University of Stirling
Faculty of Management
Department of Management & Organization
A guide for students
1. What is a report?
留学生dissertation网In a very general way a report is an account of something - we can think of school reports, newspaper reports, Parliamentary reports and so on. It therefore differs from an essay, as the latter is really a structured debate or the measured consideration of a proposition. A report is:
* Usually specific in its remit. For example “What are the causes of the high absentee rate in the despatch department?", or "why did a stnke break out in our East Kilbride plant?". This “go and find out" part constitutes the project, or remit, of the report.
* It is written for someone - an identifiable reader who should be kept in mind when writing the report.
* It is often to be acted upon. The interpretation of the material will usually result in some concrete recommendations to the report's reader(s).
2. How do you go about report writing?
We can identify five stages of report writing, not all of which can or should be kept separate from each other:
The stages of report writing
1. Collection of material
3. Logical ordering
Your first attempt at information gathering will inevitably be a general collection of any information that might seem useful: collecting data, sending letters to potential sources of information, looking at Internet websites, chasing up references and so on. This will produce more information than you need and it is difficult to tell which is relevant and which is not.
This obviously overlaps with the above and both processes will require some method of classification and storage of your information, e.g. a ring binder with dividers, or file cards. Use broad headings to order your material to start with and then divide them into sub headings if necessary. As always, with any written work, it is essential to make a pIan or framework.
2.iii Logical ordering
Your plan should divide the report into sections, each dealing with a distinct aspect of the topic. Think about the logical structure of your information - can point X be appreciated if point Y has not already been understood?
What does the information tell you? This is the tricky bit. You have amassed a lot of data but remember you are being asked to interpret or explain it, not just to describe the topic. What patterns can you see? What statistics are significant?
Format and style - see below.
3.1 Order of contents
A report usually has a structure something like this:
Acknowledgements (where necessary)
main text, broken into sections – do not use “main text” as a title
Conclusions and Recommendations
Appendix (if necessary)
The title and who the report is to, for example -
SICKNESS ABSENCE RATES 1990-1995
A Report to the Personnel Director
General Plastics plc, Motherwell
This is a one-page abstract of the entire report, and may be all that a busy business executive reads. It should:
• explain the terms of reference, the purpose and scope of the report,
• state the key methods and approach used,
• list the main conclusions,
• list the key recommendations.
However it is not part of the report and should not say anything which is not in the report itself. This section is usually written last of all.
This should cover most of the following:
The purpose of the report; name of the commissioner of the report; type of report (eg. Final, preliminary…); scope (to identify, to propose, to recommend…); details of the intended readership; name of person/group responsible for the investigation; the method of enquiry (interviews, questionnaire; published statistics; …); arrangement of data (annual totals for regions, national monthly averages, …); a brief background. It may be difficult to write all this coherently in one paragraph, in many cases the background will justify a separate paragraph.
3.i(d) Main Text (Do not use “Main Text” as a title)
This should detail the main evidence for the reports conclusions and recommendations. It is quite normal (and indeed expected) in reports to use sub-headings, however do not number every single paragraph. Decide on a standard system to show the relationship of one section to another. One of the most common is a decimal or decimal/alpha system and a combination of capitals, underlining and bold can also be used, but keep it consistent. e.g.:
1. MAIN SECTION
1.1 Sub section
1.1(a) Sub-division of first subsection
http://www.ukthesis.org/Thesis_Tips/Wherever possible, graphs, tables, charts and diagrams should be used to illustrate and clarify arguments, they should:
• be numbered for easy reference and titled. Use the facilities within Word for assigning captions to figures and tables and cross-referencing. You can number items such that tables in Section 1 would be numbered Table lA, lB and so on. Use the term "Table" for statistical tables and a word like "Figure" (lA, 1 B etc.) to cover everything else - charts, diagrams, graphs, and pictures.
• be referred to in the text. Tables and graphs should illustrate a point you are making. Don't include them just for padding or hope that their significance will dawn on the reader. For an example of how to use and reference figures:#p#分页标题#e#
Figure 1Student numbers 1990 - 1997
Figure 1 shows that student numbers have grown from just under 4,000 in 1990 to almost 4,500 in 1997. Around two thirds of these students require accommodation.
Listing your sources of factual information is important in a report. So statistical tables, if they are not your own, should have their source indicated (e.g. Department of Employment Gazette, Labour Force Survey, Company Annual Report) and any hard data which originates outside your own study should have the source indicated in a footnote or endnote.
Reports are frequently acted upon, (for example, Government Reports are usually the forerunner to legislation) and so the reader will be expecting to be offered some recommendations. Reports are written not just to inform but to enable the reader to do something about the issue which originated the report in the first place. Therefore ask yourself, is the information leading up to my recommendations clear? Have I justified the recommendations I make? Do they follow logically from the content?
Use Appendices only if you have to, for example if you have bulky information (raw data etc) that would impede the flow of information in the text. Do not feel that you HAVE to have an Appendix and don't be tempted to pad out the report by filling the appendix with material you have rejected for the main text, just to show how busy you have been.
Appendices may include:
• any explanatory notes that would clutter up the main report,
• tabulations and calculations not included in the text,,
A good report is persuasive and convinces the reader that the conclusions and recommendations make good sense. Reports should have a style which is clear, concise, written in grammatical English, free of jargon or complex sentences, and is organised in such a way that allows the reader quickly to access and digest the content of the report.
• Use full sentences, but simple sentences: writing a report does not mean writing in note form or using abbreviations. A clear report uses clear language and complete sentences.
• Keep the report impersonal - do not use the first person 'I' or 'we'
• Different styles: if you are writing a group report you will have the problem of how to bring together different contributors' writing styles. Individual differences are best overcome by going for the most straightforward style.
5. Revisions and Final Presentation
* As with all forms of written work read it through carefully. Does it meet the requested remit? Does it read through logically? Do your conclusions follow from your analysis and are your recommendations clear?
* Check for repetition. Repetition is allowed in the Summary, this section should not contain any material that is not in the main report. Similarly the conclusions should not present any new information, but draw together the most important points made in the main section of the report.#p#分页标题#e#
* Number the pages.
S. Mort (1992) Professional Report Writing, Gower
B.M. Cooper (1964 and may reprints since) Writing Technical Reports, Penguin.
Based on documents prepared by Chris Baldry (1998) and Ray Kent (1997)
Revised by Gill Mould (2005)
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