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Report Writing
Academic writing style for reports
 

Knowing about the function and structure of reports is important; however, knowing about the appropriate style and conventions to use when writing your report is equally important. Reports written in a university context tend to be structured, formal, objective, impersonal, complex and contain technical language.

The formal and impersonal nature of reports can be achieved by avoiding certain types of language such as slang terms and contractions (didn't, won't etc) as well as strong expressions of opinion and attitude. In addition, the use of the passive voice (were specified, it is suggested etc) allows writers to foreground what was done, rather than who did it, thus making the writing less personal. A more objective, impersonal tone is achieved through the use of formal and impersonal language. Some examples of expressions you may use in your report include:

key-bullet This report aims to investigate...
key-bullet This report was commissioned to review...
key-bullet This research indicates...
key-bullet The results suggest...
key-bullet It can be concluded that...
key-bullet Conclusions that can be drawn are...
key-bullet It recommends that...
key-bullet The following recommendations are made...

The use of discipline specific terminology in your report will add to its technicality and formality. Discipline specific terminology consists of words or phrases particular to a discipline which experienced writers within the field use to convey meaning in a certain way.

The language of reports should also be objective and complex. Objectivity and complexity can be achieved through the use of structures such as nominalisation and extended noun phrases. Nominalisation is the expression of actions as noun phrases instead of verbs. This allows the text to focus on objects or concepts rather than actions, so it sounds more abstract and objective. This language structure also allows more information to be packed into less space and increases the complexity of the writing. Extended nominal groups increase the amount of information provided about the people, places or concepts described in the report.

Read the following example:

Many Australian plant species produce seeds with fleshy appendages called elaiosomes. Using two species, Acacia linifolia and Dillwynia juniperina, the function of elaiosomes was investigated. It was hypothesised that elaiosomes are involved in the dispersal of seeds by ants. To test this hypothesis, the removal of seeds with elaiosomes was compared to seeds from which the elaiosome had been removed and observations were made to confirm that the agents of seed removal were indeed ants. It was found that the removal of seeds with elaiosomes was significantly greater than those without elaiosomes for D. juniperina but not for A. linifolia. Observations of seed removal confirmed that ants were the only removers of seeds. Discipline specific terminology
Passive voice. This is one way to avoid using personal pronouns such as I and we.
Impersonal language
Use of nominalisations and extended nominal groups.

Follow this link for more detailed information on the words, structures and conventions of academic writing.

 



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Overview of Report Writing Writing Scientific Reports Writing Technical Reports Writing Business Reports Writing Field Reports Summary of Report Writing