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What are the different types of reports?

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What are the different types of reports?

There are many different types of reports. They vary according to the reason/s for the report and for the purpose it will serve for the intended reader.
In the College of Business, you are required to develop the skills of report writing using investigative methods and research from a variety of sources
Note: Always check your Course Guide for the required report format to ensure that you are meeting the specific assessment criteria.
A step by step guide to report writing

Step 1 Choose your topic

If you are given a list of topics from which to choose, select the one that interests you the most or that may have relevance to your chosen career.
If you are allowed to create your own report topic choose a subject that you want to learn more about and that interests you or is a current problem in your workplace that you wish to address.
Step 2 Read the instructions relating to your assessments as set down in your Course Guide

Always check your course guide to ensure that you are clear about what you are required to do.

  • When is the report due?

  • How long is it?

  • What is the format?

  • What is the structure?

  • How does this topic relate to the course?

  • How does this topic relate to the current area being studied?

Step 3 Analyse the topic

Break the topic into its component parts to understand what the main issue is that must be addressed.
Report topics can usually be divided into three sections:

  • Content What is the issue or problem to be addressed?

  • Instruction What have you been asked to do in relation to the topic?

  • Scope How has the topic been limited – is there a focus on particular organisations/ countries /year(s)?

Underline key words and draw circles around the action/instruction words.
It is really important that you understand what the instruction words are telling you to do.
Step 4 Brain storm – what do you already know about the issue?

A brainstorm is the beginning of a mind map – these random ideas can be organised into a structured mind map that will provide you with a guide for your research and your writing.

  • Using your reading, lectures and your own experiences think about what you already know about the problem/issue.

  • On a blank piece of paper, write down all the ideas that you think might be related to the subject under review

  • Write down where you think you need to go to get information other than from books, journals websites etc. Think about who you know in business who you might be able to interview.

Step 5 Starting your research

Although you are required to read and research widely, it is better to gain an overview of the topic by firstly reading the recommended texts – don’t go straight online unless instructed to do so by your lecturer or tutor.
The texts will give you a broad understanding of .the main ideas, writers and theories associated with the issue.
By familiarising yourself with the key concepts, the next stage of your investigation will be more targeted.
Step 6 Mind mapping

A mind map is a visual way of gathering your ideas about a particular topic.

Mind maps help you to identify the main ideas and what research needs to be conducted to provide the evidence that supports these ideas.

Your mind map is a good time management resource. It will help you focus your search for information more efficiently and to organise your ideas into a coherent and logical structure when you write your report.

Table 16

Mind mapping for reports

Topic question

On a blank piece of paper, write down the topic.

Key ideas

Use the brain storming notes and information gained from general reading to jot down the key ideas. This is the first step in developing a mind map.


As you continue to do research, start to put the information into groups so that you can see the connections between ideas/theories. This will help you to sort out which are the key ideas and what is the supporting information.

Delete any unnecessary ideas

Once you have completed this task, you can delete any unnecessary ideas that you have now identified as irrelevant.

Single page

Keep your mind map to a single page.

For more information on mind mapping go to the Learning Lab - Study Skills <>.
Step 7 Focus your research

As Business students you need to be familiar with current trends and thinking. Websites, newspapers and journals will be important resources for your research.
When you are using the online resources use the search engines provided by the university such as Factiva, Proquest, Blackwell Synergy, IBIS world, Informit. These will provide you with sources that can be relied on for accuracy and integrity.
At this stage you must read with a purpose and only make notes when you are sure that the text has the information you need to use in your assessment task.
Always make sure you have recorded the full reference list entry details – you will need this information later.
For more information on recording your research go to the interactive online referencing resource for Business students <>.
Refer to your course guide for recommended reading lists. If there are no recommended texts, you will need to use resources available through the Library data bases <>.
Hints and Tips on Efficient Reading Strategies

  • Once you have identified the key words and concepts relating to the topic, use these reading strategies to make your research more efficient and to maximise the use of your time.

  • Skim and scan. Use key words and concepts to quickly locate information

  • Use chapter headings, abstracts, introductions, conclusions to find the main ideas the writer is exploring – if they are relevant – continue

  • Make notes when key information has been identified

Contact the Library Liaison Officer for your course if you need assistance. For additional help with reading more efficiently visit the Learning Lab <>.

Hints and Tips on Critical Reading

One of your tasks when researching is to determine the validity, accuracy and credibility of your sources. This requires you to consider carefully what you are reading. It is always important to critically examine the statements being made and the evidence being used.

For your assessment tasks you will often be using the websites of companies and organisations. The information they provide will be positive and promotional so it is important to question the objectivity and reliability of the data.
Do this by considering the following questions:-

  • Who is the writer?

  • When was the article written?

  • What evidence has the writer provided to support their argument?

  • How convincing is it? Why? - What are the grounds for saying so?

  • How logical is it? - Again, what are the grounds for saying so?

  • What assumptions / overgeneralizations does the writer make?

  • What are the implications of this work?

  • What has the writer failed to consider? Where are the gaps?

  • Is there evidence of bias?

  • Do you agree or disagree with this writer’s standpoint?

  • With which parts of the argument do you agree/disagree, and for what reasons?

  • Is the methodology / the analysis appropriate?

  • Are there any weaknesses or errors in the writing or calculations?

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