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Session 8

Writing a Report
(Academic and
Business Contexts)
8.1. Generic structure of a report
8.2. Differences between an abstract and an
executive summary
8.3. Differences between an executive summary
and an introduction
8.4. Good and poor examples of executive
summary
8.5. Business report writing and its structure
8.6. Recommendations/suggestions exercise
8.7. Guidelines and Student examples
This material is copyright © by Dr Sook Hee (Susan) Lee

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Writing a business report
I. Introduction......................................................................................................................3
II. Types of report genre and schematic structures..............................................................3
III. Business Report structures.............................................................................................7
3.1 The Cover page .........................................................................................................9
3.2. Table of contents.......................................................................................................9
3.3. Abstract/executive summary...................................................................................10
3.4. Introduction.............................................................................................................17
3.4.1. Background to the report.................................................................................18
3.4.2. Literature review..............................................................................................18
3.4.3. Introduce your research...................................................................................19
3.4.4. Aims of the report............................................................................................19
3.5. Methodology...........................................................................................................22
3.5.1 Design...............................................................................................................22
3.5.2. Method ............................................................................................................23
3.6 Results......................................................................................................................23
3.7 Discussion................................................................................................................24
3.8. Conclusion and recommendations .........................................................................25
References..........................................................................................................................26

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I. Introduction

Writing a report is one of the most common genres of assignments set at universities.
Reports are usually written for research or lab-based assignments. Report writing, in its
simplest form, refers to the presentation of information of mutual concern to a group of
people. It is a type of writing, often quite extensive, based on investigation and
sometimes experimentation, which details the results of that investigation and often
concludes with some recommendations. Writing a report is very different from writing a
persuasive essay. While report writing is different from discursive essay writing, the
techniques for planning, researching, organizing and referencing your materials still
apply. In particular, students are often expected to include a strong arguing element.
This chapter begins by canvassing types of reports within a macro report and generic
research formats alongside guidelines and emphasis. This is followed by exploring
generic formats of a report in a business context. Examples of good and poor research
formats will be reviewed and analysed.

II. Types of report genre and schematic structures

Both in university and in the real world, there are three main different macro-types of
reports written: scientific lab reports, research report and business reports. All of these
different reports have their own formats and conventions. Business report can include
systems analysis reports, management case study reports, feasibility studies, and client
case work reports. Business reports are required in disciplines such as Accounting,
Finance, ITC, and Business that covers mainly management, marketing and commerce
(see further information on business report writing). Business reports will obviously
differ according to the specific question and the task they seek to answer. It is

important, however, to be clear what the overall purpose of the


business report is: to inform/review what is going on to

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identify/evaluate problems and situations, to make a proposal, and to
solve a problem.

Under a macro-report, there are four elementary types of a report: descriptive,


texanomic, comparative and critical report (see Figure 1). As seen in the Table 1, each
sub genre of the report has slightly different purposes so that the structures of the
schematic stages and language features are also differently constructed. The former
three text types are often required to write in the secondary schools. At the university
level, students are requested to write a critical research report which involves all these
three forms of the report. These types are incorporated into a research report and used
to contextualize the issues, to exemplify a factor, consequences or argument, classify
things and places and compare the events and things. Most importantly, at universities,
you need to write a critical report which means that a macro-genre is a report but strong
argument elements need to be embedded in the report.

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Report writing in an
academic context
(Super-genre)

Business reports:
Scientific lab Research report systems analysis
reports reports,
management case
study reports,
feasibility studies,
client case work,
IT report
Empirical report Hypothetical report

Descriptive Texanomic Comparative Critical report

Figure 1: Types of report genres

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Table 1: Elementary Types of a report
Report Descriptive report Taxonomic report Comparative report
Social Describing the Classifying and Describing similarities or
purpose features of things or describing things differences between things
places according to and places and places
setting in time not
sequence in time
Stages Identification Classification Identification
Description Description of Comparative description
Features 1, 2, 3 types or parts 1, 2, 3
Deduction (optional)

Language Simple past tense Being processes (is) Similarity (as/ just as .., so/ as
features General /abstract Word processing with/ in common with/similar
participants part-whole or type to/alike/resemble/have
of relationships something in common/ the
(there are two similarity/the resemblance/the
kinds: Anarchism likeness
and Marxist Contrast (whereas/while/in
communist) contrast to/unlike/compared
with or to/in comparison
with/different from/differ
in/dissimilar/contrast/the
difference/the contrast
Examples What is your first How many types of Compare Australia and your
impression of kangaroos are country in terms of the
Australia? there? quality of public transport?

