Before you start any work on your report, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of the report? Read the brief carefully; identify the key words.
  • Who is the report for? How much knowledge might the recipient have already? How much detail is required?
  • What sort of information will be relevant, and where can it be found?

What you do next depends on the type of investigation you have been asked to carry out. If you are doing an experiment, you need to think about the method you are going to use. If you are using data analysis to answer a question you need to think about how you are going to access or obtain relevant data. In either case you need to think about keywords and research your topic for background information.


Generating Ideas

Brainstorm the ideas for your report, i.e. as ideas begin to form write them down immediately regardless of importance or order - pattern notes are particularly useful for this. Put the key issue in the centre and let related ideas or factors radiate from it. Let your ideas flow as rapidly and spontaneously as possible. When you have collected all your ideas, re-write them in a more orderly, logical way.


Gathering Evidence

You will need to consult both primary Book-iconKeyword Definition original texts, such as a journal article giving an account of research carried out by the authors of the article. Another example would be an autobiography, photograph, film. and secondary Book-iconKeyword Definition opinions or commentary on other people’s work. Authors of books and journal articles often refer to previous related work, these accounts are secondary sources. These can include textbooks, journal articles and biographies. sources of information according to your assignment brief. Where possible you should consult the primary source. You should only use reliable and appropriate sources such as academic books and journals rather than relying on general websites.

Reports often require statistics which are obtainable from databases such as ProQuest Central, Company websites or official government websites. Remember to critically evaluate the material that you are consulting, do not simply collect the opinions of others and rearrange them. 



Make sure that you make a note of every book, article and website you have consulted as you carry out your research, so that you can create a bibliography when you come to compile the report. You may wish to create a Refworks account to manage your references. See the referencing section


Owl's Top Hoot

Have a look at Finding Information for tips on searching for academic information.