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Purpose & audience

Before starting to write a report, there are two key questions that need to be clarified:

  • What is the purpose of the report?
  • Who is the audience for the report?


What is the purpose of the report? Is it to:

  • collect data and present the findings?
  • analyse a situation or activity?
  • review and evaluate the literature on a topic and identify issues?

All of these reports are forms of a research report, but they fulfil different functions.


Although lecturers are the obvious audience for any assessment task, it is important to think of the task in more objective terms, ie to see it as a 'real' task, eg actually writing a consultant's report for a company. To help locate a report in a more realistic context, think carefully about all the potential readers of a report, and ask:

  • Who will read the report?
  • What are the audience's needs, eg information, ideas, motivation etc?
  • How much detail needs to be included in the report?


Types of reports



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