Based on my experience, scientific and research report usually involve Empirical report,
while business report at university level requires quite commonly Hypothetical report.
Empirical report is derived from experiment, experience, and observation rather than
from theory or logic. Hypothetical report relies on the scenario based analysis method.
A major difference between the two is in the methodology. The empirical report
involves obtaining data directly using the primary sources such as interview, a survey or
observation, whereas the hypothetical report relies on only the secondary sources of data
gathering such as books, journals, information on the net, etc. The empirical report thus
requires employing a qualitative, qualitative or a mixed method which uses both a
quantitative and qualitative approach. Therefore, in the empirical report, methodology
should be very rigorously and precisely presented, and yet the hypothetical report should
be very fussy about the method. However, it is quite often the case where some business

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reports can straddle between empirical and hypothetical report, which require using both
direct sources such as interview and secondary sources.

III. Business Report structures

The nature of research formats varies, depending on the discipline and the assignment.
However, there are some common structures that can apply regardless of any kinds of
report (see additional materials on the net). As seen in the table 2, a research report
should consist of the following 9 stages. Each stage has specific functions to fulfill.

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Table 2: Relationships between stages of report and functions
Formats Macro- Questions Functions
structures
Cover How, what, who, Give a rough idea General
page where of what your
Title research is all about
Table of Give an overview
Contents of the report
Abstract Why, what, how, Give a brief
/executive where, when, so summary of the
summary what report
1 Introduction Pose questions by
1.1 Background Contextualisation pointing out
problems to draw
1.2 Aims Why out the significance
of the report
2. Methodology
2.1 Design When, who, Explain how to
where, How answer the
(collect data) question posed in
2.2 Method How (analyse the introduction
data)
3 Results/ What Explain what was
findings/ Analysis produced by your
and Discussion methods
4 So what? Explain what Specific
Conclusion and results are
significant for
answering the
Recommendations How to resolve question posed in
problems the introduction
References On what Convince the
grounds? reader of your
claims
Appendice More details Give additional
s information

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3.1 The Cover page
This stage should include the title of your research, your name, your student number,
your tutor or lecturer’s name, the due date, and the word count (Abstract is often
excluded)

A title/topic is the first starting point where you can give a good or bad impression of
your report to a reader. A good tile/topic provides the most general idea of your purpose
of writing a report. Usually you can find it in the assessment guidelines. The title needs
to have a rough but clear description of what the report is about. It should indicate
enough information about the field of the report (What), participants (Who), where the
data was collected (Where) and what kinds of research method used for analysis (How)
such as a qualitative (e.g. A case study on … A report on), quantitative (A survey
on…) or a mixed approach where both qualitative and quantitative methods are
utilized (An investigation on , A study on , An analysis on, etc ) (see additional
information about research methods). If you can not contain most information in a
sentence then use sub titles. However, the tile should be clear and precise. The title

should be neither too short or too long. It should be approximately 10-


15 words long. It should provide keywords for indexing and avoid
unnecessary words, abbreviations and jargon.
Exercise 1: Look at the tiles below. Which titles are well written and
which are not?

3.2. Table of contents


Use a computer to make the table of contents. To do that, the first thing you need to do
is to designate each heading according to TOC levels such as Heading one or two, three
Click on Insert and then Reference, Index and Tables, Table of Contents. If you
want to alter the content, you need to fix them inside writing not on the content of
tables.

