as individuals and for their relationships, as well as the meanings sales staff have for the organisation, group, and profession of which they are members. The situational approach directs me to choose one or a few specific interactions to explore in depth. Thus, an appropriate means of investigating the topic from this perspective is observation of conversation, plus interviewing the interactants to understand the meanings they have for their symbolic interactions.

  30. vi) Method Describe in detail the steps you will take in attempting to answer your research question

  31. Example- Method (part 1): Conduct a literature review on leadership and communication in SMTs. 2. Observe the group four hours per week for six weeks, focusing mostly on conversations at team meetings, especially those conversations in which the group addresses changes to their work processes and issues of team relationships and identity (ies).

  32. Example- Method(part 2) 3. Interview team members to clarify and provide insight into conversations. I will attempt to conduct these interviews shortly after conversations of interest. While the interviews will not be formal or structured, the kinds of questions I will ask include the following. The general strategy for the interviews is to start off with broad questions and follow up on the interviewee’s responses, to capture her or his meanings and to avoid imposing my meanings on the interviewee. a. Tell me about the conversation you just had with X. b. What were you thinking during the conversation? c. What do you think she/he was thinking? d. What do you think she/he was trying to do (or accomplish) in the conversation?

  33. Example- Method (part 3) 4. Undertake a situational analysis of the field notes and interview notes, guided by Alvesson’s theory. 5. Write a research report that combines my understanding of the relevant theory and previous research with the results of my empirical research.

  34. vii) Timetable: Prepare proposal by 23rd September 2014 Complete literature review by: __________ (date?) Complete fieldwork by :______________(date?) Complete analysis by :______________ (date?) Give presentation on :______________(date?) Complete final report by :______________date?)

  35. viii) Limitations: Describe conditions beyond your control that place restrictions on what you can do and the conclusions you may be able to draw

  36. Example - limitations Time constraints of the semester require less time than may be ideal for an ethnographic study. By being in the organisation for only four hours a week for five weeks, there are bound to be aspects of leadership practice, organisational culture and team communication that will not be revealed during my observations. Being an outsider may also limit what is revealed to me. The team members may be guarded in their conversations around me, especially in my initial observations.

  37. ix) Delimitations: Describe the boundaries of the study that you determine

  38. Example- Delimitations I am choosing not to observe multiple teams, even though such comparisons might be valuable, in order to allow more depth of understanding regarding the group on which I will focus. Additionally, I will not use structured interviews in order to minimise my obtrusiveness and my influence on the team members.

  39. x) References: List all references cited that are not on the course reading list

  40. THE END

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