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How to write up a project. Project deliverables. Artefact to solve a problem Requirements document Design document Test results Survey results Report (the only one that is directly assessed). The assessment schedule. Deadline is:

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How to write up a project

How to write up a project

project deliverables
Project deliverables
  • Artefact to solve a problem
  • Requirements document
  • Design document
  • Test results
  • Survey results
  • Report (the only one that is directly assessed)

How to write up a project

the assessment schedule
The assessment schedule
  • Deadline is:
    • Wednesday 4th May 2005 (MSc May)
    • Friday 6th May 2005 (BSc)
    • Friday 16th September 2005 (MSc Sept)
    • Friday 2nd December 2005 (BSc February entry)
  • Before then - write it, print it, bind it

How to write up a project

the assessment process
The assessment process
  • Assessed by two markers
  • Third marker/external examiner may arbitrate
  • Good ones (60%+) go in Frewen library (see past ones there!)
    • List at

How to write up a project

assessment categories
Statement of project's context, aims and objectives

Critical review of relevant literature

Methodological approach

Specification and discussion of the requirements (E)

Primary research and results (if any) (S)

Analysis and discussion of the IT design (E)

Content (S)

Discussion of implementation (E)

Originality (S)

Discussion of verification and validation (E)

Evaluation against requirements (E)

Evidence of project planning and management

Attributes of the solution (E)

Summary, conclusions and recommendations

Structure and presentation

Overall understanding and reflection

Assessment categories

(E) = Engineering only (S) = Study only

How to write up a project

assessment criteria 1
Good things:

work of publishable standard;

clearly defined aims and objectives;

clear statement of requirements of artefact;

well-reasoned explanations for design;

perceptive analysis;

interesting conclusions;

answers the question definitively

development of high quality artefacts;

work that was challenging;

good quality presentation

PJE*, PJ45/60P:Note also requirements set by BCS accreditation

Assessment criteria 1

How to write up a project

assessment criteria 2
Bad things:

errors of fact;

vague aims and objectives;

vague requirements for artefacts;

unexplained or ill-judged design decisions;

little or no analysis, solely descriptive;

trite conclusions;

misinterpretations of literature;

has no question or doesn't answer it

development of poor quality artefacts;

work that was facile;

little evidence of work done by the student;

spelling mistakes, poor grammar, lousy structure, crazy layout

Assessment criteria 2

How to write up a project

common problems
Inadequate critical literature review (quantity and quality)

Descriptive/superficial vs. deep understanding/critique

No discussion of design decisions and alternatives

Failed to justify why the approach taken was the best one

Did not take an “engineering approach”

Failed to use methods

“Closed mindset”

Only looked at solutions close to home

Students who think this summary is all they need to read on how to write their report


non-“complete” artefact

Common problems

How to write up a project

planning your report
Planning your report
  • Plan it well in advance of submission
  • Outline
    • Chapter headings
    • Section headings
  • Identify what you have done and what you still have to do
  • Write one bit at a time (like developing a program procedure by procedure)

How to write up a project

an example of an outline
An example of an outline

1. Introduction

1.1 background to the project

1.1.1 history and context

1.1.2 organisational structure

1.2 aims and objectives

1.3 constraints

1.4 structure of the rest of the report

2. Review

How to write up a project

practical issues
Word-processing: use

paragraph styles

automatic numbering

tables of contents, etc.

spell checkers, etc.

Beware lab congestion

Covers will be available 2-3 term weeks before deadline

Binding (comb or perfect) is your responsibility

Normal coursework rules apply

Practical issues

How to write up a project

regulations for reports
Guideline word count (excluding appendices):

20/30pt: 10,000-12,000

40/45/60pt: 12,000-15,000

A4 paper, one side only

Recommend for text:

12pt typescript

Times-roman or Arial font

Single-spaced [change]

At least 9pt for diagrams, etc.

Margins >= 20mm

Number chapters and sections to <= 3 levels Page numbers at bottom

First page is special

No need to submit floppy disk

Regulations for reports

How to write up a project

write with style
Think of your audience (fellow students)

Cheque speling and gramer; read your work

Be concise and clear

break down complicated bits

Use diagrams, pictures, graphs (but don’t over-use)

Use numbers/bullet pts

Think up clear chapter and section headings

Emphasise but DON’Tover-emphasise

Link sections together

Be accurate, concise, interesting, relevant, incisive, discriminating

Write with style

How to write up a project

structure of a report
Structure of a report
  • Usually 6 areas to address: introduction, review, design, implementation, evaluation, conclusions
  • Order is indicative rather than mandatory
  • May re-arrange according to aspects of project
  • Make sure you talk about requirements
  • Make sure you talk about your question

How to write up a project

1 introduction
1. Introduction
  • Context of project (where did it come from?)
    • broad statement then refine it down
    • why is it an interesting/relevant problem?
    • what is the academic question you are trying to answer?
  • Aim & objectives (what did you set out to do?)
    • broad single aim and several specific objectives
  • Constraints (what limited what you could do?)
    • time, money, equipment available, your skills, etc.
  • Lead-in to rest of report

