REPORTING METHOD


 

“IRAC” is the abbreviation for Issue, Rules, Analysis and Conclusion.  IRAC is the scientific method of report writing.

 

IRAC is based upon 5,000 years of Judeo/Christian thinking. It is the basis for the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of many countries. We are not at liberty to make up our own system of truth. The major reason that so many reports lack logic and quality is because one maybe trying to arrive at a conclusion without asking a question, or by asking the question before knowing the facts. One may also be trying to state a description before knowing the history.  Not following the IRAC method often leads to an illogically written and poor quality report.

 

The issue is one of the essential elements in report writing that sets the report into the legal style of our legal and judicial system.  It is ALWAYS in the form of a question.  A question must be asked before writing a conclusion.  Without an issue in the form of a question, an inspector can only be the “eyes and ears” for the commissioning party.  Making a conclusion without an issue in the form of a question is contrary to the judicial system that may cause the report to be misunderstood or to have multiple interpretations.  

The “Problem Reported” implies a question and trying to answer an implied question may lead to comic relief. The late night televisions talk host, Johnny Carson used to play a game of giving the answer and then the audience would try to phrase the question.

Look at an issue in the same manner of a rudder controlling a boat. The rudder is a relatively small part of the boat, but it controls which direction the boat will go. If Columbus only had an “implied rudder”, he would have never discovered America. It could also be liken of bit & bridle to a horse; it to is much smaller than the horse, but a horse will never figure out where you want to go without them. The issue too, is a small, single question, yet it controls the rest of the report. If the purpose of the report is to conclude who the responsible party is, then an issue is essential.

The issue is always a question, never a statement.  An IRAC report is about answering the question. In many cases, other parties involved in the claim could be qualified to write everything but the conclusion. The IICRC credential, for example, is what allows an IICRC senior carpet inspector to render an opinion (i.e. the conclusion). This sets one apart from the other player(s) in the claim. By actually writing an issue in the form of a question, one begins to set themselves above the “eyes & ears” report writers. One is now working with the system that allows courtroom involvement.

The issue is also the legal element of the report that is as much of the science of report writing, as pH is to chemistry. The science of legal training involves the study of "IRAC".   Any style of report writing that leaves out the issue is working contrary to the legal system.

Another legal reason a report must have an issue in the form of a question is as a Certified Inspector one is authorized to give a professional opinion in court. This means that the report one writes is a legal document that can be introduced as evidence. 

The issue may be an evolution of the problem reported; for example, the problem may have been reported as a color variation; but all of the individuals at the inspection were shown and convinced the actual problem was pile reversal. The question that the inspector may have been asked to address is what caused the pile reversal: pooling, improper grooming, foot traffic, and other hypotheses. The issue may also include a sequence of questions such as what caused the pile reversal and who is the responsible party.   

 

Original Source:  IRAC, by James Smith May 6, 2001.   Revised Source:  James Smith and Clayton Shull, November 2002

 

Notes:  Analysis includes challenging each hypothesis and arriving at the most likely cause of the problem. The conclusion is drawn based on the evidence gathered in the report. 


©2005 Clayton Shull

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