Good report problems grow out of real problems: disjunctions between reality
and the ideal, choices that must be made. When you write a report as part
of your job, the organization may define the topic. To think of problems for
class reports, think about problems that face your college or university; housing
units on campus; social, religious, and professional groups on campus
and in your city; local businesses; and city, county, state, and federal governments
and their agencies. Read your campus and local papers and news magazines;
read the news on the internet, watch it on TV, or listen to it on
National Public Radio.
A good report problem in business or administration meets the following
1. The problem is
• Important enough to be worth solving.
• Narrow but challenging.
2. The audience for the report is
• Able to implement the recommended action.
3. The data, evidence, and facts are
• Sufficient to document the severity of the problem.
• Sufficient to prove that the recommendation will solve the problem.
• Available to you.
• Comprehensible to you.
Often problems need to be narrowed. For example, “improving the college
experiences of international students studying in the United States” is far too
broad. First, choose one college or university. Second, identify the specific
problem. Do you want to increase the social interaction between US and international
students? Help international students find housing? Increase the
number of ethnic grocery stores and restaurants? Third, identify the specific
audience that would have the power to implement your recommendations.
Depending on the specific topic, the audience might be the Office of International
Studies, the residence hall counselors, a service organization on campus
or in town, a store, or a group of investors.