In the previous blog post, I mainly covered topic ideation and crafting – an essential part of Project Work. If you missed our previous video posted in the first part, feel free to watch it below!
While the video did not contain my experiences writing the WR (since there was just too much to say!), I would be covering some tips and tricks for this section of PW in this blog post.
I think first and foremost, it is salient to have a proper structure in mind before writing the Written Report. After all, the WR is essentially a really long essay, and like all essays, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
For my group, we went straight into the WR without discussing a concrete plan. Of course, this backfired since every single member had their own idea of how the project was going to turn out. In the end, our first draft felt really disjointed, as if there were five different versions of the same project in that single WR.
So, learn from our mistakes, and make sure everybody is clear on the direction that your project is going before commencing on the writing process. This will definitely save you time, effort and less agonising pain 😊
In the WR, words are a scarcity. There is no need for the use of bombastic language to discombobulate the examiners, as not only would they remain unimpressed by such a fanciful display of verbiage, but it would also be akin to shooting yourself in the foot.
More importantly, you need to use simple and concise language to relay your ideas in a coherent manner. Remember that the examiners are going to have to read through a plethora of WRs. So keeping your sentences easy to read may be a benefit for both them and your group.
Furthermore, since you have a word limit, ensure that all words and sentences can value-add to the WR. A phrase like ‘in order to’ works equally well without the ‘in order’. Another phrase like ‘it is important to note that’ can simply be removed altogether. Additionally, if you find that a certain portion of your WR no longer serves any value, do not hesitate to eliminate it. It would be more rational to spend a greater number of words beefing up your remaining parts of the WR as opposed to having many components but little words to go with them.
Finally, it would help a lot to appoint an editor at the end to refine the whole WR. Different people have their own styles of writing, so the editor’s role is key in ensuring a consistent style of writing throughout the WR.
For PW, sources are split into two parts – primary sources and secondary sources.
Primary sources are information that your group gets first-hand. This could include things like surveys or interviews. One suggestion is that you should get these sources out at an early stage of your WR writing process. For my group, the interviews with professionals really gave extra insights pertaining to the industry we were focusing on. This helped in our content generation as well.
Furthermore, do not be afraid to send out emails to experts or even government agencies for zoom interviews etc. . You may face rejection, like when my group’s request got declined by the NAC. But in the end, they offered us other resources that we found valuable as well, so just reach out to them, there is nothing to lose!
As for secondary sources, a trick is to use a myriad of different types of sources like non-print publications, government agencies, profit organisations, non-profit organisations and journals. One thing that helped my source-finding process was to literally find what I was looking for. E.g. If I wanted to justify that ‘Singaporeans are fat’, just type that exact sentence into the search engine instead of typing something like ‘obesity rates in Singapore’.
Also, keep in mind that in your WR, you would need to cite every claim you make. Leave minimal room for unjustified conclusions and logical leaps. You want your write-up to be as substantiated and therefore as legitimate as possible.
Do not overlook the importance of diagrams. While certain words in the diagrams do count as part of your word count, they can nonetheless help you save some words while making your WR much more appealing to read.
Take advantage of brochures, infographics, block diagrams and pie charts to help you better present your information. This would let the examiners get a clearer idea on your project at the same time. I still remember how Canva was the MVP for my group when it came to making diagrams.
Especially for groups intending to do websites or applications for your interventions, you would probably need to make your own user interfaces to be inserted into the WR. You can consider pre-built templates online or even start from scratch if you want to.
In all, diagrams are something that you can and should heavily exploit when working on your WR.
For your proposed interventions, it is not necessary for your ideas to be fanciful. While it may help, a normal mobile application can be just as valuable as a virtual 3D software. The onus is how insightful your ideas are.
When I say insight, this refers to how much your proposed interventions address the lessons learnt/problems that your group has found out regarding the area of interest or how these initiatives cater to your specific target audience.
E.g. Let’s say your target audience is students. During your research you found out that TikTok is the most-used application by students. Then, you could use TikTok as a means of publicity for your interventions.
As you can see, every feature of your intervention must have a purpose. It cannot be there just for the sake of being there. So, when explaining your interventions in the WR, you should always remember to go one step further. Elucidate their intended effect and how these effects will resolve the issues you discovered.
The takeaway message is that ultimately, your interventions must be relevant.
Personally, my PW journey comprised of a lot of confusion at the start. (since we were not clear on what exactly to do) This led to excessive hours spent on changing plans, editing and even re-doing certain parts of our WR. So, I hope that, while brief, this guide can give you and your group members a better idea of what to expect and what you can do moving forward.
That is, assuming your group members are willing to cooperate of course…but let us leave that for another time, shall we?
In the meantime, stay strong everyone and look out for Part 3 of this series!