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1MSc Data Science for BusinessCONSULTANCY PROJECT HANDBOOKSESSION 2020/21Information contained in this handbook is correct at the time ofproduction, however, there may be changes during semester.Please consult Canvas regularly for any updates.2Contents Page 1Introduction41.1The Purpose of the Handbook41.2What are Consultancy Projects?41.3Teaching and Learning Strategy52Attendance, Deadlines, Word Limits, Use of Turnitin Software and Assessment52.1Attendance52.2Calendar and Deadlines52.3Assessment62.4Word Limits62.5Use of Turnitin Software62.6The External Examiner63The Project Supervisor74Project Topics and Matching84.1Consultancy Projects Timeline84.2Consultancy Projects Topics84.3Expression of Interest84.4Matching Students to Projects84.5Kick-off Meeting94.6Project Agreement Form94.7Confidentiality and Intellectual Property5Refining The Project95.1Refining the Scope of the Brief96Ethics Approval Process107Managing Your Project107.1Project Plan107.2Risk Management117.3Client Relations117.4Stakeholders127.5Running Successful Meetings127.6Conflict Resolution138The Consultancy Project Report128.1Planning138.2Layout and Format138.3Additional Points168.4Submission of the Consultancy Project Report178.5Assessment of the Project179Client Presentation1710Resubmitted Projects1711Viva Voce Examination1712Confidentiality1813Rules and Regulations1813.1Code of Conduct of the Market Research Society1813.2Data Auditability1813.3Plagiarism18 3 APPENDIX AConsultancy Project (Final Report) Marking CriteriaAPPENDIX BConsultancy Project Meeting RecordAPPENDIX CRecent Consultancy Project Titles (School-Wide)APPENDIX DConsultancy Project Leave FormAPPENDIX ESample Title PageAPPENDIX FHarvard British Standard System of Citing ReferencesAPPENDIX GResearch Ethics Guidelines for Dissertations/Consultancy Projects 41. INTRODUCTION1.1 The Purpose of the HandbookThe consultancy project is the largest single piece of work you will do on your degree programme. It is a challengingtask. It requires not only to have the relevant academic knowledge but also the right motivation, attitude andinterpersonal skills to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The rewards can be high but it is important for you to carefullyassess the requirements for success in consultancy projects and reflect on your individual strengths, weaknessand ambitions.This handbook is intended to help you along the way by providing you with information on relevant organisationalmatters such as deadlines and the marking scheme, as well as some guidelines on developing a proposal, andwriting up the final report.You will already be taking a Research Methods module as part of your taught degree programme. This wasdeveloped to help you to design and then carry out an in-depth investigation into an agreed subject related to anissue relevant to your programme of study. Consultancy projects must demonstrate evidence of an understandingof theoretical knowledge gained on the programme and the ability to effectively apply it to solve an organisationalissue. This knowledge and understanding is applied in the Spring Semester in a project proposal, and then in theSummer to your project with the guidance of an academic supervisor and/or company project supervisor.Consultancy projects for the Programme often have an inter-disciplinary focus and students are required todemonstrate the ability to effectively engage with the client, apply data collection/analysis methods, make detailedrecommendations, and clearly communicate their ideas. The consultancy project allows some measure ofspecialisation and experience at the end of your programme in a direction which suits your personal needs,interests and career aspirations. The Consultancy Project module has two closely interconnected parts:Part 1 – Consultancy and Research MethodsDuring the Spring semester you will attend a series of lectures and workshops to enable you to develop a detailedunderstanding of the nature of consultancy and research methods, relevant data collection and analysis methodsand specific skills relevant to your project. The aim here is to develop a detailed plan that can then be applied toachieve the project goals typically between May and August. This part is assessed through a written projectproposal of your proposed investigation and will be submitted at the end of the Spring semester.Part 2 – Project DeliveryThis is the main part of the Consultancy Project. Between May/June and August you will carry out the bulk of yourwork and this will be delivered in the form of the project report and an Executive Summary for non-specialistaudience.1.2 What is Consultancy Project module?This module give students the opportunity to work on a choice of project options which require the demonstrationof their ability to conduct independent research drawing on their education throughout the programme. The moduledevelops student skills to work as a consultant. It also develops their knowledge and understanding of the natureand scope and types of research, and the range of research methods and techniques available and theirapplication to solving organisational problems.The Capstones options available are one from the following:1. Consultancy project2. Independent research consultancy project3. Case study consultancy projectThe focus for the project will be for students to identify business challenges and the student, working as aconsultant, will work towards finding appropriate solutions. The overall aim is to enable the application ofprogramme specific knowledge and skills to analyse and solve business challenges, and in doing so, developresearch project management and consultancy skills.Objectives:• To enable students to develop a detailed understanding of the application of theory and the arising challengesto resolve organisational issues in an action learning environment5• To develop students’ abilities in managing projects, client relationships, diverse sets of stakeholders andenhancing their team working skills.