Reports communicate information which has been compiled as a result of research and analysis of data and of issues. Reports written in a university context tend to be structured, formal, objective, impersonal, complex and contain technical language. In addition, an effectively written report will ensure that the readers and markers of the report will be able to properly appreciate and understand the report's contents.
Planning is an important stage of report writing. Thorough planning facilitates the writer in achieving a logically structured and organised report as well as a report that meets its objectives. A logically structured report is also achieved through the use of a clear organisational strategy with the report's content. The content of the report should be organised into sections with headings and subheadings. These headings should be accurate and logical as they reveal the organisation of the report and permit quick reference to specific information. In addition, taking the time to edit your report will help you to check its logical structure, organisation and fulfilment of the objectives of the report task as well as minimising minor errors such as spelling or grammar.
Using figures such as diagrams, tables, graphs, charts or maps can be a very useful way to show and emphasise information in your report. Figures must be clearly labelled so they can be accurately referred to in your written discussion. Information that is not essential to explain your findings, but that supports your analysis, validates your conclusions or pursues a related point should be placed in an appendix (plural appendices) of the report. Your report should also include a reference list of the reference material you consulted during your research for the report. Throughout the text of your report you will also need to provide references when you have included an idea in your report which is not your own original idea.
Technical reports are a frequently used assignment format in faculties of engineering and in the applied sciences because learning how to report on technical information to others is an important component of technical studies. Technical reports require students to draw theory and real world situations together, and to present the information in a structured and accessible format.
Business reports are a frequently used assignment format occur in economics, business and commerce disciplines because learning how to report on business and financial information and strategies is an important component of business studies. Often the type of assignment set is a practical learning task requiring you to apply the theories you have been studying to real world situations, and to present the information in a structured and accessible format.
In the sciences, scientific reports are used to communicate the results of experiments. Scientific reports require the writer to articulate the theoretical and empirical bases of a particular experiment including information such as what was done, what results were observed and how these results were interpreted. Learning how to report on empirical information is an important component of scientific studies.
Field reports are set in a variety of disciplines and usually require the student to combine theory and analysis with observation and practice. A field report requires both a description of an observed person, place or event and an analysis of this description. This type of report is intended to improve student understanding of key theoretical concepts of a course through observation of and reflection about real life practice.
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