The first essential for any good report is to bring out the issue in its proper perspective, duly emphasizing the pros and cons. Be it a progress report, a survey report, an analytical report or an enquiry report, the subject should be presented in an unbiased and objective manner.
Both the positive and negative aspects of the issues studied should be covered in the report. The report writer should make conscious efforts to keep out any bias or exaggeration while stating facts and incidents, especially in the enquiry and investigation reports.
2. Authoritative Facts and Figures:
Reports are sought as a fact-finding measure. The report writer should ensure that the facts and figures quoted in the report are authentic and reliable. Very often, the facts and figures quoted are from primary data sources and are taken on the basis of personal enquiries or surveys specially conducted for gathering information.
The data quoted in the report are likely to be made use of by several other individuals and agencies who will gain access to the report. It is also very likely that major business-related decisions will be taken on the basis of details mentioned in the report.
Even when the data quoted are taken from secondary sources, care should be taken to see that the sources are reliable and cross-verified.
3. Maintain a Judicial Approach:
The report writer should keep to measurable facts and verifiable details. Impressionistic statements and inaccuracies will have to be scrupulously avoided. A good report calls for an effective assessment based on authentic facts and figures.
Human errors, biases and any kind of selective reporting have no place in report writing. Good reports are those where the report writer maintains a judicial and non-partisan attitude.
4. In-depth Analysis:
It is expected that the reports provide an in-depth study. Any report that does not go into the details of the subject studied may turn out to be peripheral, necessitating one or more report, or additional information being sought.
The reporting authority or the report writer, as the case may be, should make it a point to meticulously go about collecting all related information for inclusion in the report.
5. Alternative Viewpoints:
The purpose of a report is to get the facts in proper perspective. When we refer to an enquiry report, an investigation report or a committee report, the intention is to get the inputs or views from different persons who are in a position to throw light on the subject or incident under study.
In fact, when we talk of a committee report, a very important requirement for the report writer is to bring out alternative viewpoints. Although the final recommendations may be based on a consensus or majority view, the fact that some other views were also expressed during the course of deliberations or enquiries should also be mentioned.
Further, in reporting deliberations or alternative viewpoints, the report writer should not be overly conscious of the hierarchical position of the members. In other words, the points made or the views expressed are to be covered, even if they are from relatively junior members, as long as they are relevant to the issue under consideration.
It is worth noting here that when committees submit their reports, apart from giving a majority view, there is also a mention, in some cases, of the note of dissent.