• To develop students’ abilities as learning managers, enabling them to continuously reflect and develop theirformal and informal learning throughout their future careers.Dependent on the choice of Capstone option, clients can include private, public and not-for-profit organisationsfrom across industrial sectors including internal University services. Students will generally be workingindependently but in some instances might be required to arrange visits to organisations as required by the projectscope.1.3 Teaching and Learning StrategyPart 1 (Consultancy and Research Methods) takes place during the Spring semester and you carry out a courseof lectures, group seminars and practical sessions that culminate in the submission of a consultancy projectproposal. Part 2, or Project Delivery, runs from June to August and you will carry out an independent study on atopic, under the guidance of an academic supervisor and/or project supervisor.2. ATTENDANCE, DEADLINES, WORD LIMITS, USE OF TURNITIN SOFTWARE &ASSESSMENT2.1 AttendanceDuring Part 1 (Consultancy and Research Methods) you are required to attend and participate in a number oflectures, tutorials and workshops that support the development of your project proposal. There are no scheduledsessions during the summer consultancy project period (Part 2), but one of the requirements of the consultancyproject module is that students must see and consult with their supervisors regularly and submit regular drafts oftheir work. Between June and August you must have at least five consultations with your supervisor, normally atleast three of which must be face-to-face (either on a one-to-one basis, or else in the form of a group discussionwith fellow students in order to share experiences and learn from each other). Students reserve the right to formallyrequest that their face-to-face meetings are conducted on a one-to-one basis. Diligent students, however, willnormally be in contact with their supervisors, either in person or by email, on average once a week or fortnightduring the summer semester. You will also be required to meet with an identified representative from your clientorganisation. The schedule for these meetings will be agreed in advance.You are normally expected to remain in Stirling during the course of the project, although a short visit (2–3 weeksmaximum) away from the University for the purposes of collecting data is permitted. Any prolonged absence(that is, more than 3 weeks) requires the explicit prior approval of the Programme Director, and thecompletion of a Consultancy Project Leave Form. Only in exceptional personal circumstances will the Directorconsider allowing a student to undertake the majority of their consultancy project away from the University.2.2 Calendar & DeadlinesWhatever you might think, deadlines are not imposed simply to provide you with a hurdle to jump over. Whilesupervisors and tutors need them to enable marking and assessment procedures to take place efficiently, theyare, above all, for your own benefit: the development of your individual time and project management skills is anintegral element of the exercise. Consultancy activity has many characteristics, one being that it always expandsto fill the time available. If firm deadlines are not imposed, there is a real danger that you will devote more time toa particular part of the process than is sensible and that it will be at the expense of other elements. This is often aparticular issue as the final submission date approaches. Every effort should therefore be made to maintain theschedule you agree with your supervisor and client organisation, and you are advised to diary the relevant datesnow.To underline the importance of the final deadline, a penalty of the deduction of 3 marks per day will be leviedfor late submission unless there are clear personal circumstances such as illness or other extenuating factorswhich may justify an extension. Any application for an extension must be channelled through your projectsupervisor using the relevant form. Please note that any reason for lateness, which is due to failure in project,planning or management is unacceptable: always build an allowance into your schedule for all of your otherwork and social commitments and for problems such as computer availability, printers etc.Project Report Submission Deadline as communicated on Canvas6A further note on time management may be useful here: with such a sizeable piece of research as the consultancyproject ahead of you, it is vital that you work at it continuously; that is for a set time every week. Every student,you included, needs time to digest and reflect! It may be that you need to go through this process several timesbefore the final project scope if agreed. You should take advantage of the scheduled sessions in Part 1(Consultancy and Research Methods) to discuss your proposal with staff.2.3 AssessmentThe Consultancy Project will be assessed as follows:Part 1 – Research Methods (25%) Project proposal (25%) – The proposal aims to assess students’ understanding of the nature of the projectand the problem statement, and their ability to scope the project and develop a coherent plan to deliver it.(2,500 words)Part 2 – Project Delivery (75%) Project Report (75%) – A detailed discussion of the analysis carried out and therecommendationsproposed to the client organisation (10,000 to 12,000 words) Students will also be expected to produce an Executive Summary for a non-academic audience as part ofthe project report. This will form part of the total word count. The Executive Summary can then be used asa foundation for presenting results and recommendations to clients should they wish so. The clientpresentation will not be assessed.The final report will be marked by two members of staff. One of the markers will be your supervisor. The marksawarded to the report are reached by consensus between the assessors. Where there is disparity between themarkers on the final report, the usual procedure is to seek guidance from a third marker and potentially the ExternalExaminer to award a single mark.In certain circumstances you may be required to attend an oral examination of your work (viva voce). If you fail toattend the examination the Examiners will exercise their discretion in making the final decision.Detailed guidelines on the assessment criteria of the consultancy project report can be found in AppendixA of this handbook.2.4 Word LimitsThe expected word count for the final report is 10,000 (minimum) to 12,000 (maximum) words. Appendices andreference list are not included within these limits. The skill, however, is usually to write within them and excessivelength maybe penalised. Although no supervisor is ever going to count every single word in the report, the figuresgiven here should be treated as guidelines. Like deadlines, the word limits are imposed primarily in your owninterest: they should help you gauge the scale of the required effort; they should encourage your ability to expressyourself clearly and concisely and they should focus your mind on what is really relevant, and what is not. A reportlonger than the limits:“raises a suspicion that you have padded out your project with unnecessary information, may indicate alack of originality in what is an undigested compilation of material, and suggests that you haven’t givensufficient thought to the message you’re trying to convey” (Jankowicz, 1991).So keep it to the point!!!2.5 Use of Turnitin SoftwareAll final consultancy projects should be uploaded to the Turnitin plagiarism software in Canvas. You are permittedto submit draft copies of your work through Turnitin up until the due date. Any other Turnitin submission conductedoutwith the University of Stirling Management School runs the risk of being penalised for plagiarism.2.6 The External ExaminerThe normal role of the External Examiner is to offer an opinion as to the standard of the marking of the projectreports so as to allow for a comparative standard across universities. In other words to seek a consistency