Background Research Report

● To practice synthesis when writing reports.
● To research your client organization / design challenge target group or problem domain.
● To gain knowledge that will inform your interviews and observations.
● To create content that is useful for the client. (Portions of it may contribute to your team’s final
You will write a ~2000-word report that provides background information related to your client, project.
Though only the final submission (due Oct. 21) will be graded, you will be required to submit parts of it
each week until then. There will also be a 5-point bonus for reports submitted a week early (Oct. 14).
● Choose a topic. Discuss with your team, so that team members cover different aspects of the
client, project, design challenge, or related topics. It’s OK if there is some overlap, but avoid
having every team member write about exactly the same thing. Try to choose an aspect to write
about that is interesting to you. (Otherwise, it will be a very tedious assignment.) Potential topic
types include those listed below. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you think of other useful
things to write about, feel free.
○ General background about the problem: What can you learn about the type of
challenge or concern? What are the common sub-problems and solutions? For example, if
your client is struggling with email communication, what is known about best practices in
workplace email?
○ General background about the client or target population: Who is the client? What is
their history, size, financial situation, main product/service, etc.? (Note: Use their
website, but don’t trust everything an organization says about itself. Try to find reliable
sources well beyond it.) For design challenges, who is the target group? What are their
demographics? Are there any available statistics about them? Go beyond stereotypes.
○ Sector research: What is known about the market or industry or sector that your client
organization is a part of? What are the primary issues, concerns, societal trends and
emerging technologies influencing the sector?
○ Competitor analysis: Who are your client’s main peers or competitors, and what are
their strengths and weaknesses? Compare and contrast peers and competitors with your
client organization.
○ Scholarly literature review: What does the scholarly research say about the general
class of problems, the type of organization, or potential solutions? What does scholarship
say about what is already known and what questions remain? What theories and practices
have been successful working within this type of organization or population?
SI 501: Contextual Inquiry Background Research Report Last updated: September 17, 2019
● Include a cover page at the front of your project (not included in your word count) which
includes the following information:
○ Your name, team name, course name (SI 501), section number, GSI, client name,
and report due date. (Please include all of this information in everything you hand in for
this course.)
○ Word count for the report section only (do not count cover page; do not count
○ Summary of either (1) your client organization’s mission and product / service; or
(2) the context of your design challenge. One paragraph. (Ideally, this will be in your
own words, but if you quote something, be sure it’s in quotation marks and cited!)
○ Summary of the client problem or the design challenge. One paragraph.
○ List 1-3 questions that your background research report will answer.
● Submit something every week before lecture until the submission deadline in Canvas. To
make sure that everyone is making progress over the weeks, you will be asked to submit
something in Canvas each week. The first week’s submission is specified (see below). After, you
can submit whatever you have at that point, even if it is just an outline or very rough writing.
Instructors will review the first week’s submission, but not the second and third weeks. However!
Should you have any difficulty with the paper during the last week, we will be more sympathetic
if there was evidence of attempted progress in the previous weeks. What to submit:
○ Sept. 30: Cover page and tentative bibliography (i.e., list of the sources you’ll use for the
background report) is required. If you can’t find enough sources for your topic, you may
want to consult with our librarian, Shevon Desai – she or a colleague will also be in
Discussion on Sept. 30. In some cases, you may need to broaden or add on to your report
○ Oct. 7: The following is recommended: Cover page, an outline, a few hundred words of
draft, bibliography.
○ Oct 14: The following is recommended: Cover page, 1000 words of the main report, an
outline of the rest, bibliography.
○ Oct. 21: Final submission is required.
● Write a ~2000-word background research report in which you synthesize background research
about your client, client project, design challenge, target audience, or other related area. Team
members should cover different aspects of the project in their reports. Below are some possible
angles you could pursue. Depending on the topic and how much information is available, some of
these categories could be further broken down. In other cases, it might require a combination of
topics to reach 2000 words. (Submit the cover page and 2000-word report together by the
beginning of lecture, Oct. 21.)
● Start doing research and writing drafts early. Even though you have over a month for this
assignment, the weeks pass quickly. Use the schedule above.
SI 501: Contextual Inquiry Background Research Report Last updated: September 17, 2019
● Write your report in essay form, using prose paragraphs. While you may use bulleted lists,
visualizations, and tables to better communicate some information, the bulk of your essay should
be prose text.
● Use high-quality sources wherever possible. High-quality sources include news articles and
associated blogs from trusted organizations (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN,
NBC, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, etc.), peer-reviewed research articles, books published
by major publishers, government documents, reliable statistics databases, and so on. MLibrary’s
