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The purpose of a report

A report is a practical document that describes, details or analyses something so that the reader can make decisions or take specific action concerning it. A report can be written about anything; a business issue, a recent event, a piece of research, however it is likely to be one or more of the following in character:

Defining or establishing the facts surrounding a current situation

Exploring and explaining a situation and suggesting a range of possible actions

Investigating a problem and recommending a specific course of action

The difference between reports and essays

As a part of the assessment for your course, you may be required to write both reports and essays; this table highlights the main differences between the two:  

  Report Essay
Purpose - To resolve a problem
- To improve a situation
- To understand a phenomena
It usually involves defining an issue, investigating, presenting and analysing information in order to develop a set of recommendations (actions)
- To research and answer a question
- To establish or test a proposition
Title Statement e.g.: ‘A cost-benefit analysis of workplace training programmes in Zambia’  Question e.g.: ‘Is cost-benefit analysis an effective approach for decision-making in developing countries?’ 

- A case study
- An investigation
- An experiment 

A discussion exploring a proposition and making an argument for or/and against an idea
Format May include bullet points as well as paragraphs Series of paragraphs
Writing Style Direct, academic Discursive, academic
Typical Structure

- Abstract
- Introduction
- Aims
- Method
- Results
- Discussion
- Conclusion… etc.

- Introduction
- Main body (progressive order)
- Conclusion
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