ofmarking levels between universities. In this regard, a selection of the project reports are reviewed by an ExternalExaminer.73. THE PROJECT SUPERVISOREveryone will be assigned an academic supervisor and for those undertaking client facing projects, it is expectedthat the client assigned a project supervisors to support you throughout the project. You will be expected to meetyour academic supervisors regularly. In addition, there should be project team review meetings (ie. student(s),academic and client supervisor) at key milestones during the project. The final allocation of a supervisor will bedone by the School.The role of the supervisor is to provide advice, guidance, support and criticism as needs be. It is not the role ofthe supervisor to make corrections or rewrite parts of your work. Please remember that your supervisor cannotindicate to you that any piece of work you wish to submit, will, or will not, pass nor will they be expected to developtechnical analysis (including programming, coding and other technical work) on the project.At each of these meetings your supervisor will record the objectives which you were set at the previous meetingand to what extent you have achieved them. Your supervisor, in discussion with you, will also set out newobjectives to be accomplished by the next meeting (see Appendix B). You will be given copies and will be askedto sign them. The aims of the reports are (1) to inform you of your progress throughout the project and to highlightareas in which you could improve, and (2) to contribute towards the assessment of the project.Because of the highly individual nature of both the Proposal and the ensuing consultancy project, the expectationis for you to be proactive in your use of a supervisor. Don’t think that he or she will keep pestering you to do things.You are the one responsible for completing the project. You are the one who will have to the take the lead in initiatingand maintaining contact with both your supervisor and the client organisation.There is no such thing as an omniscient supervisor. It is unrealistic to expect that your own supervisor shouldnecessarily be an expert either in the particular field of study you are undertaking or in the use of particulartechniques (such as questionnaire design, analysis and computing programming) that you may want to use. Theirrole is not so much to give you the answers to your questions, but to help you find them for yourself. In any divisionthere is a very wide range and variety of skills, knowledge, experience and backgrounds that you should be ableto draw on. In principle, you should be able to regard all members of staff as a resource that you can draw on forspecialist advice on topics and techniques. In practice, you should remember that only your ‘official’ consultancyproject supervisor is timetabled to help you, and anyone else you approach is under no particular obligation to doso. Given the dominant ethos of the School, however, and the fact that most people like to talk about their owninterests, you should not find that you get any requests for advice of assistance refused. However, it will alwaysbe subject to the availability of the person concerned, and that is something you cannot take for granted.‘Staff are never there’ is a complaint sometimes heard in University corridors. What this usually means is that‘Tutors are never there at the precise moment I decide I want to talk to one!’’ Leave notes, send emails, ortelephone and make appointments, and you may find it’s not such a problem after all. However, do remember that,apart from the degree programme you are on, staff are involved in teaching (even in the summer), research, andthe organisation of other modules.If at any time you are experiencing difficulties, then you should endeavour to discuss these with your supervisor.Experience shows that most problems can be traced to students’ reluctance to confront and resolve issues indiscussion with their supervisor. At all times, it is anticipated that any problems arising between you, the clientorganisation and your supervisor can be resolved through discussion between relevant parties. However, shouldyou have concerns about your supervisor, this should be brought to the attention of the Consultancy ProjectsModule Co-ordinator. Where the supervisor and the Module Co-ordinator are one in the same, you should discussthe situation with your Programme Director. In the event of the matter being unresolved, you should take yourconcerns to your respective Head of Division. It should be noted that at no point will your grades be impacted asa result of the above discussions taking place.84. PROJECT TOPICS AND MATCHINGThe University of Stirling Management School work with a diverse set of organisations that have a specific set ofchallenges and the clients briefs will be based on these organisations/challenges. Projects must have a clearacademic relevance aligned to your degree programme, and only those projects reviewed and approved by theacademic team which meet a set of academic and professional requirements will be considered for theConsultancy Project module.4.1 Consultancy Projects Timeline (Figure 1)The timeline associated with the sourcing, matching and delivery of consultancy projects is outlined is Figure 1below: Contact clientsand develop initialproject scopeAssign projects tostudentsRefineprojectscopeProject deliveryphase October February April June AugustFigure 1: Timeline4.2 Consultancy Project TopicsThe range of consultancy project topics that are available are extensive, given the multi-disciplinary nature of manyof the Management School’s courses. Recent projects undertaken by students across the School include: • New business models;• Corporate governance;• Sales and marketing strategy;• Cultures of innovation;• Business Analytics;• Sustainability strategy;• Service innovation;• Benchmarking;• Operations analysis. 4.3 Expression of InterestYour first important task is, of course, to identify from the range of project outlines available, which are of potentialinterest to you. During January and February, available client briefs will be circulated to enable you to have aclearer understanding of the available opportunities and make a more informed decision as to which projects mightbe of interest to youSince the consultancy project will be part of your life for several months, it is very important that you ask yourselfthe following questions prior to expressing an interest in a particular project: What topic areas are you interested in? Is there any particular type of organisation/sector you would like to work with? Are you already in communication with an external organisations, and could this be turned into aconsultancy project?You will be asked to express an interest in the projects that you would like to be considered for. At this stage,dependent upon the requirements of the organisation, you may be asked to submit your CV and covering letteroutlining why you are interested in undertaking this particular consultancy project. The