A report is a somewhat vague term whose meaning can vary from school to school; however, usually it means a paper that presents the results of your investigation of a research question, analysis of the information you processed and, in most cases, you recommendations or suggestions for future actions in this sphere. There are many different types of reports: e.g., structures of a business and a scientific report will be somewhat different. However, they share enough common features to belong to the same general category.
Reports in women and gender studies call for a specific approach due to their highly sensitive subject. Irrespectively of what topic you choose to cover, you should tread extra carefully to avoid issuing statements that can potentially be interpreted as offensive.
Sometimes you receive a topic to work on from your instructor. Sometimes you get complete freedom to choose whatever strikes your fancy. Occasionally instructors offer an intermediary variant, delineating a general theme and letting you pick a more specific subject within in. If you get any amount of freedom, proceed along these lines:
Eventually, you should end up with something sufficiently narrow to study deeply within the confines of a report and not covered by other scholars recently. Here are some examples of how your topics should look:
Before you start gathering the information, you have to decide on your procedure and plan approach. Ask yourself these questions:
By answering these questions, you will begin to outline the procedure, which describes step by step how you carried out your research.
Reports on sociology-related subjects like women and gender studies are usually based on three types of sources: written material, interviews with people and direct observations. Depending on your academic level and the seriousness of your task, the proportion of information received from these types of sources may differ. Some assignments are purely library-based, while others presuppose fieldwork. You should discuss the specifics and guidelines for fieldwork with your instructor, but in looking for written sources students are usually left to their own devices. You can find the necessary literature by:
Evaluate each source across five criteria:
An alternative approach is called CRAAP:
Structures of reports differ from school to school, but some points tend to be similar. This list contains the most common parts – we do not suggest that this is the only way a report can be structured. Study the instructions received from your college – follow them if you find any discrepancies with our list.
Follow the instructions and guidelines provided by your college. If you have any doubts, consult your instructor.
It outlines what your report is about and summarizes the recommendations you make at its end. In a sense, it is your entire report boiled down to its very basics – it is usually about 100 words long. If it is required at all, it comes at the beginning of your paper, but you actually write it last of all, after you completed the research per se and made some conclusions. You cannot summarize what you have not yet done. Show your report to your instructor before writing the executive summary and finalize its structure and contents.
Again, write it after you finish the rest of the paper. If you make any last-minute changes, make sure to recheck it and reflect them. Carefully study the formatting guide and follow it to the letter – although it may sound like a small thing, some minor deviation from the accepted order of things can mean a lot of trouble.
Introduction points out the topic of the report and explains what it is about. Sometimes it is conflated with the Terms of Reference.
Terms of Reference provide a wider context for your research and give all the necessary information the reader needs to understand your report. So make sure it:
Here you describe how you carried out your research: what methods you used, what equipment you applied, how you processed information and so on. Make it as detailed as possible, for it is supposed to guarantee your research is repeatable and verifiable.
The findings sections brings together everything you learned on the subject matter of your report through reading, observation, interviews and analysis. This is the main “meat” of your research, its primary basis. Do not just recount everything you learned: do it in a structured and consistent manner. Note which information was supported by multiple sources, what needs additional clarification or investigation, which points you were not able to prove and so on. Depending on the nature of your report, include any pictures, photos, graphs, tables and other visuals that can make your paper easier to follow or provide a more direct proof of this or that point.
Conclusions are the results of processing, analyzing and interpreting your findings. Boiled down to their simplest form, they represent an answer to three questions:
For example, if you study the low share of women in programming and coding jobs, you can point out the following:
Recommendations are what you believe to be the proper solution(s) for the problem discussed in the rest of the report. To zero in on potential recommendations, you can:
Recommendations section is usually presented in the form of a numbered list, from the most to the least important.
Make sure you listed all the sources you used when working on your report.
Here goes all the information you cannot include in the main report. Usually it is done because:
If you were given a particular task, did you perform it? Did you follow all the guidelines received from your instructor? Did you answer the question you had to research?
Does your report include all the required sections in the necessary order? Does each of them contain information pertinent to this particular section?
Is all your information verifiable? Are the sources you used as proof trustworthy and objective?
Did you provide all the necessary information? Are there any gaps in your logic or reasoning? Does the information you provide fully support your findings, conclusions and recommendations? Are there any internal contradictions between the parts of your report? Do your recommendations logically follow from your findings and conclusions?
Did you explain all terms, expressions, abbreviations and acronyms that can be misunderstood? Did you used consistent terminology throughout the text?
Are all your graphs, table, spreadsheets, pictures and photos properly numbered and labelled?
Did you consistently use the same formatting and citation style throughout the report? Pay attention to page numbers, citations, headings and subheadings.
If you do not trust yourself, use an online grammar checker like Grammarly but do not blindly follow all its recommendations – use them more like guidelines than instructions. Hire a proofreader or ask a friend or another student to read your report and point out your mistakes.
Writing a report, especially in such a sensitive topic as gender and women studies, is a lot of hard and meticulous work; but we believe that with the help of this guide it can be done.