SO YOU HAVE TO WRITE A REPORT 10 Steps to a Better Report Grade Getting Started Step 1: Budget Your Time. There’s a basic formula: Allow 1/3 of the time for research. Allow 1/3 of the time for organizing data into a basic written product and editing and/or reorganizing data. Allow 1/3 of the time for polishing the writing, formatting and proofreading. Research Phase Step 2: Understand the Assignment What’s the goal of the report? What’s the scope of the report? How many sources are required? Think breadth. What level of detail is expected? How advanced? Think depth here. What format is expected for the report and for citing your sources? Research Phase Step 3: Choose Appropriate Sources GO TO THE LIBRARY early. The Librarians are amazing and helpful. Wikipedia and Internet searches = introductory, OK for definitions, a start. Field-specific databases, professional journals, academic sources = more appropriate for post-secondary research. Research Phase Did I mention that you should GO to the LIBRARY? … seriously, they’re really helpful there. Research Phase Step 4: Save Time by Recording Sources Collect good data, including visuals (tables, graphs, etc.) Even if you’re not sure you’ll use it, print it out or photocopy it & note the source right on the printed page. Note all information required by the citation format you must use. Research Phase Recording sources as you go saves time because: You can easily find the article again if you want more information or want to check your facts. You pre-build your bibliography/list of works cited, avoiding annoying searches for details later. DID YOU KNOW? The new version of Word has a fantastic References feature. Organization & Writing Phase Step 5: Organize Your Data What information seems to belong together naturally? If you group your data differently, does a different organization seem to appear? Pick the organization that works best for your project requirements & reader. Organization & Writing Phase Step 6: Turn groups of data into report sections Organize etc.). data in a group into a sensible order (chrono, Turn each piece of data into a sentence. Turn the group of sentences into a paragraph. Introduce Start and conclude the paragraph. thinking about intros, conclusions and recommendations. Organization and Writing Phase Step 7: Meaningful Headings = Easy Marks The organization you chose determines your headings. Be consistent with the appearance of headings at each level. Major grouping = HEADING Sub-grouping = Subheading Sub-sub-grouping = Sub-subheading Organization and Writing Phase Step 8: Edit OK. You’ve got a basic document. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH. Take a hard look. In what ways is it lacking? Too much about A, not enough about B. Balance the data. Biased – all positive reviews for A. Dig deeper. Lame sources for Z. Get better ones. It’s hard to understand/visualize X. Find/create a diagram/chart. Revising/Polishing Phase Step 9: Revise/Reorganize/Rewrite Check for the overall flow of logic in this phase. Add, change or delete, according to what you noticed in the editing phase. Finalize your intro, conclusions and recommendations. Do they reflect your content? Finally, have another person read your report. Does it make sense to him or her? Polishing Phase Step 10: Unify the Formatting Ensure all headings look the same. And all subheadings. And all sub-sub… you get it. Ensure you have used the same font, spacing, margins, and paper throughout. Number Add the pages. covering material. Polishing Phase Step 11: Proofread OK, OK, there are actually 11 steps, not 10, but 11 doesn’t sound as good. Proofreading means checking your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Use Spellcheck. Use grammar check. THEN CHECK IT YOURSELF. Read it out loud (you heard me). You’ll catch a lot of errors that way. Don’t forget to visit a Communications Centre near you!!