CO-OP Work Term Report Guidelines for Biochemistry and Biotechnology

The work term report is an important part of a quality co-operative education program. This assignment provides you with an opportunity to summarize your experience with your CO-OP employer and to assess its effects on your training. Ideally, the report should help you integrate theoretical and practical knowledge.

CO-OP Academic Coordinators are professors in your discipline who mark work term reports. The names and contact information of all CO-OP Academic Coordinators, by faculty and program, are available on the CO-OP Programs' website.

The assignment is marked as “pass” or “fail” (official grade), along with a % grade to provide you with feedback on the quality of your report. Please see Appendix A for general guidelines and Appendix B for the evaluation form that will be used to assess your report.

If your report is judged unsatisfactory (fail), you may be given one opportunity to submit a revised version within a prescribed timeframe. Please note that a “fail” will affect your cumulative grade point average and will result in your withdrawal from the CO-OP program.

You must submit your work term report online, following your CO-OP work term. Be sure to check under “Upcoming Key Dates” on the CO-OP website for the exact date.

All CO-OP students are required to submit a report for each four-month work term. Students doing an eight-month work term submit two reports (an interim report after four months and a final report after eight months) and student whose work term is twelve months will submit three reports (two interim reports after four and eight months as well as a final report after twelve months).

Similarly to your final exams in a regular course, your report will be kept by your department for at least one year. We strongly recommend that you make an appointment with your CO-OP Academic Coordinator or assistant to read and discuss the annotations made to your report during evaluation. CO-OP reports will be available for consultation eight weeks after the deadline for submission.

As is the case for any course at the University of Ottawa, you may write the cover letter and your work term report in English or French. However, the employer determines the language for a type 1 report.

The package you must submit must contain two elements: (1) cover letter, and (2) work term report.

The purpose of the cover letter is to provide readers with a brief overview of key information. The cover letter should be single-spaced, and it must follow the proper business format.

The letter should be addressed to your CO-OP Academic Coordinator and appear as the first element of your final submission. For type 1 reports, the cover letter should not be submitted with the copy of the report that is presented to the employer.

The cover letter must contain the following information, in order:

  1. Your complete address
  2. Date (do not include the word “date”; for example, just write January 9, 2016)
  3. Complete contact information for the CO-OP Academic Coordinator
  4. Subject (in bold and centered), including course number (e.g., BCH3901, First Work Term Report);
  5. First paragraph:
    • The work term completed (first, second, etc.);
    • The title of the work term report;
    • Type of report submitted (type 1, type 2 or type 3);
  6. Second paragraph:
    • Name of employer and name of supervisor, with titles (e.g., Dr., Prof. , Ms.);
    • Position held and brief overview of the job and daily tasks;
  7. Third paragraph:
    • Overall evaluation of the work term;
    • Skills gained through the work term. (Avoid vague statements such as “I have gained biochemistry and laboratory skills.” You need to clearly specify what skills you learned.)
    • Acknowledgement of assistance and statement that the report is your own work. Be sure to report any assistance, for example, in revising or editing the report;
  8. Your signature;
  9. Your name, student number and official uOttawa email address.

You can also use the cover letter to pass on any further information regarding the work term or the report. Be sure to adjust the margins and spacing so that the letter looks well-balanced and pleasing, and covers the entire page.

Note: All references to the CO-OP Academic Coordinator include his/her delegate.

Check with your CO-OP Academic Coordinator if necessary to select the appropriate type of report.

Report type 1: Report requested by the employer

  • During the course of a work term, some employers expect the student to prepare written reports on their work. These should be prepared for the employer according to the employer's required format.
  • In such cases, some or all of the report may be included in your work term report. If you choose to include the employer-requested report as part of your work term report, you must discuss the situation with your CO-OP Academic Coordinator to ensure that this is acceptable and obtain the Coordinator's approval in writing (by email).

Report type 2: Standard report

  • In this type of report, students describe their responsibilities or work-term project(s). Students who are involved in many projects may decide to describe only one or two in detail. The student must demonstrate a critical mind regarding the work term and a complete understanding of the purpose of their work. The student must report the knowledge and skills acquired over the work term and explain their importance in his/her professional training. The introduction should contain a short description of the work environment.
  • See Appendix A for details.

Report type 3: Literature review

  • If the nature of the work does not lend itself to one of the other two forms, you should check with your CO-OP Academic Coordinator and in collaboration with your supervisor, you should select a topic for a literature review on a scientific or technical subject. You need to make such an agreement early enough in the term and you must receive a written confirmation of approval from your Academic Coordinator.
  • The topic you choose does not need to be an original one, but the report must be your own work. This type of report often turns out to be a very useful asset for the employer and for future CO-OP students.
  • See Appendix A for details.

Type 2 and Type 3 reports should be prepared outside of working hours. Generally, employers will ask to read student reports before they are submitted to the University. To ensure that you receive your employer's feedback early enough to allow changes, we recommend that you give the employer a copy of your report at least one or two weeks before the end of your work term.

