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Writing Research Reports

Written Analysis and Communication

Understanding Written Communication Recalling Basics

Communication Process
N
Encoding, transmit

O I

E
Receive, decode, act

MEDIUM/ CHANNEL

SENDER
transmission

RECEIVER

FEEDBACK

FRAME OF REFERENCE

FRAME OF REFERENCE

N O I S E

The chances for effective communication improve through

Clarity of purpose why am I sending this message, what do I want to achieve, why is this task being done
Understanding of audience and its task needs, level of comprehension, language skills Simple and precise message construction

The Seven Cs of Communication


Clarity Consideration Conciseness Completeness Concreteness Courtesy Correctness

Oral and Written Communication


Oral At a point in time Generally face to face Gives opportunity to clarify messages Quick Complemented by nonverbal communication Tends to be less precise

Written Transcends barriers of time and space More formal, specific Reduced opportunity for instant feedback Relatively slow

In written communication therefore, message construction and presentation assume special significance

Other Distinguishing Features of Written Communication


Protocol is more formal and structured Large and complex audience more than one role Multiple readers of a single message Knowledge of the reader and need to adapt Needs of the reader vary Strategic reading Strategic thinking Therefore, precision, clarity and brevity in message construction is important for more effective communication.

Structures in Written Communication


Technical Words Sentence Paragraph Individual (speaks about my
writing skills as a manager)

Structure Style Content

Grammar, Vocabulary, Principles of Writing, Purpose & Message

Visualise this office situation.


You are part of a corporate office audit team Your reporting manager has asked you to write a report about a recent system audit that you carried out in one of the offices You have done a very meticulous job and have prepared a ten page report covering all the work systems of the office Now . As you present it to your reporting manager

Do you think
The manager can read all papers that come to his desk Can he read every word of the papers that he reads though he would want to? And you would want him to especially your report? Does he read every word in the sequence that it appears or does he just dip into some of the things

This is your need as you present the report..

The manager must get the message about the task on hand in this case the status of the systems you have audited He should be able to use the report to make an informed decision in this case to get an idea of what action to take if some systems are not working as desired; to correctly understand the reasons He should be able to have a fair assessment of your managerial capability objective reporting, synthesizing of data, interpreting data, arriving at data based conclusions

Possible Messages

Not all writing gets treated equally


Some documents are more likely to be read than others

Readers often just browse through the contents of written documents before deciding on the action to be taken

A Systematic Approach to Report Writing The Writing Process


Contextual: Planning
Communication & Research Strategy Technical: Researching & Analysing Gather Data Interpret Data Composing: Communicating Structure Write Deliver

Identify Solution

Proposal- Planning Phase


As we begin the process, there is a need for Arriving at and defining the purpose of the report Need to define the audience Need to define the needs of the audience Identifying the suitable research methods and sources

Report Writing

Learning Scope/Outcomes

Learn what is a report What are its constituents What is the writing protocol sequencing, formatting, acknowledging source Aligning purpose and readers needs What distinguishes an effective report from an ineffective one

Definition What is a Report


An orderly and objective communication of factual information that serves some business purpose.
(could be new learning instead of business if it is a research report)

Definition (Contd.)

Orderly method in preparation and presentation that makes it a systematic work e.g. correct sequencing, logical organisation Objective unbiased approach, based on facts, relies on facts as opposed to generalised or qualitative statements based on intuition and perceptions. Communication purpose and reader oriented, message, feedback Factual information substantiating data Business purpose business needs, managerial task

What are reports

Reports, put simply, are messages that present a collection of data thoughtfully adapted to the needs of the report readers to help them make informed decisions within a professional context. People write reports because they need to or choose to transmit information that will help accomplish specific professional goals.
Netzley Michael & Snow Craig (2011), Guide to Report Writing

The Function of Reports

Communicate authoritative and substantive news e.g. results of investigations, earnings, periodic sales figures

Communicate authoritative and reliable information to key constituencies within the organisation e.g. reports of task forces, committees.
Guide informed decision making
Netzley Michael & Snow Craig (2011), Guide to Report Writing

What reports can speak about you as a manager ..


How well you think How well you gather, assemble, and analyse data How well you draw conclusions and recommendations from data How well you support your assertions How well you create messages that meet the needs of your readers
Netzley Michael & Snow Craig (2011), Guide to Report Writing

Reports can take different forms .


