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Genres in academic writing: Reports

Many students, particularly science and business students, will at some time be expected to write a report.

Example

Your report should have the following sections:

1. Preliminaries

Title page
Abstract
Contents

2. Main text

Introduction
Methodology
Findings/Results
Discussion
Conclusion

3. End matter References
Appendices
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1. Preliminaries

Before you start the main part of your report, there should be a title page. The title page should contain information to enable your lecturer and departmental office to identify exactly what the piece of work is. It should include your name and course; the title of the assignment and any references; the lecturer it is for etc. Check with your department for clear information. A report should also normally include an abstract and a contents page. The abstract should give some background information, clearly state the principal purpose of the report, give some information about the methodology used, state the most important results and the conclusion. See: Writing an abstract. The contents page will give page numbers for the main sections.

2. The main text

The main body consists of several paragraphs of ideas, data and argument. Each section develops a subdivision of the report purpose. The introduction gives background knowledge that supports the reason for writing the report and an organisation statement. The methodology section gives details of how the information in the report was obtained. Findings and results give the data that has been collected, while the discussion argues that the results lead to the clearly expressed conclusion. The sections are linked in order to connect the ideas. The purpose of the report must be made clear and the reader must be able to follow its development.

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Findings/Results
  4. Discussion
  5. Conclusion
    I. The introduction.

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PRELIMINARIES

I. INTRODUCTION

 

Background
Identification of Gap
Organisation Statement

 

II. METHODOLOGY

 

Introductory Sentence - Overview
Procedures
Materials
...
Concluding Sentence

 

III. FINDINGS/RESULTS

 

Introductory Sentence
Locating Results
Findings
Comment
...
Concluding Sentence

 

IV. DISCUSSION

 

Introductory Sentence - Overview
Review of Findings
Possible Explanations
Limitations
...
Concluding Sentence

 

V. CONCLUSION

 

Recall Issues in Introduction - Report Purpose;
Draw Together Main Points;
Final Comment - Clear Conclusion.

 
END MATTER

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3. End Matter

At the end of the report, there should be a list of references. This should give full information about the materials that you have used in the report. See Writing a list of references for more information on the reference list. The appendices may contain full details of data collected.

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