REPORT WRITING Reports are very important method of gaining and giving information. Although they may be presented orally, at a meeting for example, reports are usually presented in writing. The ultimate purpose of any report is to provide the foundation for decisions to be made and action taken. EMPIRICAL/ INVESTIGATE/EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH REPORTS In empirical research, the investigators gather information through carefully planned, systematic observations or measurements. When scientists send a satellite to investigate the atmosphere of a distant planet, when engineers test jet-engine parts made of various alloys, when pollsters ask older citizens what kinds of outdoor recreation they participate in, they all are conducting empirical research. In your career, you will almost certainly perform some type of empirical research – and report on it in writing. Typical Writing Situations Empirical research has two distinct purposes. Most aims to help people make practical decisions. For example, the engineers who test jet- engine parts are trying to help designers determine which alloy to use in a new engine. A small portion of empirical research aims not to support practical decisions but rather to extend human knowledge. Here researchers set out to learn how fish remember, what the molten core of the earth is like, or why people fall in love. Such research is usually reported in scholarly journals whose readers are concerned not so much with making practical business decisions as with extending the frontiers of human understanding. These two aims of research sometimes overlap. The Questions Readers Ask Most Often The readers of reports on all types of empirical research tend to ask the same seven general questions. Why is your research important to us? Readers concerned with solving specific practical problems want to know what problems your research will help them address. What were you trying to find out? A well- designed empirical research project is based on carefully formulated research questions that the project will try to answer. Was your research method sound? Unless your method is appropriate to your research questions What results did your results produce? Your readers will want to learn what results you obtained. How do you interpret those results? Your readers will want you interpret your results in ways that are meaningful to them. What is the significance of those results? What answers do your results imply for your research questions, and how do your results relate to the problems your research was to help solve or to the area of knowledge it was meant to expand? What do you think we should do? Readers concerned with practical problems want to know what you advise them to do. Readers concerned with extending human knowledge want to know what you think your results imply for future research. Report elements Readers’ Questions Introduction Why is your research important to us? Objectives of the research What were you trying to find out? Methods of obtaining facts Was your research method sound? Facts What results did your research produce? Discussion How do you interpret those results? Conclusions What is the significance of those results? Recommendations What do you think we should do? GENERAL STRUCTURE FOR A REPORT Front Matter Letter of transmittal Title Abstract Acknowledgements Table of contents List of figures List of tables List of abbreviations and symbols Body of Report Chapter 1: Introduction What will we gain from reading your report? This prepares the reader to understand your work. Chapter 2: Reviewing Previous A literature review, i.e. a report of previous work Work from published research by experts from your field is treated in this section. Chapter 3: Methods Primary sources or firsthand observation include experiments, questionnaires, interviews and field observations. The explicit account of data collection and how the data is analysed are presented here. Chapter 4: Describing Materials Concerned with the equipment used in your experiment. It gives a detailed description of equipment and the process involved in the operation of the equipment. Chapter 5: Presenting the Results This shows how the results of a study are written and commented on with the aid of illustrations. Chapter 6: Conclusion and These are the last sections to be written; however, Abstract the abstract appears at the beginning of the report. The primary goal of the conclusion is to indicate whether or not the objective of the study has been met. The goal of the abstract, however, is to provide a preview of the report, that is, it gives the most important information from the different section of the report. End Matter References Apendices Introduction In the introduction of a report, you answer your readers‟ question, “What will we gain from reading your report?” In some reports, you can answer this question in a sentence or less. In longer reports, your explanation of the relevance of your report to your readers may take many pages, in which you tell such things as (1) what problem your report will help solve, (2) what activities you performed toward solving that problem, (3) how your readers can apply your information in their own efforts toward solving the problem. Method of Obtaining Results Your discussion of your method of obtaining the facts in your report can serve a wide variety of purposes. Report readers want to assess the reliability of the facts you present: your discussion of your