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3 Investigation Report Writing Mistakes You're Still Making

Don’t compromise the credibility of your investigation report, or yourself as its author, by making one of these easily avoidable mistakes.

Posted by Katie Yahnke on September 8th, 2017

It’s easy to make mistakes while putting together an investigation report, but most are easy to avoid too (especially when you know what you should be looking for). Don’t compromise the credibility of your investigation report, or yourself as its author, by skipping the most important part of report writing: a final review. Keep a special eye out for some of these common investigation report mistakes.

Making conclusory statements

How you structure your sentence and choose your words can change how the message is getting across to the reader.
There are endless resources available on the web that tell you what needs to be included in your investigation report. A topic that’s equally as important, yet more often overlooked, is how the information in the report should be written.

For help organizing the “what” part of your report, our Investigation Report Writing Quick Guide is a great start.

During the report writing process, you will need to consider how a reader will understand the information you’re providing. The words that you choose and the way that you structure your sentences will change how the reader interprets and reacts to your message. Your report should not make conclusory statements, but instead use sentences explaining your findings as they relate to the policy of the company. It’s the responsibility of the final decision-maker (like a judge) to have the final say and make conclusory statements. So the next time you’re typing up your investigation report, instead of explicitly stating that “Individual X engaged in fraud”, say something more along the lines of “Based on the evidence, Individual X behaved unethically according to the Workplace Anti-Theft Policy of Company Y”.

Filling your final investigation report with conclusory statements gives others an opportunity to take jabs at the entire investigation and your professional credibility. Avoid making this investigation report mistake by reading over the document in full and adding to any sentences that lack supporting policy.

Overlooking typos and errors

Typos are on the tail end of mistake severity but can question the validity of the entire investigation.
On a related note, typos and errors are another common error found in investigation reports that can impede on your professionalism. Typos are on the tail end of mistake severity but can question not only the validity of the report, but the validity of the entire investigation. This is especially true when we consider how easily typos can be avoided thanks to a virtually endless supply of spell-check apps. The reader of your report might think, “Hmm, well if this individual can overlook a typo, I wonder what else they might have overlooked in the investigation?”.

Set aside an hour or so to do a final review. Even if you catch one or two tiny, seemingly superficial typos, you are significantly improving your credibility and the trustworthiness of your report.

In the video below, Investigation Report Writing Techniques: What to Avoid, investigation specialist Xan Raskin lists some of the more common typos and errors you should keep an eye out for.

Leaving out potentially valuable documents

It’s better to have too much than too little, especially when it comes to background knowledge about a situation and those involved. While the investigation report itself should be relatively brief, there are many pertinent documents you can and should attach as appendices. Would your workplace investigation report be more thorough if you attached performance reviews, organizational charts, or salary history to the end? Probably so. Don’t make the investigation report mistake of leaving out important documentation. Not every reader of this report will have sufficient knowledge about the situation, so consider that while you’re crossing the t’s, dotting the i’s, and putting the finishing touches on your report.

If you found these tips to be useful, you’ll want to watch the other 57 minutes of Xan Raskin’s webinar, How to Write Stellar Investigation Reports.

Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is a former marketing writer at i-Sight. She writes on topics that range from fraud, corporate security and workplace investigations to corporate culture, ethics and compliance.

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