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3.3. Abstract/executive summary

There are slight differences between an abstract and an executive summary (see details).
Put simply, an abstract is written in an academic context focusing on propositions
(Informational values), while an executive summary (hereafter ES) is written in a
commercial context, focusing on proposals (interactional values). Therefore, any report
written in a business context requires to write an ES not an abstract. The ES should thus
contain strong selling points. The ES is a place where a reader gets the most important
impression on the quality of the report. It helps your managers or supervisors to decide
whether they should read the rest of the report. Therefore, poorly written ES can drive
readers away from your report. It is a concise/brief summary of your report. An
executive summary should be designed to be read by people who will not have
sufficient time to read the whole report or are deciding if this is necessary; therefore, in
your executive summary you need to say as much as possible in the fewest words
(Weaver & Weaver, 1977). It should be read self-sufficiently.

The ES should be approximately 200 words long, typed as usually a single paragraph.
You can make two paragraphs before findings if the essay is more than 3000 words
limit. It usually takes up 10 % of the word limit. For example, if you write 3000 words
for a report, then maximum words for the ES should be 300. It must be separated from
the rest of the text on a separate page. References should not be included in the
executive summary. Because of the succinctness required, students must make sure that
every word chosen contributes to making meaning. The ES should be written in plain,
precise English so that even a layperson should be able to quickly grasp the most
important parts of your research. Begin by selecting the key points from each section of
the report, then condensing them over several drafts. Technically speaking, although ES
is located in the beginning of a report, the ES should be written at the last stage of your
report. This is because you execute the activity first and summarise later.

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The ES consists of the following formats: the purpose of the research (WHY), the
method used to do your research (HOW) and the findings of your research
(WHAT), and recommendations or implications (SO WHAT), as shown in Table 3.

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Table 3: Structure and language features of an abstract/an executive
summary
Stages Functions Grammars Examples of language features
Purposes The broad Present/ The present research
/aims purpose and main Past tense examines/identifies/explores/investigates/study/addr
aims of your esses/concerns/finds out…
research This study aims to/ attempts to explore …
The focus of this paper is on …
This paper is focused on/focuses on/ A particular
focus/concern is on …
A particular focus of this paper is to/that .
This paper reports on a study of …
A main aim of this study is to …
The purpose of this research is first to … how
much/ to what extent/ the extent to which/ the ways
in which …
An additional/ a further/ the second aim/ also/
secondly is to/that …
A final aim/finally is to/that …
Methods A brief Past tense The main methods used to analyse data were….
description of Drawing on …, data was collected from… 20
theoretical/analyti Passive participants/the cohort/the subjects/respondents
cal frameworks, voice were involved
your design and included/interviewed/surveyed/selected/
methods chosen/participated in/took part in/
A questionnaire consists of/comprises/constitutes/is
made up of…
The survey was carried
out/conducted/undertaken/performed/
administered
The sample/data was analysed/
complied/collated/devised by
Major A summary of the Present/ Research results/ the results of this survey/the
findings/ most important past findings/ the outcomes of the report
results results and reveal/show/display/manifest/indicate
outcomes /illustrate/demonstrate that while…,
Implicati A statement of Present/ While it is clear that… the results will have
ons/ your conclusions Future significant implications in…/will imply that
Recomm and the
endations importance or Based on the results, recommendations are as
theoretical/pedag follows:
ogical/practical
implications/
recommendations
of your results

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Exercise 2: Look at the following examples of executive summaries and
abstracts written by students and scholars.

1 Figure out what the research is all about by only reading the title.
2 Underline each stage and mark tenses
3 Identify which one is well written abstracts/ ES and which ones are not? Why?

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1 This is a GOOD example from an Accounting & Finance assignment.

Executive Summary

This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the current subject matter
and prospective profitability, liquidity and financial stability of
Outdoor Equipment Ltd.
Methods of analysis include trend, horizontal methods of
and vertical analyses as well as ratios such as analysis
Debt, Current and Quick ratios. Other
calculations include rates of return on
Shareholders Equity and Total Assets and
earnings per share to name a few. All calculations
can be found in the appendices.
Results of data analysed show that all ratios are
below industry averages. In particular,
comparative performance is poor in the areas of Findings
profit margins, liquidity, credit control, and
inventory management.

