• Research Report: Definition, Types + [Writing Guide]

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One of the reasons for carrying out research is to add to the existing body of knowledge. Therefore, when conducting research, you need to document your processes and findings in a research report. 

With a research report, it is easy to outline the findings of your systematic investigation and any gaps needing further inquiry. Knowing how to create a detailed research report will prove useful when you need to conduct research.  

What is a Research Report?

A research report is a well-crafted document that outlines the processes, data, and findings of a systematic investigation. It is an important document that serves as a first-hand account of the research process, and it is typically considered an objective and accurate source of information.

In many ways, a research report can be considered as a summary of the research process that clearly highlights findings, recommendations, and other important details. Reading a well-written research report should provide you with all the information you need about the core areas of the research process.

Features of a Research Report 

So how do you recognize a research report when you see one? Here are some of the basic features that define a research report. 

  • It is a detailed presentation of research processes and findings, and it usually includes tables and graphs. 
  • It is written in a formal language.
  • A research report is usually written in the third person.
  • It is informative and based on first-hand verifiable information.
  • It is formally structured with headings, sections, and bullet points.
  • It always includes recommendations for future actions. 

Types of Research Report 

The research report is classified based on two things; nature of research and target audience.

Nature of Research

  • Qualitative Research Report

This is the type of report written for qualitative research . It outlines the methods, processes, and findings of a qualitative method of systematic investigation. In educational research, a qualitative research report provides an opportunity for one to apply his or her knowledge and develop skills in planning and executing qualitative research projects.

A qualitative research report is usually descriptive in nature. Hence, in addition to presenting details of the research process, you must also create a descriptive narrative of the information.

  • Quantitative Research Report

A quantitative research report is a type of research report that is written for quantitative research. Quantitative research is a type of systematic investigation that pays attention to numerical or statistical values in a bid to find answers to research questions. 

In this type of research report, the researcher presents quantitative data to support the research process and findings. Unlike a qualitative research report that is mainly descriptive, a quantitative research report works with numbers; that is, it is numerical in nature. 

Target Audience

Also, a research report can be said to be technical or popular based on the target audience. If you’re dealing with a general audience, you would need to present a popular research report, and if you’re dealing with a specialized audience, you would submit a technical report. 

  • Technical Research Report

A technical research report is a detailed document that you present after carrying out industry-based research. This report is highly specialized because it provides information for a technical audience; that is, individuals with above-average knowledge in the field of study. 

In a technical research report, the researcher is expected to provide specific information about the research process, including statistical analyses and sampling methods. Also, the use of language is highly specialized and filled with jargon. 

Examples of technical research reports include legal and medical research reports. 

  • Popular Research Report

A popular research report is one for a general audience; that is, for individuals who do not necessarily have any knowledge in the field of study. A popular research report aims to make information accessible to everyone. 

It is written in very simple language, which makes it easy to understand the findings and recommendations. Examples of popular research reports are the information contained in newspapers and magazines. 

Importance of a Research Report 

  • Knowledge Transfer: As already stated above, one of the reasons for carrying out research is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and this is made possible with a research report. A research report serves as a means to effectively communicate the findings of a systematic investigation to all and sundry.  
  • Identification of Knowledge Gaps: With a research report, you’d be able to identify knowledge gaps for further inquiry. A research report shows what has been done while hinting at other areas needing systematic investigation. 
  • In market research, a research report would help you understand the market needs and peculiarities at a glance. 
  • A research report allows you to present information in a precise and concise manner. 
  • It is time-efficient and practical because, in a research report, you do not have to spend time detailing the findings of your research work in person. You can easily send out the report via email and have stakeholders look at it. 

Guide to Writing a Research Report

A lot of detail goes into writing a research report, and getting familiar with the different requirements would help you create the ideal research report. A research report is usually broken down into multiple sections, which allows for a concise presentation of information.

Structure and Example of a Research Report

This is the title of your systematic investigation. Your title should be concise and point to the aims, objectives, and findings of a research report. 

  • Table of Contents

This is like a compass that makes it easier for readers to navigate the research report.

An abstract is an overview that highlights all important aspects of the research including the research method, data collection process, and research findings. Think of an abstract as a summary of your research report that presents pertinent information in a concise manner. 

An abstract is always brief; typically 100-150 words and goes straight to the point. The focus of your research abstract should be the 5Ws and 1H format – What, Where, Why, When, Who and How. 

  • Introduction

Here, the researcher highlights the aims and objectives of the systematic investigation as well as the problem which the systematic investigation sets out to solve. When writing the report introduction, it is also essential to indicate whether the purposes of the research were achieved or would require more work.

In the introduction section, the researcher specifies the research problem and also outlines the significance of the systematic investigation. Also, the researcher is expected to outline any jargons and terminologies that are contained in the research.  

  • Literature Review

A literature review is a written survey of existing knowledge in the field of study. In other words, it is the section where you provide an overview and analysis of different research works that are relevant to your systematic investigation. 

It highlights existing research knowledge and areas needing further investigation, which your research has sought to fill. At this stage, you can also hint at your research hypothesis and its possible implications for the existing body of knowledge in your field of study. 