By length : long or short By content :numerical or descriptive By format : as a simple memo or more formal By frequency : periodic (routine such as monthly sales or financial reports) or special projects By stage of problem solving process : proposals, progress reports, completion reports

Ultimate Purposes That A Report May Serve

Decision oriented reports


Survey based research reports Problem solving reports

Understanding these purposes helps structure your report for clarity and addressing the readers needs

Report Content

Essentially data driven primary or secondary data, minimal or substantial research (fact finding) Thoughtfully selected data meets three criteria viz. (i) content quality (useful data) (ii) reliability (specific
evidence, verifiable and accurate, conclusions and recommendations supported by sound evidence and reasoning) (iii) self-sufficiency (can the report be used by itself without seeking additional information)

Data is then thoughtfully synthesized i.e. generalised, (conclusions that emerge from data analysis), grouped (grouped into topics based upon some organisation principle), sequencing (arranging groups in a suitable sequence)

Adapting Report Content to the Reader

Facilitate understanding of data : so reports are not a random collection of data Well structured message Designed for a quick read
Functional tool for informed decision making

Report Content And Sequencing Of Content


Cover Page
Introductory Pages: Acknowledgement Abstract Table of contents List of tables List of figures List of variables

Report Format

Text:

Introduction (what, why and how) Literature review Objectives and hypothesis Research methodology Results (findings) Discussion and Conclusions Recommendations if any

Concluding Part:

References Bibliography Appendices

What is an Abstract

Abstract gives the overview of the research report outlining the title of the research, objectives, need for the research (rationale), research methodology, findings and highlights of inferences.

Example
The changes in the socioeconomic conditions in India, especially after independence, have affected family and work, the two important focal points of adult life. Specifically, increase in the number of women in the workforce and reduced household size have affected men's and women's roles and consequently have affected perceptions of social support toward the job and life. The Present research was designed to study social support and job involvement in urban dual career nuclear families in India. Data were collected from 50 working couples in Delhi who belonged to nuclear families and had at least one elementary school going child. Data was collected using standardized questionnaires. Results indicated that husbands and wives agreed that they perceived spouse and family social support. It was found, contrary to our belief, that job involvement was not gender specific and both husbands and wives could be equally involved in their work. This indicates that there is a change in the urban nuclear family support system and the traditional role expectations are undergoing a transition.

Example
The changes in the socioeconomic conditions in India, especially after independence, have affected family and work, the two important focal points of adult life. Specifically, increase in the number of women in the workforce and reduced household size have affected men's and women's roles and consequently have affected perceptions of social support toward the job and life. The Present research was designed to study social support and job involvement in urban dual career nuclear families in India. Data were collected from 50 working couples in Delhi who belonged to nuclear families and had at least one elementary school going child. Data was collected using standardized questionnaires. Results indicated that husbands and wives agreed that they perceived spouse and family social support. It was found, contrary to our belief, that job involvement was not gender specific and both husbands and wives could be equally involved in their work. This indicates that there is a change in the urban nuclear family support system and the traditional role expectations are undergoing a transition.

Giving a Structure To The Main Text

Organisation- Designing chapters, main sections,


subsections within main sections

Linkage- Continuity between chapters and also


between sections as well as subsections

Closing the report Chapter on conclusions and


suggestions is a detailed elaboration of the inferences and suggestions

Findings, Conclusion, Recommendation

Findings: results or outcomes of data analysis


Discussion: interpretation or inferences of the evaluation i.e. findings Recommendation: points to a specific course of action. (writing a recommendation is a form of persuasive writing)
The basis of all is only facts

Report Presentation The Hard Copy


Paper size and type Margins Indention Spacing between lines paragraphs, before each centre heading, centre subheading, side heading and indented paragraph Spacing within a sentence between words, after a colon, after a semi-colon, after a comma, after a full stop, brackets, quotation marks, hyphen, slash

What Makes a Report Good or Effective

Relevance to the context does it serve the purpose in view Readability adaptability to audience (length), sentence length, word choice, sequencing of data, etc. Skim Value- message is conclusion oriented, clear and logical structure Objectivity personal representation of facts v/s impersonal writing,

What Makes a Report Good or Effective (2)

Completeness - reading of abstract and conclusion of a report should give the clear picture of the report content to the readers Structuring of information tables (each and every table must be numbered and it must be referred in the main text), graphs, matrices, paragraphs, (formatting of data) Language grammar, spelling and sentence construction- (avoid using lengthy sentences unless warranted)

Presentation formatting, aesthetics

Your Assignment

Tasks

Read through your proposal and the feedback once again

Review once again the alignment between the purpose (research questions/objectives) and content
Get a clear idea of data collection, analysing and synthesizing (construct meaning out of it by appropriate organisation)

Arrive at your concluding message and check for alignment with the purpose Organise the complete matter as a report

Submission by Monday, December 31, 9 a.m. (soft copy) 3 p.m. (hard copy)

Thank You