How to Prepare a Good Technical Report
Preparing a good technical report is very important activity for conveying the scientific results and information to the concerned audience.
We also write it to promote a newly developed product / process or technology.
Wikipedia defines the technical report or scientific report as a document that describes the process, progress or results of technical or scientific research. As per Wikipedia, it may also be defined as the following
- Statement of technical or scientific research problem
- It may also include the recommendations and conclusions of the research.
- It is often not peer-reviewed, as is done in the case of referred, reputed technical journals.
- If not peer-reviewed, it may be treated as an in-house report meant to serve the organizational needs.
2. How to prepare a good technical report?
We must understand the following aspects very clearly, in order to prepare a good technical report.
A good technical report should have the following characteristics
– Logical / sequential,
-Action oriented and
– Well structured
It should also serve the purpose of audience, for whom we write it.
What questions should you ask, before writing a technical report
A technical report should convey a set of information from the mind of the writer to that of the reader. A technical report is good , only when it accomplishes this purpose effectively.
Before preparing a written presentation in the form of a technical report, we should ask three questions to ourselves
- Why am I going to write? : (Purpose)
- For whom am I going to write ? : (Audience)
- What am I going to write ? : (Contents)
A clear answer to these questions will determine how the technical report will be written.
Why am I going to write ? : (Purpose)
We write it for any of the following purposes:
- Information for immediate use
- Serve as a basis for immediate action
- Establish claim to a discovery (patents/ copyrights)
- Stimulate interest
- For posterity (future record)
- To spread knowledge
For whom am I going to write ? : (Audience)
We usually prepare the technical report for the following people.
- Top management, to help and to take decision.
- Organisational requirement after the completion of a project or research.
- To convey information to the peers working in the same field.
- For publication in research journals.
If this be the case, then, we should adhere to the guidelines of the journal. Also, we need to give reference, along with an account of work done by the other researchers on that topic.
What am I going to write ? : (Content)
After getting answer to the first two questions, the content of the technical report will be decided.
Content of a good technical report.
A clear answer to the questions listed in section above, will determine how the report will be written.
To prepare a good report, the writer must have a clear understanding of the material that he is trying to present. The author must be familiar, thoroughly, with the data and the conclusions based on them. A writer can not present his material logically if he fails to organize it logically in his own mind.
The following four aspects need careful consideration by the technical author.
Planning for a technical report
Advance planning is a must for a good technical report.
This may consist of the following:
- Prepare a clear outline of the report, keeping in view the audience and purpose
- Start writing long before it is due.
- Write it up while it is still fresh in your mind:
1.Write at the end of an experiment or activity,
2. Write after completion of major facet of work
Structure of a good technical report
For matter of convenience and clarity, we usually divide it into a number of chapters / sections as given below:
Summary; Symbols and Abbreviation; Introduction; Literature Review; Approach; Experimental; Results and Discussions; Techno-economic Evaluation; Conclusions and Recommendations; Acknowledgements; References ; Appendices.
We should write each of the above appropriately. Lot of thinking and care should go in writing each section.
Please continue to look for our next blog, detailing the salient points of each of the above.
Style of technical report
Technical writing style is a purely scientific style.
Basic characteristic of technical writing is that it is based on statement of simple truths. We should note here, that writing in general, may have different styles like poetry, fiction, essay, news, comics. While poetry,fiction, etc may be subjective in nature, based on emotions, the technical writing must be objective.
It consists of the following :
– Active-passive Voice;
We should try to address each of them adequately , in a good technical writing.
A tables is a typographical device used to present in condensed form, many pieces
of related information for comparison. Tables are presented in rows and columns.
The title of table should be clearly descriptive of the information it contains.
The tables should be accurate, complete and economic.
These may be anyone of the following:
– Graphs and charts : These are the fastest methods of presenting data.
We should take adequate care to prepare these.
The symbols should be as per the national or international norms only.
The reference cited should be real. If we have not used a reference in our report,
we should never cite it.
The information, which are essential, but could not be accommodated in the
main body, should be given in the end as “Appendices”.
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