  • An Account of Investigation

This is a detailed account of the research process, including the methodology, sample, and research subjects. Here, you are expected to provide in-depth information on the research process including the data collection and analysis procedures. 

In a quantitative research report, you’d need to provide information surveys, questionnaires and other quantitative data collection methods used in your research. In a qualitative research report, you are expected to describe the qualitative data collection methods used in your research including interviews and focus groups. 

In this section, you are expected to present the results of the systematic investigation. 

This section further explains the findings of the research, earlier outlined. Here, you are expected to present a justification for each outcome and show whether the results are in line with your hypotheses or if other research studies have come up with similar results.

  • Conclusions

This is a summary of all the information in the report. It also outlines the significance of the entire study. 

  • References and Appendices

This section contains a list of all the primary and secondary research sources. 

Tips for Writing a Research Report

  • Define the Context for the Report

As is obtainable when writing an essay, defining the context for your research report would help you create a detailed yet concise document. This is why you need to create an outline before writing so that you do not miss out on anything. 

  • Define your Audience

Writing with your audience in mind is essential as it determines the tone of the report. If you’re writing for a general audience, you would want to present the information in a simple and relatable manner. For a specialized audience, you would need to make use of technical and field-specific terms. 

  • Include Significant Findings

The idea of a research report is to present some sort of abridged version of your systematic investigation. In your report, you should exclude irrelevant information while highlighting only important data and findings. 

  • Include Illustrations

Your research report should include illustrations and other visual representations of your data. Graphs, pie charts, and relevant images lend additional credibility to your systematic investigation.

  • Choose the Right Title

A good research report title is brief, precise, and contains keywords from your research. It should provide a clear idea of your systematic investigation so that readers can grasp the entire focus of your research from the title. 

  • Proofread the Report

Before publishing the document, ensure that you give it a second look to authenticate the information. If you can, get someone else to go through the report, too, and you can also run it through proofreading and editing software. 

How to Gather Research Data for Your Report  

  • Understand the Problem

Every research aims at solving a specific problem or set of problems, and this should be at the back of your mind when writing your research report. Understanding the problem would help you to filter the information you have and include only important data in your report. 

  • Know what your report seeks to achieve

This is somewhat similar to the point above because, in some way, the aim of your research report is intertwined with the objectives of your systematic investigation. Identifying the primary purpose of writing a research report would help you to identify and present the required information accordingly. 

  • Identify your audience

Knowing your target audience plays a crucial role in data collection for a research report. If your research report is specifically for an organization, you would want to present industry-specific information or show how the research findings are relevant to the work that the company does. 

  • Create Surveys/Questionnaires

A survey is a research method that is used to gather data from a specific group of people through a set of questions. It can be either quantitative or qualitative. 

A survey is usually made up of structured questions, and it can be administered online or offline. However, an online survey is a more effective method of research data collection because it helps you save time and gather data with ease. 

You can seamlessly create an online questionnaire for your research on Formplus . With the multiple sharing options available in the builder, you would be able to administer your survey to respondents in little or no time. 

Formplus also has a report summary too l that you can use to create custom visual reports for your research.

Step-by-step guide on how to create an online questionnaire using Formplus  

  • Sign into Formplus

In the Formplus builder, you can easily create different online questionnaires for your research by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus. 

Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on Create new form to begin. 

  • Edit Form Title : Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Research Questionnaire.”
  • Edit Form : Click on the edit icon to edit the form.
  • Add Fields : Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder. 
  • Edit fields
  • Click on “Save”
  • Form Customization: With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily change the outlook of your form and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images, and even change the font according to your needs. 
  • Multiple Sharing Options: Formplus offers various form-sharing options, which enables you to share your questionnaire with respondents easily. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization’s social media pages.  You can also send out your survey form as email invitations to your research subjects too. If you wish, you can share your form’s QR code or embed it on your organization’s website for easy access. 

Conclusion  

Always remember that a research report is just as important as the actual systematic investigation because it plays a vital role in communicating research findings to everyone else. This is why you must take care to create a concise document summarizing the process of conducting any research. 

In this article, we’ve outlined essential tips to help you create a research report. When writing your report, you should always have the audience at the back of your mind, as this would set the tone for the document. 

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Research report guide: Definition, types, and tips

Last updated

5 March 2024

Reviewed by

Short on time? Get an AI generated summary of this article instead

From successful product launches or software releases to planning major business decisions, research reports serve many vital functions. They can summarize evidence and deliver insights and recommendations to save companies time and resources. They can reveal the most value-adding actions a company should take.

However, poorly constructed reports can have the opposite effect! Taking the time to learn established research-reporting rules and approaches will equip you with in-demand skills. You’ll be able to capture and communicate information applicable to numerous situations and industries, adding another string to your resume bow.

  • What are research reports?

A research report is a collection of contextual data, gathered through organized research, that provides new insights into a particular challenge (which, for this article, is business-related). Research reports are a time-tested method for distilling large amounts of data into a narrow band of focus.

