The reports are probably the most important component of the course and you should put effort into making them high-quality and easily readable. Think of these as assignments an intern might receive on the job: you want to earn the respect and admiration of your boss (TA , professor)! Typing is always preferred, and all writing should be in complete and grammatically correct sentences.
Depending on the report there is typically a data analysis, graphical presentation, a mathematical problem and written summary in several parts. Students are expected to be able to present tables and graphs in Excel or a similar software. All tables and graphs should be neat and clearly labelled. We will discuss guidelines in class. I am happy to cover details of Excel for students who may need help, but we will do this outside class as the need arises.
All of the reports combine numerical analysis with interpretation. You will often see the words “explain” or “summarize”. Interpret these as shorthand for: “Type a short, clear paragraph in grammatically correct English to explain your answer.” If you follow these guidelines the overall length of each report should rarely exceed 2 pages.
All graphs should be clear and large enough to be legible, and the legends or titles should be thorough enough to understand the data presented. Do not turn in the raw data in the case of graphs or other analysis. The textbook provides great illustrations of tables and graphs that follow these conventions.
Notice from the textbook samples that there is an art to presenting tables and graphs clearly. For example, there should be no excess decimal places. Imagine a table that reports US GDP as $16,345,973,299,674.98765. UGLY! It should instead indicate 16.3 ($ trillion). Any number in a table or graph should be easy to understand and without extraneous decimals. Graph formatting, such as axes values, should be simple and clear and consistent from one graph to another.
The grade of 5 points per report is broken down loosely into: 2 point neatness and clarity, 1 point completeness, and 2 points correct answers. Students should do their own work. Since you have a lot of discretion in how to present your answers, no two reports should be identical. Your TAs are authorized to penalize you if there is strong evidence of copying among students. Late reports will also be penalized by 1 point per day late.
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