Executive Summary (1 page) Please write this
The report should begin with an executive summary, which:
- • States the research question and shortly describes its context.
- • Shortly explains the main steps taken which have led to the conclusions and recommendations.
- • Summarizes/ explains the main conclusions and recommendations.
The executive summary should contain no tables, charts or diagrams.
The organisation of the main body of the report may vary to some extent according to the type of problem posed and the nature of the topic. In all cases, the structure needs to be appropriate for the project objectives, and appropriate referencing must take place throughout the report. Findings should be divided into logical sections with appropriate headings.
Introduction (about 3 pages) Please proofread this and amend if needed
The introduction should cover the following points:
- • Start by explaining the purpose of the report, and provide a short outline.
- • Statement of the general business purpose of the firm:
- • What business is the firm in
- • What are its products/ services
- • What are its key value-adding activities in the eyes of the customers
- • The research question put in context
- • Define the research question (topic/ issue)
- • Background explanation, current versus desired situation, triggering events
- • Explain the importance and urgency of addressing this topic, and for whom.
- • Scope
- • What is the size of the assignment: explicate the boundaries or focus of your investigation and of the recommendations. For instance, what is the unit of analysis (firm, unit or team), geographical boundaries, time related boundaries, etc. Create the right expectations.
- • Outline your specific function in the issue under investigation. This is particularly important when your report relates to an assignment undertaken for an organisation where you are only one of a larger team.
Literature review (about 4 to 8 pages) Please proofread this and amend if needed
The goal is to come up with a conceptual model which will guide you in investigating the topic/ question/ issue as well as help you to develop recommendations.
Start by translating the issue into theoretical terms. This allows you to search for prior literature/ models/ frameworks on the subject (literature review). Come up with a conceptual framework (by applying or adapting or integrating existing theories, models, and studies). The framework guides your (empirical) investigation and helps to interpret the results as to formulate recommendations.
Define and describe all concepts that you will use clearly and comprehensively. You might want to develop working hypotheses which can be described as a tentative answer to a question. It might be called an “educated guess” that you wish to verify or disprove through gathering of data and logically analysing relationships between the data. You need to give your hypotheses supporting theoretical justification and articulate why you have chosen them.
Methods (about 2 to 4 pages) Please write this
This chapter provides and (1) explication and (2) justification, of all empirical steps you took. The method statement must carefully describe the research procedures and techniques that have been adopted and it should include (at least) the following components:
• The specifics of the data collection: how has data been collected, from where/ whom, and why (justification)
• The exact nature of the research undertaken (e.g. desk research, interviews field research, opinion surveys, questionnaire), and why (justification).
• What did you do to increase the validity and reliability of your results?
• What are the analyses procedures and techniques and why (justification)
Being transparent about your methodologies is crucial for correctly interpreting your results.
Analysis & Results (about 5 to 10 pages; may be less for a purely focused quantitative study) Please write this
The exact structure and types of content of this chapter will vary depending most notably on the nature of the research undertaken and the specific procedures and techniques. Key is data analyses and presentation of the results.
Conclusions section (about 3 to 5 pages) Please write this
This section deals with the question: based on the results and on your literature review: what are the concrete recommendations to solve/ address the issue/ question? Be very precise. Develop an implementation plan. You might want to make a distinction between short and midterm recommendations, indicate how to measure progress, and to justify what an appropriate budget would be.