reportwriting - A (SHORT) REPORT ON REPORT WRITING Angus...

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A (SHORT) REPORT ON REPORT WRITING Angus Morrison-Saunders Senior Lecturer in Environmental Assessment School of Environmental Science Murdoch University August 2008 [Task: write an engaging 4 page report (excluding title page, table of contents, abstract and references) that demonstrates effective report writing skills]. Abstract Drawing on personal opinion and published guides, in this report I model effective report writing structure and content. I start with this single paragraph Abstract which properly contains elements of 'introduction', 'methodology', 'results' or 'discussion' and 'conclusion'. I argue that creating an 'idiot-proof' and 'stand-alone' document that can be comprehended by a reader with basic school level English skills is an essential aim of report writing. I address the importance of referencing in argument construction and touch on other aspects of professional report writing such as presentation, balance and language choice. In doing so, I demonstrate that creative writing can be produced whilst adhering to the guidance I advocate. TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTENTS PAGE 1. Introduction 1 2. Creating an 'Idiot-proof' and ‘Stand-Alone’ Document 1 3. Structuring a Report 2 3.1 Using Headings Effectively 2 3.2 Maintaining Balance 2 3.3 Working Towards Attractive Presentation 2 4. Referencing and Credibility 3 5. Other Issues for Effective Written Communication 4 5.1 Non-Discriminatory Language 4 5.2 Colloquial Language 4 6. Conclusions and Recommendations 4 7. References 5 LIST OF BOXES Box 1 Comparison of Two Presentation Styles 3
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1 A (SHORT) REPORT ON REPORT WRITING 1. Introduction Effective communication is the key to success as a professional. Report writing provides us an opportunity to create an enduring legacy for expressing our professional knowledge and views. To ensure that your work is read it is important to develop skills in effective report writing. By effective I mean both creative (i.e. engaging to the reader) and with convincing content. In a time of information overload (e.g. Hurst 2007), a report should be short and succinct but as Mark Twain (1835-1910) famously said: "I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead" i . It is far more challenging to write a short report compared to a long and rambling or 'waffley' work, and it is a task that requires much drafting and re-drafting (Blaxter et al 2006, p228). In this report I model what I consider to be important report writing skills and content. My primary purpose is to help my reader understand how to create an effective professional report. I draw upon the well established literature on this topic as well as personal views derived from 20 years as an academic. To demonstrate the most important writing skills explicitly, I present this report in keeping with my
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reportwriting - A (SHORT) REPORT ON REPORT WRITING Angus...

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