method tells them how and where you got your facts. It also suggests where your readers can find additional information. If you obtained your information from printed sources, for example, you can direct your readers to those sources. If you obtained your information from an experiment, survey, or other special technique, your account of your method may help others design similar projects. Results Your facts are the individual pieces of information that you gathered. If your report is based on laboratory, field, or library research, your facts are the verifiable pieces of information you gathered: the laboratory data you obtained, the survey responses you recorded, or the knowledge you assembled from printed sources. You may present your facts in a section of their own, or you may combine your presentation of your facts with your discussion of them, as explained next. Discussion Taken alone, results mean nothing. They are a table of data, series of isolated observations, or pieces of information without meaning. Therefore, an essential element of every report you prepare will be a discussion in which you interpret your facts in a way that is significant to your readers. In many of the communication you write, you will weave your discussion of the facts together with your presentation of them. Conclusions Like interpretations, conclusions are general statements based on your facts. and unless it is intellectually sound, your readers will not place any faith in your results or in your conclusions, and recommendations. CONDUCTING RESEARCH Goals of Good Research The first thing to remember about research is that it needs to be just as reader- centered as any other writing activity. Your research is successful only if it produces results that your readers will value. Right scope. The research results enable you to write about your topic with sufficient breadth your reader‟s needs. Right depth. The research provides sufficient detail to allow your readers to understand your topic to the level necessary for them to perform their tasks and appreciate the validity of your persuasive points. Guideline 1: Define Your Research Objectives You can streamline your research by defining in advance what you want to find. After all, you are not trying to dig up everything that is known about your subject. You are seeking only information and evidence that will help you achieve your communication‟s objectives. Although you should define your research objectives at the outset, you should also be ready to revise them as you proceed. Research is all about learning. One of the things you may learn along the way is that you need to investigate something you hadn‟t originally thought important – or even thought about at all. Guideline 2: Plan Before You Begin You will research much more efficiently and effectively if you begin by making a plan. Making a Research Plan Identify all sources that might be helpful. Include people and organizations as well as publications. Identify the most promising sources. It only makes sense to focus your efforts on them. Determine the most productive order in which to consult your sources. Make a schedule as you can apportion your time wisely. Include the time needed for interpreting results. Consult general sources first. Useful general sources are encyclopedias (including the specialized ones that exist for many subjects), articles in popular magazines, and review articles published in specialized journals for the purpose of summarizing research on a particular subject. Conduct preliminary research when appropriate. In some situations, it will be helpful for you to conduct some research in preparation for other research. Imagine, for instance, that you r key source is an executive or expert you can contact only one. Readers’ Possible Sources Assessment of End When to consult Questions Source Are our Competitor reports Biased Next week competitors to stockholders developing this technology more Trade journals Probably reliable Immediately rapidly than we are? When will our Kami Mason, Objective, Close to design be ready? Project Coordinator Informed completion of report Guideline 3: Check Each Source for Leads to Other Source Conducting research is like solving a crime. You don‟t know exactly what the outline come will be- or where to find the clues. Consequently, it makes sense to check every source for leads to other sources. Scrutinize the footnotes and bibliographies of very book, article and report you consult. Guideline 4: Begin Interpreting Your Research Results Even as You Obtain Them Research involves more than just amassing information. To make your results truly useful and persuasive to your readers, you must also interpret them in light of your reader‟s desires, needs, and situation. Guideline 5: Take Careful Notes A simple but critical technique for researching productively is to take careful notes at every step of the way. When making notes on the facts and opinions you discover, be sure to distinguish quotations from paraphrases so you can properly identify quoted statements in your communication. REFERENCE GUIDE: FIVE RESEARCH METHODS Brainstorming When you brainstorm, you generate thoughts about your subjects as rapidly as you can through the spontaneous association of ideas writing down whatever thoughts occur to you. Record everything. If you shift your task from generating ideas to evaluating them, you will disrupt the free flow of associations on which brainstorming thrives. Free writing Free writing