A Recommendation Report:
In brief: In a report of approximately 1,000 to 1,200 words, identify a situation in which it is necessary to choose a solution from among a wide range of possible options. Develop criteria for narrowing the range of possible options down to 3 or 4. Evaluate those options with additional, more specific criteria to select one final option, and recommend that option.
In more concrete terms: Think of a situation where you need to purchase a thing (tool, appliance, software, etc) to perform a function or task. This could be either something in your own life, or something needed in the operation of a business (either a real one or an imaginary one). For example:
- Buying an appliance (stove, refrigerator, washer, TV, etc)
- Buying personal electronics (phone, tablet, mp3 player, etc)
- Buying office equipment (printer, scanner, copier, etc)
- Buying a software tool (word processor, spreadsheet, photo editor, etc)
- Leasing a particular make and model of vehicle for a company’s fleet
Your report must have the following parts.
Introduction or background statement: Identify the need, the reasons for it, and your role in making the selection. For example, you may be a homeowner who needs a larger refrigerator because your family has grown in number. Or you may be an office manager who has been asked by your boss to find a printer which better fits the demands of a growing business. Also identify the range of possible choices. This doesn’t need to be specific models of a product, but rather types or categories (for example, among printers: laser, ink jet, color, B&W, standalone, all-in-one, sheet feeder, and so on).
Screening criteria: State (1) What are the minimum qualities, features, or capabilities which you must have in any option which you chose. This should be in the range of 4 to 6 criteria, though more are OK; (2) Why each of those criteria is necessary; and (3) Which options are left after applying the screening criteria. This should be a list of 3 or 4 options.
Selection criteria: State (1) the narrower and more restrictive list of qualities, features, or capabilities which your final choice must have to be acceptable. Again, this should be in the range of 4 to 6 criteria, though more are OK; and (2) Why each of those criteria is necessary.
Evaluation of final options: Apply the selection criteria you have developed in the previous step to the list of 3 to 4 options you have identified through applying your screening criteria. Use the point-by-point approach, not the whole-by-whole approach (see Table 1 in this resource ). So you will have a paragraph for each criterion in which you apply that criterion to options A, B, and C. Somewhere in each comparative section, normally at the end, state the conclusion for that section (for example, which product is best in terms of reliability).
Recommendation section: A concluding paragraph or two in which you recommend one final choice, and briefly state what makes it the best. This will basically be why or how they best fulfill each of the selection criteria.
Some pointers about style and format:
- Use a memo or business letter format, depending on the situation you have defined
- Make sure you use headings appropriately as needed
- Lists and tables are especially helpful in a report of this type
- Include other graphics as necessary
For additional guidance, see Last, et al., § 7.5 Long Reports