Extend Your Skills in Research and Innovation
Research skills are no longer just something needed by academics.
In today's world, success in a career depends upon being up to date with industry developments and aware of the latest innovations and technology. Success in business also relies heavily on research skills for exactly the same reasons.
Being able to seek and find information and cutting edge ideas, is critical in both public and commercial enterprise; and this is why studying research is important to ensuring your success in any professional pursuit.
Course Structure and Content
There are 5 lessons in this course:
- Determining research priorities.
- Planning research improvement
- Testing the viability of alternative approaches
- Conducting detailed research into commercial work procedures
- Developing an improved approach to a workplace procedure
A major research project undertaken at the end of this course will involve at least half of the total duration. Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading
Aims for learning:
- Analyse current industry procedures to determine possible areas for improvement or innovation.
- Plan research on the development of innovative approaches for improving a commercial work procedure.
- Conduct detailed research into the viability of alternative innovative approaches to a commercial work procedure.
- Conduct detailed research into the viability of alternative, innovative approaches to a commercial work procedures.
- Develop an improved approach to a workplace procedure based on results of research.
The average student will need to spend around 100 hours to successfully complete this course.
Writing Research Reports
Reports are written to present factual information. They may be written to address specific questions e.g. a psychological report by a psychologist concerning an individual's mental health status in response to an enquiry from a lawyer, or a regulatory report by a department or organisation in response to a government enquiry concerning public safety.
A well-written report provides a detailed overview and update of what a department or project team is doing, and any problems and progress. The report should include a summary of relevant information. This may be presented in bullet point form to address specific questions if the report is written in response to an enquiry. A project report may include a summary of budgets, time frames, problems encountered, what has been accomplished, and what is projected for the future.
A progress and a final project report both serve as a form of accountability for employees and an important communication tool between staff and management. It is therefore very important that written reports address all the issues management are likely to want to know. Other types of report include progress reports which provide updates about projects or programmes and their effectiveness or success.
Most reports are read by management and higher level decision makers. Once again an active voice, clarity and succinctness are important. The style, punctuation and choice of words will also serve to distinguish a good report from a poor one.
When starting to write reports think about the organising yourself and write an outline for the report. This is the foundation for the report which you will build on as you work through the project and increase the content for the report. So once you have an outline you will be able to write a first draft and then re-write this again a second time. Once you have your final draft this should be proofread and edited. Also the in draft stage think about the format, layout, the inclusion of graphics and visuals too.
Typical Report Layout
Most reports follow a similar structure loosely based on the following:
- Title and Cover – this is used for filing and referencing purposes. The title of the report, date, and a reference number may be recorded here.
- Summary - or executive summary is a brief outline of what has been done. It should be able to stand alone without the body of the report to inform the reader of what was done, the findings and their implications. It can be more detailed than an abstract (see below) and include tables of results or graphs. Sometimes it is the only part of a report which is read so it must be well-written and present all the information needed in a concise manner.
- Introduction - this outlines the problems in detail and the objectives of the report. It also pinpoints alternatives.
- Procedure - this is a detailed account of what was done to address the problem.
- Discussion - here the findings are discussed along with any problems associated with them.
- Conclusion - a review of whether the interventions solved the problems and met with the objectives that were raised in the introduction.
- Appendices - these may be included depending on the nature of the
report. They are usually only required if specific relevant information
is needed to supplement the main body of the report and was too complex
to be included.