Writing reports, researching and conducting investigations, and producing and delivering presentations are a range of academic skills that have been used throughout the academic circles as effective tools of communication as keeping a Portfolio of Evidence, (2010) states. Students particularly have extensively used them in delivering assignments and communicating to respective persons. The paper produces a portfolio of evidence demonstrating satisfactory achievement across the range of academic skills that include writing reports, researching and conducting investigations, and producing and delivering presentations.
Reports are well thought-out forms of writing that usually follow clearly laid down conventions so that they can create a common layout. Reports have been part of academics for a long time. They are written on an extensive range of topics and reasons. According to Writing Reports, (2010) the presence of a common structure and convention is a clear indication and proof of the information gathering process.
Reports are very essential in communicating the finding or results for different purposes; this include passing information and ideas to decision makers, providing a written record of different aspects, and so as to change the opinion of the public among other reasons. In report writing the purpose of the report and the intended reader must be identified and addressed in the report so that the report can qualify (Writing Reports, 2010). The information in the report must also be carefully planned and presented in a logical way that is precise, clear and concise and in a formal structure.
Before starting the writing of a report one must clearly identify the stages involved; this include identifying the terms of reference, planning the work, collecting the data, putting in order and structuring the information, drafting the findings into a first draft, then corrections and checking of the draft and finally redrafting a final copy (Guffey, 2010).
The planning process includes the visualizing the whole report and breaking it down to various parts, planning the time, subdividing the report according to the time present and giving deadlines for each task. After this there is need for an outline that will be the structure of the report that will incorporate all the aspects to be covered in the report.
The purpose of the report should dominate the content in the paper and ensure that it is comprehensively covered. The structure of most reports should be progressively numbered and include the ; Title page, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, Abstract or summary, Introduction, Methodology, Results or findings, Discussion, Conclusion and recommendations, References, and Appendices (Writing Reports, 2010).
The abstract is a summary of the whole report which gives the thesis statement and covers what the report entails and the findings. The methodology is the clear methods that were used to collect the data, the methods of analysis and the method of presentation. The results section expounds on what the data collected mean and the interpretation involved. This will include tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams to pass the message easily (Writing Reports, 2010).
The discussion and conclusion they contain the inference of the data and what it means and how it can be applied. Recommendations are incorporated to ensure decision makers are given options that can help in solving the situation or making it better. The reference includes all the texts and material used for study in the report where other authors are acknowledged. The references must also be included in the text so as to avoid plagiarism.
Most reports are written in the passive style of writing although others may prefer an active style (Writing Reports, 2010). The report must also be simple in that it avoids complicated language so that the reader understands easily and enjoys the reading. Reports should also avoid subjective language and ambiguous statements that may confuse the reader.
Researching and conducting investigations
The process of conducting an academic investigation and the real writing of the report is difficult to separate. It is therefore important to plan the research project properly so that the real evidence and criticism may be identified from the report written after the investigations. According to The Research Process, (2010) the most important parts in the academic researching and investigating include the design and planning.
Research investigations give much freedom to the researcher to be able to state the objectives and research questions; these give the research a purpose and the researcher a focus. Research investigations also tend to have a social orientation and mainly involve looking at what other researchers have done and building on it.
The very first thing in the academic research is the analyzing and definition of the problem where an analysis is carried out on existing problems using abstraction skills. This is followed by the formulation of the research heading where different problems are covered (The Research Process, 2010). One then articulates a research question or proposition which gives the focus to the study. The scope of the question may be broad or narrow provided it covers the topic or issue to be researched.
To be more precise and correct in the question is preferred by scientists rather than giving a definitive answer. The questions posed in the investigations must try to solve social problems and give proper solutions. After identifying the research question one then needs to identify the source of data which may be secondary or primary. Secondary include published statistics or texts, the media or journals; while primary involve social surveys e.g. questionnaires, and interviews; and observation e.g. participation. The part that follows is the results and interpretations which must be specific. The discussion and a conclusion are then incorporated.
The functional report of the research report will include an abstract; an introduction which will seek to identify problem area and state importance, review relevant literature, identify the social gap to be studied, state the aims i.e. research questions and hypothesis. The specific methods and results and a general discussion that will aim at matching the findings to the questions and hypothesis, outlining the specific and broad implications, and recommending on necessary steps follows. The report ends with a conclusion and the reference used for the study.
Producing and Delivering Presentations
Presentations give the reader a simplified way to understand the reports that are comprehensive and time consuming to study. This will involve a summarized mode of what each topic concerns and what was done in the research. Most presentations are done on PowerPoint slides which summarize the given topics as stated by Goliath, 2008. Firstly there is need to summarize the report into points; this is done through identifying the main points in every topic and presenting them to an audience.
After summarizing the points that must precise, clear and concise one then arranges them in to PowerPoint slides according to the topic. There is the title slide that introduces the presenter and the topic of presentation and few details of the presenter.
There is the introduction which introduces the topic briefly with the major points to note. The literature review slide is also incorporated to help the audience know what other author have done on that topic. The methodology slides give point briefs on the methods used in the study while the results slide summarizes the major finding in very few sentences (Goliath, 2008). The discussion and conclusion slides also provide what inference was deducted from the results and a short explanation of the same. The references and recommendations are also listed in slides and a final slide to thank the audience for their attention is sometimes included in some presentation.
During the presentation it is always important for the presenter to be smart; he/she should be audible enough so that all the audience can hear what he/she says. The presentation should be objective in that it incorporates only the important content and ensure the presentation is not superfluous (Goliath, 2008). The presentation should also be neat, orderly and visible in that all the audience can see what is being presented even if it is projected. In conclusion academic skills have come along way and their revolution has helped students to communicate better.