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Transcript of Report Format
As much as any document format, the report is meant to be
. Careful organization and predictable arrangement of information is essential.
The Impact Analysis prompts you to present your analysis in seven distinct sections.*
* Remember that reports are shaped according to their purpose. Sections and headings are variable. Likewise, some style guidelines give you broad license to design your document. However, many dictate specific formats for headings, subheadings, etc.
The introduction provides background information on the topic, communicates the stakes of the information, and clearly presents the goals of the report. It may include theory and history that informs the topic, as well as historical context and the impetus for the investigation.
Summary / Background
This section reproduces any previous findings or theoretical work that went into conceptualizing the topic. It differs from the Introduction in that it provides a space for review of ongoing work. Many students may find this section redundant and choose to exclude it.
Here students may summarize their research process. Provide an account of all steps in the research process and provide reasoning to support your decisions along the way. Students who performed primary research should recount that process in detail. For example, if you performed a survey, give information on the demographics and population of your survey, as well as details about its contents.
Here, students present findings. Whether presenting primary research, secondary research, or both, summarize the data or information collected. Resist the urge to begin interpreting this information. Instead, strive for an objective presentation. For instance, you may note disagreement between two experts, but you are not yet ready to take a side in the discussion.
Discussion of results
Note the verbs employed by Purdue OWL when describing this section:
explain, analyze, note, compare, evaluate
. This section is for making your case. What does the evidence show? What interesting challenges does it present? What values can we assign to it or use to distinguish our conclusions?
Here, you interpret your results and express what they mean in the context of your investigation (a choice between two meaningful alternatives). Consider the implications of your findings. What generalizations can we draw from the evidence with reasonable certainty?
Finally, it is time to present your decision. Spend some time unpacking your thoughts on this decision. Summarize its long-term and immediate impacts. Extend your own concerns beyond the personal. Should others consider following your lead? What commonalities or differences might influence their response? What are the limitations of your findings?
Results vs. Conclusions vs. Recommendations
Many students trip over the differences between these categories, but consider the following scenario for clarity.
When you log on to eLearn, your browser often crashes.
: You lost an entire hour's work on a quiz.
: Your browser is not compatible with eLearn.
: You should use a different browser when logging on to eLearn.
The Report Body. (2012, March 12). Retrieved March
26, 2015, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu