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Report Writing With a specific focus on the Report on Communicable Diseases in BiH for 2008-11 Dr Venanzio Vella, CEU Key Expert Epidemiology.

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Presentation on theme: "Report Writing With a specific focus on the Report on Communicable Diseases in BiH for 2008-11 Dr Venanzio Vella, CEU Key Expert Epidemiology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Report Writing With a specific focus on the Report on Communicable Diseases in BiH for Dr Venanzio Vella, CEU Key Expert Epidemiology

2 WHAT IS A REPORT? “A report is a statement of the results of an investigation or of any matter on which definite information is required”. (Oxford English Dictionary) ; Reports are a highly structured form of writing to communicate findings in a standardized way.

3 Objective of reports To inform, as clearly and succinctly as possible; To reflect good, clear thinking and thorough planning (Questions and Answers); To provide facts and accurate information in a natural sequence; To present information from the reader’s perspective; To effectively communicate the information to the intended audience.

4 Reports vs Essays A report is similar to an Essay in that both need: introduction, body and conclusion, analytical thinking, formal style, careful proof-reading and neat presentation. A Report differs from an Essay because a report: It presents information, not an argument; It is meant to be scanned quickly by the reader; It uses numbered headings and sub- headings; It uses graphics where possible (tables, graphs, illustrations); It has an abstract (sometimes called an executive summary); It does not always need references and bibliography; It is often followed by recommendations and/ or appendices.

5 Audience What are the needs of the readers to which the report is addressed ? Different audiences: (a) The casual reader who wants the main message as painlessly as possible; (b) The interested reader who wants more details but doesn’t want to grapple with all the technical details; and; (c) The specialist who wants the whole story. To address all these audiences effectively, the report is structure with an abstract for audience (a); a main body for audience (b) and technical annexes for audience(c).

6 Different perspectives of writer & audience Summary Results Details (introduction, methodology, etc) Writer Progression Reader Progression

7 Elements of the Pyramidal Structure What ? (objective) Why ? (reason) For Whom ? (audience) How ? (method) For What ? (use) So What ? (value added) To do what (solution)

8 Pyramidal structure in Q & A Main Objective of Report Structure Of Report Question 1 Answer 1 Question 2Question 3Question 4 Answer 4Answer 3Answer 2 QQ QQ Q QQQ Q AAA AAA A AA Critical importance at the top Medium importance Least importance

9 Example of Q & A for an introduction QUESTION What is this report about? ANSWER Notification system in BiH in Q Why ? A To show the status of the quality of data Q Was this done before? A NO Q Why not? A Because nobody cared to get hands on the data for the whole BiH and because data were accepted a-critically and are only described as they are Why ? Q Who is the audience? A Whoever is interested in using epidemiological information Q So what is the use of all this ? A Unless we get the hands on the data we will never know A To make the best out of imperfert data

10 Example of Q & A for an introduction Q How we are going to do it ? A thorough assessment is done about the quality of the data Q How? A By getting all therecords for BiH How are we going to get the data ? By contacting the individual cantons, regions and Brcko How are we going to assess realiability? By estimating trends and by identifying if there are wide unexpected fluctuations (e.g. abrupt decline in # cases) So what ? what is the value added ? Even the best notification system in the most advanced countries are unreliable and it is always necessary to learn how to assess quality of data

11 The Pyramid help to conceptualize the hyerarchy of the Report All the Questions are in a hyerarchical order with the most important ones coming at the top; Each Set of Pyramidal question is divided into sections: (a)Objective, (b)introduction, (c)method, (d)results, (e)Discussion, (f)Conclusion & recommendations Paragrapraps Main message at the top

12 Building the structure A report is therefore a sequence of ideas that need to be structured in a logical sequence of logical points, ideally, with each paragraph indicating a separate main point; Each section (e.g. Introduction) is a series of questions & answers (pyramid) which are structured into paragraphs; Paragraphs should consist of complete short sentences, avoiding jargon and striving for simplicity, with one theme per paragraph and a topic sentence summarizing the paragraph. They should respect parallelism in first – third person style, present – past tense, bullets – numbers, punctuation.

