Once you stumble upon the necessity to write a group project report, don’t allow it go with a flow. Take the organizational part under control and keep in mind the following steps to succeed and get the highest grade for your assignment.
Step 1. Think with the end in mind
This idea is not ours, it was presented by Steven Kovi, and it doesn’t lose its actuality through decades. Before you start dividing responsibilities and working on each part think what you want to achieve at each stage. Of course, it is obvious, that you want to achieve the highest grade while applying the least amount of efforts. However, you should write down that your goal is to have a final draft till the particular date, it should have the particular amount of pages and additional materials, such as, for example, a presentation. Give short description to a presentation as well. Finally, you will come up with a 1-page document which will be a skeleton of your future work. Once you are done with this one, move to a strategy.
Step 2. Choose the roles and write them down
Use the skeleton you’ve received at the first stage and expand it adding new information. It will take no more than 15 minutes but will save an enormous amount of time later. Divide the responsibilities, but don’t forget that a group project report is not only about writing, it is about organization. Note down who is responsible for technical issues, for instance, who checks the formatting, who answers for plagiarism check, who is accountable for the graph information, for text for slides, for pictures for slides. Many groups make the same mistake — they decide to deal with all that later, as the time comes, but it comes too fast and they often get lost. Finally, 3 people are making a presentation, while no one is checking the formatting the way it should be done.
Step 3. Set up the detailed internal deadlines
It is a no-brainer that you have the external deadline for your group project report. Most probably you have two deadlines — one for the raw draft another for the final draft. However, students are famous for violating them and here is the way to escape this well-known pattern. Use the skeleton again and add dates for each step. If you are really interested in doing things right, set up 2 deadlines for each stage: the first one marks it should be done or written, the second — presented to the rest of the group. Of course, with all those groups in messengers and shared documents online you just have to say “look, I am done with this, maybe someone wants to make some comments?” and call it a day.
Step 4. Apply the old-school approach
Print everything you wrote and read it aloud for several times. Each of you. It might sound not just boring, but simply arcane. However, it is the way speechwriters around the world deal with the texts for presidents, kings and celebrities. You should both do it with the report itself and the presentation. It helps you find weak parts and make your writing sound more humane and engaging. More of it, research shows that when reading a printed material we can spot almost twice more mistakes and technical omissions. Underline them while reading and edit later — this way you will not lose the flow.
Step 5. Cross check critical points
No matter how much you trust each other, your final grade depends on this report, and you should be very attentive to others’ work when it comes to the crucial points, such as plagiarism, formatting and compliance of text with the graphic information. If possible, split into pairs and make a cross check. Make it a peer review experience, and don’t forget about the key principles: emphasize bright sides before criticizing, and if criticizing don’t forget to offer something better.
There is a chance you think all this is boring and time-consuming, and the key idea is to get rid of this custom assignment faster. However, if you spend several hours following the described steps you will both stay on the safe side with the quality of your final draft and impress your professor with a creative, diligent approach.