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Report writing

Daren Mansfield
Academic Subject Librarian
most common complaints
about reports include…
 badly structured
 inappropriate writing style
 incorrect or inadequate referencing
 doesn’t answer the brief
 too much/too little/irrelevant material
 expression not clear
 doesn’t relate results to purpose
 unnecessary use of jargon

(University of Reading, 2017)
essays versus reports

Essays Reports
 Argumentative and idea-  Informative and fact-based
based
 Formally structured
 Semi-structured
 Usually written with a
 Not written with a specific specific purpose and reader
reader in mind (except the
marker) in mind
 Usually do not include sub-  Written in style appropriate
headings to each section
 Always include section  Written in single narrative
headings style throughout
 Usually do not include bullet  Often use bullet points
points
 Often includes tables or
 Usually no tables or graphs graphs
 Offer conclusions about
question  Offer recommendations for
action
(University of Reading, 2017)
your objectives

 What do you need to find out?
 What is the purpose of your report?
 Plan your time
 Record your findings
 You’ll need a systematic, logical approach
language
 Consider whether the report is for the future
or the past when considering whether to use
present or past tense.
 Conventionally speaking, do not write in the
first person ‘I’ or ‘we’.
 However, first-person language may be
suitable if the report is reflective, say, about
group work that took place in the past.
structure of a report
 Title Page  Literature review
 Terms of  Methods
Reference  Results
 Summary  Discussion
(Abstract)  Conclusion
 Contents (Table of  Appendices
Contents)  Bibliography
 Introduction  Acknowledgements
title page

Write your title in the centre of the
page to include your name, the date
and for whom the report is written.
The Leicester Hate Crime Project:
Findings and Conclusions.
Executive Summary.
University of Leicester
2014
terms of reference

 Briefly explain:
 who will read the report
(audience)
 why it was written (purpose)
 how it was written (methods).
 May form a subtitle or a single
paragraph.
summary (Abstract)

 Provide a brief summary
describing the content of the
report, containing the aims of
the report, what was found and
any recommendations.
 Managers usually read reports
so the abstract and conclusions
should deliver the information
they need.
contents (Table of Contents)

 The contents page should list the various
chapters and/or headings along with page
numbers.
 You may number chapter headings and
subheadings in addition to providing page
references.
 You need to be clear and consistent
throughout.
introduction

 Context of the inquiry
 What is the key research in this field?
 Why have you undertaken this inquiry?
aims & objectives

 The aims and objectives of the
report should be explained in
detail.
 Identify any problems or
limitations in the scope of the
report, describe the research
methods, the parameters of the
research and include any
necessary background history.
Example:
The Leicester Hate Crime Project
 1. to discover as much as possible about
people’s experiences of hate, prejudice and
targeted hostility;
 2. to understand the physical and emotional
harms suffered by victims and their families;
 3. to identify ways of improving the quality of
support offered to victims.
 (University of Leicester, 2015)
literature review

 Focus on how literature contributes to your line of
enquiry such as:
 New sources
 Data
 Populations
 Refining theory…
 Possibly opening up new enquiries
methods

 Explain procedures followed.
 Relevant information on materials
used, including sources of
materials and details of any
necessary preparation.
 Refer to any problems
encountered and subsequent
changes in procedure.
results

 Include a summary of the
results of the investigation
together with any necessary
diagrams, graphs or tables of
collated data that support your
results.
 Present your results in a logical
order without comment.
discussion

 The main body of the report is where you discuss your
material. The facts and evidence you have gathered
should be analysed and discussed with specific reference
to the problem or issue.
 Consider section headings.
 Your points should be grouped, arranged in an order that
is logical and easy to follow.
 Use bullet points in an easy-to-follow list.
 Reference throughout.
conclusion

 Demonstrate the overall significance
of what has been covered.
 You could remind the reader of the
most important points in the report or
highlight what you consider to be the
most central issues or findings.
 No new material in the conclusion.
Example: Stephen Lawrence
Inquiry conclusion
 The conclusions to be drawn from all the evidence
in connection with the investigation of Stephen
Lawrence's racist murder are clear. There is no
doubt but that there were fundamental errors.
The investigation was marred by a combination of
professional incompetence, institutional racism
and a failure of leadership by senior officers. A
flawed MPS review failed to expose these
inadequacies. The second investigation could not
salvage the faults of the first investigation.
 (GOV.UK, 1999).
 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the
-stephen-lawrence-inquiry
appendices

 Appendices might include
tables, graphs, questionnaires,
surveys or transcripts.
 Referto the appendices in the
body of your report (Appendix A,
etc).
activity

 Students to design structure of
report based upon their assignment
(10 mins?)
 How can you design a report based
on the guidelines provided in this
session?
bibliography

 Your bibliography should list, in
alphabetical order by author, all
published sources referred to in
your report using the Harvard
Referencing style:
 http://library.lincoln.ac.uk/learning-
teaching/referencing/harvard-
referencing-guide/
final thoughts & questions…
 Proof-read…esp. proof-read.
 Did it answer its purpose?
 Is it clearly written, accurate, logical &
referenced?
 Academic Writing Support drop-ins:
Mondays 11.00-13.00 and 17.00-19.00
Tuesdays 12.00-13.00 and 17.00-19.00
Wednesdays 9.00-10.00 and 17.00-19.00
Thursdays 14.00-16.00 and 17.00-19.00
references
 Cottrell, S. (2013). The study skills handbook.
Basingstoke: Palgrave. Main 378.170281 COT
 GOV.UK. (1999). The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson.
Available from:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/
the-stephen-lawrence-inquiry [Accessed 20th
March 2018].
 Reid, M. (2012). Report Writing. Basingstoke:
Palgrave MacMillan. Main 808.02 REI
 University of Leicester. (2009). Writing reports. Located at:
http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/writing-
resources/reports. [Accessed 3rd February 2015].
 University of Leicester. (2014). The Leicester Hate Crime
Project: Findings and Conclusions. Available from:
https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/criminology/hate/docu
ments/fc-executive-summary [Accessed 20th March 2018]
 University of Nottingham. (2014). Planning and preparing to
write assignments. Located at:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/documents/p
lanning-and-preparing-to-write-assignments.pdf. [Accessed
3rd February 2015].
 University of Reading. (2017). Structuring your report.
Located at:
https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/ld.php?content_id=230
73853 [Accessed 4th March2018].

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