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REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
Scientific report writing requires the use of certain techniques and conventions that are detailed, strict and not always easy to master. The main purpose of a scientific report is to communicate. A typical structure and style have evolved to convey essential information and ideas as concisely and effectively as possible. The main aim of the report is to state your opinion on the issue or to provide precise information about a practical investigation.
Audience. Assume that your intended reader has a background similar to yours before you started the project. That is, a general understanding of the topic but no specific knowledge of the details. The reader should be able to reproduce whatever you did by following your report.
Clarity of Writing. Good scientific reports share many of the qualities found in other kinds of writing. To write is to think, so a paper that lays out ideas in a logical order will facilitate the same kind of thinking. Make each sentence follows from the previous one, building an argument piece by piece. Group related sentences into paragraphs, and group paragraphs into sections. Create a flow from beginning to end.
Style. It is customary for reports to be written in the third person or the 'scientific passive', for example, instead of writing 'I saw', one writes 'it was observed'; rather than, 'I think that ...' one writes 'it could be stated that ...' and so on. Avoid jargon, slang, or colloquial terms. Define acronyms and any abbreviations not used as standard measurement units. Most of the report describes what you did, and thus it should be in the past tense (e.g., "values were averaged"), but use present or future tense as appropriate (e.g., "x is bigger than y" or "that effect will happen"). Employ the active rather than passive voice to avoid boring writing and contorted phrases (e.g., "the software calculated average values" is better than "average values were calculated by the software").
Typical Sections. There are four major sections to a scientific report, sometimes known as IMRAD -- Introduction, Methods, Results, And Discussion. Respectively, these sections structure your report to say "here's the problem, here's how I studied it, here's what I found, and here's what it means." There are additional minor sections that precede or follow the major sections including the title, abstract, acknowledgements, references, and appendices. All sections are important, but at different stages to different readers. When flipping through a journal, a reader might read the title first, and if interested further then the abstract, then conclusions, and then if he or she is truly fascinated perhaps the entire paper. You have to convince the reader that what you have done is interesting and important by communicating appeal and content in all sections.
Title of the report. Convey the essential point of the paper. Be precise, concise, and use key words. Avoid padding with phrases like "A study of ..." or headlines like "Global warming will fry Earth!" It is usual to write the title as one phrase or sentence. A good title is brief and informative. Titles should not exceed 10 or 12 words, and they should reveal the content of the study. Many titles take one of these two forms: a simple nominal sentence (Asymmetric Information, Stock Returns and Monetary Policy) or beginning with The effect of (for example, The Effects of Financial Restrictions and Technological Diversity on Innovation). Sometimes it is impossible to make word-by-word translation from Russian into English, for example, Об оценке работы фирмы should be translated as Assessing the Firm Performance or К проблеме хеджевых фондов is translated as Hedge Funds. Sometimes the title contains two parts, the first one is the topic, while the second is its specific details (International Financial Contagion: Evidence from the Argentine Crisis of 2001-2002). If the report is of a very problematic issue its title may be in the form of a question (Was There a Credit Crunch in Turkey?)
Introduction. This section should contain a brief history of the research problem with appropriate references to the relevant literature and the purpose of the study. Introduce the problem, moving from the broader issues to your specific problem, finishing the section with the precise aims of the paper (key questions). Craft this section carefully, setting up your argument in logical order. Refer to relevant ideas/theories and related research by other authors. Answer the question "what is the problem and why is it important?" The introduction should also explain whether the study is an extension of a previous one, or whether a completely new hypothesis is to be tested. The final section of the introduction generally includes a list of all the hypotheses being tested in the study. The results of the current study are not to be referred to in the introduction.
You may use the following expressions:
Examples of an introduction
A. There has been a European Union foreign policy, confirmed in constitutional form in the Union Treaty, since 1993. The first decade, most commentators agree, has proved to be difficult: ‘painful and problematic’ according to one. As the twenty-first century progresses, replete with an array of new challenges, the need for a reassessment, and perhaps reinvigoration of Union ‘foreign and security policy’ is widely argued. The purpose of this article is to provide both a retrospective, of the evolution of the Union’s foreign policy so far, and a prospective, of the challenges which it presently faces.
B. This paper examines companies incorporated under the Companies Act 1985. Its purpose is to consider the suitability of such companies for not-for-profit-organisations ('NFPOs').