is very much like brainstorming. Here, too, you tap your natural creativity free from the confines of structured thought. You rapidly record your ideas as they pop into your mind. Only this time, you write prose rather than a list. The goal is to keep your ideas flowing. Flow Chart When you are writing about a process or procedure, try drawing a flow chart of it, Leave lots of space around each box in the flow chart so you can write notes next to it. SEARCHING THE INTERNET The explosive growth of the Internet has created a rich and continuously evolving aid to researchers. From your computer at home, school or work, the Internet lets you read technical reports from companies such as IBM, download software, view pictures taken by NASA spacecraft in remote areas of the solar system, or join online discussions on an astonishing array of topics. You may have difficulty finding helpful sites. There are millions of sites in the Internet, with millions more added annually. Navigating through these sites to locate the ones that present useful information on your topic can be difficult. You must carefully evaluate the sites you locate. Anyone can post information on the Internet, regardless of his or her purpose, bias, or level of expertise. Because no one prevents unreliable information from appearing, you must carefully evaluate the credibility of each site you encounter. INTERVIEWING At work, your best source of information will often be another person. In fact, people will sometimes be your only source of information because you‟ll be researching situations unique to your organization or its clients and customers. Or you may be asking an expert for information that this person possesses that is not yet available in print or form an on-line source. Preparing for an Interview Choose the right person to interview. Approach this selection from your readers‟ perspective. Pick someone you feel confident can answer the questions your readers are likely to ask in a way that your readers will find useful and credible. Make arrangements. If you expect the interview to take more than a few minutes, contact the person in advance to make an appointment. Let the person know about the purpose of the interview. Plan the agenda. As the interviewer, you will be the person who must identify the topics that need to be discussed. Often, it‟s best simply to generate a list of topics to inquire about. Concluding the Interview During the interview, keep your eye on the clock so that you don‟t take more of your interviewee‟s time than you requested. Check your list. Make sure that all your key questions have been answered. Invite a final thought. One of the most productive questions that you can ask near the end of an interview is, “ Can you think of anything else I should know?” Open the door for follow-up. Ask something like this: “ If I find that I need to know a little more about something we‟ve discussed, would it be okay if I called you?” Thank your interviewee. If appropriate, send a brief thank-you note by letter, memo, or e-mail. CONDUCTING A SURVEY While an interview enables you to gather information from one person, a survey enables you to gather information from groups of people. On the job, surveys are almost always used as the basis for practical decision- making. Manufacturers survey consumers when deciding how to market a new product, and employers survey employees when deciding how to modify personnel policies or benefit packages. Writing the questions The first step in writing survey questions is to decide exactly what you want to learn. Begin by focusing on the decisions that your information will help your readers make. Mix closed and open questions. Closed questions allow a limits number of possible responses. They provide answers that are easy to tabulate. Open questions allow the respondent freedom in devising the answer. They provide respondents an opportunity to react to your subject matter in their own terms. You may want to follow each of your closed questions with an open one that simply asks respondents to comment. A good way to conclude a survey is to invite additional comments. Ask reliable questions. A reliable question is one that every respondent will understand and interpret in the same way. For instance, if Roger asked, “ Do you like high-quality pastries?” different readers might interpret the term “high quality” in different ways. Roger might instead ask how much the respondents would be willing to pay for pasties or what kinds of snacks they like to eat with their coffee. Ask valid questions. A valid question is one that produces the information you are seeking. For example, to determine how much business the doughnut shop might attract, Roger could ask either of these two questions: How much do you like doughnuts? How many times a month you visit a doughnut shop located within three blocks of campus? The first question is invalid because the fact that students like doughnuts does not necessarily mean they would patronize a doughnut shop. The second question is valid because it can help Roger estimate how many customers the shop would have. Avoid biased questions. Don‟t phrase your questions in ways that seem to guide your respondents to give a particular response. Place your most interesting questions first. Save questions about the respondent‟s age or similar characteristics until the end. Limit the number of questions. If your questionnaire is lengthy, people may not complete it. Decide what you really need to know