Write a Recommendation Report. The goal of the Recommendation Report will
be to aid your audience in determining a course of action by presenting the results of research (primarily
secondary research) and your evaluation of the significance of the findings. In your report, the
recommendations will suggest specific actions to solve a problem that you identify. Additionally, the report
will highlight criteria for decision-making in its structure.
In general, recommendation reports answer the following types of questions:
Which is better, option A or option B? (Comparative Analysis)
This question points to a comparison of options and is the usual question in the case
of a purchase. If you know, for example, that a new building design is looking to
incorporate a renewable energy source, you might compare solar panels and windmills to
determine which better meets your needs.
Is a project feasible? (Feasibility Study)
This question points to an investigation of one solution that is forecasted in the
introduction of the report. The study will determine whether the individual or company can
and should follow a particular course of action. For example, is it feasible to run a pilot
program on the Penn State campus?
As you consider the topic for your report, look for a project with a practical application; that is, be able to
define how a specific reader will use your report. The best projects are real and “local” rather than
theoretical. Don’t ask huge questions like, “Is it feasible for the US to switch to renewable energy?” A
more focused study might consider, “Is it feasible to switch Hammond Building to solar?” Practical topics
are ones that relate to your work or field of specialization. The recommendation you make in your
report must require the investigation of two to four of the criteria for decision making in at least
two of these three categories: technical, managerial, and social (see “Criteria for Decision Making”
Feel free to continue with the problem you investigated in your Literature Review, as long as it makes
sense to frame it as a feasibility report or a comparative analysis. This could save you time and energy
during the research stages because you have already collected and read articles on the topic.
Guidelines for conducting research
Min. of 6 or more sources. If you are continuing with the topic from your literature review, many of those
sources may carry over to this report. Choosing a different topic from your lit review is also possible, but
you would lose the advantage of having much of the research already vetted.
Because of the practical nature of the work, you may find it necessary to explore other avenues of
information that go beyond journal articles. Sources such as textbooks, handbooks, websites, etc. are fair
game. Also consider the possibility of conducting interviews to gain access to information that might not
otherwise be accessible to you at this time. Lastly, because this assignment is, in part, an academic
exercise, there is a heavier reliance on secondary research/sources than primary. Thus, it is not
recommended to carry out any type of primary research for this assignment. In fact, Penn State’s Office of
Regulatory Compliance prohibits an individual from conducting formal polls or surveys on campus without
express permission from its office.
Formatting your report
Your report should include the following sections:
Title page with descriptive abstract
Table of contents
List of visuals
Glossary (if necessary)
Discussion (body) sections organized according to criteria for decision making
Appropriate documentation, according to the style used in your field
Visuals (tables, graphs, drawings, photos, etc.)–Note: at least two visuals are required.
The body of the report, including introduction and conclusions, will probably run about 5-7 pp. in 10-12
point type (x1 spacing or x1.5 spacing). The preliminary (front matter) and supplemental pages will be
an additional 3-5 pages. Number pages, use a running header, and use headings in the report text.
Note that the report is worth 25% of your grade for the course. Please manage your time well.
I will evaluate the reports according to these expectations:
The executive summary reflects the entire report concisely. Introduction, findings, conclusions, and
recommendations are covered. Significant factual information is present. Sentences are efficient, and the
summary does not exceed one page.
The introduction states a problem (with who-what-when-where-why-so what information), identifies a
research question, explains scope and methodology, and forecasts the rest of the report.
The body sections reflect criteria for decision-making. Headings are parallel. The body is divided into
three sections: 1) Solution Overview, which describes the topic(s) under evaluation; 2) Solution
Criteria, which defines each criterion used for evaluation; and 3) Evaluation of Criteria, which develops
and assesses the findings of each criterion. Each criterion section is essentially a mini report, with an
introduction, findings, and conclusion. The introduction explains the significance of the criterion. The
findings report what you have discovered through research. The “conclusion” (just on this particular
criterion) tries to define the significance of the findings for the research question and to reconcile any
The conclusion section for the entire report weighs the results from all the criteria and answers the
research question. All the criteria should be accounted for. The conclusion does not introduce any new
criteria. The section includes interpretive (not just factual) statements: words like “more important
because…” or “a more immediate need” or “long term benefits outweigh short-term costs.” You put the
findings for each criterion in relation to one another. You justify and explain your answer to the research
question. The conclusion answers the research question: An explicit statement will say something like “A
is the better choice.”
The recommendations direct specific action (without explanation or justification). The recommendations
may (but do not have to be) in list form. If there is a list, the verbs may be “command” verbs (imperative
mood). Items in the list are in parallel form.
All the report parts are present (title, table of contents, executive summary, report, illustrations,
references etc.). Illustrations support the argument (they highlight important information that would be
harder to understand with words alone) and they are constructed and labeled according to conventions.
Format reveals the structure. Headings show main divisions. A running header and page numbers help
readers find their place. Front matter is numbered with roman numerals. Sentence style emphasizes
strong verbs. Grammar and mechanics are correct. References are complete and accurate. The citation
style is the one used by the writer’s discipline (refer to Supplemental Exercises 2 and 3 for additional info
on style manuals).
AND, finally: The problem is significant, the research is good, and the reasoning is sound. The report is
convincing and important.
(Chart excerpted from Technical Communication 6
th edition by Selzer et al.)