Methods. Explain how you studied the problem, which should follow logically from the aims. Depending on the kind of data, this section may contain subsections on experimental details, materials used, data collection/sources, analytical or statistical techniques employed, study area, etc. Provide enough detail for the reader to reproduce what you did.
Include flowcharts, maps or tables if they aid clarity or brevity. Answer the question "what steps did I follow?" but do not include results yet. Here you may use such expressions as:
Results. Explain your actual findings, using subheadings to divide the section into logical parts, with the text addressing the study aims. Tables are an easy and neat way of summarizing the results. An alternative or additional way of presenting data is in the form of line graphs, bar-charts, pie-charts, etc. Graphs, charts and illustrations are referred to as 'figures' (for example, Fig. 1) in the text of the report. All figures should be numbered in order of appearance in the text. For each table or graph, describe and interpret what you see (you do the thinking -- do not leave this to the reader).
Expressions to describe results obtained may be:
Discussion. This is the most difficult section of a report to write and requires considerable thought and care. Essentially it is a consideration of the results obtained in the study, guided by any statistical tests used, indicating whether the hypotheses tested are considered true or are to be rejected.
This is best thought of in three steps: the main results must be very briefly summarized; the procedure must be critically assessed and weaknesses noted; and a final evaluation of the results made in terms of the design, leading to a final judgment concerning the hypotheses being tested. The discussion can only refer to results, which are presented in the results section. Any detailed results which only appear in the appendixes cannot be discussed.
Evaluation of the results should include reference to other research with indications as to whether or not the current findings are in agreement with other findings (that is, reference is made to the introduction). The main conclusions reached should be summarized at the end of the discussion. Suggestions for follow-up research can also be given.
Discuss the importance of what you found, in light of the overall study aims. Stand backs from the details and synthesize what has (and has not) been learned about the problem, and what it all means. Say what you actually found, not what you hoped to find. Begin with specific comments and expand to more general issues. Recommend any improvements for further study. Answer the question "what is the significance of the research?"
Important Note: this section is often combined with either the Results section or the Conclusions section. Decide whether understanding and clarity are improved if you include some discussion as you cover the results, or if discussion material is better as part of the broader summing up.
Conclusions. Restate the study aims or key questions and summarize your findings using clear, concise statements. Keep this section brief and to the point.
Acknowledgments. This is an optional section. Thank people who directly contributed to the paper, by providing data, assisting with some part of the analysis, proofreading, typing, etc. It is not a dedication; so don't thank Mom and Dad for bringing you into the world, or your roommate for making your coffee.
References. Within the text, cite references by author and year unless instructed otherwise, for example "Comrie (1999) stated that ..." or "several studies have found that x is greater than y (Comrie 1999; Smith 1999)." For two authors, list both names, and for three or more use the abbreviation "et al." (note the period) following the first name, for example "Comrie and Smith (1999)" or "Comrie et al. (1999)." Attribute every idea that is not your own to avoid plagiarism.
Making Oral Presentations
The material of your presentation should be concise, to the point and tell an interesting story. In addition to the obvious things like content and visual aids, the following are just as important as the audience will be subconsciously taking them in:
Your voice - how you say it is as important as what you say.
Body language – a subject in its own right and something about which much has been written and said. In essence, your body movements express what your attitudes and thoughts really are.
Appearance – first impressions influence the audience's attitudes to you. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
As with most personal skills oral communication cannot be taught. Instructors can only point the way. So as always, practice is essential, both to improve your skills generally and also to make the best of each individual presentation you make
Preparation. Prepare the structure of the talk carefully and logically, just as you would for a written report. What are:
Make a list of these two things as your starting point.
Write out the presentation in rough, just like a first draft of a written report. Review the draft. You will find things that are irrelevant or superfluous – delete them. Check if the story is consistent and flows smoothly. If there are things you cannot easily express, possibly because of doubt about your understanding, it is better to leave them unsaid.
Never read from a script. It is also unwise to have the talk written out in detail as a prompt sheet - the chances are you will not locate the thing you want to say amongst all the other text. You should know most of what you want to say – if you don't then you should not be giving the talk! So prepare cue cards which have key words and phrases (and possibly sketches) on them. Postcards are ideal for this. Don't forget to number the cards in case you drop them.
