Skills Hub

Understanding the brief

When it comes to writing a good report understanding the brief is probably the most important thing you need to do! Here are some tips to help with this:

Read the brief

It sounds obvious but make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. If you don't understand the language used or a particular word make sure you look up the definition. If you are still not sure what the brief requires you to do then check with your tutor.

Consider your reader

A report should be informative so you need to think about who you are informing. What does your reader want to know? You might have been asked to write for an imaginary reader (e.g. a business client) If this is the case think about why they want the report to be produced? (e.g. to decide on the viability of a project). If you are writing your report for your tutor to read they will want to know that you can communicate the process and results of your research clearly and accurately and can discuss your findings in the relevant context.

Check which sections your report should have

Reports come in lots of different shapes and sizes. In one module you may be required to write reports for different purposes and therefore you may need to use different sections. Make sure you know what is expected. If you are not sure check with your tutor, they may even be able to give you examples of previous students' work.

Know the scope

The word count and submission date will help you work out the scope of your report. The longer the word count the more background and discussion you will need. Likewise the more time you have been given to complete the report the more depth you will need.

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Activity - Identifying the Audience and Purpose

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Understanding the brief checklist

Have a look at a brief you have been given for a report, it might be something you are working on now or a previous piece of work. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the intended audience for your report?
  • Why is the report needed?
  • What do the audience want to find out?
  • What sections does your report need?
  • How long should the report be?
  • When is the deadline for your report?
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