15. Writing a Summer Project Report – Business Communication, 2nd Edition

15

Writing a Summer Project Report

“A project report is often students’ only tangible evidence of their summer internship. If their efforts are to count in the judgement of their professors, the report must describe clearly what they have done. Often, their written reports are the basis of a strong recommendation for future employment.”

COMMUNICATION AT WORK

Dinesh, a second-year PGDM student at Sharda Peeth Institute of Management in Kolkata, is required to submit a report on his summer internship project at ANC, Allahabad. He is aware of the importance of the summer project report as evidence of the quality of his work and his investigation. He knows how to write a formal report—he studied formal reports in his course on business communication. However, his project mentor at ANC told him that the summer project report was not just a regular report, but had a particular form and format specified by the institute or company that sponsored the project. In the absence of a prescribed format, one can choose a structure that covers all the essential components of the project, like a project report in a company.

Dinesh had with him the data and the details of his investigation. He was to present the information in the form of a summer project report. Luckily, he happened to ask his batchmate Aparna, who had done her summer project at the same company but on a different problem, if she had completed her report. She said that she was still working on it and was consulting the guidelines provided by their university. For some reason, Dinesh was not aware of these guidelines. Aparna gave him the instructions, which Dinesh found quite elaborate and helpful in writing his report.

Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Compare a summer project report with a technical or business report.

  2. Apply the skills of report writing to write summer project reports.

  3. Learn the structure and essential elements of a summer project report.

INTRODUCTION

Nearly all universities and management institutes require their postgraduate management and engineering students to do an industry-related project during their summer term as part of their curriculum. Institutes generally provide manuals with guidelines, procedures, and rules for the summer project reports. But there are institutions where students do not enjoy the benefit of guidelines, and it is for such students that a sample format for a summer project report is given here, although the principles and tips should be useful to all students.

Necessary variations can be made to the report format, according to the requirements laid down by the industry and institutions concerned. However, the overall design, form, and style generally remain unchanged.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUMMER PROJECT REPORTS AND BUSINESS/TECHNICAL REPORTS

The main differences between summer projects and business/technical reports are as follows:

  • Business/technical report writing usually forms part of a course in communication/technical writing.
  • A summer project report is an academic requirement. It is compulsory for the awarding of a postgraduate diploma/degree in management/engineering/information technology at nearly all postgraduate institutes of management or engineering. The summer project report is written at the end of the summer term during which the live project is carried out and successfully completed.
    1

    Compare a summer project report with a technical or business report.

  • A summer project report is based on a project completed in a business organization under the joint supervision of an industry expert and a faculty member from the student’s institute.
  • The summer project report is submitted to the student’s institute for evaluation by the project supervisor (from the organization) and the faculty supervisor (from the concerned institution).

     

    The summer project report is written at the end of the summer term during which the live project is carried out and successfully completed.

  • The summer project report is preceded by a project proposal, which summarizes the background of the selected topic. This proposal is required of all students and is approved by the organization and faculty supervisors, usually within two weeks of the student joining the organization.
  • The findings of the summer project report are often valuable to the organization as they are a result of the combined efforts of academic research and industrial guidance.

     

    The findings of the summer project report are often valuable to the organization as they are a result of the combined efforts of academic research and industrial guidance.

  • A good summer project report earns not only an excellent grade, but also the possibility of future placement in the same company.
  • Students often write business/technical reports on projects or data that has been provided to them. Such reports require students to write from the perspective of a manager or project engineer, even though they generally lack the actual experience of having worked on live projects in real companies. This lack of actual experience tends to result in the reports being more descriptive than analytical. However, because summer projects involve work on ongoing projects with real implications, they should reflect a more analytical approach to the organizational environment, systems operations, and data processing methods.
  • Both summer projects and business/technical reports have a standard format and structure that consists of nearly the same parts—the introduction, discussion, and conclusion. However, the summer project report, like a research dissertation, carries a certificate of approval for its submission and evaluation.
  • A business/technical report, if written by a manager/engineer, is submitted directly to the sponsoring authority who assigned the task to help management take a decision or find a solution to a problem. Summer project reports are submitted to the student’s mentors in the organization or the university.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR WRITING SUMMER PROJECT REPORTS

For a more detailed understanding of the essential features of a summer project report, here are some guidelines:

2

Apply the skills of report writing to write summer project reports.

