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Planning Long Reports

In this lecture you will learn to:

•Define the problem to be solved by studying and outlining the issues to be analyzed.

•Identify and analyze the issues that have to be analyzed during your study.

•Prepare a work plan for conducting your investigation, planning the necessary steps,

estimating their timing, and deciding on the sources of information required.

•Organize the research phase of the investigation, including the identification of secondary

and primary sources of data.

•Draw sound conclusions and develop practical recommendations.

•Develop a final outline and visual aid plan for the report.

Five steps in Planning a Report:

•You must gather those facts and arrange them in a convenient format.

•Before putting a single word on the page, follow the following series of steps that form the

foundations of any report:

–Define the outline and purpose

–Outline the issue for investigation

–Prepare a work plan

–Conduct research

–Analyze and interpret data, draw conclusions and develop recommendations

Asking the right questions:

•Often the questions have been defined by the person who authorizes the report.

•In such a case, ask questions such as

–What needs to be determined ?

–Why is this issue important ?

–Who is involved in the situation ?

–Where is the trouble actually located ?

–How did the situation originate ?

Developing the statement of Purpose:

•In this case you might phrase the statement of purpose by saying :

Purpose – To summarize the extent of substance abuse among plant employees.

•However for your analytical report, your statement of purpose might be:

Purpose – To analyze the effects of employee substance abuse on productivity and

product quality, and recommend ways to counteract these effects.

Informational Assignments:

•Studies that emphasize the discovery and reporting of facts may be factored by sub-topic.

–In order of Importance

•Say you are reviewing five product lines. You might organize your study in the increasing

order of the amount of revenue they generate.


•If you are studying a process, present your information step by step - 1,2,3,…


•When investigating a chain of events, organize the study according to what happened in

January, what happened in February and so on.


•If you are studying a physical object, study it left to right, top to bottom, inside to outside.


•If the location is important, factor your study geographically.


•If you are asked to review several distinct aspects of a subject, look at one category at a

time, for example sales, profit, or investment.

Analytical Assignments:

•Why are we having trouble hiring secretaries?

–Salaries are too low.

•What do we pay our secretaries?

•What do comparable secretaries pay their secretaries?

•How important is pay in influencing secretaries’ job choices?

Why are we having trouble hiring secretaries?:

•Our location is poor.

•The supply of secretaries is diminishing

The Rules of Division:

•Divide the topic into at least two parts

•Choose a significant, useful basis or guiding principle for the division

•When dividing a whole into its parts, restrict yourself to one basis at a time

•Make sure that each group is separate and distinct

•Be through when listing all the components of a whole

Preparing a preliminary Outline:

Alphanumeric System:

I. __________________________________

   A. ____________________________

   B. ____________________________

        1. ____________________

        2. ____________________

   C. ____________________________

II. _________________________________

   A. ____________________________

        1. _____________________

             a. _____________

b. _____________

        2. _____________________

   B. _____________________________

Decimal System:

1.0. _________________________________

   1.1. ____________________________

   1.2. ____________________________

        1.21. ___________________

        1.22. ___________________

   1.3. ____________________________

2.0. _________________________________

   2.1. ____________________________

        2.11. ____________________

             2.111. ___________

            2.112. ___________

        2.12. ____________________

   2.2. _____________________________

Preparing a Work Plan:

•In addition to the previous two the following are important as well

–Discussion of the sequence of tasks to be accomplished (including the sources of

information, required experiments, restrictions of time etc)

–Description of the end result that will result from the investigation

–Review the project assignments, schedules, and resources management

Collecting Primary Data:


–Documentary evidence and historical records are sources of primary data.


–Observation applies your five senses and your judgment to investigation.


–Often the best way to obtain answers is to ask people who have relevant experience and


–A formal survey is a way of finding out what a cross-section of people think about


–A formal survey requires a number important decisions.

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