A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Reports

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1.
#18616

Academic Writing: Scientific Reports

This handout describes an organizational structure commonly used to report experimental research in many scientific disciplines, the IMRAD format: Introduction, Methods, Results, And Discussion. (This format is usually not used in reports describing other kinds of research, such as field or case studies, in which headings are more likely to differ according to discipline.) Although the main headings are standard for many scientific fields, details may vary; check with your instructor, or, if submitting an article to a journal, refer to the instructions to authors.

University of Wisconsin (2003). Articles>Scientific Communication>Reports

2.
#37487

Accessibility and Order: Crossing Borders in Child Abuse Forensic Reports   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Physicians write child abuse forensic reports for nonphysicians. We examined 73 forensic reports from a Canadian children's hospital for recurrent strategies geared toward making medical information accessible to nonmedical users; we also interviewed four report writers and five readers. These reports featured unique forensic inserts in addition to headings, lists, and parentheses, which are typical of physician letters for patients. We discuss implications of these strategies that must bridge the communities of medical, social, and legal practice.

Spafford, Marlee M., Catherine F. Schryer, Lorelei Lingard and Marcellina Mian. Technical Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Scientific Communication>Reports>Biomedical

3.
#11881

Analyzing and Reporting Usability Data

The Just-In-Time (JIT) method of data analysis has the virtue of immediacy, rapid turn-around, and team involvement; however there are several disadvantages. First, this type of analysis is problem-focused, rather than goal-focused. Long lists of problems are generated, but there is no clear relation to specific usability goals. Second, developers may not be able to fix things immediately so the context of the problem may be lost when it is time to fix the problem. Third, the JIT analysis requires that the entire development team observe the testing sessions since problems may occur that are the responsibility of different developers.

Wilson, Chauncey E. Usability Interface (1997). Articles>Usability>Testing>Reports

4.
#15087

Annual Reports That Work   (PDF)

Offers suggestions for creating excellent annual reports.

Worth, Carol. Intercom (2000). Articles>Writing>Reports

5.
#29087

Annual Reports: A Literature Review (1989-2001)  (link broken)   (members only)

Since the collapse of Enron Corporation in November 2001, annual reports and corporate financial disclosures have been the focus of government, corporate, and public attention. This article examines the literature written about annual reports between 1989 and 2001 to identify trends in research and determine areas of future study. Articles were categorized as related to SEC regulations and guidelines, summary annual reports, online annual reports, rhetorical analysis of annual reports, readability and accessibility of annual reports, methods of conveying negative information in annual reports, effective annual report writing, use and importance of annual reports, or use of annual reports in business writing classes. Post-Enron, it is likely that the number of articles in this area will dramatically increase over the next five to ten years.

Lord, Heather L. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2002). Articles>Business Communication>Financial>Reports

6.
#30386

Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Technical Recommendation Reports   (PDF)

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) can help proposal writers identify effective document design techniques and parts of arguments that are critical to persuasion. In addition, ELM has implications for other types of technical communication, including recommendation or feasibility reports. While one would anticipate that decision-makers would be willing and able to evaluate critically all arguments presented in a recommendation report, ELM explains why this is rarely so. Therefore, technical communicators can profit by understanding and using the two routes to persuasion or attitude shift, the central and peripheral routes, explained by ELM.

Engle, Carol. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Business Communication>Reports>Rhetoric

7.
#26537

Better Reports: How to Communicate the Results of Usability Testing  (link broken)   (PDF)

You've spent several days setting up a usability test, recruiting the participants and running it. Then you've pored over the data. What next? If you are doing usability testing as part of user-centred design within a business setting, then there are many ways that you can communicate the results. This paper looks at reports and then considers presentation and observation as alternatives to reports.

Jarrett, Caroline. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Usability>Testing>Reports

8.
#15096

Business Reports that Demand Attention   (PDF)

Walinskas offers tips for improving business reports.

