For your final, you will write a business report that summarizes and reflects on the processes/methods and outcomes of your metadata assignment.
- to reflect on what you learned from your metadata assignment in relation to digital publishing
- to provide succinct outcomes/findings of that learning to me
- to practice a typical professional writing genre
Your report should be no more than 4-5 single-spaced pages, which means you will need to practice concision. The report should have the following six sections:
- Executive Summary
- Conclusion & Recommendations
Each of these are explained below. (Blockquoted portions of the descriptions have been adapted from Applied Statistics for Business and Economics, Allen. Webster, PP. 957-961, which has been reposted on this website: http://business.clayton.edu/arjomand/business/writing.html)
1. Executive Summary
The intent of the executive summary is to immediately provide the time-constrained reader with the important facts and findings derived from the study. It summarizes these findings and conclusions, along with any recommendations, and places them at the beginning of the study. This placement provides easy access to the more important information relevant to any decision that a manager must make. If the manger is interested in any further details, he or she may consult the main body of the report… The summary should include no new information not presented in the report, and should not offer conclusions based on data or information not contained in the report…. The executive summary should be written in a non-technical manner.
Purpose/Goal: You should be summarizing YOUR work on the entire metadata project. That is, you’re NOT summarizing the assignment as I gave it; you’re summarizing what you did with the assignment; which volume-issue you studied; your workflow; what you learned; and how you’d recommend others to proceed –> all information that you will describe in more detail in the sections below.
- Write your executive summary LAST.
- I am the “manager”/supervisor/teacher/editor to which the report should be addressed.
- This summary should be a paragraph or two at most.
The second step is a brief introduction describing the nature and scope of [the assignment]. Any relevant history or background of the problem that is essential to a thorough understanding and provides clarification for the rest of the study should also be included. A statement is made explaining why the resolution of this issue is important and the critical need to formulate a course of action.
Purpose/Goal: The introduction literally introduces the assignment (briefly, in your own words) to me-the-reader. This isn’t a step-by-step description of what you did to complete the assignment. Instead, it is your summary of the purpose of the assignment –> why it was important to complete the metadata project in the scope of what we have learned about publishing studies this semester as well as why others (editors, publishing workforce, librarians, whoever you think it’s important to reach) should follow your recommendations for doing their own metadata work on a publication.
- The intro will be about 2 paragraphs, at most. (Imagine your Exec Summary & Intro fit onto one page.)
- Don’t just repeat the assignment description I’ve given you. This report is from YOU, based on YOUR individual work and your reflections on that work and its importance. You need to reflect on that work to summarize here.
- The intro is often, but not always, written next-to-last (after you’ve completed the other sections but before you do the executive summary).
- Your Volume.Issue might definitely need to be mentioned here, as its timing in publication may directly impact your perceptions on your metadata work.
The third section of a report is more technical than the rest of the study, as it explains the exact nature of the [assignment as you completed it]. It describes in detail the precise tools and techniques you used, and reveals the manner in which they lead [or didn’t lead] to the desired results. It is also customary to briefly characterize the data set and the manner in which the sample was taken.
Purpose/Goals: Don’t let the word “methodology” scare you. It just means how you performed your work. In this section, you should describe how you performed your work, discussing the technologies and workflow you used/created to mine the metadata for your “data set” (e.g., your Volume.Issue). In some cases, you will have used the technologies and workflows I suggested in the instructional handouts, in which case you should say whether those recommendations elicited the results you were after. In other cases, you needed to create different workflows and/or use different tech than what I recommended. Those tech and workflow are what you should discuss/describe in this section.
- You do NOT necessarily need to discuss tech choices and workflow for EVERY week’s assignment, as some were similar. It’s your job to figure out which are the most important ones for you to point out in the report. Which tech and workflows do you need to report to me, to show me something unique about your process? That being said, this section is NOT the place to talk about results. That comes later.
- Do NOT talk about your results/findings in this section. That’s for later. ONLY talk about workflows and technologies used.
- This section will probably be about 1 page (3-ish paragraphs).
The findings consist of the actual [data mining results] that provide the information required to make decisions and recommendations. [An overview of the data mined should be] shown in sufficient detail to reveal and validate the methodology without providing needless information or becoming overly cumbersome. In addition, comments regarding the results are provided to note the results and draw attention to their significance. That is, the results of the data mining are merely cited or quoted. No effort is made to discuss or interpret these findings. This is left for the next segment.
