Appendix A: Guidelines for Computer Engineering and Computer Science Programs

General work-term report structure

Each work-term report should be presented as a technical report. The focus should be on technical aspects of projects undertaken. Some work-term placements can be more managerial or organizational in nature. These placements still offer relevant engineering experiences and can be described in a technical manner. Personal statements or recommendations can optionally be included, but should be separated from technical content and can be part of the cover letter or can be a separate, confined section of the main body of the report.

All work-term reports should conform to the following general structure:

  • Title page
  • Abstract and keywords
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • Body of work-term report (Introduction, Description of Work-Term Duties, Outcomes and Reflections, Conclusion)
  • Approval by Supervisor 
  • References
  • Appendices

Title page

Include the work-term report title. Include your name, student number, course code and report submission date. Do not boldface or italicize anything on the title page.


Include a 100-to-200-word (up to one page) abstract describing and summarizing the work-term report. The abstract should be self-explanatory and provide the reader with a summary of the contents of the work-term report.


At the bottom of the abstract page, include three to five keywords (separated by commas) that may be used to index the work-term report.

Main Body of the Report 

The main body of the report should include the following sections clearly marked and numbered. These main sections can be further organized into appropriate subsections. 


For final reports at the end of a placement, the work-term report should be between 10 and 15 pages. This number does not include the abstract, references and appendices. For interim reports at the four- or eight-month mark of longer placements, the expected length is between 5 and 10 pages.


This section is typically one page

Briefly describe the organization you worked for (Branches, Departments, and Work units). Include general information, such as the size, history, and industry of the organization. 

  • Identify your role within the organization and your work-term duties and responsibilities.  
  • Within your introduction, outline the work and summarize the projects you undertook, but save more detail for those described in the body of your report.
  • The introduction should serve to introduce the topic of the report, define it and finally divide the report in sections. 

* Note that the introduction differs from the abstract.

Description of Work-Term Duties 

This section is typically eight to ten pages. 

Describe, the main aspects of your work term. Typically, students should choose and describe one or two projects undertaken during their work term. A typical structure is: 

  • Discuss a project or problem faced by you, the company, or its customers. 
  • Present alternatives considered in order to solve it. Provide methods used for evaluating these alternatives such as Pros and Cons, Cost Benefit Analysis, Policies, Group Consensus, etc. 
  • Discuss your decision and the resulting outcomes and consequences. If possible, support the outcomes with data acquired during the work term. 
  • For ongoing projects, describe plans for the advancement of the project. 

Other considerations:

  • Avoid simply listing daily activities. 
  • For interim reports submitted during eight-month placements, it is understood that projects are likely not complete. You should still give a detailed explanation of the projects being undertaken. Discuss plans to advance any projects. When relevant, you can reuse material from interim reports in the final report.
  • Provide enough details so that the CO-OP academic coordinator, who may not be familiar with the organization or the topic of the report, can easily follow the context. 

Outcomes and Reflections 

This section is typically two to four pages. 

Your work-term report should include your reflections on performance and learning objective outcomes. 

Reflecting on your work, explain the three elements below: 

  1. Summarize how the performance and learning objectives that you and your supervisor set at the beginning of your placement helped you gain workplace skills. There should be two learning objectives, and three performance objectives. If possible, clearly state each objective, using the SMARTS system. Identify if one or more of these objectives are related to the University of Ottawa’s Institutional Competencies. Include a detailed explanation of the approach used to achieve the work-term objectives, as well as a description of the results obtained. 
  2. Summarize how this CO-OP placement builds on your academic background and how it will help you with future studies.  Explain the relationship between certain courses or laboratories that you have taken at the university and the new skills acquired during your work term. How do you think you might combine the two in a future job, co-op placement or studies?
  1. Reflect on your CO-OP placement.  In many careers, self-reflection on performance is an integral part of the lifelong learning process. Work-term reflections allow you to assess your performance with a critical eye and deepen your reflections on your career and your professional ambitions. By putting everything in writing, you will also be able to more easily create links not only between your work-term and your program, but also between your aptitudes, values ​​and your convictions - an important aspect for determining a rewarding professional path.  
Here are some example questions to guide your reflections.
  • What did you learn from your co-op interview process? Based on this experience, what will you do differently next time? 
  • Are you surprised by the skills you are in the process of acquiring during your work-term, or by certain specific skills or preferences that you discovered? Are there any skills that you would have liked to have learned? 
  • How did you develop, use or improve the selected Institutional competencies during your last CO-OP work-term? 
  • Have you observed any of these competencies practiced by your classmates, colleagues, supervisors or managers? If so, how? 
  • How does your workplace contribute to promoting these competencies within its company policies or sector of activity/industry? 
  • What were your expectations for your co-op work-term? Were they satisfied? Why? 
  • Do you have a better idea of the type of co-op work-term you would like to get next time? Explain your answer. 


