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Preparing a Civil Engineering Design Project Report: Content, Structure and Fow

Cover pageThe cover page should contain the name/title of the project, name of the client or the organization, the organization which prepared prepared the report, the date of publication and other relevant information. Executive SummaryThe executive summary is a brief description of the content of the report. It summarizes the report, so that the readers can quickly grab the idea what the report is about without having to read it completely. This should contain all the aspects covered in the report. The executive summary is similar to the abstract of a research publication. An example is given below, 
Example The project of constructing a flyover for the A19 road was initiated by the Road Development Authority of Sri Lanka. The outcomes of the project are, a bypass road connecting A19 & A6 roads and a flyover above the Polgahawela railway station. Presently, the level crossing area overlaps with the shunting area of the Polgahawela railway station. Hence, the rail gate is kept close…

Undergraduate Research Project - Part 3 of 5: Literature Review, Knowledge Gap, Scope and Limitations

Literature ReviewStudying the previous research work is a vital step in a research. The researcher must understand about the present status of the research area in order to move forward and discover new knowledge. In the previous articles, the initial steps such as background study, problem statement, aim and objectives were discussed. These steps lay the foundation for the research so that the way forward is reasonably clear. After the first stage, the research should advance to the second stage, which is the literature review (also known as the literature survey). This is the fifth step of the flowchart presented in the first article.  The purpose of conducting a review of literature is to search and evaluate the present knowledge. Here, the idea is not to develop any new arguments or theories, but to summarize what others have done without changing the original idea/findings. A properly conducted literature review will show the progress of the considered research area, means how peo…

Timeline of a Research Project

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Planning a research prior to the commencement of any research related work is considered a good case practice in the academia. This is especially recommended for the students who are conducting a research for the first time (e.g.: undergraduates). Setting up an action plan along with a timeline helps the student to conclude the research in time without any delay. It also makes sure that the study is going on according to the plan without any lags during the study period.  After selecting a research topic while understanding the background, the researchers can come up with a suitable timeline for their study. Some of the tasks such as setting objectives, literature review, etc. are mandatory for any research. However, some tasks such as data collection or data analysis can be unique to the research. In such cases, the research team should be able to clearly identify the specific tasks and arrange them according to the order of occurrence. It is highly recommended that the students dis…

Process of Designing a Civil Engineering Project - Part 1 of 5

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Planning and designing a civil engineering project is a complex task which requires expert knowledge and strategic decision making skills. Engineering judgement plays a key role throughout the entire designing process. It is important to understand the level of responsibility the design engineers hold and the risks associated with executing these challenging engineering tasks. Proper investigations, analyses and planning works must be accomplished prior to initiating the construction phase. Most of the undergraduate courses in civil engineering has a design component where the students are required to present a holistic design to real world scenario. This series of articles discusses the process of designing a civil engineering project. All the major activities carried out in the 'planning and designing' stage are explained in a detailed manner.  The design process can be elaborated in ten steps; each step having one or more clear outcomes. In this article, the first three st…

Undergraduate Research Project - Part 2 of 5: Problem Statement and Objectives

Step 3: Understanding the problem Identifying and understanding the problem addressed through the research, is a key step that has to be completed at the beginning of any research. Following the 'background information search' which was done in the step 2 of the flow chart given in the previous article, the research question is developed as the step 3. This is known as the 'problem statement'. Without a proper understanding on the problem at hand, the expected outcomes can never be reached.
In some cases, the problem is not apparent; which means a direct problem cannot be identified. However, the need of the research is possible to be understood. As an example, the topic 'a review on the construction technologies of ancient Rome and Egypt', doesn't have a clear problem to be mentioned. Although, the requirement of conducting this study is to compare the two technologies and identify their similarities, differences, advantages, disadvantages, etc. Hence, th…

Referencing and Citation

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What is referencing  In academic writing such as research theses or project reports, the need to collect information from external sources may emerge. In such cases, the composers extract data, theories, ideas, illustrations, experimental results, research findings etc. in order to support their work. These information are accessed through well-recognized sources and it is required to properly acknowledge them by mentioning the references in the document itself. As there are internationally accepted standards for referencing, it is important to understand the correct procedure. This article provides guidance on how referencing should be done especially in research related academic matters. Referencing can done by quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing or copying. Correctly indicating the references helps the authors to claim the originality of their work. It also proves that the authors have done investigations pertaining to the study and supports their arguments. The readers can also re…

Undergraduate Research Project - Part 1 of 5: Introduction

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Every undergraduate who follows a bachelor's degree has to do a research or a project in their final year of study. As it is the first time the students are experiencing a course module which requires the student discover new knowledge through a research, most of them finds it difficult to conduct the study properly in order to obtain the intended objectives. This series of articles on 'Undergraduate Research Project' will cover the basics of a research. There are several steps involved in a research which are common to all levels: B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. and even post-doctoral studies. The following figure is an illustration of the flow of a research.

Step 1 & 2: Selection of a topic & Understanding the background The very first step of a research is selecting a topic. Usually at the undergraduate level, research topics are given to the students by the institution. Every topic has a supervisor who will guide the student throughout the study.  Once the first step is c…