Objective

Summer project reports help students present their experiences of working on live projects during their summer break. The student should report his or her goals, investigation, and findings, along with the methodology used for understanding and resolving a specific problem. The summer project report should provide evidence of the student’s ability to use and develop a research model and hypotheses, collect and interpret data, reach conclusions, and make recommendations for managerial practices. The recommendations should be specific and concrete in terms of costs and benefits.

 

The summer project report should provide evidence of the student’s ability to use and develop a research model and hypotheses, collect and interpret data, reach conclusions, and make recommendations for managerial practices.

Selection of a Problem

Once a student finds a workable idea, he or she should consider it carefully.

  • The objectives should be manageable in terms of length of time available, its scope, and the organizational resources required for completing the project.
  • The project should have the potential for making a significant contribution to management theory and practice.
  • It should offer scope for future in-depth exploration of the topic.
  • It should be feasible to carry out in the sponsoring organization.

The Role of Summer Project Mentors

When working on a summer project, students generally have two guides—one is a faculty member and the other is from the sponsoring organization. The student should regularly consult his or her mentors at all stages, including the drafting of the proposal. The student should also discuss the feasibility of the proposed summer project before beginning his or her summer placement.

 

The faculty mentor must ensure the quality of the report and compliance with guidelines before forwarding it to the academic programme office.

Thus, the role of the summer project guides can be summarized as follows:

  • Help the student develop the project proposal and ensure its acceptability.
  • Attend the presentation of the proposal and the final report.
  • Supervise and guide the student and provide periodic feedback based on the student’s progress.
  • Give written feedback on the draft of the report submitted by the student.
  • Ensure the quality of the report and compliance with guidelines before forwarding it to the academic programme office
WRITING THE PROJECT PROPOSAL

The summer project proposal is based on a problem that is suggested and assigned by the organization in which the student will be working. The proposal enables the student to understand the context and scope of the proposed study within the framework of a managerial problem. It also helps the student outline his or her line of approach and method of investigation and data collection. The academic and technical inputs contributed by the faculty and industry experts enhance the research quality of the summer project report.

 

The proposal enables the student to understand the context and scope of the proposed study within the framework of a managerial problem.

The proposal first gives a brief account of the organization, its business, and its work environment, and then has a survey of the literature on the subject. The proposal should clearly state the research objective(s) and relate them to the subject in a broader context. It should also develop a model or state the hypothesis, clearly and precisely describe the proposed research methodology, and show the possible contribution of the proposed work to management practices.

Generally, the summer project proposal includes a cover page, a title page, a proposed table of contents, a brief introduction to the industry, a description of the research problem, the methods of investigation to be used, the time frame, and a list of relevant references. These are discussed in detail later in the chapter.

The table of contents lists all the major topics and subtopics within the report. It is followed by an introduction to the subject. The introduction should provide a background of the organization—a short description of the company, its business, and its work culture. It is necessary to record the business environment and describe how it helped the student integrate and apply his or her academic learning. Then, the managerial or sectoral problem and the background of the problem—its genesis, consequences, current practices, and so on—should be described in detail. Next, the introduction should describe the rationale for the study and the benefits of conducting the study in terms of the gains in knowledge, skills, practices, systems, and business advantages. The next step is to delimit the scope of the project and specify the area of action of the project. The introduction should then continue with a sub-section titled “The Problem Statement”. This sub-section should help the student clarify the objectives of the project and explain how it will be conducted. The introduction should end with a sub-section titled “Literature Survey”, which surveys the existing literature and draws conclusions from it.

The introduction is followed by a description of the research problem. The research problem is a specific set of statements that describes the issue to be investigated and goes on to develop the hypotheses. It also describes the nature and possible output of the research if it is exploratory/qualitative. The research problem should refine the general problem statement into a specific form so that the problem statement may be tested and answered with a specific study. The expected results from such a research study should also be described, and, as far as possible, these should be in terms of the specific hypotheses developed. If possible, the operationalized hypotheses should also be defined at this stage itself, in order to have the advantage of the panel’s inputs regarding the core area of study.