Remember to mark on your cards the visual aids that go with them so that the right OHP or slide is shown at the right time
Rehearse your presentation - to yourself at first and then in front of some colleagues. The initial rehearsal should consider how the words and the sequence of visual aids go together. How will you make effective use of your visual aids?
Making the presentation. Greet the audience (for example, 'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen'), and tell them who you are. Good presentations then follow this formula:
Keep to the time allowed. If you can, keep it short. It's better to under-run than over-run. As a rule of thumb, allow 2 minutes for each general overhead transparency or Powerpoint slide you use, but longer for any that you want to use for developing specific points. 35mm slides are generally used more sparingly and stay on the screen longer. However, the audience will get bored with something on the screen for more than 5 minutes, especially if you are not actively talking about it. So switch the display off, or replace the slide with some form of 'wallpaper' such as a company logo.
Stick to the plan for the presentation, don't be tempted to digress - you will eat up time and could end up in a dead-end with no escape!
Unless explicitly told not to, leave time for discussion - 5 minutes is sufficient to allow clarification of points. The session chairman may extend this if the questioning becomes interesting.
At the end of your presentation ask if there are any questions - avoid being terse when you do this as the audience may find it intimidating (ie it may come across as any questions? - if there are, it shows you were not paying attention). If questions are slow in coming, you can start things off by asking a question of the audience - so have one prepared.
Delivery. Speak clearly. Don't shout or whisper - judge the acoustics of the room.
Don't rush, or talk deliberately slowly. Be natural - although not conversational.
Deliberately pause at key points - this has the effect of emphasising the importance of a particular point you are making.
Avoid jokes - always disastrous unless you are a natural expert
To make the presentation interesting, change your delivery, but not to obviously, eg:
Use your hands to emphasise points but don't indulge in to much hand waving. People can, over time, develop irritating habits. Ask colleagues occasionally what they think of your style.
Look at the audience as much as possible, but don't fix on an individual - it can be intimidating. Pitch your presentation towards the back of the audience, especially in larger rooms.
Don't face the display screen behind you and talk to it.
Avoid moving about too much. Pacing up and down can unnerve the audience, although some animation is desirable.
Keep an eye on the audience's body language. Know when to stop and also when to cut out a piece of the presentation.
Visual Aids. Visual aids significantly improve the interest of a presentation. However, they must be relevant to what you want to say. A careless design or use of a slide can simply get in the way of the presentation. What you use depends on the type of talk you are giving. Here are some possibilities:
Keep it simple though - a complex set of hardware can result in confusion for speaker and audience. Slides and OHPs should contain the minimum information necessary. To do otherwise risks making the slide unreadable or will divert your audience's attention so that they spend time reading the slide rather than listening to you.
Study the texts given below, use additional information resources and deliver a report on your special field of knowledge.
The Nature of Law
The law affects us all from the moment we are born. We may not like it, but for better or for worse, we live in a society that is bound by rules.
Society, by one means or another, has developed a formal system of rules which are designed to be both observed and enforced. If an individual breaks a legal rule he or she will be penalised in some way. That is what the law is about: it consists of minimum standards of conduct which all members of society are expected to follow.
The concept of justice lies deep in the conscience of all civilized peoples. What that justice is, however, a reflection of the customs and laws of that civilization, and derives from the morality of the people as expounded by their law makers.
All civilized societies have had their codes of law, at least from the time of Hammurabi, the founder of the Babylonian Empire in the third millenium BC. Law is the latticework of civilization and throughout history a few outstanding law makers have shone forth like stars, to illumine the course of justice, some like Solomon as judges, others such as Justinian as great codifiers.
Yet the thought that there can be a theory of law, that is a set of systematically related true propositions about the nature of law, has been challenged, and from several directions. None of the challenges is entirely successful.
A theory of law in a narrow sense refers to an explanation of the nature of law. It is a sense central to philosophical reflection about the law throughout its history.
A theory of law is successful if it meets two criteria: First, it consists of propositions about the law which are necessarily true, and, second, they explain what the law is.
Naturally, the essential properties of the law are universal characteristics of law. They are to be found in law wherever and whenever it exists. Moreover, these properties are universal properties of the law not accidentally, and not because of any prevailing economic or social circumstances, but because there is no law without them.