This section is typically one page. 

This is where you summarize the results of your CO-OP work-term projects and the learning experience. Constructive feedback, either to the employer, the CO-OP and Careers Office, or your academic program are also more than welcome. 



  • double-spaced text
  • 12-point standard font (Times, Times Roman, calibri, etc.)
  • one-inch margins (top, bottom, left, right)
  • italics, as needed, but no underlining
  • page numbers, in the bottom-right corner of the page header
  • section and subsection headers should be numbered and referenced in the table of contents
  • tables and figures numbered sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2). Figure titles should be at the bottom of the figure and table titles at the top of the table. All figures and tables presented throughout the body of the report must be referenced in the text. Figures and tables taken from another document must be properly cited in their title or caption.


All work-term reports must have proper punctuation, spelling, capitalization, italics, abbreviations, headings, quotations, numbers, tables, and figures. In addition, avoid bias in language. Any work-term report that does not meet minimum standards for spelling, grammar, and format of presentation will automatically receive a failing grade.

Footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes should not be used. Relevant information, which might normally be placed in a footnote or endnote, should be included in the work-term report text.


Any information or content taken from other sources must be properly referenced. This is done so that the reader can find the original source of information, if needed. There are two acceptable formats for citing other work:

  1. The author-date system:
    • In this system, a citation consists of the last name of the author(s) and date of publication. The date is always surrounded by parentheses. The author's name may be included as part of the text, or within the parentheses. For works with more than two authors, the citation is for the first author et al.. Examples:

      According to Smith et al. (2013), HVAC installations represent 20% of the cost of many building renovations.

      The thermal efficiency of power plants in this region has increased by 30% over the past forty years (Doe and Miller 2014).
  2. The numbered system:
    • In this system, citations consist of numbers enclosed in square brackets and multiple citations can be included within one set of brackets. Even if a work is cited more than once, it is only assigned a single, unique number. Examples:

      The pump outlet pressure should be maintained at 103 kPa [2].

      Computer simulations have become a very important tool in the field of fracture mechanics [1–3,5,8].

References should be collected in a section at the end of the document, but before any appendices. If the author-date system is used, reference should be organized alphabetically according the primary author's last name and should not be numbered. If the numbered system is chosen, references may either numbered in the order of first citation in the main text or alphabetically by the primary author's last name. Numbered references must be ordered numerically in the references section.

Sample references:

  • Articles:

    Habron, G. (2002), “Breathing Life Into the Case Study Approach: Active Learning in an Introductory Natural Resource Management Class.” Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 13: 41-58.
  • Books:

    Bruner, J. (1990) Acts of Meaning.  Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Web pages:

    Anderson, J., Reder, L., and Simon, H. (1995) “Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education." Retrieved June 29, 2002, from

Additional writing resources

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999.

Turabian, Kate L. Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. 6th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

There are a number of books on business report writing on the 4th floor of the Morisset Library. (They begin with the call number HF 57.) Books on technical writing can be found on the 6th floor. (They begin with the call number T 11.)

Approval by Supervisor 

In order to confirm that the content of the report was written by the student and can be shared, you must include a page signed by your supervisor at the end of your report with the following wording: 

As supervisor of CO-OP student <your name>________________________, I, <supervisor's name>_________________ certify that, to the best of my knowledge, this report is entirely the student’s work and is free of confidential information to the extent that it can be read by university faculty members. 


Date _________________________ 

The real signature is required here, not just a typed version. Reports without supervisor signatures will be rejected right away.



Any material taken from other sources must be properly cited using one of the formats listed above.  Text that is quoted directly must be surrounded by quotation marks or indented and separated from the main text.  Any student committing plagiarism will automatically receive a failing grade and will be subject to sanctions for academic fraud according to the Faculty of Engineering Academic Regulations.

More information is available on the University of Ottawa website regarding academic integrity.

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