The research design contains five sub-sections, namely:

  1. The general methodology or procedure of study adopted—whether it is the case method, is based on secondary or accounting/financial data, sales data, or production data, or is survey-based
  2. The sample and sampling frame or data source and plans to acquire the data
  3. The data collection procedure
  4. The method of data analysis, qualitative analysis techniques, and the form of the output
  5. How the expected output may be arrived at by following the specified methodology

The time frame for the completion of the summer project, stagewise and eventwise, with details giving the expected day and dates of completion of each stage, should also be given. Lastly, there should be a list of references used in preparing the report. There are several ways of formatting this information. Appendix 1 has detailed information regarding how references should be listed.

COMPONENTS OF THE SUMMER PROJECT REPORT

The primary purpose of a project report is to demonstrate the student’s ability to make effective use of research methods appropriate to the problem and to develop and handle evidence satisfactorily. The summer project report should, therefore, contain sections on:

  1. the research procedure(s) employed,
  2. the extent, nature, reliability, and suitability of evidence gathered, and
  3. the conclusions drawn and recommendations made, to demonstrate skills in analysis and interpretation of research results.
3

Learn the structure and essential elements of a summer project report.

The primary purpose of a project report is to demonstrate the student’s ability to make effective use of research methods appropriate to the problem and to develop and handle evidence satisfactorily.

Clarity, conciseness, and orderliness of writing and presentation are required. It is necessary to include sufficient evidence to support the reasoning and conclusions made in the report. The basis of the conclusions and recommendations should be clear and should exhibit the analytical skill of the student. Further, the student’s in-depth knowledge of the field of study should be brought out by the literature review and the model or framework used for the study. The length of the summer project report varies according to the topic and evidence required. The components of the summer project report should appear in the order given in Exhibit 15.1.

 

Exhibit 15.1 Components of the Summer Project Report

Cover    i

Title page    ii

Certificate of approval    iii

Approval of organizational and faculty guides    iv

Abstract    v

Acknowledgements    vi

Table of contents    viii

List of figures    ix

List of tables    x

List of appendices    xi

Abbreviations    xii

Chapter 1    1

________

________

________

________

Chapter 6    44

References    45

Appendices    51

Cover and Title Page

The cover page and title page must conform to the samples shown in Exhibit 15.2.

 

Exhibit 15.2 Sample Cover and Title Page for a Summer Project Proposal

Approval of Organization and Faculty Guides

As shown in the samples in Exhibit 15.3, certificates of approval are statements from the student’s mentors authenticating the work done. They are located in the beginning of the report.

 

Exhibit 15.3 Sample Certificate of Approval

 

Abstract

Each summer project report must include an abstract of a maximum of two pages in single space (about 800–1,000 words). It should state clearly and concisely the topic, scope, method, and conclusions of the project. The emphasis of the abstract should be on the conclusions and recommendations. The word limit should be strictly adhered to.

Acknowledgements

Students are advised to acknowledge help and support from faculty members, libraries, their computer centre, outside experts, sponsoring organizations, and so on.

Table of Contents

Every summer project report must contain a table of contents, which provides a view of the organization of the report as shown in Exhibit 15.4.

 

Exhibit 15.4 Sample Table of Contents

List of Tables, Figures, Appendices, and Abbreviations

If the summer project report contains tables, figures, and abbreviations, these should be listed immediately following the table of contents on separate pages, as shown in Exhibit 15.5.

 

Exhibit 15.5 List of Figures

Chapter I: Introduction

As in the proposal, the introduction should begin with a very brief summary of the company and its business, and should go on to discuss details of the managerial problem and the background to the problem, including its genesis, consequences, and current practices. The introduction should start with a broad overview and then move to the specific focus of the study. This should include the specific business or functional problem being faced by the organization.

Next, the first chapter should describe the rationale for the study and the benefits of the project in terms of gains in knowledge, skills, practices, and systems, and how these will help the organization. The next part is to delimit the scope of the project and to specify the area of enquiry under the project.

This chapter should continue with a sub-section titled “Problem Formulation”. This subsection should describe the specific business problem and related issues in greater detail. The variables involved should be identified in order to clarify the focus of the project, what is going to be studied, and why it needs to be studied. This would clarify the objectives of the project.

 

Students should do a comprehensive library search on their project topic. This will help them understand past work on their subject as well as current, ongoing research in their chosen area.