The most usual meaning of the phrase 'the law' is that of a legal rule. Legal rules influence many different aspects of life. Secondly, “the law” is the complete body of all those individual rules that bind society together. Thirdly, the phrase may also mean the process by which rules are made and applied. The development, the content and the application of those rules add up to a legal system, complete with judges, courts, solicitors, barristers, police and indeed politicians in their role as law-makers (legislators).
The understanding (not definition) of such concepts as responsibility, liberty, authority, scientific knowledge, justice, right/wrong, etc. is a necessary prerequisite for answering some crucial questions about the regulation of social conduct and the conflicts derived from it:
At the end of the twentieth century we are forced to recognize:
English law divides principally into two categories - criminal or public and civil or private. Criminal law concerns matters deemed by society to be so serious that in the event of a person transgressing a legal rule it is society itself which must punish the wrong-doer.
Civil law is concerned with disputes between individuals or indeed groups of individuals such as public companies and corporations. Society will lay down the framework of legal rules within which such disputes must be settled. But society itself is not a party to any legal proceedings; it acts more as a referee. Indeed the object of civil law is to compensate the injured party, rather than to punish the 'wrong-doer'. One individual sues another.
All that appears to imply that in terms of society's morality and values civil matters are less serious or less weighty than criminal issues.
It is possible to speak in terms of three branches of the law, the third being constitutional and administrative law. This area of legal rules covers such matters as the powers of Parliament and the Government, the powers of the police and the administration of justice, personal freedoms including race relations and immigration, and the freedoms of expression and assembly. The greater part of such administrative law will fall under civil law in the broadest sense and the rest under criminal law. Other countries take a different approach, however.
Law, far from being a complete and static system, is a dynamic system continually being created and modified. This condition of dynamism is already a commonplace in legal theory.
The law does not stand still. The public's attitudes and habits do change, human nature being an odd mixture of both the rational and the irrational, of both conservatism and radicalism. The legal system - including judicial outlook - has to accommodate itself to such shifts in the climate of opinions. Nonetheless the law may move slowly: change, whether societal or legal, is not necessarily rapid.
The term economics was coined around 1870 and popularized by Alfred Marshall, as a substitute for the earlier term political economy which has been used through the 18th-19th centuries, with Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx as its main thinkers and which today is frequently referred to as the "classical" economic theory. Economic thought may be roughly divided into three phases: Premodern (Greek, Roman, Arab), Early modern (mercantilist, physiocrats) and Modern (since Adam Smith in the late 18th century). Systematic economic theory has been developed mainly since the birth of the modern era.
Economics has been recognized as a special area of study for over a century. The term Economics derived from the Greek words οίκω [okos], 'house', and νέμω [nemo], 'rules' hence it means household management. There is no unanimous consensus upon its definition. Various definitions describe different aspects of this social science. We may mention some of them. Economics is:
Economics is said to be normative when it recommends one choice over another, or when a subjective value judgment is made. Conversely, economics is said to be positive when it tries objectively to predict and explain consequences of choices, given a set of assumptions and/or a set of observations.
Economics is the study of how society chooses to allocate its scarce resources to the production of goods and services in order to satisfy unlimited wants. Society makes two kinds of choices: economy-wide, or macro, choices and individual, or micro, choices. The prefixes macro and micro come from the Greek words meaning “large” and “small,” respectively. Reflecting the macro and micro perspectives, economics consists of two main branches: macroeconomics and microeconomics.
Economics, which focuses on measurable variables, is broadly divided into two main branches: microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Microeconomics (literally, very small economics) is the study of the economic behaviour of individual consumers, firms, and industries and the distribution of production and income among them. It considers individuals both as suppliers of labour and capital and as the ultimate consumers of the final product. It analyzes firms both as suppliers of products and as consumers of labour and capital. It deals with individual agents, such as households and businesses,
Microeconomics seeks to analyze the market form or other types of mechanisms that establish relative prices amongst goods and services and/or allocates society's resources amongst their many alternative uses.
Macroeconomics considers the economy as a whole, in which case it considers aggregate supply and demand for money, capital and commodities. Aspects receiving particular attention in economics are resource allocation, production, distribution, trade, and competition. Economic logic is increasingly applied to any problem that involves choice under scarcity or determining economic value.
