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  4. Reports

Reports

Some modules ask students to produce reports. There are four main types of report: information or description reports, reports of investigations or studies, maths reports and science reports. These are composed of different sections, which can vary according to what is specified in your assignment or module guide. Always refer to your module materials to find out what sections might be required in your assignment.

The title of a report asks the question to be addressed and indicates the topic. Within the report itself you may need to incorporate the following sections.

Abstract

In a science or maths report this includes what was done, how it was done and what the main findings were. In an information report this is a short paragraph that summarises the main findings.

Introduction

In a maths report this outlines the aim of the report and gives essential background information, including the context where applicable, and defines key terms. In a science report this outlines the aim of the report and explains why the investigation was undertaken and places it in the context of previous work. In an information report this outlines the aim of the report and includes background information. It defines key terms and indicates how you approach the question. It might be appropriate to explain what you don't intend to write about – thus indicating the scope of your report.

Main body

This main section may also include sub-sections such as a discussion, results or findings, and the methodology. A maths report is likely to include sections in its main body on

  • modelling: the assumptions made, a description of the model including the choice of variables and parameters, the mathematics used and interpretation and evaluation of results
  • proofs: includes a statement of what is to be proved and details of the proof
  • history: includes a list of both supporting and opposing facts and then develops the argument.

In a science report the main body generally comprises

  • materials and methods: the experimental details
  • results: the results of the experiments performed. Acommentary accompanies data presented in the form of graphs, tables, images or diagrams
  • discussion: a critical interpretation of the results presented in the context of other researchers' observations.

In an information report the main body should be divided into sections, possibly with sub-headings. Points can be numbered or presented in bullet form. Each point should be supported by evidence or an example.

Conclusions or recommendations

In a maths or science report this section may not be necessary, but could include suggestions for further research. In an information report this summarises (in one or two sentences) the main points of information.

Reference section

Check your module materials to see the format you need to use for the reference section.