Chapter 9-3: The Technical Report
The format for a technical report can vary depending on the detail, but here is a general outline of what should be included when writing one. It is important to be organized and concise with your information.
Abstract / Summary
An overview of the main idea of the report without giving specific evidence or findings.
Outline or highlights of the report and the importance of the information given.
This section describes the procedures used to collect and analyze data to allow for study replication.
This is the most important part of the report since this is where all the evidence and information that supports the thesis will be.
Separate the information into different paragraphs and provide different headings for each paragraph.
A summary of the main ideas of the report.
Technical Report Outline
This technical report outline should help you with the content of your report.
Title: Choose a title that gives the reader the main idea of the report
Abstract: If you have enough word count available, give an overview of the main idea of the report so readers will know what to expect. Avoid details. Make this about 2-3 sentences. Do this paragraph last.
Introduction: Explain the objective of the report, the topic or background information. Can include methods of approach, statement of the problem, why the survey was done, identification of surveyors & respondents, and initial hypothesis. Add a thesis at the end of your introduction.
Methods: You have a choice. Describe your methods in the introduction, or create a "Methods" paragraph. The "method" describes when / where / how the information was collected. Consider your study design, including the participants, materials & apparatus, and procedures you used.
Body 1 Results:
Address the first idea of your report. Support all ideas with examples and evidence.
Body 2 Results:
Address the second idea of your report. Support all ideas with examples and evidence.
Body 3 Results:
Address the third idea of your report. Support all ideas with examples and evidence. This is just a suggestion on how many paragraphs to use. Feel free to use fewer or add more if necessary.
Discussion (Synthesis, Recommendations, Problems & Limitations, Future Directions, Opinions): You can discuss many things in the discussion paragraph(s). Optionally, you can use subheadings (e.g. Synthesis, Recommendations, Problems & Limitations, Future Directions). For the discussion, synthesize your results with other research you did to provide context. Optionally, formulate logical recommendations. If applicable, state any problems that arose when collecting information. Optionally, discuss how future research could close knowledge gaps. On rare occasions, it is appropriate to include personal opinions. Identify opinions as such and base them on your evidence—present them professionally and respectfully.
Conclusion: Summarize the information given in the body paragraphs. Compare the initial hypothesis to the actual results of your survey. Address any questions. If one wasn't offered in the discussion, suggest solutions to problems.
The following report offers a sample miniature technical report designed to fit on one page of a workbook. Text length, level of language, documentation, and formatting style requirements for your course are probably different than those in the sample report. See your assignment instructions for further details.
The objective of this sample report is to offer you an opportunity to analyze the structure of a technical report. The structure remains the same regardless of text length, level of language, documentation, and formatting style.
NOTES: this is a sample report designed to fit on one page. As such, this report may be missing things that you must do in your report. Consult your assignment instructions for this information.
1. The number of words you are required to write, the number of ideas you are required to express, and the formatting rules you must follow may differ for your assignment.
2. This sample report did not offer much in syntheses other than a brief reference to a study by Jones. You may be required to synthesize your results with external information in a Discussion section.
A wise author prepares an outline before writing. Here is what the outline for the above sample technical report may have looked like:
2. Introduction: Description of social media
• Two types of groups surveyed, quantities (r)
• Survey length and topics
• Method survey was distributed (absent from example report)
Thesis: We hypothesized that women would use social media more than men and that most people would know how to keep themselves safe from online threats by using online security features.
3. Results - social media use
Most people know about and use social media (paragraph topic)
• Most popular service
• Women use social media more than men
• Women enjoy using social media more than men
4. Results - online security knowledge
Most people don't fully understand online security (paragraph topic)
• Few respondents enforce strict security settings on their accounts
• Most people feel they don't know enough about online security
There were issues with the sample focus, the sample profile, and questions that were confusing
• Too many groups were polled
• Topic was less applicable to one group (older people)
• Some questions confused respondents
6. Conclusion: Overall, women use and enjoy social media more than men, and most people do not understand the security features available on social media.
• Security features should be conspicuous to people when they use social media.
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