Careers & EmployabilityService can provide you with help and advice regarding successful completion of these documents( Matching Students to ProjectsWe cannot ensure that the available consultancy projects will fully align with your particular subject interest and/orpriority industry sectors. There is however some flexibility to modify the scope of the brief to find a suitable9alignment between the students’ and client’s interests. It is worth remembering that the transferable benefits ofdoing a consultancy project go beyond the topic area and type of organisation you engage with.Projects will be allocated to students based on the following aspects: Your demonstrated interest in the brief; Your demonstrated knowledge and skills in relation to the brief; A dialogue between yourself, the allocated supervisor and client organisation to ensure a suitablealignment. Ultimately, the client will have the final say on the compatibility between students and projects.If you are not matched to a consultancy project, you will be expected to complete an independent research-basedconsultancy project instead.4.5 Kick-off MeetingOnce you have been allocated to your client organisation, you should arrange a kick-off meeting with youracademic supervisor and representative(s) from the client organisation. Ideally, this meeting should be faceto- face, however it is recognised that this is not always possible, and it can also be held via telephone or videoconferencing. During this meeting, you should aim to: Review and refine the scope of the project; Clarify objectives and deliverables; Establish lines of communication; Acquire relevant information to support the completion of your project proposal; Agree milestones and next steps.NOTE: Where the client organisation does not own physical premises, all meetings should be conductedthrough video conferencing or in a public place e.g. University meeting room or classroom, coffee shopor hotel lounge.4.6 Project Agreement FormPrior to starting your consultancy project in June, you will be asked to complete a Project Agreement Form andread the associated Annex (both are available for download from the Consultancy Projects module Canvas page)which is signed by yourself, your supervisor and a representative from the client organisation. This agreementform and annex maps out key expectations regarding the project which are agreed by all parties involved, andincludes relevant health and safety information which should be adhered to. It is your responsibility to ensurethat the form has been read, is completed in full, and signed by all parties. Completed forms should be andsubmitted via the Consultancy Project module on Canvas before you officially commence the project.4.7 Confidentiality and Intellectual PropertyDue to the confidential nature of some of the projects, clients might request that you also sign a Confidentialityand/or Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement Form. You can use the standard confidentiality agreement that youcan find on the Consultancy Projects module Canvas page or alternatively, the client might request to use theirown form. Make sure that you carefully read the agreement and discuss any relevant aspects with your supervisorif at all unsure. All parties involved (student, supervisor, client) will need to sign the form. This should then besubmitted alongside your Project Agreement Form.5. REFINING THE PROJECT5.1 Refining the Scope of the BriefOnce you have been assigned a project you can start a dialogue with the client to review and refine the scope.The initial project outline may be broad and/or vague and, a critical stage of the process that you must go throughis to work with the client to ensure that the project brief is refined in order to achieve full clarity of scope anddeliverables of the projects – the client and your academic supervisor will be closely involved in this process.Jankowicz (1991, p.34) notes that:10“One of the criticisms that tutors and examiners make of unsuccessful projects is that the basic ideawas too vague at the outset and was not sufficiently worked up during the early stages of projectwork. This is betrayed by a woolly project report, that is, by lack of direction in the introduction, orby a mismatch of objectives and achievements. Much of the material seems irrelevant, beingdirected to issues that, while related, does not have direct bearing on the topic you’ve declared atthe outset.”6. ETHICS APPROVAL PROCESSAll projects need to be considered for ethical implications and must get ethics approval prior to commencing anyfieldwork or primary data collection work.The Faculty has a research ethics framework that you should be familiar with prior to the commencement of yourproject. (A copy of the Framework is available on Canvas). It is essential that you consult the University web pageson ethics: Allstudent projects will need to apply through the General University Ethics Panel (GUEP).There is a requirement to complete and submit an Ethics review form for the work you undertake in your project.Failure to do so will result in the project not being accepted by the university. You should also make a formalstatement in your report that you have undertaken your research in accordance with the Ethics framework. Ingeneral terms the key ethical considerations are provided below: Research should be designed, reviewed and undertaken to ensure integrity and quality; Research staff and subjects must be informed fully about the purpose, methods and intended possibleuses of the research, what their participation in the research entails and what risks, if any, are involved.This is known as ‘informed consent’; The confidentiality of information supplied by research subjects and the anonymity of respondents mustalways be respected, particularly where failure to observe anonymity may result in negative consequencesfor research subjects; Research subjects must participate in a voluntary way, free from any coercion. Consent must be obtainedfrom parents/responsible adults when undertaking research involving children under 16. Researchinvolving vulnerable groups (e.g. children or young people under 18, individuals with learning difficultiesetc.) will nearly always require formal Ethics approval by the Faculty BEFORE any interviews etc. takeplace; Harm to research participants must be avoided. Extra care must be taken to avoid harm in the case ofvulnerable groups; The independence of research must be clear and any conflicts of interest or partiality must be explicit.7. MANAGING YOUR PROJECTA key aspect of a good consultancy project is the approach taken in terms of project management. You arerepresenting the University as a student consultant, and therefore projects are expected to be conducted in aprofessional manner, with due consideration being given to project planning, risk management, client relationshipmanagement, project control and information management.7.1 Project PlanManaging your time effectively is essential during your consultancy project. Project planning