and ask only about that. Test your questionnaire. Even small changes in wording may have a substantial effect on the way people respond. Before completing your survey, try out your questions with a few people from your target group. Contacting Respondents Face-to-face. In this method, you read your questions aloud to each respondent and record his or hers answers on a form. It‟s an effective method of contacting respondents because people are more willing to cooperate when someone asks their help in person. Telephone. Telephone surveys are convenient for the writer. However, it can sometimes be difficult to use a phone book to identify people who represent the group of people being studied. Mail or handout. Mailing or handling your survey forms to people you hope will respond is less consuming than conducting a survey face-to-face or by telephone. Generally, however, only a small portion of the people who receive survey forms in these ways actually fill them out and return them. Abstract or Executive Summary The abstract is brief, condensed statement of the most important ideas of the report. It provides the readers with a compressed overview of the report by mirroring both its content and organization. The length of the abstract depends primarily on the length of the report. The typical abstract is a paragraph of 150 to 200 words. Although the abstract is a compressed version of the report, you should not write it in telegraphic style. Its words and sentences must be in a good prose style. Center and make prominent the word Abstract at the top of the page, double – space, and begin the abstract. Letter of transmittal The letter of transmittal or the preface officially transmits or presents the report to the readers. The “letter” of transmittal may be in memo or letter form. Addressed to the readers, it provides sufficient background by: Restating the title of the report (in case the letter is mailed separately from the report); Stating the purpose of the report (readers in the workplace want to focus immediately on the task at hand); Pointing out features of the report that may be of special interest; Acknowledging special assistance in performing the study or preparing the report, especially from those who funded the project or provided materials, equipment or information and advice. FACTS, FIGURES AND FINDINGS Calculating Statistical Information Statistics are „raw data‟. They must be processed in some way to create „information‟ which is meaningful and helpful for a particular purpose. Some of the ways of using statistical data. Classification Classification can be used to add meaning data by grouping items into helpful categories or classes. Product X: Complaints in July and August 1996 Date Name Account numbers Complaint August 23 Greenwald, G. 2428 Broken Sprocket 22 Wharf, S. 2991 Wrong colour 19 Walters, P. 3367 Delivered late Certain faults seem to recur, and you decide to see of there is a trend: you decide to classify the complaints according to type. Your summary would give the following information. (a) Broken sprocket (3) (b) Wrong colour (3) Frequency of distribution One type of classification often used in the organisation of large sets of date is a frequency distribution. Classes might be ranges of: age, or costs/ numbers/ frequency of products purchased, time spent, errors made and so on. You can compare the relative frequency of one class against another, or against the sane class over time, to show trends. Example Given below is a set of raw date on the number of minutes in each hour reported spent on the telephone by 40 sales office staff. 19 15 1 24 5 19 27 34 14 23 9 5 4 18 41 17 15 19 23 14 34 11 16 17 28 29 31 11 21 12 8 5 16 6 17 29 7 9 23 18 As frequency distribution, the date would be organised as follows. For example, count up how many times a number between 0 and 10 occurs. Time spent Number of per hour (minutes) workers 0-9 10 10-19 17 Classes 20-29 9 Class frequencies 30-39 3 40-60 1 Total 40 Total frequency A cumulative frequency distribution uses „ceilings‟ instead of ranges to define classes: „under 10, under20‟ etc. Time spent per hour (minutes) Number of workers = cumulative frequency Under 10 10 Under 20 10+27=27 Under 30 10+17+9=36 Under 40 10+17+9+3=39 Under 60 10+17+9+3+1=40 (Total sample) PRESENTING STATISTICAL INFORMATION: TABLES, CHARTS AND GRAPHS „A picture paints a thousand words‟. A simple visual presentation of data has more impact and immediately than a table or block of text that is uniform to the eye and may contain superfluous elements. Tables Tables are a simple way of presenting numerical information. Figures are displayed, and can be compared with each other: relevant totals, subtotals, or percentages can also be presented as a summary for analysis. A table is two-dimensional (rows and columns), so it can only show two variables: a sales chart for a year, for example, might have rows for products, and columns for each month of the year. You simply need to enter the appropriate figures on each position. SALES FIGURES FOR 19.. Product Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec TOTAL $ 000 A B C D TOTAL Here are some further guidelines: The table should be given a clear title. All columns and rows should be clearly labeled. State the units being used. (E.g. $$$). Where appropriate, there should be clear sub-totals. In the example above it might be appropriate, say, to have sub0totals for products A and B together and for C and D together as well as overall totals. A