Walinskas, Karl. Intercom (2001). Articles>Writing>Reports

9.
#38229

Checklist for Reports

This form can be used to evaluate several types of reports, including proposals and progress reports.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Writing>Reports>Technical Writing

10.
#19058

Cherryleaf Survey: Use of Single-Sourcing Solutions

During March and April 2003, Cherryleaf carried out an online survey into the current trends in technical communication. One of the questions we asked was: Do the people directly involved with user assistance development at your organization use a single sourcing authoring solution? Our findings are summarised in the article

Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Content Management>Single Sourcing>Reports

11.
#34882

Comments on Lab Reports by Mechanical Engineering Teaching Assistants: Typical Practices and Effects of Using a Grading Rubric   (peer-reviewed)

Many engineering undergraduates receive their first and perhaps most intensive exposure to engineering communication through writing lab reports in lab courses taught by graduate teaching assistants (TAs). Most of the TAs' teaching of writing happens through their comments on students' lab reports. Technical writing faculty need to be aware of TAs' response practices so they can build on or counteract that instruction as needed. This study examines the response practices of two TAs and the ways the practices shifted after the TAs began using a grading rubric. The analysis reveals distinct patterns in focus and mode, some reflecting best practices and some not. It also indicates encouraging changes after the TAs started using the grading rubric. The TAs' marginalia became more content focused and specific and, perhaps most important, less authoritative and more likely to reflect a coaching mode. The article concludes with implications for technical writing courses.

Smith Taylor, Summer. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>Engineering>Reports

12.
#38501

Common Industry Format for Usability Test Reports   (PDF)

The purpose of this technical specification is to facilitate incorporation of usability as part of the procurement decision-making process for interactive software products. Examples of such decisions include purchasing, upgrading and automating. It provides a common format for human factors engineers and usability professionals in supplier companies to report the methods and results of usability tests to customer organizations.

NIST (2001). Resources>Usability>Testing>Reports

13.
#30234

Communicating the Results of Field Studies to Support Usable Design  (link broken)   (PDF)

When you have completed the study, analyzed the data, and organized the interpretations and conclusions along with supporting data, you have to communicate the results to the people who need to know about them. How you communicate the results depends upon who the intended audience is, content needs of the audience, and the scope of the content. Increasing the odds of this information being used in the design process requires an understanding of the company's culture and the barriers limiting its use in the development process. Various strategies such as computer-slide presentations, reference notebooks, bound reports, and memos have been shown to be very effective in various circumstances.

Carlevato, Denise, Judith A. Ramey and Erin Leanne Schulz. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Usability>TC>Reports

14.
#10562

Computer-Assisted Grading of Essays and Reports   (peer-reviewed)

Someday computers may grade our students' essays and reports, but until then they can assist human graders in this onerous task. I wrote a program composed of three major sections: the first is a simple test editor for writing original comments; the second section consists of pre-written commentaries on common writing errors, principally in mechanics and organization; section three keeps track of bookkeeping. Questionnaire results show that students prefer this type of grading over traditional hand-written methods because it doesn't involve marks on their papers, and it produces more extensively detailed comments.

Jobst, Jack W. Computers and Composition (1984). Articles>Education>Reports>EPSS

15.
#32023

Considering Bias in Government Audit Reports: Factors That Influence the Judgments of Internal Government Auditors   (members only)

Government auditors collect data and assess, via written reports, the operations of a government; however, little is known about what can affect and govern their representations of those operations. This analysis examines research studies about author bias and government audit manuals in order to understand how government auditors' neutrality is threatened. While bias may be an overt function of preferential or prejudicial thoughts, most sources of bias that influence auditors derive from less explicit sources including prior expectations, media coverage, nondiagnostic information, and other significantly less direct channels. To determine how government guidelines address this issue for their auditors, the principle audit manuals for Canada and the United States were reviewed for their references to bias, impartiality, and objectivity. Neither manual provides a significant amount of guidance to assist auditors in addressing the problems of bias in data collection, interpretation, and representation. If bias is to be reduced in audit reports, more must be done.

Palmer, Laura A. JBC (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Government>Reports

16.
#36540

Creating a Usability Dashboard

We're often told that senior managers don't have the time to read a detailed report describing the findings from a usability test. This means our thoroughly argued, carefully analysed and clearly presented 60-page report could have no effect on improving the product or changing the culture. How can we better engage managers with our data?

Travis, David. UserFocus (2009). Articles>Content Management>Usability>Reports

17.
#34887

Crossing National and Corporate Cultures: Stages in Localizing a Pre-Production Meeting Report   (peer-reviewed)

Localization includes translating, explaining, and adapting a document for use in a specific culture. This article presents the case of a form for reporting the findings and decisions of pre-production meetings held during development of electronic products. The need to localize such a document may seem less obvious or critical than the need for sales documents like manuals, but this case demonstrates the same cultural requirements and, furthermore, the requirements of corporate differences. To meet local needs, the comprehensive preparation that localization requires should follow specific methods in each step of a process corresponding to the general writing process, like the stages defined in common technical writing texts. The deliberate use of an effective writing process to localize documents will improve results.

