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Genres in academic writing: Brief reports

Many newspapers and magazines regularly include short reports of current research that
may be of interest to the educated reader. You may be asked to write one as part of your
course.

For a brief research report, you will probably include the following stages:

 Short summary. This summarises the main points of the research. It will include the
names of the researchers, where they work and where the main report is published.
 General background. This puts the research in the wider context by giving brief
details of the subject and the state of present research.
 Purpose. This explains the purpose of the investigation, and explains why it was
carried out.
 Procedure. This explains how the research was carried out. It gives details of who
the subjects were, how the data was gathered and any special equipment that was
used.
 Results. This gives details of any new information that came from an anaysis of the
data. What was found?
 Conclusions. The report concludes by relating the findings to the wider context and
explains why the research is relevant today.

A brief research report could have the following stages.

Title

Summary

Give the main points of the research, the names of the authors,
where they work and where the results were published.

Background

Describe the present state of knowledge in the area.



Purpose

Explain the purpose of the investigation.

Why was it was carried out?



Procedure

Explain how the research was carried out.

Give details of who the subjects were and how the data was gathered.

Results

Give details of any new information that came from an anaysis of the data.

Conclusion

Conclude by explain why the research is relevant in the modern world.

Example

Tired drivers as risky as drinkers


Health correspondent
Sleep-deprived drivers are tested in the morning with well,” write Andrew
less alert than those who 50mg of alcohol in their Williamson of the School of
have drunk more than the bloodstream (the UK limit is Psychology University of
legal limit of alcohol, 80mg). New South Wales, and
according to new Anne-Marie Feyer from the
research. The researchers suggest University of Otago,
that countries which set Dunedin.
A study published today in drink-driving limits should
the journal Occupational consider setting restrictions The volunteers - lorry
and Environmental to prevent people who have drivers and members of the
Medicine found that been awake for more than transport corps of the
fatigue can reach 18 hours from driving, Australian army - were put
dangerous levels at a piloting aircraft, or through tests to measure
much earlier stage than operating machinery. thinking speed and physical
has been assumed. Tiredness is estimated to reactions, coordination and
play a part in between 16% attention span. They carried
The authors, from and 60% of road accidents out the tests after a day and
Australia and New in the United States, they night of wakefulness and
Zealand, tested responses say, but few attempts have after drinking alcohol.
of 39 volunteers after been made to work out at
sleep deprivation and after what point in the day or The researchers found that
drinking alcohol equivalent night that tiredness reaches commonly experienced
to the legal driving limit in serious levels. levels of sleep deprivation -
Scandinavia. staying awake for 17 to 19
“The implications of fatigue hours - depressed
They found that those who for safe performance are performance in the same
had been up since 6am well recognised particularly way as drinking a couple of
performed worse in tests in road safety, but in other glasses of alcohol.
between 10.30pm and settings as
midnight than those who
were