Short reports are most often used by newspapers and other periodicals to share research or information about a currently trending topic or as an enhancement to a longer story. Short reports are similar in structure to longer reports, but without any “fluff,” opinions or the drawing of conclusions by the author. Short reports are essentially meant to inform the reader and provide the essential information about a particular topic.

Summary

The first part of a short report is typically a short summary that names the main points of the research or topic being covering, followed by the names of any study participants or study authors and where they did their research. The summary serves as the introduction and usually includes no more than one to three sentences. Examples of appropriate summary sentences would be, “Those with a family history of mental illness and addiction are more likely to suffer from substance abuse than others. A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan found that those who had a family history of mental illness and addiction were 10 times more likely to become addicts themselves.”

Background

The next part of the short report provides background to the statements made in the summary (introduction). Background information should include more details about the subject, why the study is important and the current state of the research. Example: “Researchers found that of the 200 students surveyed, 20 percent reported being exposed to drugs or alcohol before the age of 12 by a parent or other caregiver who had diagnosed mental illness and suffered from addiction.”

Purpose

Follow the background information with the purpose of the study to provide readers with reasons they should care about the information and to lend credibility to the research. Research must have a purpose in order to garner general support from the public as well as specific support from donors. Summarize the purpose in one or two lines. Example: “The purpose of the study is to increase awareness of the effects of mental illness on society and to encourage those suffering to seek treatment.”

Results and Conclusion

Use the final lines of the short report to give any additional results that came from your analysis of the data. Short reports do not require the drawing of detailed conclusions as in the case of longer reports or opinion pieces. They do, however, require the author to make a few connections as to why the research or study is important to society. For example, the results and conclusion section might read, “Researchers also found that the earlier a child is exposed to drug and alcohol addiction as a result of mental illness, the more likely he or she is to turn to substance abuse without intervention. Organizations can use these results to help increase community awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and mental illness, as well as to provide assistance to those who are struggling.”