CO-OP Work Term Report Guidelines for Science Programs - Appendix A: Guidelines

General work-term report structure

All work-term reports must be submitted online. 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) 
  • 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. 


Final reports at the end of a placement should be between 10 and 15 pages. This number does not include the abstract, references and appendices. Interim reports at the four-month (and or eight-month) mark placements should be 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 should be eight-to-10 pages for a final report, or four-to-six pages for an interim report. 

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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.

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 any 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. 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. In many careers, self-reflection on performance is an integral part of the lifelong learning process. 
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 headers, as needed
  • tables and figures numbered sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2) and bearing descriptive titles (figure titles at the bottom of the figure and table titles at the top of the table)


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.


Make sure you refer to all references in the body of your report.

The choice of your referencing style determines the format of your in-text references and bibliographic entries. Make sure that your report includes in-text references in the form of parenthetical citations (for APA Style and MLA Style) or footnotes or endnotes (for Chicago Manual of Style), as well as bibliographic entries in the form of a reference list (for APA Style), a list of works cited (for MLA Style), or a bibliography (for Chicago Manual of Style).

Here are the official resources for each of these referencing styles:

APA Style

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). APA style blog [Blog]. Retrieved from

MLA Style

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

The MLA Style Center. Modern Language Association of America, New York,

Chicago Manual of Style

University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed October 26, 2016.

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.)


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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