FISH 110 – Fish & Fisheries in a Changing World
Executive Summary Guide
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The executive summary gives a brief overview of the main problem being addressed and your main findings. Executive summaries are hugely important and are often the ONLY document that the general public or the media has to inform their opinions and decisions. You want the language to be accurate but not overly technical. Using fancy words and jargon can muddle your message. That being said, you want to convince your audience that you are indeed the experts on this topic and that your findings should be taken seriously!
There is no single correct way to construct an executive summary, but there are better ways than others. Use the following as a guide but feel free to tailor in the way your team feels is most effective. Generally speaking the executive summary should be no more than 3 single-spaced pages using standard 1’ margins. Your summary should have sections that convey the following information:
- Synopsis of the main issue — give an overview of what the problem is, why it matters, what is at stake and why we should care. In complete sentences (but again not in overly technical language) you want to state the overarching issue, your main findings (i.e. ‘the facts’) and end with your recommendations of how society could proceed (i.e. what are the options or choices in front of us)
- Key findings — state the facts you uncovered. This section can be in short sentences and may benefit from being bulleted or numbered. For example, the executive summary produced by the EPA on the Pebble Mine issue listed the average run sizes to the potential impacted watersheds, the value amount assigned to the fishery, the size of the mine, the type of mine, the number of road crossings, etc… To see this summary go to: https://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/wp-content/uploads/sites/578/2014-07/documents/pebble_es_pd_071714_final.pdf
- Key concerns — In this section you list (again either in bullet or numbered form) the key concerns that arise from the facts. You should think about the ecology, the fishery implications, and the societal consequences of your issue.
- Recommendation — What are the options or decisions that must be addressed? What are some key unresolved questions or knowledge gaps? In this section you can be free to propose your opinion on what is the best course of action considering the facts and your expert opinion. It is important though that your opinion be supported by evidence and you are clear in the interpretation of those data.
Citations and References
References should be peer reviewed scientific papers, reports written by trusted agencies or NGOs (e.g. ADFG, The Nature Conservancy), or books from the library.
Using information directly from Wikipedia is not permissible! Wikipedia should only be used to pointing you to references.
No more than 2 short video clips may be used in your presentation to the class. Researching on YouTube is not appropriate.
Following the American Fisheries Society references guide found in chapter 8. Access the guide at: https://fisheries.org/docs/pub_stylefl.pdf