Skills Hub

HomeMenuSearch

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:

Read the brief

Make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. If you don't understand a word or phrase, look it up. If you are still not sure what you need to do, check with your tutor.

Consider your reader

A report should be informative, so think about who you are informing. What does your reader want to know? You might be asked to write for an imaginary reader, such as a business client. In this case, think about why they want the report to be produced - for example, to decide on the viability of a project.

If you are writing your report for your tutor, they will want to know that you can communicate the process and results of your research clearly and accurately, and discuss your findings in the relevant context.

 

Check which sections you need

Reports come in different shapes and sizes. Make sure you know which sections to include. If you are not sure, check with your tutor.

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. The more time you have been given, the more depth you will need.

Activity

In this activity you should understand the four briefs and decide:

  1. Who the audience is?
  2. Why the report is needed?
  3. What the audience want to find out?

Click the question headers below to proceed:

Question 1

You are writing a report for the Students' Union of your university on students' attitudes to binge drinking.

  1. Who is the audience?
  2. Why is the report needed?
  3. What do the audience want to find out?

Question 2

You are writing a report on the medical effects of binge drinking on university students in the UK for a major alcopop manufacturer.

  1. Who is the audience?
  2. Why is the report needed?
  3. What do the audience want to find out?

Question 3

Conduct the experiment into the elasticity of chewing gum, hand in your lab report to your lecturer by 20th November.

  1. Who is the audience?
  2. Why is the report needed?
  3. What do the audience want to find out?

Question 4

After carrying out the experiment into the elasticity of chewing gum, write up your findings in a report for a childrens' magazine.

  1. Who is the audience?
  2. Why is the report needed?
  3. What do the audience want to find out?

Understanding the brief checklist

Look at a brief you have been given for a report. Ask yourself:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • 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?

Next page - Structuring a report