2 Learning objectivesOn completion of this chapter students will know how to:prepare a research plan for a reportprepare a writing plan for a reportpresent persuasive arguments supplemented with facts and referenceswrite a well presented formal report.
3 Purpose of reportsReports can be written for business or research purposes.Institutions and individuals depend on previous reports to make current decisions.Reports can be ongoing or final in nature.Reports should contain an objective representation of a situation.
4 Everyday reportsEveryday reports that tend to be simpler and shorter in length include:justification reportsprogress reportsperiodic reportsincident reports.Some of these reports can be in oral format.
5 Types of report Information: a short and periodic report Analytic: based on research and analysis leading to recommendationsIntegrated: combines both approaches
6 Standard formal reports All reports must meet certain criteria:The content should be accurate.The purpose of the report should be apparent to the reader.The organisation should be clear to the reader.The discussion in the report should be coherent.The presentation of the report should be neat.The writing style should be clear and concise.
7 Structure of reportsReports are composed of sections which are introduced with headings (e.g. Executive Summary, Introduction, etc.).The layout is designed to help the reader understand the discussion in the report.
9 Key components of a report A report should include the following parts:Title pageTable of contentsExecutive SummaryIntroductionLiterature review (if necessary) or MethodologyFindingsDiscussion/AnalysisConclusionRecommendationsAppendices (if appropriate)References (if used).
10 Name of writer and organisation Title pageThe title page of a report should contain all the relevant information, centered on the page:Title of reportName of writer and organisationContact detailsDate
11 Executive SummaryThe Executive Summary is the most important part of a report.It occurs on the first page, before the Introduction.It condenses the important information of the report. Readers who do not have the time or desire to read the whole report will understand its discussion from the Executive Summary.
12 Executive Summary (cont.) The Executive Summary can also be called a summary, abstract or synopsis.It should be written last when every part of the report has been completed and the writer knows exactly what has been discussed.
13 Executive Summary (cont.) The Executive Summary includes:purpose of the reportscope of the reportmethods used for the researchmajor findings of the researchconclusions of the researcher/srecommendations.
14 Table of contentsThe table of contents specifies the page numbers of sections in the report using roman numerals.
15 Stating the purpose of a report The purpose or aim of a report needs to be stated clearly and concisely in the first paragraph of the introduction to the report.This will make the reason for the report clear to the reader.
16 Introduction The introduction often uses three subheadings: backgroundpurposescope.It helps the reader understand the whole report.Write the introduction after you have a comprehensive understanding of the issue being reported on.
17 Introduction (cont.) The introduction should state: the authorisation and purpose of the reportthe scope of the reportany limitations of the report.
18 Findings/analysisContains the findings in full (facts only from data).Includes additional detail on the issue.Provides financial/numerical information in text and tables, if appropriate.Some reports integrate findings with analysis.Others have a separate section for analysis.
19 ConclusionThe conclusion is a short summary or restatement of the main issue/s.May use dot points for ease of reading.Use parallel grammar. (Start dot point with a verb in the same tense.)
20 Recommendation(s) Suggests possible action in the future. Provides you with the opportunity to think of creative solutions, based on the findings and conclusions in the report.Must not include any new information.Should be given in order of importance (i.e. the most important should go first).Often uses dot points.
21 Conclusions and recommendations There is a link between findings, conclusions and recommendations.Findings are factual and verifiable.Conclusions are your own ideas that you deduce from the findings.Recommendations are what you want done.
22 Conclusions and recommendations (cont.) ExamplesFindingsDuring Orientation Week all first-year students are given a brief introduction to the workshop area and a talk on safety procedures. Some students start the course at second-year level and thus miss the sessions on safety measures.ConclusionThose students who have not been given formal safety precaution lessons are at risk.RecommendationEnsure that all students are given a proper workshop introduction as a prerequisite to being allowed to use the machinery in the workshop.
23 Language Formal Impartial Precise (avoid jargon and long, complicated sentences)Simple (avoid abstract and obscure words)ImpersonalNever use the first person (I, we, us, you, the author). The reader is more interested in the issue than the person writing about the issue.
24 Language (cont.) Example Should be written in the third person: We have analysed the financial information for both companies and it shows that different methods of depreciation are used by each company.Should be written in the third person:An analysis of the financial information shows that different methods of depreciation are used by each company for the major assets.
25 Expressing judgmentFindings are factual, whereas conclusions and recommendations allow you to put forward judgments and possible interpretations.Your interpretation or judgment can be expressed either by modal verbs and auxiliaries such as may, might, could or modal adverbs such as possibly, probably, certainly.
26 Presentation Use good quality, white A4 paper. Leave space for big margins: top, bottom and both sides.Use double spacing between paragraphs and sections.Use single spacing between lines.
27 Presentation (cont.) Start each chapter on a new page. Place headings on the left margin, but you can centre the Executive Summary and the title page.Number all pages.Keep a copy for yourself.
28 Checklist for editing Have you: included a title page? stated the purpose of the report?used the correct format and layout?written an introduction that:explains the purpose of the report?defines the problem?guides the reader to the main section of the report?
29 Checklist for editing (cont.) written a findings/discussion section that:uses headings and subheadings appropriately?uses paragraphs that aid the flow and analysis of the findings?uses dot points appropriately?presents factual and objective information?analyses the findings?written a conclusion that:draws the ideas together?summarises the contents and findings?
30 Checklist for editing (cont.) suggested recommendations that offer solutions to any problems suggested in the report?included appendices, if necessary?included a reference list in alphabetical order?