total figure is usually needed at the bottom of each column of figures and at the far right of each row. Tables should not be packed with so much data that the information presented is difficult to read. Line graphs A graph shows, by means of either a straight line or a curve, the relationship between two variables. In particular it shows how the value of one variable changes, according to changes in the value of the other variable. Changes in sales turnover over time; How a country‟s population changes over time. The general rules for plotting graphs can be summarized as follows. The scales on each axis should be selected so as to make the graph big enough to be easily read. In some cases it is best not start a scale at zero: this is perfectly acceptable as long as the scale adopted is clearly shown. Graphs can show more than one line. However, they should not be overcrowded with too many lines. They should give a clear, neat impression. The axes must be clearly labeled with descriptions and units. Bar charts The bar chart is one of the most common methods of presenting data in a visual display. It is chart in which data is shown in the form of bar. And is used to demonstrate and compare amounts or number of things. Pie charts A pie chart is used to show pictorially the relative sizes of component elements of a total value or amount. The whole „pie‟ = 360” (the number of degree in a circle) = 100% of whatever you are showing. An element, which is 50% of your total, would therefore occupy a segment of 180 degrees and so on. (360 X 0.5 = 180). Drawings A drawing of a company‟s product, say. With labels for interesting features, is often a very efficient way of presenting a lot of information in a small space. It may be either a simple line drawing or something more elaborate. Photographs are more impactful, in general, but less clear, for conveying paints of detail: a photograph has many elements (foreground, background, shadow, colour etc) competing for the reader‟s attention. The essence of a drawing is that it can be used to select and highlight basic lines and features, and ignore irrelevancies. Tints and solid colour can be used to fill in areas within the line drawing, to create emphasis, distinguish one type of feature from another and so on. MECHANISM DESCRIPTION Introduction Objective- to describe any mechanism used in the study A mechanism any object or system that has as working part(s) Suggests tools, instruments & machines A typical description of materials usually: Provides an overview Describes the principal parts in detail Makes a conclusion Mechanism description explains the purpose, appearance, physical structure, and sometimes the operation or behavior of a mechanism. The word mechanism, as used here, refers to any object that takes up space and behaves in a predictable manner or performs work. In this sense, a driver‟s license is a much as mechanism as is a clutch or an automobile. Mechanism description is an important means of conveying evidence of their presence and of making visible to the mind what may not be visible to the eye. At work, at home, at leisure, we are surrounded by mechanisms and objects. To evaluate them or use them, we need to know all their functions, features, and how their parts work together or relate to one another. Mechanism description helps meet our need to know. DECIDING HOW MUCH INFORMATION TO PROVIDE One of the universal problems of mechanism descriptions is the decision of how much information to provide. You can potentially so much in the description that it becomes unacceptably long and provides information that readers cannot use. You must select what information to include and what to leave out. Four familiar considerations face you immediately when you prepare to describe a mechanism or object: 1. What is the purpose of your descriptions? 2. Who is your audience? 3. How familiar is your audience with the mechanism or object? 4. What is the audience‟s purpose in reading the descriptions? Mechanisms have specially designed features built into them that are important to readers, and describing these features is one of your most important tasks. You do not want to burden readers with unnecessary information, but you also don‟t want to omit meaningful information. Because you know so well the features of the mechanism you describe, it may be difficult for you to remember that such knowledge might appear isolated and unimportant to your readers unless you explain the importance of the feature. When you mention the features in your presentation, immediately explain the significance of the features so that it has meaning to your readers. The two- column format will do, or you can combine the information like this: The Shredmaster 180 has seven major features: Built-in shredder continuously feeds forms through the shredder. Works automatically and without supervision. ¾ hp motor has 70% more shredding power than most other models. Shreds 14 sheets of 20-lb.bond papers at one time. 12‟‟ throat accepts computer printout pages. Hardened cutter blades cannot be damaged by conventional staples or paper clips. ARRANGING THE DETAILS OF THE DESCRIPTION The Introduction Your readers must have an understanding of the overall mechanism or object and a mental framework in which to fit all the details before they get to the details, or they will be swamped. The introduction provides this kind of frame of reference and overview for the entire mechanism or object. “A volcano is a cone-shaped