To Express – Not Impress
Article Published: 2014-12-14
An investigation report is not a document of prosecution or defense. It is a document that presents all the facts for or against, including observations, the investigator’s justifiable thoughts, along with clear; summarized findings. It must be the truth.
Learning to write precise, easy to read investigation reports requires a good background. Your report must be detailed so the results are well thought out. Complete honesty, integrity, and credibility must be the standard for an investigator. The appearance of a report from its cover, continuing to its end, will set a precedence as to how the report, (and the investigator) is perceived by the reader(s) including how your information is presented. If the document is difficult to read the report and the investigator’s efforts are worthless, and truthful, the investigator’s competence will show through. Reports containing unnecessary, irrelevant, minute details will not be well received by any reader(s), courts, or attorneys providing nothing hidden or undisclosed.
- Preparation: Begin by writing your report outline and recording the data. Change to reader rather than author. Review your report and present a logical sequence of events.
- Sorting Out Your Information: Consider some preliminary conclusions. Write them down, sorting through the most important results. Place them into categories by priority, but never hide contradictory results.
- Report Introductions: The main function of the introduction is to identify the subject of the report, tell your reader(s) what the report does and does not contain, and briefly state the important findings of the investigation.
- Use Descriptive Headings: Investigation report, Assignment, (if applicable), Interview of John Doe, Summary, Conclusions, or Recommendations.
- Write for your reader(s), in a clear way that can be understood. Be specific, label if it applies. Write to Express not Impress.
- Conclusions: Should be generalized and in order of importance. When clear cut conclusions are not possible from your investigation, provide your own recommendations. This will allow your client(s) to decide if additional work is warranted.