LibGuide ( is also a useful place to start. The following tend to
be less reliable: miscellaneous blogs, organizational websites, non-peer-reviewed whitepapers,
social media content, etc. You can use these latter sources, but they should not form the main part
of your research.
● Synthesize what you have learned. Avoid simply copying, paraphrasing, and summarizing other
writing – there is no point stringing together things other people have already written. Instead,
integrate the information you find and combine it with your own analysis. Synthesis involves any
or all of the following: clustering of information from different sources; organizing information
by concept (not by source); highlighting patterns; identifying unusual or unexpected findings;
comparing and contrasting among sources; prioritizing information based on its relevance or
importance; making deductive or inductive inferences; drawing conclusions; etc.
● Follow these guidelines of good non-fiction writing: Ensure that each paragraph has a single,
coherent point, and summarize that point in a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph.
Similarly, start each section with a brief introductory paragraph that either summarizes or
introduces the section. (Experienced writers should feel free to deviate from these guidelines
where it makes sense.) Think of the reader of your report as its user; to design a user-centered
report, make it easy for the reader to understand what you want to convey.
● Write in your own voice while employing a professional tone, as you should for any
consulting report. Portions of your report may eventually be incorporated into your final report
that is provided to the client. Strive to write as well as you can. If writing in English is not your
strength, that’s OK – do your best.
● Cite your sources: Use in-text or footnoted citations for any content that is taken from another
source, whether it is quoted or paraphrased. Any cut-and-pasted text should be in quotation marks
(or block indented), with appropriate citation. Write in your own words, even if English is not
your native language; avoid “patchwriting.” Include a bibliography at the end. Citations may be
in any standard style (e.g., Chicago, APA, MLA), but apply the style correctly and consistently. If
your project includes images, cite them appropriately, also. Especially if you have little
experience writing papers at the university level in the United States, be sure that you fully
understand what plagiarism is. In previous years, some students received a “0” on this assignment
and were reported to the UMSI administration because of plagiarism.
● Format for clarity: Use section headings and white space effectively to promote readability and
clarity. Any formatting that improves the “look and feel” of the document and which improves
readability is good.
● Feel free to revise the cover page as well as the outline for your report between the two
● Take advantage of the Sweetland Center for Writing, in the first floor of North Quad
( This is especially
SI 501: Contextual Inquiry Background Research Report Last updated: September 17, 2019
recommended if English is not your first language, or if you have little experience writing papers
for U.S. university courses. Meetings are one-on-one and appointment-based. Schedule early!
● Each week until the deadline, submit whatever you have (even if it’s unintelligible drafts) before
the beginning of lecture.
o Submit your work as a PDF or Word (.doc or .docx) document in the assignments tab of your
section’s Canvas site. Do not submit a link to a Google Doc or any other document that could
continue to be edited after the due date.
o Please use this document naming convention:
Lastname Firstname Background
● The final cover page and ~2000-word report are due by the beginning of class, Oct. 21. If you
submit the final report by Oct. 14, you will receive an extra 5 points.
o Submit your work as a PDF or Word (.doc or .docx) document in the assignments tab of your
section’s Canvas site. Do not submit a link to a Google Doc or any other document that could
continue to be edited after the due date.
o Please use this document naming convention:
Lastname Firstname Background
• The outline will be graded pass/fail.
• Any instances of plagiarism will mean a 0 for the assignment. Please be careful.
• The report is graded on an individual basis (not as a team), out of 100. Grading will be weighted
as follows:
o Cover page 10%
o Quality and quantity of sources 10%
o Overall quality of the content 50%
o Content
o Synthesis
o Clarity
o Organization
o Flow
o Writing quality, including spelling, grammar, etc. 10%
o Formatting, overall look and feel 10%
o Citation quality (in-text citations, references) 10%
o Extra credit for superb work up to 5%
# # #

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Background Research Report
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay
Calculate your order
275 words
Total price: $0.00

Top-quality papers guaranteed


100% original papers

We sell only unique pieces of writing completed according to your demands.


Confidential service

We use security encryption to keep your personal data protected.


Money-back guarantee

We can give your money back if something goes wrong with your order.

Get free features with our reliable essay writing service

  1. Title page

    We offer you a free title page tailored according to the specifics of your particular style.

  2. Custom formatting

    Include your preferred formatting style when you order from us to accompany your paper.

  3. Bibliography page

    Get a list of references to go with your ordered paper.

  4. 24/7 support assistance

    Reach out to our support agents anytime for free assistance.

Calculate how much your essay costs

Type of paper
Academic level
550 words

How to place an order

  • Choose the number of pages, your academic level, and deadline
  • Push the orange button
  • Give instructions for your paper
  • Pay with PayPal or a credit card
  • Track the progress of your order
  • Approve and enjoy your custom paper

Ask our experts to write you a cheap essay of excellent quality

Place an order