HR Report Submission Guidelines for those enrolled in the AMCTO's Diploma in Municipal Administration (DMA)
In order to apply the Employment Law & Human Resources Program toward the HR element of AMCTO's Diploma in Municipal Administration (DMA), students enrolled in the DMA must submit a 4000-word report focused on a topic relevant to the Human Resources business area of the municipal corporation. Any specific topic that is covered in one of the 9 modules of the program is a great resource to assist with selecting a topic for the Report.
- The Report must incorporate no less than 10 secondary sources.
- The Report should be in full essay format and should include an introduction, body, conclusion, and a complete bibliography. Other work being referenced must be accompanied by an appropriate footnote or endnote. Improper citation of secondary sources may adversely affect the outcome of the marking of your Report. Please refer to item 4 in the AMCTO's Education Programs Policy relating to academic dishonesty.
Once you have completed the Modules of the Program, you must submit a Work Plan that outlines your report. Your Work Plan is intended to help you organize your time and ultimately achieve your goal of completing a high quality Report.
- The Work Plan must be submitted to AMCTO for approval before you begin on the Report. Completed Work Plans are to be submitted to Craig Wellington, firstname.lastname@example.org. In turn, Craig Wellington will respond with approval within two weeks via email.
- Once you have received approval on your Work Plan, the Final due date for the Report is no later than 45 days from the date AMCTO approves your workplan. Reports must be submitted no later than 11:59am on the due date. All reports received after this deadline will be subject to item 3 of AMCTO’s Education Programs Policy.
- Specific due dates for your Work Plan, Approval and Final Report will coincide with the registration cohort.
- A student who has completed the Employment Law & Human Resources Program and achieved a grade of 60% or higher on the Report, will be considered to have successfully completed the HR element, for credit toward the DMA.
- Please note that your mark for this course offering is based entirely on the mark achieved on the Report submission. A failing grade on the Report (i.e., 59% or less) will result in a failure to gain credit toward the DMA.
1. Selecting your research topic
- Select a topic that helps achieve specific goals and tasks in your professional work. If you’ve been given any specific projects as part of your annual performance objectives, that would be a good place to begin your topic search.
- Select a topic in a field that you are familiar with (e.g. your department) or a field that you want to work in.
- Look at your municipality/organization’s strategic plan. Select a topic that fits that plan. As you develop your research report, share it with your superiors.
- Develop a thesis question to help focus your report.
2. Conducting effective research
Select your research topic proactively
A well-utilized methodology in report writing is the gap analysis approach. Simply put, approach your research with the following questions in mind:
• What is the current situation? Why does it need improvement?
• What is the desired situation? How will it help?
• Are there any barriers to achieving the desired situation?
• What recommendations can be made to overcome these barriers?
Conduct Background Research
Background reading is essential for focusing your topic; it provides you with a strong starting point for your research. Reference sources and books are often helpful in this step.
Talk to others in your municipality – share ideas and resources. Your peers and colleagues may be the best ‘sounding boards’ for research ideas that you have at this stage.
Plan Your Search Strategy
Plan what tools you will need and how you will use the tools you have. Identify what type of evidence your report will need – secondary source, statistical, or case study. Check if more than one type will be required.
Outlining the research objectives, scope and methodology will help you focus your research.
Document Your Search Thoroughly
Make sure to write down what resources (electronic or print) you have used and where they are located. If it is an electronic source, write down your different searches. You won't duplicate work you have already done and you never know when you might return to the resource.
Evaluate Your Results
Is the information relevant to your topic? Is it from an authoritative source? Did you retrieve enough information, not enough, or too much? Revise your search strategy if necessary, and repeat the process of searching and/or select another tool to use.
Cite Your Research
Remember to record the publication details from your sources so that you will be able to appropriately cite them in footnotes and bibliographies. You may also want to write down the location in case you need to retrace your steps.
3. Submitting your Work Plan Application
Your work plan application should include:
- The thesis question or issue you intend to examine. The thesis question must be clearly focused and specific, yet significant enough to merit attention.
- A brief description of the issue, the specific context and rationale for your project: What is the problem and why is it important to local government?
