The typical format is shown below.
Chapter I — Introduction. Much of the basis for this chapter is likely to be developed originally within the project proposal. This includes
a. Problem introduction, relevance, and significance.
b. Problem and research statement.
c. Scope and limitations.
Chapter II — Literature Review. Discuss the existing literature relevant to your problem. This is an important part of all problem-solving exercises and should address how others have approached the solution of similar problems.
Chapter III — Data Collection.
a. General description of the sources of data, the types of data, sampling plan, and time periods for data collection.
b. Summary statistics on the data along with charts and graphs. Include the actual data in an appendix or on electronic media so that others can reproduce your results.
c. Data Analysis. Include distribution-fitting results, tests of independence, inferential and statistics, etc.
Chapter IV — Methodology. Methodology format is highly dependent on the nature of the model and the research. Here are some guidelines.
a. Describe your model. This includes descriptions of variables, constraints, and parameters in an optimization, and the state variables and entities in a simulation, for instance.
b. Discuss your assumptions and why they are necessary and appropriate.
c. Derive key results of your methodology.
d. Describe attempts at verifying and validating the model prior to use. This can include calibration and benchmarking with real-world data, or comparison to analytic approximations and existing published results. It can also include review by acknowledged subject matter experts, e.g. a Turing test.
Chapter V — Analysis and Results. Summarize your work in an appropriate way. This may include tables, graphs, diagrams, or charts.
a. This section should “tell the whole story” and discuss the results of your analyses and include only the end products of this work. Details and/or examples of computations can be included in an appendix so your reader can see how your end results were obtained.
b. Please note that the simple attachment of computer output does not constitute appropriate analysis. If computer printouts are included, they should be annotated and attached as appendices. Small parts of computer outputs may be integrated into the text where and if appropriate.
c. Conduct and show sensitivity analysis as necessary. How critical were your assumptions and estimates of parameter values?
d. Ensure that the key relationships you uncover are highlighted. Important tradeoffs in benefit vs. cost should be underscored.
e. Counterintuitive results need to be highlighted and explained for their value in forming and correcting intuitions in the organization sponsoring your project.
f. Highlight the payoff, significance, or new knowledge created that made this project worth doing.
Chapter VI — Conclusions. What are the actions you would recommend based on the project outcomes? What are
the insights your research or model have provided to your project sponsor or customer? Where else do you feel these results or modified results might be useful?
References. Be sure to include a list of appropriate references, especially listing all works cited in the literature review. An annotated bibliography is often helpful. Please consult appropriate guides for citing and listing references appropriately.
Appendices. Include as appendices background information, carefully documented lists of data (electronic media may be substituted for hard copy lists of data), fully annotated computer outputs, detailed ‘hand’ calculations, and so on. The relevance of any appendix material should be immediately clear to the reader—do not leave a reader guessing why the material was included. Appendix material should be referred to in the body of the report. All appendices should be clearly labeled!
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