Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2
Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2

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Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2

6.3 How to read a report

Keep the following guidelines in mind when you read a long or complicated report:

  • question – think carefully about the questions you want the report to answer
  • skim or scan – see section 2 to remind yourself of these skills
  • read in detail – see section 2 to remind yourself of how to read in detail.

Steps in reading a report

  1. Read the title: ask yourself, ‘Is this the right report for me to read?’
  2. Read the contents page: ‘Does the report contain what I need?’
  3. Read the introduction: ‘Does the report contain what I need?’
  4. Read the conclusion: ‘Does the report contain what I need?’
  5. Skim through the headings: use a highlighter pen to pick out the main points.
  6. Look for signposts that show what the author thinks is important – italics, bold, capital letters.
  7. Read the important sections.
  8. Review what you have read: ‘Have I got what I need? If not, what should I read again?’

Hint If you are really pressed for time, skip the shortest sections as these may be less important than longer ones.

Activity 25 Identifying a report’s structure

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Read the following report.

This report has been written to document an accident that occurred on Monday 15 July 2018 in the wood store at Maverick Workshops.

The driver involved in the accident was Jon Collins.

Jon was driving the forklift truck and appears to have lost control when it skidded. It is suspected that this was due to a patch of oil on the floor, which had been left by one of the company’s fleet lorries.

In the event Jon was quite badly hurt, so an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital. He has a broken his arm and will be off work for the next five weeks.

It is suggested that the company investigate where the oil came from and inspect the steering on the forklift truck, as this is the third accident this week.

Make a note in the text boxes below of what the report contains under each of the headings.

1. Terms of reference

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2. Findings

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3. Conclusions

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4. Recommendations

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Discussion

How did you do? You should have picked out the key features shown below. If you didn’t, have another look at the report after reading these answers.

  1. Terms of reference: to document an accident.
  2. Findings: accident caused by a patch of oil on the floor.
  3. Conclusions: accident was due to oil and possibly steering of the forklift truck.
  4. Recommendations: investigate source of oil patch and check steering on the forklift truck.

Activity 26 Structuring a report

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

The next activity is based on a report commissioned by Dumblederry Country Council into crime in Southland, an area of Dumblederry. It is longer than any of the material you have been reading up to now, so it will be more challenging, but it is a chance to practise everything you have learned so far. It is in two parts. Take your time and enjoy it!

Part 1

In the following report, the headings and paragraphs have been mixed up and are in the wrong order. Drag both the headings and paragraphs into the correct order so that the report makes sense.

To help you, here are the number of paragraphs that should fit under each heading:

  • Terms of reference: 1
  • Methodology: 1
  • Findings: 7
  • Recommendations: 1

If you find it hard to decide how to order the paragraphs under Findings, try arranging them like this:

  • Number of crimes (1 paragraph)
  • Types of crime (1 paragraph)
  • The national picture (1 paragraph)
  • Types of offender (1 paragraph)
  • Other types of crime (2 paragraphs)
  • The town centre (1 paragraph)
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Part 2

Below are two paragraphs that could be presented more effectively by using bullet points. Have a go at editing them using bullet points.

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Discussion

Part 1

Here is the report with all the headings and paragraphs arranged in the right order.

Terms of reference

The Town Council had expressed concern that there seems to be a growing problem with crime and general disorder in the town and they asked for recommendations as to how the situation could be improved. They requested this account of crime in Southland.

Methodology

The information that follows is based on a survey of three wards in the town over the past two years. The survey was carried out by a local market research company and cost £75,000.

Findings

The total number of recorded crimes in Southland in 2018 was 14,777. This represents a crime rate of about 123 per 1,000 residents; that is considerably higher than the rates for both Southland and Northamptonshire as a whole. It is also a quarter higher than for England and Wales as a whole.

The most frequently recorded crimes in the area were burglary and crime against motor vehicles. A comparison of recorded crime in the following year paints a similar picture. There was a slight improvement over the previous year but the percentages remains higher than both the county and the national average.

The most common crimes nationally are assault and offences against cars. National assault rates include grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and a range of offences against the person. Burglary is the third most common crime nationally with aggravated burglary being the least common offence.

