Academic Writing

Genres in academic writing: Brief reports

Many newspapers and magazines regularly include short reports of current research that may be of interest to the educated reader. You may be asked to write one as part of your course.

For a brief research report, you will probably include the following stages:

  • Short summary. This summarises the main points of the research. It will include the names of the researchers, where they work and where the main report is published.
  • General background. This puts the research in the wider context by giving brief details of the subject and the state of present research.
  • Purpose. This explains the purpose of the investigation, and explains why it was carried out.
  • Procedure. This explains how the research was carried out. It gives details of who the subjects were, how the data was gathered and any special equipment that was used.
  • Results. This gives details of any new information that came from an anaysis of the data. What was found?
  • Conclusions. The report concludes by relating the findings to the wider context and explains why the research is relevant today.

A brief research report could have the following stages.

Brief Reports

Title
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Summary

Give the main points of the research, the names of the authors,
where they work and where the results were published.

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Background

Describe the present state of knowledge in the area.

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Purpose

Explain the purpose of the investigation.

Why was it was carried out?

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Procedure

Explain how the research was carried out.

Give details of who the subjects were and how the data was gathered.

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Results

Give details of any new information that came from an anaysis of the data.

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Conclusion

Conclude by explain why the research is relevant in the modern world.

Example

Tired drivers as risky as drinkers

Health correspondent

Sleep-deprived drivers are less alert than those who have drunk more than the legal limit of alcohol, according to new research.

A study published today in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that fatigue can reach dangerous levels at a much earlier stage than has been assumed.

The authors, from Australia and New Zealand, tested responses of 39 volunteers after sleep deprivation and after drinking alcohol equivalent to the legal driving limit in Scandinavia.

They found that those who had been up since 6am performed worse in tests between 10.30pm and midnight than those who were

tested in the morning with 50mg of alcohol in their bloodstream (the UK limit is 80mg).

The researchers suggest that countries which set drink-driving limits should consider setting restrictions to prevent people who have been awake for more than 18 hours from driving, piloting aircraft, or operating machinery. Tiredness is estimated to play a part in between 16% and 60% of road accidents in the United States, they say, but few attempts have been made to work out at what point in the day or night that tiredness reaches serious levels.

“The implications of fatigue for safe performance are well recognised particularly in road safety, but in other settings as

well,” write Andrew Williamson of the School of Psychology University of New South Wales, and Anne-Marie Feyer from the University of Otago, Dunedin.

The volunteers - lorry drivers and members of the transport corps of the Australian army - were put through tests to measure thinking speed and physical reactions, coordination and attention span. They carried out the tests after a day and night of wakefulness and after drinking alcohol.

The researchers found that commonly experienced levels of sleep deprivation - staying awake for 17 to 19 hours - depressed performance in the same way as drinking a couple of glasses of alcohol.

 

See: Writing Functions 1: DescribingWriting Functions 8: ExamplesWriting Functions 12: EvaluatingWriting Functions 2: ReportingWriting Functions 16: ReasonsWriting Functions 18: SupportingWriting: SummaryWriting Functions 13: ComparingWriting Functions 23: ConcludingWriting Functions 14: Generalising

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