The work term report is an academic requirement shared by all university CO-OP programs. Your Academic Coordinator is the only person entitled to read your report and is responsible for its safekeeping, like any other exam or academic assignment. CO-OP Office staff members are also bound by confidentiality. This level of security is usually sufficient to protect the confidential elements included in CO-OP reports written by biochemistry and biotechnology students.

We invite students and their employers to discuss their confidentiality requirements with the CO-OP Program Coordinator during the mid-term visit, or with the Academic Coordinator. Sometimes, using code names is sufficient to protect the identity of persons, companies or chemicals. (This does not mean to modifying or forging results, which would constitute academic fraud!) If the report cannot leave the employer’s premises, the Academic Coordinator will consider travel to the employer's location to mark the report.

In extreme cases, due to specific legal restrictions, the employer may need to evaluate the report themselves and complete, sign and send an evaluation form (Appendix B) to the Academic Coordinator by email or regular mail. If so, the following procedure must be followed:

  • The employer must discuss the situation with the CO-OP Program Coordinator during the mid-term site visit.
  • The student must discuss this request directly with the Academic Coordinator by email, with complete justification, making sure to put the supervisor in cc. The request must be submitted at least six weeks prior to the CO-OP report submission deadline.
  • The CO-OP Academic Coordinator will then inform the student know whether permission has been granted to write an internal confidential report (assessed by the employer) and will explain any other requirements.
  • The student is nevertheless required to submit all other documents to the CO-OP Office by the official CO-OP report submission deadline.

Detailed guidelines for writing reports are provided in Appendix A and the Work Term Report Evaluation Form can be found in Appendix B.

Writing the work term report is best done over the course of several months.

  1. Early in the work term: Develop performance and learning objectives with your supervisor and enter them into the COOP Navigator. Reflect on your experience and enter your thoughts into the COOP Navigator.  You can use your objectives and reflections to draft your work term report.
  2. Before mid-point of the work term: Meet with your supervisor to discuss your work term report and determine which type of report would be most appropriate and the level of confidentiality required.
  3. Mid-point of the work term: Meet with the CO-OP Program Coordinator during the on-site visit. Discuss performance and learning objectives, reflections and the type of work term report you will complete.
  4. Last month of the work term: Attend the final evaluation with your supervisor. Complete the for student evaluation of the work term in the COOP Navigator. Submit your work term report to your employer for approval at least one week before the end of your work term.
  5. Following your work term: Complete the student evaluation of the work term in the COOP Navigator. Submit the two components of the work-term report: (1) cover letter, (2) work-term report.

Be sure to check the Key Dates on the CO-OP Education Programs website for the exact submission deadline. Late reports will not be accepted.

The work term report will be evaluated against several criteria. Instructions and recommendations are provided below to help you achieve high quality results for each criterion.

Each criterion is included in the Work Term Report Evaluation Form, which will be used by your CO-OP Academic Coordinator to assess your assignment (Appendix B). It is recommended that you use it as a self-assessment tool throughout the writing process.

The report must rigorously comply with the guidelines, criteria and conventions set by the program.

  • Adhere to the work term report style and guidelines (Appendix A) and keep in mind the evaluation form (Appendix B).
  • Your report will be evaluated for its presentation, structure and literary quality.
  • Self-assess by asking, “Does my report follow the rules?”
  • Avoid being rushed.

Always be precise in your use of concepts, terms and principles that are specific to your field.

  • Use materials from your work term and from your academic field as resources.
  • Add a glossary as an appendix if the text includes many technical terms.
  • Use figures, graphs or tables for clarity and to shorten your text.
  • Put lengthy tables, flow charts and raw data in appendices.
  • Self-assess by asking, “Is my report meticulously written?”
  • Avoid using Wikipedia as a primary source.

The work in the assignment is supported by references and depth of analysis.

  • You must demonstrate how well and how extensively you understand the concepts discussed, and show how well you understand the significance of the work in the employer’s environment.
  • Refer to the methods, principles or theories in your courses, explain how you have applied them, and provide academic references to support your points.
  • Use the literature from your academic program as material.
  • If necessary, describe your academic field to help the reader understand the context of your learning.
  • Use your work term reflections as material to guide your thinking.
  • Self-assess by asking, “Does this report deepen my understanding of the work term?”
  • Avoid discussing basic learning outcomes, such as learning how to use Microsoft Outlook or the theory behind HPLC. Avoid listing research and researchers.

The report is well-organized and coherent.

  • Adhere to work term report guidelines (Appendix A) and the evaluation form (Appendix B).
  • Link elements across the report structurally and conceptually.
  • Present your ideas clearly so the reader can easily follow along.
  • Weave your ideas together in a way that peaks the reader’s interest.
  • Self-assess by asking, “Is this report well organized and interesting?”
  • Avoid being rushed.

The content of the report must be relevant to the work term.

  • Use your job description, objectives, reflections and assignments, as well as the company website as resources.
  • Describe your work environment in order to help the reader understand the context of your work term.
  • Describe the major tasks you completed. If the work was project-oriented, give a detailed write-up of one project and briefly describe a select number of other projects.
  • Self-assess by asking, “Does this report provide a fair overview of my work term experience?”
  • Avoid listing daily activities