The report finds the prospects of the company in


Conclusions
its current position are not positive. The major
areas of weakness require further investigation
and remedial action by management. Recommendations
Recommendations discussed include: (note that
improving the average collection period for conclusions and
accounts receivable· recommendations
improving/increasing inventory turnover· can be bulleted)
reducing prepayments and perhaps increasing
inventory levels
The report also investigates the fact that the analysis Limitations of the
conducted has limitations. Some of the limitations include: report.
forecasting figures are not provided nature and type of
company is not known nor the current economic conditions
data limitations as not enough information is provided or
enough detail i.e. monthly details not known results are based
on past performances not present

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2 This is a GOOD example of an executive summary from a marketing report.

This report was commissioned to examine why the sales Terms of reference
volume of Choice Chocolate has dropped over the past two years since Statement of
its peak in 1998 and to recommend ways of increasing the volume. problem/ topic

The research draws attention to the fact that in 1998,


the market share of Choice Chocolate was 37%. The Formal language
shares of their key competitors such as Venus and appropriate to
Bradbury were 22% and 18% respectively. The size of report writing
the chocolate market then was $36 million. Over the
next two years, although Choice Chocolate retained its Key findings
market share the volume of sales in the whole market summarised
decreased to $29 million. Further investigations reveal
that this market shrinkage coincided with an increase in
health awareness amongst consumers who regard the
milk and sugar ingredients in chocolate as negative;
moreover, since the second half of 1999, an increasing
number of rival ‘health candies’ had appeared on the
market. These claimed to offer the consumers a healthy
alternative. These factors appear to be the major
causes of the decreased sales volume of Choice
Chocolate.

Slim Choice is the latest chocolate range put forward by


the R & D Department of Choice Chocolate. The report
evaluates this range and concludes that it would be an Problem solution
ideal candidate to meet the challenge presented by the summarised
market and could satisfy the new consumer demand
since it uses significantly reduced milk and sugar
ingredients and is endorsed by renowned health
experts. According to 97% of the 2000 subjects tested
recently, it also retains the same flavour as the original
range.

It is recommended:
that Choice Chocolate take immediate measures to
launch and promote Slim Choice alongside its existing
product range;
Recommendation
that Slim Choice adopt a fresh and healthy image;
s summarised
that part of the launch campaign contains product
endorsement statements by renowned health experts;
that Slim Choice be available in health food shops as
well as in traditional chocolate retail outlets

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3. This is a POOR example of an executive summary from a marketing assignment

Executive Summary
Every time a business or consumer purchases Background to problem
products or services they display forms of
buyer behaviour that are influenced by many Report’s aims
factors. The following report looks at the fast Outlines what information the report
food industry and will analyse four McDonalds’ deals with but FAILS to provide a
key products and services. It highlights what summary of the results gained,
type of consumer buying or business buying conclusions drawn and recommendations
behaviours are displayed in the purchase of a made. These are the functions of an
product or service and explains why each executive summary and are absent in this
behaviour may occur. This enables a conclusion example.
to be drawn from applying theory to reality. The information in this executive
Although a full comprehension of buying summary is vague rather than
behaviour is impossible, since everyone is an summarising what the report found.
individual, it is useful to reflect on common
behaviours and attempt to divide behaviours in
types and stages. Even McDonalds, a leader in
marketing cannot always predict consumer
behaviour.

4. Report writing – a good example of an executive summary

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The purpose of this report was to examine the implications Purpose
on university teaching raised in the article by Joe Gelonesi
in the Education Supplement of The Age (27/2/02).
Research for this report included a review of current
Methodology
literature on web-based tuition and interviews with three
experienced academics.

The major findings indicate that while there is a need for Findings
some caution, e-learning should be seen as a way of
enriching the teaching and learning currently being offered
in universities.

