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Essay and report writing skills
Essay and report writing skills

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4.2 Reports

Let's look at reports first.

Activity 3

Note down in your Learning Journal what you consider to be the purpose of a report.

Discussion

Your answer may well depend on the subject you are studying, and again we would recommend that you refer to any guidance notes that you may have been given. Essentially a report can be simplified into three general principles:

  • How was it done?

  • Why was it done?

  • What does it mean?

Once you are clear in your mind about these questions in relation to a particular assignment, you will be in a position to think how best to proceed in answering them.

In general, a good report is one that you don't need to reread, it is clear and the information that it contains is easy to find. The structure is fairly rigid, usually divided into sections, probably with subheadings, each performing a very specific task. For example a scientific report will be a structured account of an investigation or experiment that you have carried out, whereas a business report may require you to imagine that you are making recommendations to your boss or colleagues for a particular course of action. You need to strive for relevance and conciseness, and your report should proceed in a logical and ordered way.