Using table of contents to analyze moves and steps in final-year engineering reports
Final-year engineering project reports are supervised year-long projects that undergraduate students undertake before graduation. Project guidelines are provided but they are often brief, taking into account the diversity of projects undertaken even within a certain discipline. This paper investigates an important part of engineering reports, which is the table of contents (TOC). The value of the TOC as a teaching tool is often not recognized by students and supervisors as the TOC is written after the entire report has been finalized. This paper suggests however that the TOC, with its headings and subheadings, is a useful tool to facilitate faster and clearer analysis of moves and steps by subject experts, language teachers and students. Past studies have focused on analyzing the moves in research articles rather than on moves in final-year project reports. This paper maps the TOC in 30 final-year materials science engineering reports against Kanoksilapatham’s (2015) textual analysis of moves in civil, software and biomedical engineering to determine whether TOCs offer a viable alternative to the textual analysis of moves in engineering reports.