13 Improper Paragraph One of the central characteristics of science is its method of demonstrating knowledge through clearly observable events.

14 Bad Topic Sentence One of the central characteristics of science is its method of demonstrating knowledge through clearly observable events. According to Vaughan and Hogg (1995, p. 2), “social psychologists study behavior because it is behavior that can be observed.” This gives strength to the claim that psychology is a science rather than an art because the scientific method constructs knowledge from observable data.

15 Good Topic Sentence Psychology is considered a science. One of the central characteristics of science is its method of demonstrating knowledge through clearly observable events. According to Vaughan and Hogg (1995, p. 2), “social psychologists study behaviour because it is behaviour that can be observed.” This gives strength to the claim that psychology is a science rather than an art because the scientific method constructs knowledge from observable data.

16 Style It should be Clear: well presented, easy to read, coincise, suitable for the audience; Professional: accurate statistics, well structured, without typos and mis-spellings; Be organized into chapters, sections, subsections, paragraphs according to a pyramidal structure,

17 Different styles straight to the point digre ssion Convoluted, never arrive to the point

18 Convoluted v.s. Straight to the point At the present time, the situation has reached a difficult problematic point, in spite of the fact that such problem has indeed already occured in the past from time to time, there is a chance that it might continue indefinitely as a chronic modus operandi, in the event that the root cause of the problem is not identified (58 characters) The present problem is not new, but it might cronicize if the cause is not found (15 characters)

19 Lack of parallelism Aaaaaaaaaaaaa; cbbbbbbbbbbbb; Ccccccccccccccccc, -Dddddddddddddd; (a)eeeeeeeeeeeeee. (b) ffffffffffffffffffffff;

20 Report Structure Title; Summary; Table of Content; Acronyms; Introduction (); Method (sources of data, type of analysis, limitations, etc); Results ; Discussion; Conclusions and recommendations; References; ANNEXES.

21 Title Informative (it describes the report content); Punchy; Short;

22 Table of content Shows the structure of the report and lets the reader navigate through the sections; Allow the reader to zero in where he/she is more interested; Clarify the logic thinking of the pyramid;

23 Summary An overview of what the report says, it is a condensed version of the report; It must be coincise but also comprehensive; It states the main findings, implications and recommendations; It is the most important part of the report because most people read only the summary; A good summary is the main reason why readers will go beyond the summary; Must be written after the first draft is complete.

24 Introduction It acts as an opening to the entire report; Clarification of the subject (definitions, background information, historical background), - It states the objectives and the questions that the report is addressing it defines the scope of the report (how broad the coverage of the information will be); Background about the main issues; It outlines the structure of the report.

25 Methodology Sources of data; Data Problems; Type of Analysis; Limitations.

26 Results Description of tables and figures; Although the meaning or interpretation should be left for the discussion, it is useful to build up the insights on the implications, strengths and weaknesses behind each finding; These insights prepare the ground for the discussions, conclusions and recommendations.

27 Discussion It analyses and interprets the results; It explains the significance of the results; It identifies important issues; It outlines any problems encountered; It presents a balanced view.

28 Conclusions & Recommendations They summarize the central points made in the Discussion, reinforcing for the reader the value and implications of the work. If the results were not definitive, specific future work that may be needed can be (briefly) described. Any conclusions should be based on observations and data already discussed. It Presents the advantages and disadvantages of various courses of action.. ; Recommendations based on the conclusions should be practical, specific, well organized, with the most important results coming first.

29 Annexes Technical details; More detailed documentation on the results; They allow the reports to flow without too many digressions due to long sections dealing with technicalities, of which few readers are interested.

30 Home Work for participants The homework consists of reviewing the results of the analysis carried out on the notifications for CD; Following the topics described in this presentation on “report writing”, the participants should build the Q & A in the pyramid related to the results; Build another pyramid for the discussion, conclusions and recommendations.


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