While it is clear that student needs will vary, this report


Conclusion &
recommends that Beacon University continue to develop
and implement its e-learning approach if it wishes to Recommendations
continue providing quality education for traditional on-
campus students as well as those who for work, family,
geographic location or other reasons choose to study
through distance education.

3.4. Introduction

While the main function of the ES is to highlight the major findings of the report, the
introduction functions to contextualise the report and emphasise the importance of doing
the research. In the introduction, you tell a reader about exactly what the report will be
about and why it is so important highlighting the significance of your research.
Your introduction can do this by answering these three questions described in Table 4
below. Therefore, your introduction also should move from the general and specific and
positive and negative evaluation, which leads to problems.

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Although the introduction is located early, it does not necessarily have to be written
early in the process. In fact, skilful writers write the introduction last. It can be much
easier to describe your experiment or field research after you have finished writing up
the results and your discussion. It should take up 20% of your word limit. The
introduction also consists of several stages, as demonstrated in Table 4.

3.4.1. Background to the report

You need to identify an issue such as social, economic, environmental, cultural personal
issues which draw a great deal of attention to the public. Further you are interested in a
current issue which should be reflected in the choice of tenses such as present, present
perfect, and present continuous tenses. This helps a reader to orient to the topic by
providing some contextual background information. If you need to define key terms, do
this around here. And then you need to take up a problematic aspect of the issue in order
to stress the need for the research. Utilise assessment guidelines as much as possible by
paraphrasing them. Use causes/effects and problems/solutions in order to write the
introduction critically

3.4.2. Literature review


You need to canvass what others did in relation to the issue under investigation in
order to find a gap and ultimately for highlighting the significance of your study.
This is a place where evidence is heavily cited in writing a report.

When you provide a review on literature relevant to your area, the following points
should be kept in mind.
• an understanding of the conceptual and theoretical background,
contexts and justification of the research you are undertaking.
• An appreciation of the significance of this area in general and your topic in
particular.
• Always remember, each paragraph starts with a general claim (topic sentences)
and elaboration should be followed by using evidence. It is not enough to merely string

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together a series of quotes from different sources. You must conceptualise these and
incorporate those quotes into a critical analysis of the research as it relates to your topic.
• In a case where you need to write a scenario based business report, writing
literature does not seem to take a very important position. However, when you write a
research report using empirical studies, this is the most important part of the
introduction in order to identify gaps.

3.4.3. Introduce your research


Now you are ready to reinforce the purpose of your research briefly.
Introduce your research showing that your research aims to bridge the gaps identified.

3.4.4. Aims of the report


This section can be placed in the beginning part of the introduction or the last section of
the introduction using a transitional paragraph. In the executive summary, you have
already mentioned the broad purpose of the report and main aims. It is in the
introduction that you repeat the aims and further list all the specific objectives of the
report. It should begin with a broad purpose and be broken into several aims and
objectives under each aim. Usually, assessment guidelines contain all these aims. You
need to paraphrase them not copy them word for word. Aims should be listed
according to broad/specific, major/minor goals, immediate and long term goals.
Briefly mention future benefits and outcomes of the research at the end of
describing aims.

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Table 4: Introduction stages of the report
Stages Functions
(language aspects)
Why and what Aims of the research To introduce general/specific aims
kinds of problems
are you dealing ( Specifically/most importantly/ the present
with? What kinds study explores …)
of relationships
between causes
and effects
What is the Background (Establishing To introduce the topic by giving general
problem? field) statements about the topic and establishing
Describe the (general/specific) that the field of the study is significant and
problem and the research is relevant, useful and timely.
causes of the
problems being (Although … is
investigated crucially/significantly/increasingly/importa
nt/integral/essential/indispensable/prevalent
, it has been problematic/
exacerbating/deteriorating,
issue/concern/problem/challenge
Why is the Summary of previous To review the literature on significant
problem research research in the field.
important (general/specific) (There are many previous …. However, )
Review the Indication of a gap in the To indicate that there is a gap in the
relevant research previous research (Preparing research area that has not been covered by
to provide for present research) previous research, or that previous research
rationale was flawed in some way.

