The 4 differences between certificate, report and opinion

Bureaucracy is something that for a relatively large proportion of the population is more than a puzzle. But if it is underestimated, the truth is that it is often necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the system and to monitor a process with the maximum possible guarantees.

In this area we often find various types of documents, which can sometimes be confused. Among them are some that are not only applied at the administrative level, but also in fields such as academia.

For example, many people have already had to make a report, or had to wait for an opinion to be confirmed or to receive a certificate in order to be able to perform or obtain a certain service. But what is the difference between these types of documents? What are they and what are the differences between a certificate, report and opinion? Let’s take a look at it throughout this article.

    Certificate, report and opinion: what are they?

    Before starting to talk about the differences between the certificate, report, and opinion, it may be consistent and necessary to give a brief description or explanation of each.

    It receives the name of the certificate in a document type that it is issued for the purpose of testifying or recording a given fact, in a purely descriptive manner. To be valid, it must have been produced and signed by a technician or an authority competent in the aspect for which it is registered.

    A typical example of this type of document is found in the study certificates or in the habitability certificate of houses.

    Report is probably the most common type of document writtenAs is often the basis from which to take your course of action.

    It is about a type of document which is characterized by exposing in a more or less detailed way the observed event (s) and the circumstances which surround them in an objective and empirical way, without admitting any type of interpretation. An example can be found in the reports that are made when there is a certain type of traffic accident, in terms of both the accident and the condition of vehicles and people.

    As for the opinion, it is a type of document in which, based on data surrounding a situation (generally from a report), he assesses and analyzes the situation itself in order to make some sort of determination in this regard, Plan an intervention or action or just come to a conclusion about what happened. In this case, the opinion or assessment of the professional who performs it comes into play, who should be a staff expert in the subject to be assessed.

    As an example, we can find cases of opinions in any judicial process in which a sentence is handed down, or in the selection of a certain treatment for a patient in the hospital or in a psychological / psychiatric context.

    As you can see, the three concepts explained so far coincide in the fact that they are very useful documents and that they are often used together.

    Also, they can all be applied to a large number of fields, from education or academia (is a person fit / unfit?), To construction (is this house habitable?), To medicine or psychology (what happens? the symptoms correspond to disorder X ?, what type of intervention to apply?) to the administrative staff themselves (permits, regulations, requests, etc.). But, as can already be seen from the definitions themselves, they are not the same.

    Differences between these types of documents

    The opinion, report and certificate are documents that have some essentially similarities and are usually closely related. However, far from being the same type of document and each of them has characteristics that distinguish it from the others. In this sense, below we highlight the four main differences between certificate, report and opinion.

    1. Objective pursued

    Perhaps the main and most important difference between opinion, certificate and report is that these three types of documents they are carried out with different purposes and objectives.

    In this sense, a report is made for the purpose of exposing and explaining a given situation or aspect of reality, without intending to include any hints or appreciations (although the purpose of its achievement may be in fact to end up doing it).

    The opinion is drafted when, together with the existing information on a certain issue or situation, it needs to be assessed, in order to provide guidelines for action, recommendation or solution in relation to the situation itself or as to how to proceed.

    To finish, the certificate is a document issued only as a statement of the result of an assessment carried out previously, by reporting and communicating the conclusion or decision that is determined in this regard.

      2. Explain in relation to the value

      Another major difference between certificate, report and opinion is the type of text and the work and treatment given to the information they provide.

      While a report is an explanatory text in which the information provided is objective and does not contain any interpretation or subjectivity, the opinion includes, in addition to the explanations of the situation, an element of assessment and decision regarding what to do with that information.

      In this way, the opinion incorporates a certain subjectivity into the content, as the data is interpreted to generate a conclusion.

      Finally, with regard to the certificate, although its content refers to the final conclusion that was obtained through a process of analysis with the possibility of knowing whether or not there are biases and subjectivities, we are before a document whose content is limited to describe the conclusion or the result itself. Thus, the certificate does not imply an act of evaluation but is the reflection of the evaluation made previously.

      3. Order

      In addition to the above differences, it should also be noted that in general these documents they are usually interdependent and usually need the above in order to be able to develop the next.

      In this sense, the first of the documents that will be necessary will be the report in order to be able to explore what happened or what we are working on, obtaining data in an objective and detailed way. Only then will it be possible to proceed with the assessment that allows the creation of the opinion, which will use this data to analyze and interpret the information and ultimately make a decision on it.

      And he will base himself on this opinion on which he will base himself in order to be able to draw up a certificate that of faith or to leave a trace of the decision taken with regard to which it is being analyzed.

      4. Attention to detail and conciseness

      A final element of differentiation between the three types of documents cited is, beyond their objectivity / subjectivity or what each of them pursues, the level of detail and accuracy of the data it contains.

      While the certificate is usually a concise and precise document but pays little attention to detail and offers little information about the situation it values ​​and the circumstances surrounding it, the opinion it is much more explicit and detailed but nevertheless less concise and closed than the previous one, As it reflects the assessment made against the data drawn from the report.

      Finally, the report is next to the opinion which provides the most details about the situation which it exposes and tells, but since it focuses on the simple explanation, it does not lead to a conclusion, being more open.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Lannon, J. (2007). Technical communication. Longman.
      • Royal Spanish Academy. (2018). Dictionary of the Spanish language.

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