The first chapter should end by surveying related literature and drawing conclusions from it in a sub-section titled “Literature Survey”. Students should do a comprehensive library search on their project topic. This will help them understand past work on their subject as well as current, ongoing research in their chosen area. For this purpose, students may refer to earlier summer projects, books, journals, reports, magazines, newspaper reports, and so on. The survey should cover all the issues raised in the introduction and should help in creating a theoretical framework or set of assumptions that will define the research area under study in specific terms. This will help frame the problem in terms of variables under study. The theoretical framework or the model developed for this purpose will allow for proper operationalization of the research problem. Assumptions made in the study must be clearly justified, and the grounds or evidence used for the development of the hypotheses (i.e., the variables involved, their relationships, and so on) must be given in detail in this section.

 

Assumptions made in the study must be clearly justified, and the grounds or evidence used for the development of the hypotheses must be given in detail.

Chapter II: Research Design

On the basis of the literature review and discussions with the faculty and organization guides, the final research problem will be identified and described in the second chapter of the report. This chapter will draw on the model or framework developed earlier and should describe the development of the hypotheses or the argument for a qualitative exploratory study. It should build a set of constructive arguments for the research problem. Further, it should describe how the problem was operationalized for measurement and analysis, and end with a statement of the operationalized hypotheses. In case it is an exploratory/qualitative/case study, this chapter must state the variables under study and the nature and area of possible output from the research.

The expected results from such a research study should also be described in terms of the specific hypotheses developed. It must be explained how such results would be of use in the managerial context and for the business.

Chapter III: Results and Conclusions

This chapter should include all the tabulated data and descriptions of the results obtained in the study. It should be noted that all the tables and figures should be properly titled and numbered and listed in the table of contents.

Next, the conclusions and inferences that are drawn from the analysis of the results (in support of the hypotheses or against it) should be stated clearly and specifically. These should be relevant to the hypotheses and should be an answer to the research problem. Thus, the conclusions should be directly related to the various issues regarding the problem under study.

Chapter IV: Recommendations

The summer project report should conclude with recommendations based on the analysis and findings of the study. This is a critical section and should highlight the student’s specific contributions keeping in view the purpose of the summer project. It should demonstrate learning and improved analytical skills in actual problem-solving. The last part of this section should describe the limitations of the study and suggest directions for further study.

 

The summer project report should conclude with recommendations based on the analysis and findings of the study.

References

References should be complete in all respects, as shown in Appendix 1. Moreover, all references (books, journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, proceedings) listed in the report should be cross-referenced in the text at appropriate places. Examples of cross-references are:

With the rapid changes in IT and manufacturing technology, firms are becoming increasingly interested in managing the strategy-technology connection to develop new ways of achieving competitive advantage (Porter, 1985). Firms are attempting to link manufacturing strategy with business strategy (Skinner, 1985; Wheelright, 1981) to examine the strategic impact of rapidly changing manufacturing and information technology (Jelinek and Goldhar, 1983).

Appendices

Additional information, such as a questionnaire, list of dealers, details of product portfolio, organization chart, manufacturing prices, and data sheets, are placed as appendices at the end of the report.

PROJECT PRESENTATION

Once the faculty and organizational guides approve the final draft of the summer project report, the student has to give a formal presentation on the report. Several copies of the abstract (around ten) must be brought along at the time of the presentation for ready reference of the audience. For more information and tips on how to make formal presentations, refer to Chapter 11.

SUMMARY
  • This chapter offers a model format of a summer project report for the benefit of those who do not have a manual issued by their respective institutions for writing such a report. These reports are compulsory for almost all business management students.
  • A proposal generally precedes the summer project. The proposal summarizes the background of the selected topic and discusses the goals of the project, the research problem to be investigated, the methodology to be used, and the student’s hypotheses
  • There are generally two guides who oversee the project and act as mentors supervising the student. One is a company executive and the other is a faculty member.
  • The summer project report has various components: the cover page, the certificate of approval, the abstract, a list of acknowledgements, the table of contents, a list of figures and tables if any, a detailed introductory chapter, a description of the research design, the results, the conclusions, the recommendations, and finally any relevant references and appendices
CASE: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF A CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR STUDY

An analysis of consumer behaviour is the foremost requirement for the successful formulation and implementation of marketing strategies. Marketing starts with the needs of consumers and ends with their satisfaction. Since everything revolves around the customer, the study of consumer behaviour becomes a necessity.