How to write up a project

2 review
2. Review
  • What else has been written:
    • about your problem?
    • about possible solutions to it?
  • Reader needs:
    • background to be able to tell whether your approach was valid or best.
    • to know you considered all possible solutions
  • Read/review widely; academic focus – quality, currency
  • Be relevant and explain how and why it is
    • use examples to illustrate important points
    • be “critical” in the positive sense of the word

How to write up a project

3 design
3. Design
  • Address issues such as:
    • Why did you do X that way?
    • Why did you do Y but not Z?
    • What was important and what not?
  • Relate back to objectives and requirements
    • show completeness and correctness
  • Show process
  • What, HOW, WHY

How to write up a project

1 2 3 requirements
1/2/3 requirements
  • Building an artefact => have “requirements”
  • Given by customer / elicited as part of project
  • Detail in an appendix - must write them down
  • Discuss somewhere relevant:
    • “introduction” if given them
    • “design” if yours but small
    • separate chapter if yours but big

How to write up a project

4 implementation
4. Implementation
  • Address:
    • tools/methods used
    • difficulties encountered; how you overcame them
    • how you tested your artefact as you built it
  • NOT internal documentation (that’s an appendix)
  • More important to be interesting than complete
  • Arrange by project stages or by major components
  • If design only, consider future implementation issues

How to write up a project

5 evaluation
5. Evaluation
  • Compare
    • what you did with objectives
      • i.e. has customer got what they wanted?
    • what you did with something else that does same
      • is what you’ve done better than the other thing?
  • Involve customer and/or users
  • Structured evaluation best; not simply word of mouth
  • Again, interesting stuff only - leave mundane detail in appendix

How to write up a project

6 conclusions
6. Conclusions
  • How did what you did contribute to objectives?
  • Sum up key bits of evidence
  • What is the answer to the academic question?
  • Evidence needs to hang together to make a case
  • Loose ends are OK (suggestions for future work)
  • Reflection
  • Apply to context (opposite of introduction)
    • start specific and become more general

How to write up a project

non standard report structures
Non-standard report structures
  • Projects of many small (independent?) parts
    • one chapter per part?
  • Entirely review (PJS* only)
    • review of X; review of Y; …; summing up
  • Scientific experiment/survey:
    • hypothesis (and justification); experiment (explain how you carried it out); control; results (what did you observe?)

How to write up a project

choosing a title for your report
Choosing a title for your report
  • Limited space
  • Avoid noise phrases (e.g. “A report into”)
  • What differentiates your project from all others?
  • Most important words first
  • Problems not usually solutions
  • The question you attempted to answer or the problem you attempted to solve

How to write up a project

  • Things not important or interesting enough to be in main body of report
  • Examples:
    • program listings
    • requirements / design specifications
    • documentation
    • test case results
    • data

How to write up a project

  • Citations in text, either
      • numeric 1, or
      • labelled [Briggs99]
  • List of references contains full bibliographic details of what you have referred to
  • Example:

[Barnes98] Barnes, J.P.G., Programming in Ada 95, Addison-Wesley, 2nd edition 1998.

  • See “How to cite references and avoid plagiarism” ( full details

How to write up a project

when to cite a reference
When to cite a reference
  • All direct quotes must be cited (and placed either inside quotation marks or indented paras)
  • Preferable to paraphrase (translate author's words into your own) but must still give credit
  • If something is “common knowledge” (referred to in many sources), no need to cite
  • Everything else is assumed to be your idea

How to write up a project

  • Examples:
    • Using directly quoted material without marking it (e.g. by placing it within quotation marks or indented paragraph) and citing it
    • Paraphrasing the work of an author and attempting to pass it off as your own by not including a citation
    • Submitting the work of another student as if it is your own
  • Plagiarism is a serious matter

How to write up a project

  • Abstract is a summary (précis) of the entire report (introduction, review, design, …, conclusions)
  • Must be able to stand entirely on its own
  • Our regulations require it to be 150-300 words and on first page

How to write up a project

lifecycles and your report
Lifecycles and your report
  • What lifecycle model did your project adopt/follow? (Was this what you expected?)
  • One chapter per stage?
  • One chapter per cycle?
  • Chronological vs. other logical structures

How to write up a project

  • Christian W. Dawson. The essence of computing projects: a student's guide. Prentice Hall, 2000. ISBN 0-13-021972-X. Publisher's price £16.99.
  • Gavin Fairbairn and Christopher Winch, Reading, writing and reasoning - a guide for students, Open University Press, 2nd edition 1996.
  • Phyllis Creme and Mary Lea, Writing at university - a guide for students, Open University Press, 1997.
  • H.W. Fowler and Robert Burchfield, The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1996

How to write up a project

penultimate words
Penultimate words
  • The only final-year project you’ll ever do!
  • Do it right
  • Think about the problem and how you solved it (practically)
  • Present your work in the best possible light compatible with reality

How to write up a project

last words
Last words
  • Think about your audience
  • There are no right answers, only wrong ones
  • Be honest and fair in your judgements
  • Don’t take credit for what you didn’t do
  • Make sure you take the credit for what you did
  • Be proud of your accomplishment

How to write up a project