Written by Dr. T. Miles
A recommendation report proposes a solution to a problem or evaluates
possible solutions and recommends one. Before proposing or recommending a
solution, the report needs to identify the problem.
Think about the various problems you encounter everyday or read about in
EXAMPLE: A HEALTH CARE/ECONOMIC PROBLEM
For instance, Congress is trying to figure out how to control the
ever-increasing cost of Medicare/Medicaid. The problem seems to be that if
we don't reform the system, part of Medicare (health insurance for seniors)
may go broke in ten years (though such predictions have existed ever since
Medicare was created). But reforming the system may require some seemingly
unpleasant lifestyle changes: seniors may have to enroll in managed care
plans (HMOs); in the case of a terminal illness, no extreme measures would
be taken to effect an (unlikely) cure or to extend life. This would mean
that certain conditions--like liver failure late in life due to
alcoholism--would be treated with measures less expensive than a liver
transplant, while other conditions, such as hypertension would get more,
and faster, treatment. Are HMOs the solution? A feasibility study would
evaluate this solution *among others* as a way to respond to the problem of
rising Medicare costs.
EXAMPLE: TECHNOLOGY UPGRADE
In technology, problems are often resolved with a technical upgrade. For
instance, you put dual airbags in cars because people too often don't use
seat belts, and airbags prevent further injury even when seat belts are
used. The problem here, which motivates people to improve a process, is
that people continue to sustain severe injuries despite the availability of
seat belts and dual airbags. Taking this one step further, some car
companies (like Volvo) are not installing side airbags, in addition to the
two in front, to protect people against side impacts, which often do not
activate the two front airbags.
EXAMPLE: SOCIAL SCIENCE/COMMUNICATION
In the areas of social science and communication, a "technical upgrade"
might exist in the field of small-business management, where many
researchers are discovering that a business will run more efficiently if
the employees are asked for their advice about how to improve processes.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN DEVISING A SOLUTION
- Be SITE SPECIFIC. That is, don't propose a general solution; propose
one that is specific to your situation.
- Survey what is currently known about your subject through research.
SUPPORT your recommendations with RESEARCH.
- Consider ECONOMIC ASPECTS. Since money is involved in the improvement
of almost anything, you must take into account the economic aspects. Do a
long-term cost analysis. Will the improvement, over time, be worth the
increased cost? How would one determine that?
- Consider CHANCE and human nature. Try to anticipate the unexpected.
For instance, Corridor H in WV may not be built--not because of all the
environmental studies, but because we have now learned that there are Civil
War sites along the route--which no one, apparently, knew about before.
ORGANIZING THE REPORT
If you will read Chapter 11 in Reep, you will see that there are
conventions for organizing feasibility studies (see pp. 308-310 for
details, and 329-332 for an example) and proposals (see pp. 322-326 for
details and pp. 347-52 for an example).
Both of these organizational patterns can be used for your recommendation
report, although the PROPOSAL FORMAT will probably fit most topics better
than the feasibility study format. If you want to adapt either of these
patterns, discuss your plans with your professor.
In brief, here are the basic elements of each pattern. Please be sure to
look at the book to see the sub-sections for each of the main points
PATTERN 1: FEASIBILITY STUDY
(See pp. 308-310 in Reep for details, and pp. 329-332 for an example)
- Comparison of Alternatives
PATTERN 2: PROPOSAL REPORT
(See pp. 321-26 in Reep for details, and pp. 347-52 for an example)
- Proposed Solution
- Needed Equipment/Personnel
- Evaluation System
- Expected Benefits
See the book for sub-sections and details about these patterns and the
purposes for each type of report. Choose the organizational pattern that
suits the purpose(s) of *your* report best; keep your readers' needs in
[You may have to hit "reload."--on the toolbar at the top of your screen.]
The recommendation report, the final assignment in ENGL 208, builds on the
skills you've been developing all semester. You will once again need to use
the audience awareness, organization principles, and document design skills
that you used in the first two assignments; you will also draw on global
and fine-tuning revision strategies from the editing assignment. This
assignment, like the instruction manual, asks you to establish credibility
in two ways: first hand knowledge and research. Like the instruction
manual, it asks you to consider organization strategies. Finally, your
report will incorporate the research and planning from assignment 5.
REMINDER: Please attach assignment #5 to the back of your Recommendation
Report to remind us of your audience and your preliminary research.
- Establish credibility:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the problem
- Show expertise in your recommendation(s)
- Integrate research
- Show an awareness of readers' needs in your decisions about
organization (see Reep, Chapter 11, pp. 308-310 and 321-326).
- Show an awareness of readers' needs in your decisions about content.
- in your decisions about tone and style
- in your decisions about the amount of detail
you provide in descriptions, explanations, or
analyses of the problem, solution, costs or effects.
- in your decisions about what points you will
emphasize (through graphics, placement in your text,
use of supporting documentation, etc.)
- Demonstrate your attention to format:
- Set up the recommendation report as a short memo report
addressed to the person whom you hope will act on your
proposal. (Since this memo is not addressed to your
professor, attach a simple cover sheet to the top of
your report. List your professor's name, your name,
and date just to be sure your paper ends up in the right
- Use headings, paragraphing, spacing, and typography well
- Include a graphic if relevant
- Demonstrate your ability to document a source. If you need a review, look at Chapter 9 in Reep or check out Purdue's on-line guide to APA documentation.
- Use parenthetical documentation in the text.
- Use accurate APA style to list only the references
cited in the text of your report. (See Chpt. 9 in Reep)
- Integrate at least three current sources (nothing older
than two years).
- Demonstrate attention to fine-tuning revisions. If you need a review of punctuation or usage, check out the handouts available from Purdue's on-line writing center.
- Improve SENTENCE STYLE (pp. 134-137)
- Attend to WORD CHOICES (pp. 138-145)
- Avoid WORDINESS (pp. 145-46)
- Use ACTIVE VOICE when possible (pp. 137-138)
- Avoid SUBJECT-VERB disagreements
- Attend to COMMA USE after introductory clauses
- Avoid SENTENCE FRAGMENTS
- Avoid RUN-ON (OR "FUSED") SENTENCES
- Use APOSTROPHES accurately
- Use PARALLEL STRUCTURE
- Avoid other errors in GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION (see pp.
- PROOFREAD carefully (p. 134 and pp. 448-449)
Please refer also to the basic criteria for an A, B, C, D, or F outlined in
Questions? Please contact your conference professor.
Return to ENGL 208 Main Page