helps you to map outa plan of your overall project to include key aspects such project stages, core activities, agreed milestones, meetingdates and deliverables. Holidays (your own, the client supervisory and your academic supervisory) also need tobe taken into consideration.Project deadlines can be missed for a number of reasons: you encounter an unanticipated event which delaysmatters; you underestimate how long a particular aspect takes to achieve; you change your mind about the wayin which you wish to approach something; you procrastinate over doing something because it is perhaps lessinteresting, or overly daunting. Pay close attention throughout your project to looming interim deadlines, and reviewyour project plan at regular intervals throughout your consultancy project, and revise accordingly where necessary.11NOTE: the deadline for submission of your final consultancy report can only be extended if permissions has beengranted by your project supervisor and module coordinator.7.2 Risk ManagementRisk is proportional to both the expected losses which may be caused by an event and to the probability of thisevent. Greater loss and greater event likelihood result in a greater overall risk. It is essentially anything that canaffect the progress and outcomes of a project. Due consideration should therefore be given to potential risksassociated with your consultancy project in order to proactively set out plans to eliminate these risk fromhappening or minimise their impact on your project . A useful tool to categorise the potential perceived impact ofrisks is a Risk Matrix (see example in Figure 2 overleaf):Figure 2: Sample risk matrix 7.3Client RelationsThere are some guiding principles associated with managing the client relationship to ensure that it is effective,and mutually beneficial to all involved:Establish a clear communication path for the duration of the project. Discuss with your client organisation how they would prefer to be communicated with during your kick-off meeting. Who should you turn to forguidance in their absence if a matter is urgent? Encourage a rapport by being professional and respectful at all times. Manage expectations. The Project Agreement Form should be used to help guide discussions around thevarious expectations of all parties involved. Try to ensure that these are established before the projectformally commences. Encourage discussion and collaboration throughout the project. You are undertaking your project on behalfof your client and they have a vested interest in the project being a success. Ensure that you keep yourclient supervisor and academic supervisor updated on progress/queries throughout to ensure that you arenot delaying matters by trying to resolve a situation alone, where others may be able to offer advice. Push boundaries/innovation in relation to brief. You offer a fresh pair of eyes to the business issue thatyou are consulting on, and this may provide opportunities for new ideas to emerge during your research.You should be willing to challenge the brief and push boundaries accordingly, but be careful that you donot veer too far away from the main objective of the project, or you may be left with a disgruntled client. ‘Guide’ project decisions. This is your project and you are responsible for leading it. This does not meanthat you take all decision on your own but you must take responsibility for guiding all relevant stakeholdersin the decision making process. Ensure you meet agreed deadlines. Be proactive in communicating and explaining the reasons for anydelays.7.4 StakeholdersIt is important that you identify all stakeholders associated by the project. Maylor (2010) provides the following listof questions that you should ask yourself in order to ensure that you have given due consideration to all potentialstakeholders:12 Who might be affected (positively or negatively) by the project? Who are the ‘voiceless’ for whom special efforts may have to be considered? Who are the representatives of those likely to be affected? Who is responsible for the intended project outcome? Who is likely to mobilise for or against what is intended? Who can make what is intended more effective through their participation or less effective through nonparticipation? Who can contribute financial or technical resources? Whose behaviour has to change for the effort to succeed?To help you manage these stakeholders effectively, you may wish to create a stakeholder map to categorise themin terms of the perceived level of interest and power/influence they may have on your project. The figure belowprovides advice on how to manage the relationship with each category of stakeholder.Figure 3 – Stakeholder MapThe following questions may be asked in order to help categorise each individual stakeholder: What motivates them most of all? What information do they need? What is the best way of communicating with them? What is their current opinion of the project? Who influences their opinions? Do some of these influencers become important stakeholders in their ownright? If they are not likely to be positive, what will win them round to support the project? If you don’t think you will be able to win them round, how will you manage their opposition?7.5 Running Successful MeetingsThe range of meetings conducted during the course of your consultancy project are likely to be a combination ofboth formal and informal meetings. Irrespective of this, you should prepare an agenda for the meeting which clearlyoutlines a structure of what you wish to discuss. Where possible, this should be circulated to those attending inadvance of the meeting in order to help them prepare for intended discussions. During all meetings, try to listen toothers’ perspectives in order to broaden your thinking, and ensure that you don’t narrow down the scope ofdiscussion points.Notes or minutes should be taken at all meetings to ensure that you have a record of discussions, and any agreedaction points. Consideration should be given as to how you will store these notes to ensure traceability, visibility,clarity and confidentiality.7.6 Conflict ResolutionShould you encounter a situation of conflict during discussions with your client organisation, it is important that youremain calm throughout. Try to be open to listening to their perspective, and be rational in your judgement of howto respond. Where appropriate, seek opportunities for comprise where it will allow the project to proceed. If in13doubt at all, speak to your project supervisor for guidance.8. THE CONSULTANCY PROJECT REPORTThe project report is a detailed discussion of the data collection and analysis carried out, and the recommendationsproposed to the client organisation. The purpose of a written report is to allow you to communicate your analysisand conclusions in a professional manner to the client organisation. With it you also communicate the quality ofyour work and thought.When preparing your final report it is useful to put yourselves in the clients’ position and ask:What would the client