Best Practices for Documenting Allegations

Improve the clarity and coherence of your investigation report by summarizing and documenting allegations according to these best practices.

Posted by Katie Yahnke in on September 11th, 2017

Are you documenting and reporting workplace allegations effectively? The summary of allegations and factual findings is one of the most important parts of the entire investigation report. It’s the meat of the matter and describes why the investigation is taking place at all. So, if there’s any part you need to do right, this is it. What better way to make sure your work is top notch than by following the best practices recommended by an expert in the world of investigative report writing?

Xan Raskin is the CEO and founder of Artixan Consulting Group based in New York, and a widely recognized workplace conflict resolution expert. Raskin has years of experience reading and writing investigation reports and she led a presentation where she shared some of her favorite techniques for documenting allegations. Read on or watch the clip below from her i-Sight webinar for a recap of her tips.

Use sub-headings for each allegation

A sub-heading clearly separates and defines a sequence of events.
According to Raskin, it’s a good idea to use separate sub-headings for each allegation. You can be extremely detailed by giving each allegation a sub-heading with the finer details of the complaint underneath. Or, you can be less detailed (but equally organized) by choosing to group or categorize similar allegations together under a single sub-heading.

By breaking down the allegations this way, a reader of the report can begin to understand the situation with just a quick glance at the page. A sub-heading also clearly separates a sequence of events so that details from one allegation don’t leak into details from another. This separation prevents confusion, especially if there are many allegations that need to be covered.

For a full how-to on investigation report writing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Writing Investigation Reports.

And remember, when you’re summarizing allegations, don’t overlook the finer details. Include the names of individuals involved (both the accuser and the accused), the location where the incident took place, along with the date and time.

Follow each allegation with the response

Detailing the sequence of events creates a cohesive document the investigator can later turn to for a refresh of the incident.
After detailing each allegation and organizing them according to your chosen sub-headings, Raskin recommends following each allegation with the response or the action that was taken. This back-and-forth kind of sequence (allegation-response, allegation-response, repeat) organizes your final investigation report into a narrative about the events that serves multiple practical benefits.

First, it makes it easier for the reviewer or an individual who is reading the report to understand the situation. Second, if the investigation is brought to court for litigation, it’s important that your report (especially the allegations and responses section) is as clear as possible. Detailing the sequence of events creates a cohesive document the investigator can later turn to for a refresh of the incident. And finally, it reduces the likelihood that the opposition will poke holes in the investigation since it creates a tight-knit, complete record of events.

Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is the 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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