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FAQs for Report writing

Jo Dane
Jo Dane by Osian Grant 2007

Is there a particular format I should follow when writing a report in Art and Design?

Each degree program will have its own requirements. In Industrial Design there is some freedom to be creative in terms of typographical layout and use of images to support the story of the project. However, in the final year of the degree the most significant document is the critical justification, which is a report that discusses the research and outcomes of the design project. This document is split into the following three sections:

  1. The task clarification

    In the body of this section the design problem is discussed by identifying objectives, describing the current state of the art in a particular area and outlining a profile of the eventual user.

  2. The product design specification

    This is effectively a summary of the discoveries of the task clarification, written as the precise requirements of the intended piece of design. For example, the specification should include such things as size, peformance, legislative standards compliance and number of users.

  3. The critical justification

    This final section, which lends its name to the whole document, is an opportunity to record design decisions and reflect upon the outcomes of the design as a response to the original objectives of the project. This section includes a conclusion.

What sort of language should I use in my report?

Always write in the third person. Never refer to yourself in the body of the text, by writing for example, 'I thought' or 'my design'. Always support factual statements with references or qualify the sentence as the author's opinion. Never leave a statement that is presented as fact without stating where the information came from. Use short statements that get to the point and avoid long winded, meandering commentaries. Always stick to the key issue.

Do I need to use references in my report?

As mentioned above, references are vital. You may choose any one of a variety of referencing styles, for example Turabian (footnotes) or Harvard (in-text). However, once a particular method has been chosen, it must be adhered to throughout the document. A bibliography or reference list is essential.

How does writing a report relate to my studio practice?

Your writing is an opportunity to support your studio practice by documenting decisions, proving where research discoveries came from, and describing and advocating outcomes to an assessor. These issues might not be readily comprehended by looking at the object on its own.

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