like to see in the final report? Detailed analysis of organisational issues Robust findings/results and recommendations Clear evidence to support findings Detailing of business implications New insights, additional learning, innovation Professional, clear and concise reportingWhat would the client NOT like to see in the final report? Academic jargon Long sections of academic research with no clear link to organisational issues Lots of theory, no impact – findings lacking content and relevance (‘so what?’), limited awareness ofbusiness implications (’what about resources and implementation?’) Carelessness – e.g. inaccuracies of reporting, spelling/grammar/ editing/formatting errorsA poorly written, carelessly produced consultancy project will do you no favours, even if your findings are firstclass. If you fail to communicate them effectively this will be your problem, not the reader or the marker’s. It is notthe supervisor’s responsibility to check your presentation grammar, spelling and so on – you cannot expect him orher to re-write a piece of your work. Following a few basic guidelines will help you to get your message across.The consultancy project should be written to stand as a piece of work in its own right and without reference to theinitial Proposal. You may find that your aims and objectives, or details of your methodology, have changed asyou’ve gone along. Within the consultancy project itself you should confine yourself to what you have actuallydone.8.1 PlanningA well-written consultancy project report is usually one that has been well planned. Do not do it by starting to writeout everything in full from the beginning without a crystal clear picture of what is to come next. Instead, it can beuseful to systematically go through the following stages:(a) Sketch out what you want to include, in the order you think things should appear.(b) Stand back from it and check that you are covering the issues and objectives set.(c) Adapt and change the plan if you think it necessary. At this stage you should simply have a list of headingsand major sub-headings. Do not use titles such as ‘Secondary Data’ or ‘Questionnaire Results’; the projectshould be structured by topic or issue, and not by the data collection techniques you may have used.(d) Begin to collate the material you have, and make notes of the main point(s) you want to make under eachsection heading, and the tables/diagrams that are to be included. Identify the links with existing researchmaking clear in your own mind how it all related to your own analysis. (e)Again, stand back and review, adapt and change if necessary and then begin to flesh out the points youare making. You may soon start to find that the project almost begins to write itself. 14(f) Do not deliberately try to write up to word limits: this only leads to waffle, something that your client doesn’thave time for. Make your points concisely, ensure you have supporting evidence, and continually questionthe relevance of what you are writing. Always remember that at the heart of the report there must be theAnalysis, Evaluation and Recommendations,; facts alone count for little. Simply because you have spenttime and effort in collecting information is not a valid reason for including it in the report!(g) Consider your audience when compiling your report – don’t include long sections of academic researchwith no clear link to organisational issues. Your findings should be relevant to the organisation as well asdemonstrating an understanding of the business implications (e.g. resources associated withimplementation).8.2 Layout and FormatAttractive presentation predisposes the reader in your favour. Even as you draft the first version of your report,start to think about the use of headings, margins, paragraphing, ‘white space’, well-produced illustrations, andconsistency throughout the document.This will depend in part on the information to be included but should include at least the following: (a)Title Page (See Appendix E) – This should have the full title, your name, student number and the followingstatement: “This consultancy project report is submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degreeof [insert relevant degree title].UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING AUGUST 2021 (b)Contents Page – This acts as a guide and reference section and should include main chapter headingsand principal subsections, together with page numbers. (c) Executive Summary – This should be written last of all, and should be a full summary – a snapshot of thewhole consultancy project report (it might be all that the client organisation reads!). It is placed at thebeginning of the report. It is a concise account of the project – detailing the findings, results,recommendations and business implications.(d) Introduction – This tells the reader what the project report is intended to provide. It must therefore includeyour aims and objectives, set within a wider context; an outline of how the material will be developed inthe report; and a concise description and justification of the methodology that has been used.(e) Body of the Report – This is the whole purpose of the exercise, and will obviously vary from one toanother. However, there are two essential points worth noting. First the sequence must be logical, eachpoint following from the previous one and, secondly, the organisation must be explicit: the readers mustknow ‘where they are’ by means of numbering, headings, sub-headings. The main body of your reportshould focus primarily on your findings while evaluating and analysing the assigned organisational issues.The most critical (and lengthy) sections of the report include the analysis and recommendations.Consultancy reports do not generally have a literature review section HOWEVER…you need to identifyand analyse relevant literature (not just academic) to explore the problem area, analyse key organisationalissues and identify an analytical framework – this is critical to provide credibility and validity to your work.The process for searching, evaluating and analysing the literature is important BUT should not be includedin the main report (if necessary consider a short footnote or appendix instead). (f)Conclusions – These should summarise the main sections, the salient points of the discussion, or theinferences to be drawn from the data. It should be factual or contain supportable opinions. It should make it quite clear to the reader that the end of the report has been reached and whether you have achievedthe project aims and objectives. (g)Recommendations – These are a critical part of the report. They should follow directly from the analysis,and be separated, numbered and, preferably, action-planned: What needs to be done. How it is to be done. By whom? When? At what cost? They need to be realistic within the context of the clientorganisation.15 (h)Acknowledgements – These are short statements of thanks to those who helped you with the report, andmay come in a preface or at the end. (i) References – These are