There appear to be three methods by which economic phenomena may be investigated. The first consists mainly in deductive analysis. Proceeding from a few simple premises based upon general observation a researcher makes broad generalizations. The second is the historical method, which seeks an understanding of existing institutions by tracing their evolutions from their origins in the past. The third is statistical induction, which endeavours, by the analysis of numerical data, to develop quantitative knowledge of economic phenomena. Anyway, it is now coming to be recognized that these methods are complementary rather than mutually exclusive.
A successful theory provides insights into the physical or social relationships it studies. Economic theories are developed to explain such important observable quantities as the production, prices and consumption of goods and services, the employment of workers, and levels of saving and investment.
Economic variables are quantities that can have more than one value. For example, the price of an item is an economic variable representing what we must give up in exchange for each unit of that item. Price is an economic variable because it can go up or down as changes occur in the economy. An economic theory of price seeks to determine the causes for changes in the price of an item.
An economic model is a simplified way of expressing how some sector of the economy functions. An economic model contains assumptions that establish relationships among economic variables. We use logic, graphs, or mathematics to determine the consequences of the assumptions. In this way we can use the model to make predictions about how a change in economic conditions results in changes in decisions affecting economic variables. Economists often use the term “model” as a synonym for theory.
Geography is the study of the surface of the Earth. The word is derived from the Greek words geo (“the Earth”) and graphein (“to write”).
Geography is the exact and organized knowledge of the distribution of phenomena on the surface of the Earth. It deals with the form and motion of the planet so far as a knowledge of these is necessary for fixing positions on the surface, more fully with the forms of the lithosphere or stony crust of the Earth, the extent of the water envelope or hydrosphere, the movements of the water and of the all surrounding atmosphere, the distribution of plants and animals and very fully with that of the human race and all the interactions and relationships between these distributions.
The surface of the Earth is the interface of the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. It provides the habitat, or environment, in which humans are able to live. This habitable zone has a number of special characteristics. One of the most important is the complex interaction among many physical, biologic, and human elements of the Earth, such as land surface, climate, water, soil, vegetation, agriculture, and urbanization. Another characteristic is the high variability of the environment from place to place – hot tropics to cold polar regions, dry deserts to humid equatorial forests, vast level plains to rugged mountains and uninhabited ice caps to densely settled metropolitan areas. Yet another is the consistency with which significant patterns occur, which makes possible generalizations about distributions; obvious examples are measurements of temperature and rainfall which are the most important climatic elements affecting farming and many other human activities.
Geographic study is particularly concerned with location, with areal patterns with the interrelationships of phenomena (especially of the relationship between human society and the land, as in ecology), with regionalization, and with ties among areas. Typical areas of inquiry include where people live; in what sort of patterns they are distributed over the Earth’s surface; what factors of environment, resources, culture, and economic development account for this distribution; whether or not significant regions can be recognized by types of population, livelihood, and culture, and what types of movements and relations occur among places.
Geography is a synthetic science, largely dependent for its data on the results of specialized sciences such as astronomy, physics, geology, oceanography, meteorology, biology and antropology and always having respect to the natural regions of the world. Viewed in this light geography is a unified and definite science of wide outlook and comrehensive grasp.
Geography is divided into systematic fields and regional specializations, which can be grouped under three main headings: physical geography, human geography and regional geography. There is a number of subdivisions, such as mathematical geography, which deals with the shape, size and movements of the earth; political geography, which studies the world’s political divisions; economic geography deals with estimation of the environment and resources, distribution of economy and population; historical geography the nature of which has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways. Human geography, is sometimes regarded as synonymous with anthropogeography. Physical geography, which usually includes a study of climate, natural vegetation and oceanography, is sometimes assumed, to be synonymous with physiography.
The principal activities of the physical geographer include observing, measuring and describing the surface of the earth. The growing complexity of geographic inquiry has resulted in increased specialization within the field. The principal branches of physical geography are geomorphology, climatology, biogeorgraphy and soil geography. As human activity has become more able to affect the landscape and ecology of the world, two more branches have emerged: resource management and environmental studies.
Geographers use a variety of tools to carry out their work. The tools that most people identify with geography are those that are still most important to geographers today – globes and maps. Modern geographers, however, also use tools such as aerial photographs, satellite images, and computer programs to help them analyze the interactions between people and their environments. The best tool to use often depends on the geographic theme that is the focus of the research.
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