Academic Wtriting

Genres in academic writing: Reports

Many students, particularly science and business students, will at some time be expected to write a report.


Your report should have the following sections:

1. Preliminaries

Title page

2. Main text


3. End matter References

1. Preliminaries

Before you start the main part of your report, there should be a title page. The title page should contain information to enable your lecturer and departmental office to identify exactly what the piece of work is. It should include your name and course; the title of the assignment and any references; the lecturer it is for etc. Check with your department for clear information. A report should also normally include an abstract and a contents page. The abstract should give some background information, clearly state the principal purpose of the report, give some information about the methodology used, state the most important results and the conclusion. See: Writing an abstract. The contents page will give page numbers for the main sections.

2. The main text

The main body consists of several paragraphs of ideas, data and argument. Each section develops a subdivision of the report purpose. The introduction gives background knowledge that supports the reason for writing the report and an organisation statement. The methodology section gives details of how the information in the report was obtained. Findings and results give the data that has been collected, while the discussion argues that the results lead to the clearly expressed conclusion. The sections are linked in order to connect the ideas. The purpose of the report must be made clear and the reader must be able to follow its development. See: Writing Functions 5: Function

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Findings/Results
  4. Discussion
  5. Conclusion

I. The introduction.

The introduction consists of three parts:

      1. It should include a short review of the literature to provide a background to your report and to attract the reader's attention. It may include a definition of terms in the context of the report, etc.
      2. It should try to explain why you are writing the report. You need to establish a gap in current knowledge.
      3. It should also include a statement of the specific subdivisions of the topic and/or indication of how the topic is going to be tackled in order to specifically address the question.

It should introduce the central idea or the main purpose of the writing. See: Writing Introductions

II. Methodology.

The methodology section gives details of how the information in the report was obtained and some justification for this. It may give details of the materials and procedures used. In any kind of experimental report, details of the people involved will need to be included. See: Writing Research Methods

III. Findings/Results.

The findings and results give the data that has been collected. This may be shown in the form of tables, graphs or diagrams. In all cases, reference must be made to the location of the information, the main details of the data and any comments on this. See: Writing Research Results

IV. Discussion.

The main purpose of the discussion is to show that the results lead clearly to the conclusion being drawn. This may include any limitations that might cause problems with any claims being made as well as any possible explanations for these results. See: Writing Research Discussions

V. The conclusion.

The conclusion includes the writer's final points.

    1. It should recall the issues raised in the introduction and draw together the points made in the results and discussion
    2. and come to a clear conclusion.

It should clearly signal to the reader that the report is finished and leave a clear impression that the purpose of the report has been achieved. See: Writing Conclusions




Identification of Gap
Organisation Statement





Introductory Sentence - Overview
Concluding Sentence





Introductory Sentence
Locating Results
Concluding Sentence





Introductory Sentence - Overview
Review of Findings
Possible Explanations
Concluding Sentence





Recall Issues in Introduction - Report Purpose; 
Draw Together Main Points;
Final Comment - Clear Conclusion.



3. End Matter

At the end of the report, there should be a list of references. This should give full information about the materials that you have used in the report. See Writing a List of References for more information on the reference list. The appendices may contain full details of data collected.