written works and should be cited in a consistent manner and listed at the end, ,using either Scientific or Harvard format is acceptable, although the Management School’s acceptedstyle is the Harvard British Standard System. Referencing must be done properly or it will be penalised–there is no excuse not to do so at this level. A more detailed guide to the referencing is given in AppendixF. In essence, if using the Scientific style you should indicate the reference by a superscript figure in thetext, a list of references in citation order will be given at the end of the document.e.g.The design of Ambulatory Care involves the application of business process re-engineering1,2,3 toenhance the organisation of healthcare in conjunction with the adoption of clinical techniques to widenthe scope of day surgery.1. Bowns I.R. and McNulty T. (1999) Re-engineering Leicester Royal Infirmary: an independentevaluation of implementation and impact, School of Health and Related Research, University ofSheffield2. Newman K. (1997) Towards a new health care paradigm: patient-focused care, the case of KingstonHospital Trust, Journal of Management in Medicine, Vol.11, No.6, pp.357-3713. Nicholson J (1995) Patient focused care and its role in hospital process re-engineering, Internationaljournal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol8, No7, pp.23-26Alternatively the Harvard British Standard style may be used: in the body of the report all you shouldindicate are the surname(s) of the author(s) and the date of the publication in parentheses viz. (Rosa,1985); (Hartshorn and Martin, 1989). Appendix F gives further details of this style of referencing.References should be listed in the order you use them. The Bibliography is listed in alphabetical order,highlighting the title of the book, or, if an article, the title of the periodical in which it was published.Thus:Hartshorn C., and Martin, F. (1989) ‘The support needs of femWesthead, P. W. (1995), The Failure of Growth, MacMillan, London.Note that, in the case of periodicals, you must include the volume and page numbers and, in the case ofbooks, the publisher and place of publication. The reason is that this information enables readers to tracethe reference easily if they want to follow it up.You may find it easy to compile your reference listings if you keep a card index of all the material you use.When the time comes to get the final report together, all you have to do is to sort them out in alphabeticalorder and type them up. Alternatively, you can keep this record up-to-date by using bibliographic softwaresuch as RefWorks. RefWorks supports the referencing systems used by Faculties at the University ofStirling and is available to all students.(j) Bibliography – In addition to a reference list you can include a bibliography that lists additional articles,books or any other sources, which are of relevance but have not been specifically mentioned in the text.This is done in alphabetical order.(k) Appendices – Appendices are for additional material however, your report should be comprehensiblewithout appendices. Appendices are intended to provide more information which may be of interest/of useto the client organisation. They should contain additional detailed information which supports the mainpoints being made in the body of the report but which would interrupt the flow if they were placed there.You should not place all your graphs and tables in an appendix. If these are necessary to the main reportthen they should appear in the main report. Appendices should be referred to in the body at the relevantpoint and should never appear as an afterthought. They should be clearly separated, numbered andlabelled.8.3 Additional PointsNumbering – The style favoured for section and sub-section is the decimal style used in this Handbook: 9.1, 9.1.2and so on. Do NOT number every single sentence or paragraph. Avoid over using numbering as it can break up16the flow of the material.Illustrations – Can enhance the appearance of a report and can be invaluable for emphasising key points orsummarising a complex argument. They must be given a title or number, and referred to in the text by that title ornumber. Plan and execute them carefully, and integrate them with the written text at the point they are mentioned.There are fewer more irritating things to a reader than to have to skip back and forward to Appendices to seerelevant illustrations. If they’re not relevant, they should not be in the report at all.Footnotes – They should be used very sparingly. Think of them as very short appendices for material that wouldinterrupt the flow of text. Put a number in the text at the appropriate point and repeat it and place the necessaryinformation at the foot of the page.Quotations – Should have page numbers.First Person – Researchers hold strong opinions on whether to write in the first person or not. Examples of firstperson are: “In my opinion…”; “It is my view that….”. Some argue that its use reduces the objectivity and authorityof the work – others point to the very individual experience, which has to be acknowledged in the writing style.Ultimately it is down to you to decide which writing style is appropriate to your project, but we would suggest youdo not utilise the first person.Printing and Binding – The following requirements must be adhered to:1. Consultancy Reports should be in A4 format.2. Copies of the report should be presented in a permanent and legible form either in typescript or print; whencopies are produced by photocopying processes, these should be of a permanent nature. Where wordprocessor and printing devices are used, the printer should be capable of producing text of a satisfactoryquality. The recommended font for your report is Arial size 11.3. The report can be printed on both sides of the page. The paper should be white.4. The margins at both sides of the page should be 2.5 cm.5. 1.5 line spacing must be used. In the footnotes single spacing is to be used.6. Pages shall be numbered consecutively through the text, starting from the Introduction.7. The title page shall give the following information:The full title of the reportThe full name of the authorThe author’s registration numberThe name of the universityThe award for which the report is submitted in partial fulfilmentThe month and year of submissionAppendix E shows a specimen example of the Title Page.The consultancy project should be bound using a thermal binding system, called Unibond, which can be providedby the University Print Room at a moderate cost. A sample may be seen in the Postgraduate Office. Please notethat it is advisable to book an appointment to have your project report bound with the Print Room, as they are oftenextremely busy at this time of year.8.4 Submission of the Consultancy Project ReportYou are required to submit TWO bound copies of your project to Room 3B61 (NOT to any member of academicstaff), by the deadline indicated. You are also required to submit the final version of your project report throughthe assignment submission