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Is it possible to "publish an inquiry" or must you "publish a report on (the results of) an inquiry"? This is in British English; the rest of the world can do as it likes, I just need to know what is correct in Britain, please.

Thanks to anyone who can help!

  • A report on the results of an inquiry might be very different to a report on the proceedings of an inquiry, so that clarification might be useful. And it does seem slightly odd to equate a document with the process of producing it. In normal usage, I'd say 'publish an inquiry' would be universally understood, but I'd prefer the middle ground 'publish the results of an inquiry'. – JHCL Oct 1 '15 at 11:28
  • I would be confused as to whether "publish an inquiry" meant to publish a question being asked of the public, such as "Does anyone know if a red Porsche was seen outside Fred's Bar on Tuesday night?" – Hot Licks Oct 1 '15 at 11:44
  • @Hot Licks - in the UK, that would normally be an 'enquiry'. – JHCL Oct 1 '15 at 11:56
  • You launch or hold an inquiry and you don't usually publish anything until full results are summarized or analyzed. Initiate/introduce/conduct, etc. – user140086 Oct 1 '15 at 12:04
  • David Hume published An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, but he was Scottish and it was 1748. – GoldenGremlin Dec 31 '15 at 3:07
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Inquiry:

an ​official ​process to ​discover the ​facts about something ​bad that has ​happened: (-- Cambridge Online)

The natural result of an inquiry (as the word is generally used in the UK) is a report, normally intended for publication. So yes, the report is what is published, rather than the inquiry. It is likely to contain details of evidence considered, conclusions drawn (with reasons), and a summary. With respect to Public Inquiries, the process is outlined by wikipedia:

The conclusions of the inquiry are delivered in the form of a written report, given first to the government, and soon after published to the public. The report will generally make recommendations to improve the quality of government or management of public organisations in the future.

You will commonly see phrases such as "demands to publish the Chilcott Inquiry report"; you're unlikely to see the word 'report' omitted, and this shouldn't be confused with "demands for an Inquiry".

However, and further to my earlier comment, the phrase 'publish an inquiry' will be commonly understood to mean 'publish the final report produced by an inquiry process', in my opinion. Personally, I'm happy with 'publish the results of an inquiry'.

You might bear in mind possible confusion where an interim statement or report is produced, and also where a meta inquiry into the workings of a previous inquiry might result in a 'report on an inquiry' (as suggested in the question), as opposed to the 'report of or by an inquiry.

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  • Thanks v much to all who answered. I added "the report" to a sentence in a piece I was editing, but the writer undid my correction. Tempting though it is to ask him HotLicks' question about the Porsche, my correction will remain undone (the writer's choice, not mine), but I thought I would check for myself for future reference. Interestingly, the UK Guardian and Independent both refer at least once to "publishing an inquiry". However, seeing as newspaper budgets have been cut to ribbons, I suspect their subs are now hired more because they are cheap than because they know what they are doing! – AnnieH Oct 1 '15 at 22:30

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