Sifting through a mountain of collected information, creating order in the chaos of notes, formulating clear conclusions: these are anything but easy jobs. We therefore gladly postpone writing research reports. Actually, that postponing is not necessary for anything; with good preparation and a systematic approach it is fairly easy to produce a good report!
What should you do before you start writing?
Determine the goal
Think about the goal of your report: what do you want to achieve? Do you want to inform the reader about, for example, alternative options of a particular plan? Or have you already decided what the best approach is and do you want to convince the reader of your choice? The clearer you have the goal in mind, the more carefully you can select information and the more concrete and sharper you can write.
Explore your target audience
Think about your target audience: who will read your report? Knowing who you are writing for will make choosing a style easier. For example, if your readership already knows a lot about the subject, you can formulate concisely. If your report deals with an abstract, theoretical topic, it may be wise to use many examples.
Start creating a source list during the research. You will then still have your consulted books and websites at hand. Looking up the correct title or author name afterwards takes a tremendous amount of time. In addition, there is a risk that you will no longer be able to find the right source. Therefore, immediately write down where you got a quote from and then write down all the data from the source.
Select and organize information
The writing process is easier if you already roughly determine in advance which information you want to use in your report. Only part of what you have studied ends up in your report.
It is then useful to organize the information. This allows you to quickly find information while writing and prevents you from having to search through that entire stack of books for that one chapter again. Creating a draft chapter layout will help you sort different parts.
So try to create a draft table of contents as early as possible. This forces you to think about the structure of the report, how many chapters you need and how you can divide the information between the chapters. This makes writing the report easier. In addition, colleagues can provide feedback on the basis of the draft table of contents and thus help you to arrive at a logical structure.
Thinking about the layout
Store images (illustrations, charts, tables, etc.) in a separate folder. This prevents you from having to search for a suitable image while writing.
Determine the font of your report. Nothing is more annoying than having to check your entire report at the last minute for tabs and spaces due to a change of font. It is better to determine a font in advance and choose a style.
Write a first rough version of your report. In the first version you put information in the right place. You concentrate in particular on building your story.