link via Canvas. Internal marking takes place during September and external markingin October. Please note that you won’t receive the result until after the Examination Board meets in late October.After this meeting your grade will be displayed on your Student Portal. If you ask, we will return one of the projectsto you (at your expense) and a copy of your project may be retained in the Library for other students to read for17reference. If you indicate that the project is confidential we will not make it available in this way.Declaration – On submission of your project you will be required to sign a declaration that it is your own work andthat all sources have been acknowledged.8.5 Assessment of the ProjectEach project will be assessed in the first instance by the individual’s supervisor. Another member of staff will thenmark it without knowing the mark allocated by the supervisor. An agreed mark will be awarded, but where there isa discrepancy, a third member of staff may arbitrate and assess the project in the same blind marking fashionbefore a final mark is allocated. Ultimately, the final mark is subject to the approval of the External Examiner andthe Examining Board.The criteria used for the assessment of the project are provided as Appendix A. Although the details maysubsequently be modified, the basic criteria will not change. It is difficult to attach specific weighting to anyindividual criterion as the diversity of subjects and approaches makes this inappropriate. However, an indicationof the general guidelines used to differentiate between grades for the project is given in Appendix A to help youplan and prepare. Please note that these guidelines are not in any way rules or regulations to be quoted indiscussion of marks given.9. CLIENT PRESENTATIONThe project presentation is an optional oral presentation to representative(s) from the client organisation and youracademic supervisor and/or another member of staff when necessary. The presentation should be scheduled priorto the submission of your consultancy project report. Your presentation should provide an overview of your keyfindings and proposed recommendations to the client organisation. This will be followed by a Question and Answersession, where clarification may be sought on specific issues mentioned during your presentation. The clientpresentation is NOT assess.10. RESUBMITTED PROJECTSStudents attaining a Marginal Fail grade in their consultancy project (i.e. 40%-49%) or a Clear Fail grade (i.e. 0%-39%) will be allowed a further opportunity to resubmit their project report in order to achieve the Pass graderequired to be awarded a master’s qualification. Should you fall into this category, your supervisor will meet withyou once to go through the written feedback detailing which elements of the project need to be revised. There willbe no further meetings with your supervisor. Resubmission deadline – 3 months after initial notification of failgrade.11. VIVA VOCE EXAMINATIONIn some institutions you are orally examined on your Master’s project. This is not standard practice with projectsat the University of Stirling. However, the Examiners reserve the right to require this in certain circumstances, suchas a suspicion of plagiarism. The composition of the viva voce panel will be that of the Project Supervisor, the 2ndmarker, and either the Programme Director or the Director of Postgraduate Programmes. Please note that thesemeetings will be held shortly after the project has been marked and you should therefore be available to attendthis meeting. If you are required to attend a viva voce and fail to do so, the Examiners will exercise their discretionin making their final decision.12. CONFIDENTIALITYNormally, good projects are made available for reference in the University Library. However, if your project containsdata from individuals or organisations that is personally or commercially sensitive, you may request that theprojects be regarded as confidential. In this case, access will be restricted and it will not be made available in theUniversity Library. You will be required to complete a confidentiality form when you submit your project to thePostgraduate Office.1813. RULES AND REGULATIONSYour attention is drawn to sections of three sets of rules and regulations, including the issue of ensuring the workyou have conducted is your own.13.1 Code of Conduct of the Market Research SocietyAny primary research which involves approaching either members of the public or outside organisations mustadhere to the Code of Conduct of the Market Research Society. You will find it in the Yearbook of the MarketResearch Society. However, you should note in particular that:(a) If you intend to pass on the results of your consultancy project to any outside organisation (e.g. the press,academic reports etc.), you must indicate this to potential respondents. You cannot purport to be a studentmerely doing an academic project, not least if you are approaching firms competing with the one who will seeyour results.(b) Similarly, you cannot combine your research with selling – for example, by passing on lists of respondents toany outside organisation. The Data Protection Act may also apply here.(b) You must not interview or carry out direct research with children without the permission of their parents.13.2 Data AuditabilityYou should ensure that you have sufficient convincing proof that you have collected data used in the course ofyour project, whether the research conducted was qualitative or quantitative, or both. This might take the form, forexample, in qualitative work i.e. tapes of interviews and focus groups undertaken etc. or completed questionnairesfor any quantitative surveys. You may be asked to provide these as evidence of the work having been undertaken.13.3 PlagiarismThis involves the intentional presentation for assessment of the work of another (be it fellow students or publishedwork) as your own. It constitutes an offence which will normally result in your failing the project and thereby yourDegree. The way to avoid this is by meticulous referencing and attribution of the work of others so that the readeris left in no doubt which parts are your own. Do not underestimate, therefore, the importance of clear,methodical referencing and attribution of ideas, figures and tables etc. – the consequences of not doingso can be dire for the student.All final projects should be submitted to the Turnitin plagiarism software via Canvas. You are permitted to submitdraft copies of your work up until the due date through Turnitin. Any other Turnitin submission conducted outwiththe School runs the risk of being penalised for plagiarism. The University Policy on Plagiarism in PostgraduateCoursework and Dissertations/Projects is contained on Canvas.APPENDIX A – CONSULTANCY PROJECT (FINAL REPORT) MARKING CRITERIAThe following assessment criteria are provided to both consultancy project students and staff undertaking supervision. CRITERIAMarkAwarded


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