Investigative reports begin with introductions, which often include factual information, followed by a background section with illustrations and diagrams if necessary, methods for data acquisition and their results and a summary or conclusion. As with other credible documents, investigative reports should provide a section of acknowledgments, supporting documentation and a section on recommendations. This is particularly true for law enforcement officers and other legal professionals who may use the evidence collected at trial.
Following that basic structure ensures that investigative reports have the same basic information and are equally credible and valuable in the legal system. However, the methods used for collecting that information varies, and there is no best technique for that data acquisition. Investigative reports should logically recount the event or story and establish the events as they unfolded in the background section. In this section, written facts are important, but illustrations and diagrams can be quite helpful too. The methods and data discovery sections should outline the process for gathering evidence and present results of scientific analysis in formats that are easy for audiences to understand. Then, investigative reports should acknowledge those who provided assistance with research and data collection. These reports often also provide recommendations for further action.