(While many previous studies… little


research has investigated/ few studies have
explored…)
What solution do Statement of purpose and To introduce present theoretical/analytical
you propose? hypothesis/ research frameworks for the rationale of the
Briefly describe questions (Introducing the research. (The particular method frames
your research present research) provide…)
(general/specific)
To reinforce the exact aims of your
Overviews of the research research.
(The present research aims to…)
To outline/preview the present research.
(In order to achieve the aims, the paper
goes through six stages…)

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Exercise 3: Examples of the introduction of the report

Table 5: Substages of a report


Report
Global Stages Sub-stages
structure
Introduction
Methodology Design Topic and aim of research
Instruments
Participants including limitations of the sample group
Setting (the site of the data collection): location and
time
Data collection procedures including pilot study, and the
nature of research teams
Method Research questions
Method and procedures of data analysis according to the
research questions
Results/ Title/ major findings
Findings
Table/graph/diagram
Describe them
Summary of statement of findings
Pattern, analysis, comparison between findings
Discussion Discussion/ Main purpose/relate hypothesis
Interpretations
Conclusion Summary of main findings/results
Speculate about possible explanation for findings

Interpret major findings relating back to the literature


General/specific; theoretical/practical implications of
findings
Limitations of research done
Recommendations for future/further research
A final conclusive remark
Recommend Targeting the issues/ problems identified/arising/ raised
ations

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3.5. Methodology

The methodology section consists of two subsections: Design and Method. In the
Design section, you are expected to describe what kind of research you did such as the
participants and the materials used, while the Method section focuses on how you
conducted the research. You will be simply describing rather than analyzing,
interpreting or drawing conclusions. You will be able to write the Methodology section
as soon as information gathering has been completed.

That’s why this section should be written in the simple past tense and passive voices,
as a reader is not so much interested in who did ( an actor) as in what events happened
(the action). However, using active voices is becoming more acceptable these days even
in some scientific fields. As long as your writing displays a successful drift from a
formal tone to an informal tone, vice versa, it should be fine.

3.5.1 Design

The design section should begin with a brief reminding of the purpose of the research
and to achieve the goals, you need to provide a description of your information
gathering techniques. This could be a qualitative approach such as interviews, a case
study, focus groups, observations or a quantitative method such as questionnaire or
survey , data bases or a mixed method. If you use a questionnaire or survey, give a
description here, and attach a copy as an Appendix. You must indicate clearly to readers
where the information is attached in the back. Next, you need to provide information on
the participants or the sample group (Who), and the nature of data such as the location
or settings for the data (Where), and the time of the data collection (When). Finally
describe the steps/ procedures you followed when collecting the data the procedure
(How). When you give descriptions of the subjects, include demographic information
such as genders, nationality, ages, or other special characteristics that are directly
relevant to your research. If you can, try to use a table format so that a reader can easily

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identify the information. If there are limiting conditioned on the sample group or
instrument them these should be mentioned. For example, only married women over the
age of 35 living in cities were interviewed. When you describe data collection
procedures, these steps are described in time order. You need to mention a pilot study
you did including the description of the nature of research team, afterwards, real data
collection procedures need to be mentioned such as notification, pre-entry survey, and
real data collection.

3.5.2. Method
This section focuses on demonstrating how you analyse the data using examples.
This section begins with providing detailed research questions and macro-level of data
collection procedures. It is important that you be accurate and precise in your
description so that others can follow the steps and so that they can replicate your work
later. Do not include any results or any discussion in this section. When you explain
how to analyse data, you need to address which tools you used. Whether you used
others’ tools or methods or modified them, you need to explain clearly, which are
existing models and which one is extended. You also need to evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses of the existing model and provide justifications for why you modified and
how you modified.

3.6 Results
You should only present results that relate back to the question. It does not explain or
interpret the results as in the methodology sections, you are simply describing. It is a
stepping stone to the Discussion. It begins by outlining the major results, and then goes
into details.