- A brief introduction to/summary of the theoretical framework you expect to use.A description of the methodology and sources of data and information for your research. You should explain how you will analyze the problem: the report should present an analysis, not a description.
- A preliminary list of key readings and resources that you will use in the course of your research.
(Tip - use the Work Plan Template that AMCTO provides)
As you conduct your research and write your report, your topic description and/or objectives might change from what was included in the application. That is expected – and no marks are deducted for that.
4. Writing your report
Writing is a skill that must be improved through constant practice. If you feel that your writing skills are less than they should be, look for handbooks on writing skills that are available through the library, online, or in the reference section of your local bookstore.
Some tips on writing your report:
• Identify and understand your audience. While it is obvious that your report is being submitted to an evaluator for academic purposes, the evaluator is not your audience. Identify who your audience is (supervisor/council/senior management?) if possible, indicate the audience in the introduction of your report. Write your report keeping this audience in mind.
• Always make an outline of what you want to say, even if the outline is only a list of the key points you want to cover and the order in which you want to cover them. An outline does not have to be detailed; it must, however, provide you with a sense of direction and order.
• Write a rough draft. Drafts should not take a lot of time. They should be written as quickly as possible and should record ideas about the topic. Then you have something you can shape and revise.
• Use a simple font. Don’t use fancy or unique fonts – they are usually hard to read. Keep it simple. Use Arial, size 10.
• Use simple language where possible. Resist the urge to use fancy or difficult words. Avoid writing in first person – use third person format.
• Break the text of your report where feasible. By means of bulleted highlights, textboxes, graphics etc. create visual breaks to help the reader maintain interest in your report. These visual representations can also help enhance some of the key points in your report.
• Pagination, footnotes, also help make your report organized and clear. Paginate all your pages and make sure the page numbering is correct in your table of contents. Where citing sources, cite them in footnotes to make it easier for the reader.
Components of an effective report
Remember, an effective report must have the following elements, in this order:
1. Title page – with a formal title
Include your name and AMCTO ID number on the title page.
2. Executive Summary
The Executive Summary explains to the reader in a nutshell what your report covers. An Executive Summary should summarize the contents of your report, reinforce your findings and the benefits if your report is read and your recommendations are implemented.
3. Table of Contents
4. List of tables, charts and/or diagrams, if any
5. Scope and Methodology of your report
Explain the scope of your report – what does it cover, what it does not, and why. Explain how you conducted your research, what data you collected and how.
6. Text of your report, divided into chapters or sections
Chapters/sections make it easier for the evaluator to grasp the message your report is conveying.
7. Conclusion of your report – summarizing the main findings of your report.
Always, always summarize your report – once at the beginning (in the Executive Summary) and once at the end (in the Conclusion).
Appendices contain reference information that might take away from the readability of the report if included in the main body. This may include copies, questionnaires or tools designed to help the reader implement the recommendations contained in your report. Appendices should be numbered or lettered (i.e. Appendix 1 or Appendix A) to help readers locate the document they are seeking, and should also be listed in your table of contents.
Submitting your research report
AMCTO will assign you to a Marker after you receive approval on your Work Plan. You will have direct contact with your marker via email for the submission of your Report.
Evaluation: how will your report be graded?
Each report will be graded based on its content. However, the following common elements will be sought by the Marker:
- Does the report demonstrate clear and independent and original thinking?
- Does the report demonstrate a clear purpose or thesis? Does that thesis remain the focal point of the paper, or does the paper seem to wander from point to point?
- Is the subject explored fully and in-depth enough to convey that the author has thought out her/his subject in its entirety?
- Is the paper organized effectively? Is reading made difficult by the organization?
- Are the most important points given the most emphasis? Are lesser points, accordingly, given less emphasis? Are there any places where major points get too little attention and minor points too much?
- Is the paper coherently organized and linked together? Are transitions from paragraph to paragraph and from point to point smooth?
- Has the audience been taken into account? Does the report addressing its audience with the appropriate tone, purpose, etc.?
- Are sentences varied in length and style? Does the writer avoid being too choppy and short or too long and confusing?
- Is the vocabulary used original and precise or is it vague and overused?
4. Grammar and Mechanics
- Does the paper seem carefully edited?
- Do errors in punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, or grammar detract attention from the main point of the paper?