Written reports may be classified as informational or research reports. The former presents factual information with limited commentary, analysis, conclusions or recommendations. The research report contains findings analysis of these findings. Interpretations conclusions and sometimes recommendations. Research reporting differs from writing management reports in another way. Reports may also be defined in terms of their degree of formality and design. The formal report tends to be long and follows a well defined format. This contrasts to the more informal report types which may be classed as short reports.
Short reports are appropriate for studies in which the problem is well defined of limited scope require only modest effort and for which methodologies are simple and straightforward. Most information reports and progress and interim reports are of this e.g you may wish to write up an investigation into cost of living changes that is need for upcoming labor negotiations. Or you might report on a preliminary look into the feasibility of filing dumping charges against a foreign competitor. Shorts reports usually are five pages or less but may exceed ten pages. They may or may not have section headings but should have liberal margins and short paragraphs. At the beginning of the report there should be a brief statement on the authorization of the study the problem examined and its breadth and depth. Next may be conclusions and recommendations followed by the findings that support the conclusions.
Long reports are often divided into two types the technical or base report and the popular report. Which of these two to use depends chiefly on the audience and the researchers objectives. While some researchers try to write a single report the incorporates features of both this complicates the communication tasks.
THE TECHNICAL REPORT
There should be a technical report for most research studies. It is the basic vehicle that includes full study documentations and detail. It will be the record which normally survives the working papers computer printouts and original documents. A technical report should also include a full presentation and exploration of significant data.
The fact that the popular report is designed for a nontechnical audience presents the researcher with some special communication problems. Readers are less concerned with methodological details but more interested in learning quickly the major conclusions. Some time the report is developed for a single manager and needs to be written with that persons individual characteristics and needs in mind. The style of the popular report should encourage rapid reading quick comprehension of major findings and prompt understanding of the implications and conclusions.