Organise the findings in accordance with report purposes

Introductory statements: Briefly outline structures of findings and major findings

Body

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3.6 1 Sub-heading 1 (e.g. Ways of identifying possible marketing opportunities

One paragraph: Issue 1/ Aim 1

Break down into a couple of para: Statement of issue 1/Findings/Discussion or


interpretations 1

One of the significant findings that has emerged from this report is that…

As demonstrated/described/displayed/illustrated/explained/indicated in the table…

3.6.2 Sub-heading 2 (e.g. Ways of investigating Marketing opportunities)

The next paragraph: Issue 2/Aim 2

One Para : Contextualise: Statement of issue 2

Another para: Findings/discussion or interpretations 2

3.6. 3 Sub-heading 3 (e.g. Ways of evaluating…)

Or you can organize the body by writing issues 1, 2, 3’s findings/Discussions 1, 2, 3.

When you discuss the findings, you have to get back to the introduction and literature
review, incorporating them into your discussion.

Conclusive summaries

Exercise 4:: see further detailed guidelines on writing a business report

3.7 Discussion
You may realize that the Discussion section is the most difficult part to write. You will
be required to interpret your results and present them to your readers in a way that
convinces them your research is significant. You can not do this by merely describing.
This is where you will demonstrate how well you understand the ideas and techniques

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involved in your research and how your results relate to other research in the field
described in the literature. The results should be analysed by linking them to the existing
empirical and theoretical literature that you summarised in your introduction or
literature reviews. Note any similarities and differences between your findings and those
reported in the literature. Some report formats allow you to combine the results and the
discussion, while others prefer the two sections to be dealt with separately.
The discussion has two main goals:
• To explain the results of your research, and
• To explore the significance of those results.

To achieve these goals you need to


• Interpret and explain your results;
• Examine whether and how the questions raised in the introduction section have
been answered;
• Show how your results relate to the literature;
• Qualify and explore the theoretical importance/significance of your results
• Outline any new research questions or areas for future research that your results
have suggested. In this section, you will use both the past tense-to explain the details of
your results- and the present tense-to draw conclusions or outline the implications of
your results.

3.8. Conclusion and recommendations


(focusing on what the report has been about): 15-20%
With research question in mind, make some conclusions based on your analysis of the
data. Don’t try to add any new information. While the question is the main point of
the introduction, the answer should be the focus of the conclusions. The conclusions
may form part of the discussion or they may be written as a separate section. Conclusion
also contains several stages described in the table.
Reiterate purposes briefly using one sentence
Reiterate background briefly using one sentence
Summarise major findings: don’t add new information

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Limitations of the report by suggesting for the further research

Implications for the report

Recommendations on a separate paragraph

Recommendation resources
Think about the macro-proposal of this report: evaluate and utilise marketing
opportunities. The following lists are the recommendation resources that can be used in
an academic context. Due to the nature of the register where you need to command a
reader in a formal manner, metaphorised commands or indirect commands are needed
to use. This is a section where you can use your powerful innovative ideas.

• It is necessary/essential/important/imperative/compulsory/obligatory/a
good idea
• One solution/recommendation/suggestion would be to/ that
• It requires/benefits/ helps to
• It is desirable/advisable/beneficial
• It is suggested/recommended/requested/demanded/ that… should
• Need to/ought to/should/must consider… ing.
• The company is required to/obliged to/supposed to/ encouraged to
• Developing this deposit provides/offers/presents the company
with/contribute to
• By developing A, the company
• If the manager choose this,
• There is a strong need to. The first reason for… The necessity/ the
requirements/ the advantages/ the importance/ benefits of developing this product is
to…

Exercise 5: Recommendation resources


Exercise 6: See some good examples of business reports written by students
Exercise 7: Evaluation on the teaching of a business report writing
References
This material is copyright © Dr Sook Hee Lee. Except when otherwise permitted
by law, this material cannot be used or reproduced without the express permission
of the copyright owner.

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