mountain with a crater in the top that from time to time erupts, spewing gases, rock, ash, and molten lave. The main features are its crater (the opening in the earth‟s surface) and the conduit connecting the opening to the interior of the earth, which contains magma (hot, molten lave). The largest active volcano in the world is Mauna Loa in the Hawaiian Islands, which towers more than 13,500 feet above sea level.” The most important statements you make about a mechanism or object early in your description relate to its functions, parts, and appearance. If you are familiar with the mechanism or object, it‟s easy to assume that your readers share your knowledge. But you must remind yourself that most readers will need information about what the mechanism or object does (if known), what it looks like and what its major parts are. Example: A hand hacksaw is a metal-cutting saw of three parts: a handle, a C- shaped frame, and a thin, narrow blade fastened to the open side of the frame. Every mechanism is designed or has the form to fulfill a particular function. The question to answer is: why is the mechanism designed as it is? Or why is the object shaped as it is? Example: A drafting compass is designed for drawing circles, ares and ellipses. When the mechanism or object you are describing is part of a larger mechanism or object, you should explain how the mechanism or object relates to the larger whole. Your readers always need a notion of the size, and general appearance of the mechanism or object. Size can be explained by giving dimensions (the metal plate is 2”X3”X1/4” or by comparisons (the film canister is about the size of a tube of lipstick). Every mechanism or object has at least two parts. Partitioning the mechanism or object into its major parts usually presents no problems, unless it is extremely simple or complicated. In either instance you make some arbitrary decisions. Try to come up with not less than parts and not more than five or six. The lists of parts indicate the order in which the parts will be discussed. The order may be one of three sequences: 1. Function: The parts are described in the order of their activity-Part A moves Part B, which moves Part C, and so forth. 2. Space: The parts are described from left to right, top to bottom, outside to inside, front to back, and so on 3. Importance: The parts are described from the most significant to the least significant The Body The body of a mechanism description explains each other major part in the order indicated by the list of major parts in the introduction. The parts description provides much the same information for each part that the introduces does for the mechanism or object as a whole. The Ending The ending explains how the mechanism how the mechanism works or is used. Here you divide its function or behavior into meaningful stages and explain what happened in each. For instance, if the writer who described the bolus gun had not provided such information in the introduction, he might have described its use like this: “The bolus gun, designed like a hypodermic syringe, can be used with one hand. The operator grips the gun with one hand, opens the animal‟s mouth with the other, and inserts the end of the gun deep enough into the animal‟s throat to prevent the pill or tablet from being coughed up.” PREPARED BY: Mdm. Sharimllah Devi FOSEE MATERIALS A. Overview ( This step consistes of a few sentences to indicate the material used. It gives a general idea of the material and the purpose for which it is intended B. Description of the principal parts ( Here each major part or characteristic of the material is described in logical sequence using spatial or functional arrangement) C. Functional description (This last step shows how the various features described in B function together.) Complete the description of the solar water heating system by filling in the blanks with the appropriate active or passive verb in the correct tense. Solar systems designed to heat water 1. _________ now common in private homes in many parts of the country . A typical domestic water heating system 2._________ of three parts , which are : (A) roof-mounted solar collectors, (B) a solar storage tank, and (C) an existing water heater.Water 3._____________ through the south-facing collectors by a circulation pump.(D) As water 4._____________ through the collectors, it acquires heat and returns to the storage tank. When hot water is needed, it 5.___________ from the existing water heater (C) and replaced by solar heated water. An electronic control turns the pump on only during those hours when usable solar energy 6. ____________. It also activates the drain-down valve (E) to drain the system when the storage tank 7.__________completely _____ with thermal energy. The existing water heater 8. __________ as a back-up unit during long periods of cloudy weather, or when demand is unusually high. Otherwise, its energy consumption 9.________ as long as the solar water temperature 10._________ higher than the existing water heater's thermostat setting 1. A) are B) have C) will 2. A) has B) contains C) consists 3. A) pumps B) pumped C) is pumped 4. A) pass B) passes C) passed 5. A) takes B) is taken C) was taken 6. A) can be collected B) could be collected C) can collect 7. A) will charge B) has charged C) is charged 8. A) act B) serves C) is 9. A) is eliminated B) eliminates C) was eliminated 10. A) get B) become C) is Write the passage out with the answers that you've picked. See you in class!!