Assignment: Writing a Technical Report
For this assignment, you will write a technical report.
Regardless of the specific format used, all quality technical reports will possess the following qualities:
As you can see from the image, the contents of technical reports vary. Yours must include the following; all other items are optional:
I will evaluate the reports according to these expectations:
The executive summary reflects the entire report concisely. Introduction, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are covered. Significant factual information is present. Sentences are efficient, and the summary does not exceed one page.
The introduction states a problem (with who-what-when-where-why-so what information), identifies a research question, explains methods, and forecasts the rest of the report.
The body sections reflect criteria for decision-making. Headings are parallel. Each body section is a mini report, with an introduction, findings, and conclusion. The introduction defines the issue and explains its significance. The findings report what you have discovered through research. The “conclusion” (just on that issue) tries to define the significance of the findings for the research question and to reconcile any conflicts.
The conclusion section for the entire report weighs the results from all the criteria and answers the research question. All the criteria should be accounted for. The conclusion does not introduce any new criteria. The section includes interpretive (not just factual) statements: words like “more important because…” or “a more immediate need” or “long term benefits outweigh short-term costs.” You put the findings for each criteria in relation to one another. You justify and explain your answer to the research question. The conclusion answers the research question: An explicit statement will say something like “A is the better choice” or “X is not feasible at this time.”
The recommendations direct specific action (without explanation or justification). The recommendations may (but do not have to be) in list form. If there is a list, the verbs may be “command” verbs (imperative mood). Items in the list are in parallel form.
All the report parts are present (title, table of contents, executive summary, report, illustrations, references etc.). Illustrations support the argument (they highlight important information that would be harder to understand with words alone) and they are constructed and labeled according to conventions. Format reveals the structure. Headings show main divisions. A running head and page numbers help readers find their place. Preliminary pages are numbered with roman numerals. Sentence style emphasizes strong verbs. Grammar and mechanics are correct. References are complete and accurate. The citation style is the one used by the writer’s discipline (e.g., APA for social science and business, reference notes for engineering, MLA for literature, Chicago-author/date for technical writing).
AND, finally: The problem is significant, research is good, reasoning is sound. The report is convincing and important.
Report Grading Rubric
|Category||Points Possible||Points Earned and Comments|
|Purpose, Audience Context
ü Is your subject/purpose clearly stated early in the document: Is there a clear focus on purpose: To provide information and recommendations as to the feasibility of the idea/project?
ü Is the document reader-centered? In other words, is it obvious upon reading that you understand who you are writing to through your organization, word choice, level of detail and level of formality. (What topics do you need to cover? What do your readers need to know? What do you want your readers to do?)
ü Is your tone appropriate for your audience? Remember, the audience is a decision maker. If, for example you are writing a report about changing the way the city handles its recycling program, your audience is city council.
ü Is there an obvious, logical structure to the document? (In what order should the information be placed? What does your reader need to know first? Have your sorted your material into specific groups? Will your readers be able to follow your logic?
ü Are your paragraphs well organized and of a reasonable length?
ü If you have required sections, do you include them?
ü Are headings used and are they descriptive of the text in that section?
ü If you use subheadings do you include a brief section “intro” between heading and sub-headings to help orient and guide the reader through the information presented in that section?
ü Have your checked all facts and numbers?
ü Could any material be deleted? Is information repeated unnecessarily?
ü Is your document clean, organized, and attractive?
ü Is your text easy to read?
ü If your document is supposed to conform to a standard template, does it?
ü Have you used specific nouns and concrete verbs?
ü Have you avoided ponderous and impersonal language?
ü Have you avoided is/are verb forms whenever possible?
ü Are most of your sentences written in active voice? Could any sentences with passive voice be changed to active voice?
ü Could any of your sentences be written with equal clarity but fewer words
ü Have you checked for misspellings and for other mechanical errors, such as commas, semi-colons, colons, and quotation marks?
ü Is the format consistent—font selected, size, placement of headings?
Does your summary do the following:
ü Have you included all the formal elements that you report needs/is required to include such as a table of contents and title page?
ü Do you include enough support/evidence for the recommendations/conclusions you are making?
ü Are ideas are fully developed and do you use specific examples/details to clarify points?
ü Does the report include visuals of data where appropriate? These may be tables, charts or images.
ü Does your presentation cover the big points?
ü Does your presentation meet the requirement I outlined (timing, everyone speaking, use of visuals)?
ü Does the group give a professional, informal presentation?
ü Does the group speak to the right audience (the decision maker who can sign off on how to fix the problem you are investigating)?