7.2 Drafting reports
As you may remember from Activity 3, the three general principles of a report (whether it is of a social sciences investigation or a scientific experiment) are:
Why was it done?
How was it done?
What does it mean?
You will need to make some decisions, not only about what to leave out (because it isn't particularly relevant) but also about how to present what you are including to best effect:
Do you wish to present your findings in chronological order?
Would subject area, types or categories be preferable?
What will make your findings clearer?
Diagrams, tables and graphs may help to present your results with greater clarity. Headings or sub-headings, numbered paragraphs and bullet points can also help to emphasise the main issues.
Here is a plan on how to lay out the report of a social sciences investigation, though there are common elements with reports produced for other purposes.
1.1 Background or context
1.2 Aims and objectives
2.1 The questionnaire framework
2.2 The sample
2.3 Numerical significance of sample
3.1 Response rates
3.2 Principal findings
3.3 Analysis (here you may wish to break the findings and analysis down into further subsections (3.2.1, 3.2.2 as appropriate)
8.1 Sample questionnaire
8.2 Summary of findings (tables etc.)
The language used in a report is usually straightforward and to the point. The report's structure and organisation make it easy to identify the various parts, and to find specific items of information quite quickly.