The figures show that during the two years in question there were a total of 4,500 known offenders in Southland. A breakdown of the information illustrates that 77% of these were male, most offences were committed by offenders aged between 13 and 27, 67% of all motor vehicle crime was committed by offenders under the age of 16, the most common offence committed by offenders aged 18 to 20 was burglary.

In addition to recorded crime, Southland Police have also kept records of other incidents reported to them. These are not actual crimes in the sense the perpetrators have committed a criminal offence, but they have given rise to complaints from local residents. These can be divided into juvenile nuisances and breach of the peace. Local vandalism is included in this, as are breaches of the peace such as drunkenness and obstruction.

Residents suggested that juvenile nuisance and breach of the peace were the biggest causes for concern. There was a widespread feeling that facilities for young people were totally inadequate and the main complaints were about teenagers ‘hanging around’, noisy neighbours and gangs, bad street lighting and young people drinking in public places.

The majority of all age groups felt safe in the town centre but this fell at night. This appears to be in line with the experiences of towns and cities on a national scale, where the character of the town centre is often different to that of the rest of the town.

Recommendations

The Report makes the following recommendations: an increased police presence in the town centre, the introduction of CCTV cameras in the town centre, the provision of better facilities for younger people, and an increase in car park security systems.

You probably found the Findings section very long. If you look at the version below, you’ll see that dividing it into subsections, with headings, makes it easier to read:

Findings

Number of crimes

The total number of recorded crimes in Southland in 2018 was 14,777. This represents a crime rate of about 123 per 1,000 residents; that is considerably higher than the rates for both Southland and Northamptonshire as a whole. It is also a quarter higher than for England and Wales as a whole.

Types of crime

The most frequently recorded crimes in the area were burglary and crime against motor vehicles. A comparison of recorded crime in the following year paints a similar picture. There was a slight improvement over the previous year but the percentages remains higher than both the county and the national average.

The national picture

The most common crimes nationally are assault and offences against cars. National assault rates include grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and a range of offences against the person. Burglary is the third most common crime nationally with aggravated burglary being the least common offence.

Types of offenders

The figures show that during the two years in question there were a total of 4,500 known offenders in Southland. A breakdown of the information illustrates that 77% of these were male, most offences were committed by offenders aged between 13 and 27, 67% of all motor vehicle crime was committed by offenders under the age of 16, the most common offence committed by offenders aged 18 to 20 was burglary.A breakdown of the information illustrates that:

Other types of crime

In addition to recorded crime, Southland Police have also kept records of other incidents reported to them. These are not actual crimes in the sense the perpetrators have committed a criminal offence, but they have given rise to complaints from local residents. These can be divided into juvenile nuisances and breach of the peace. Local vandalism is included in this, as are breaches of the peace such as drunkenness and obstruction.

Residents suggested that juvenile nuisance and breach of the peace were the biggest causes for concern. There was a widespread feeling that facilities for young people were totally inadequate and the main complaints were about teenagers ‘hanging around’, noisy neighbours and gangs, bad street lighting and young people drinking in public places.

The town centre

The majority of all age groups felt safe in the town centre but this fell at night. This appears to be in line with the experiences of towns and cities on a national scale, where the character of the town centre is often different to that of the rest of the town.

 

Part 2

The two selected paragraphs, presented using bullet points, are shown below.

Here’s the first one:

The figures show that during the two years in question there were a total of 4,500 known offenders in Southland. A breakdown of the information illustrates that:

  • 77% of these were male
  • most offences were committed by offenders aged between 13 and 27
  • 67% of all motor vehicle crime was committed by offenders under the age of 16
  • the most common offence committed by offenders aged 18 to 20 was burglary.

Here’s the second:

The Report makes the following recommendations:

  • an increased police presence in the town centre
  • the introduction of CCTV cameras in the town centre
  • the provision of better facilities for younger people
  • an increase in car park security systems.

In this section you have practised:

  • recognising and reading different types of report
  • identifying the main points in a report
  • different reading techniques.
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