Major David L. and Akihiro Yoshida. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Localization>Reports

18.
#34929

Crossing National and Corporate Cultures: Stages in Localizing a Pre-Production Meeting Report   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Localization includes translating, explaining, and adapting a document for use in a specific culture. This article presents the case of a form for reporting the findings and decisions of pre-production meetings held during development of electronic products. The need to localize such a document may seem less obvious or critical than the need for sales documents like manuals, but this case demonstrates the same cultural requirements and, furthermore, the requirements of corporate differences. To meet local needs, the comprehensive preparation that localization requires should follow specific methods in each step of a process corresponding to the general writing process, like the stages defined in common technical writing texts. The deliberate use of an effective writing process to localize documents will improve results.

Major, David L. and Akihiro Yoshido. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Documentation>Reports>Localization

19.
#34822

Designing a Successful Group-Report Experience   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Report assignments and collaborative assignments can both be fraught with risk. Report projects, if notstration) and/or can leave students wondering what they are supposed to have learned—all while creating a major grading burden for the instructor. Poorly planned group projects can cause similar difficulties, with the added danger of creating interpersonal stress in the student groups. Yet for many reasons, the report assignment is the perfect choice for the collaborative project. Because of its extra length and complexity, the report enables several students to contribute meaningful research, writing, and document design decisions to one product or a related set of products. If the project goes well, each student will learn important lessons both about report writing and about teamwork. To maximize the likelihood that the project will go well, the instructor must think through a wide range of variables and decide, based upon his or her learning objectives, what the features of the project will be.

Rentz, Kathryn, Lora Arduser, Lisa Meloncon and Mary Beth Debs. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Education>Business Communication>Reports

20.
#15115

Developing Business Plans for High-tech Companies   (PDF)

Illustrates how technical communicators can add value to business plan projects.

Petersen, Judy H. Intercom (2000). Articles>Business Communication>Reports

21.
#22124

Editing Reports and Proposals

Businesses, non-profit organizations, government departments, and other groups produce a lot of proposals and reports. This article summarizes some features of reports and proposals that are not the same as books, news items, manuals, magazine articles, memos and many other documents.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2001). Articles>Editing>Proposals>Reports

22.
#28953

English 3301: Principles of Professional and Report Writing  (link broken)

The main objective of this class is to help you gain the skills needed to think through writing tasks, analyze the audience(s) involved, secure various types of resources, generate documents, and present those documents in an effective manner.

Garza, Susan Loudermilk. Texas A and M University (2007). Academic>Courses>Writing>Reports

23.
#35911

Essentials of Good Report Writing

The essentials of good report writing are universal in the sense that it does not matter which type of report you are writing. There are different types of reports such as research reports, business reports, medical reports and science reports. However, we are not going to dwell on the types of reports but rather on the essentials of writing a good report, regardless of the type. The success of a report largely depends on its writing and presentation.

Beilstein, Ernest. Technical Communication Center (2009). Articles>Writing>Reports

24.
#13924

Feminizing the Professional: The Government Reports of Flora Annie Steel   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Despite being raised in a culture that denied her access to formal education and employment, Flora Annie Steel became an Inspector of Female Schools in the Punjab, India, in 1884.  Her inspection reports for the occupying British government of India are the focus of this study, which examines texts within the context of British imperialism and late-nineteenth century report conventions. The study concludes 1) that cultural expectations for women in imperialism influenced Steel's response to the genre and 2) that the report genre may have been fluid within imperialism, crossing boundaries between professional and  government writing pertaining today.  The study suggests that, historically, we need to study these genres of writing from the perspective of economic and political expansion as genres of imperialism.

Sutcliffe, Rebecca J. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Articles>Writing>Government>Reports

25.
#29221

Figures of Speech as Persuasive Strategies in Early Commercial Communication: The Use of Dominant Figures in the Raleigh Reports About Virginia in the 1580s   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

During the mid-1580s Sir Walter Raleigh, operating under letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, supported two major voyages to establish an initial colony in Virginia. These two voyages produced three major commercial reports that evaluated the economic potential of the region for English colonists and merchants. The reports, written by Arthur Barlowe, Ralph Lane, and Thomas Hariot, represent the beginnings of American commercial communication in English. Using Kenneth Burke's idea of the four major tropes, this article develops the notion of the 'dominant figure'--a figure of speech that serves to focus a report's rhetorical power--to analyze the persuasive effects of these reports.

Moran, Michael G. Technical Communication Quarterly (2005). Articles>History>Reports>Tropes

 
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