The first part of this report deals with understanding consumer behaviour and its importance. It includes a discussion of how Indian consumers are different from western consumers. The study also explores various aspects of the urban Indian consumer and differences in consumers within the country. The spending patterns of different socioeconomic classes (SECs), their economic status, their social status, and so on are depicted in various tables and figures. Consumer behaviour models further help refine the study, bringing out the buying process and the various factors that influence a buyer when selecting a product for purchase.

Data are collected with the help of primary and secondary sources and the results are interpreted. The next section deals with competition tracking: Global is compared with its biggest competitors and other brands in terms of SKUs on the shop floor with respect to a particular product. The results are based on empirical studies and through analysis of the data collected. Areas left out by the questionnaires are covered through market visits.

One of our main findings is that a consumer is most influenced by his or her family when taking a decision. Recommendations from family are the most trusted.

When it came to choosing air conditioners, Samsung and LG led the race. Though LG is the market leader (by market reports), consumers gave equal preference to both brands. The report concludes that Global, as a brand, would need to work very hard to successfully enter and gain a respectable share in the Indian air conditioner market.

 

Questions to Answer

  1. Discuss the scope of this executive summary as an overview of the report “A Study of Consumer Behaviour for Marketing the Global Brand of Air Conditioners in India.
  2. Analyse the sequence of points discussed in the executive summary.
  3. Does this summary act as a good example of executive summaries for summer project reports? Discuss.
REVIEW YOUR LEARNING
  1. Bring out the chief differences between a summer project report and long, formal business reports.
  2. Discuss the objectives of the summer project and the summer project report.
  3. Give some guidelines for selecting the topic for a summer project.
  4. What is the role of the summer project guides? Discuss.
  5. How would you frame a proposal for your summer project?
  6. What are the essential elements of a summer project report?
  7. Is it necessary to include your guides’ certificates of approval for submission and evaluation of the report?
  8. What, according to you, is the advantage of doing a summer project in a company?
  9. How does the host company benefit from the summer project and the reports of students from different institutions?
  10. Discuss the different types of research design in a summer project report.
REFLECT ON YOUR LEARNING
  1. Consider what you would learn about business communication from doing an industry-based summer project.
  2. Reflect on the communication opportunities you would create for yourself by working in an organization.
  3. To what extent would your classroom learning help in completing the summer project report?
  4. Why should there be two guides, one from industry and the other from academia, to supervise summer training? Could it lead to communication misunderstandings?
  5. Consider the value of an abstract or executive summary as a part of a summer project report.
APPLY YOUR LEARNING

Choose a topic for your summer project and prepare the following for your report:

  1. Cover of the report
  2. Title page of the report
SELF-CHECK YOUR LEARNING

From the given options, please choose the most appropriate answer:*

  1. The submission of the summer project report is:
    1. optional
    2. compulsory
    3. on the request of the sponsoring organization
    4. the faculty guide’s choice
  2. The summer project report is written:
    1. upon completion of the project done during the summer term
    2. at the beginning of the project
    3. during the project
    4. at anytime
  3. The summer project report is submitted for:
    1. the record of the institute
    2. evaluation by both the supervisors
    3. purchase by industry
    4. the use of other students
  4. The topic/subject of the summer project report is assigned by:
    1. the institute
    2. the company
    3. other students
    4. outside experts
  5. The summer project proposal is submitted by:
    1. the faculty guide
    2. the industry guide
    3. the institute’s director
    4. the student
  6. The findings of the summer project report are often valuable to the host company as they are based on:
    1. actual work done on a live project
    2. theory
    3. work done in the summer term
    4. the company guide’s experience
  7. The summer project is carried out in the:
    1. sponsoring organization
    2. classroom
    3. institute’s library
    4. institute’s computer lab
  8. Written feedback on the draft of the summer project report is given by:
    1. other students
    2. the two guides
    3. the company CEO
    4. the placement head
  9. The introduction to the summer project report begins with:
    1. a description of the problem
    2. the methodology to be followed
    3. a description of the company’s business and major environmental factors
    4. the scope of the project
  10. The table of contents in a summer project report:
    1. indicates page numbers
    2. lists the sequence of chapters
    3. provides the location of various topics
    4. presents an overview of the organization of the report