Purpose/Goals: The Findings section of reports are often the hardest for new authors to write, especially those in the humanities, because Findings are divorced from Discussion/Interpretation. In a scientific report, it’s easier to just list the results of an experiment and point to some overall results/points that will be discussed later. In the case of the metadata project, your purpose with this section is to provide some examples from several of the metadata fields that you were primarily responsible for (e.g., you probably won’t be discussing metaadata fields such as DOIs, Authors, or Webtext Titles here, since there wasn’t much work/thought that had to go into those). What you might do is give a run-down of, say,
- the kinds of genres you ended up using
- the number of media files you ended up with
- a short list of examples of how media files were named by the authors
- the sections your Volume.Issue covered
- the number of ALT text or Page Titles (or not) used in your webtexts
You should review and include the Findings for any field of metadata where you can report something like the above. In this section, you should also point out any anomalies/discrepancies that you discovered in the data. (These would generally relate to questions you had for me about how to complete the assignment due to data that you couldn’t find, or was confusing/odd, etc.)
- Findings, here, will typically represent the WHAT, but neither the HOW (e.g., Methodology) or the WHY (Discussion/Interpretation), except to briefly point out the importance of why you’re showing us the data results that you are.
- Findings sections often use Tables or Charts to show the data results. You might consider this.
- This section will likely be two paragraphs or a page (if you’re using a list or other visual).
5. Discussion & Interpretation
Based on the findings from the previous section, the researcher now offers a discussion and interpretation of the report’s major implications. The researcher should provide an interpretation of the findings in a meaningful and yet non-technical sense. This section has a considerable impact on the formulation of the solution to the problem [/assignment] described in the introduction, which motivated the report.
Purpose/Goals: In this section, you get to analyze the Findings that you reported in the previous section. That is, what do the results that you listed in the previous section MEAN? What is the significance of the results that the readers (me, but also other editors, publishers, researchers in digital publishing, librarians, etc.) should know about?
- This section will be 1-3 paragraphs
- Don’t get all literary-analysis on me. Remember that this is a business report. Keep it short & sweet & scannable. In a workplace setting, this will be one of the few sections that a manager actually skims. Keep it concise enough that the manager will WANT to read it!
- When I said things in class or in a conference such as, “Wow, that question/point will make a great research study for someone who wants to look at this stuff from a historical perspective!” etc., that’s the kind of discussion/interpretation you can include. However, that’s more from my perspective than YOUR perspective. So…
- What did YOU learn from the data? What is the significance of the data you mined and why is it important to publishing studies?
- You will probably not have room to discuss EVERY data item you summarized in the Findings. So pick what you think is the most significant/important and talk about those issues.
6. Conclusion & Recommendations
This final segment often repeats some of the information found in the executive summary, yet allows the researcher to explain in greater detail how and why the conclusions were reached. A more complete discussion of the recommendations may also be included. It is important that this section be based on the results of the findings and not other conclusions or recommendations not supported by the analysis.
Purpose/Goals: This section is all about making recommendations that the reader can follow. In this case, since I am the primary reader (but one who also has major contacts in digital publishing and can forward your recommendations* for others in the field to enact), I want to know some basic recommendations for “best practices” and “further research” in mining and using metadata in digital publications, including
- methodologies that I or others can/should use in the future (based on your methodology section discussion)
- metadata fields/findings that need more research and/or further mining (based on your Findings section)
- results that produced wonky data & how to fix/avoid that in future publications and/or by going back and correcting the dataset (e.g., webtexts)
- interpretations of results that warrant further study (e.g., possible research studies)
- and possible others…
Some of these points aren’t only related to the analysis you did (as the blockquote above says). I’m making an exception here, since the methodology was as experimental as the assignment itself, and so the whole project needs your recommendations.
- This section will likely be 2-3 paragraphs
- Make sure to conclude by taking your conclusions & recommendations back to the bigger picture of publishing studies, not just/only focusing on this particular metadata prpoject for Kairos. (iow, what can others learn from your having completed this project?)
- Format your report as a report, not as a paper. Research the genre conventions, if necessary.
- Email me your report as a word-processing document by 3pm, Monday, May 2. Late assignments will NOT be graded. Name your file 354report-FIRSTNAME.
- I do not send students responses to their finals. If you want feedback on your report, please plan to make an appointment with me to discuss it.
As stated in the spreadsheet assignment, your metadata will be used for Kairos‘ database and won’t have names assigned to it, although you will get credit for it via mention by course & name (unless you’d prefer to remain anonymous) in a future editor’s column in Kairos, as well as in potential articles about the metadata project, in which I describe how and why to teach such an assignment.
In addition, do not forget to include this client-based work on your résumé.
Finally, I am expecting these reports to be eye-opening, not just for me but potentially for others in digital publishing and publishing studies. Your final reports will be so useful, I may want to share them (particularly the findings, conclusions, and recommendations) with a scholarly audience interested in digital publishing studies, but to use your texts from class, I need your permission. I will be passing out permission forms in class for you to sign. Consent is COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY and you can change your mind at any time. Also, you can give permission to use your texts with or without your name.
Note: This is NOT a research study of your texts; I will only be using your reports to show other editors “best practices” that you have created. This will be used as a scholarly service to the field, not to generalize data about you as publishing students or your texts as writing examples.