Their effectiveness often hinges on whether the report provides:

Strong, well-researched evidence

Comprehensive analysis

Well-considered conclusions and recommendations

Though the topic possibilities are endless, an effective research report keeps a laser-like focus on the specific questions or objectives the researcher believes are key to achieving success. Many research reports begin as research proposals, which usually include the need for a report to capture the findings of the study and recommend a course of action.

A description of the research method used, e.g., qualitative, quantitative, or other

Statistical analysis

Causal (or explanatory) research (i.e., research identifying relationships between two variables)

Inductive research, also known as ‘theory-building’

Deductive research, such as that used to test theories

Action research, where the research is actively used to drive change

  • Importance of a research report

Research reports can unify and direct a company's focus toward the most appropriate strategic action. Of course, spending resources on a report takes up some of the company's human and financial resources. Choosing when a report is called for is a matter of judgment and experience.

Some development models used heavily in the engineering world, such as Waterfall development, are notorious for over-relying on research reports. With Waterfall development, there is a linear progression through each step of a project, and each stage is precisely documented and reported on before moving to the next.

The pace of the business world is faster than the speed at which your authors can produce and disseminate reports. So how do companies strike the right balance between creating and acting on research reports?

The answer lies, again, in the report's defined objectives. By paring down your most pressing interests and those of your stakeholders, your research and reporting skills will be the lenses that keep your company's priorities in constant focus.

Honing your company's primary objectives can save significant amounts of time and align research and reporting efforts with ever-greater precision.

Some examples of well-designed research objectives are:

Proving whether or not a product or service meets customer expectations

Demonstrating the value of a service, product, or business process to your stakeholders and investors

Improving business decision-making when faced with a lack of time or other constraints

Clarifying the relationship between a critical cause and effect for problematic business processes

Prioritizing the development of a backlog of products or product features

Comparing business or production strategies

Evaluating past decisions and predicting future outcomes

  • Features of a research report

Research reports generally require a research design phase, where the report author(s) determine the most important elements the report must contain.

Just as there are various kinds of research, there are many types of reports.

Here are the standard elements of almost any research-reporting format:

Report summary. A broad but comprehensive overview of what readers will learn in the full report. Summaries are usually no more than one or two paragraphs and address all key elements of the report. Think of the key takeaways your primary stakeholders will want to know if they don’t have time to read the full document.

Introduction. Include a brief background of the topic, the type of research, and the research sample. Consider the primary goal of the report, who is most affected, and how far along the company is in meeting its objectives.

Methods. A description of how the researcher carried out data collection, analysis, and final interpretations of the data. Include the reasons for choosing a particular method. The methods section should strike a balance between clearly presenting the approach taken to gather data and discussing how it is designed to achieve the report's objectives.

Data analysis. This section contains interpretations that lead readers through the results relevant to the report's thesis. If there were unexpected results, include here a discussion on why that might be. Charts, calculations, statistics, and other supporting information also belong here (or, if lengthy, as an appendix). This should be the most detailed section of the research report, with references for further study. Present the information in a logical order, whether chronologically or in order of importance to the report's objectives.

Conclusion. This should be written with sound reasoning, often containing useful recommendations. The conclusion must be backed by a continuous thread of logic throughout the report.

  • How to write a research paper

With a clear outline and robust pool of research, a research paper can start to write itself, but what's a good way to start a research report?

Research report examples are often the quickest way to gain inspiration for your report. Look for the types of research reports most relevant to your industry and consider which makes the most sense for your data and goals.

The research report outline will help you organize the elements of your report. One of the most time-tested report outlines is the IMRaD structure:

Introduction

...and Discussion

Pay close attention to the most well-established research reporting format in your industry, and consider your tone and language from your audience's perspective. Learn the key terms inside and out; incorrect jargon could easily harm the perceived authority of your research paper.

Along with a foundation in high-quality research and razor-sharp analysis, the most effective research reports will also demonstrate well-developed:

Internal logic

Narrative flow

Conclusions and recommendations

Readability, striking a balance between simple phrasing and technical insight

How to gather research data for your report

The validity of research data is critical. Because the research phase usually occurs well before the writing phase, you normally have plenty of time to vet your data.

However, research reports could involve ongoing research, where report authors (sometimes the researchers themselves) write portions of the report alongside ongoing research.

One such research-report example would be an R&D department that knows its primary stakeholders are eager to learn about a lengthy work in progress and any potentially important outcomes.

However you choose to manage the research and reporting, your data must meet robust quality standards before you can rely on it. Vet any research with the following questions in mind:

Does it use statistically valid analysis methods?

Do the researchers clearly explain their research, analysis, and sampling methods?

Did the researchers provide any caveats or advice on how to interpret their data?

Have you gathered the data yourself or were you in close contact with those who did?

Is the source biased?

Usually, flawed research methods become more apparent the further you get through a research report.

It's perfectly natural for good research to raise new questions, but the reader should have no uncertainty about what the data represents. There should be no doubt about matters such as:

Whether the sampling or analysis methods were based on sound and consistent logic

What the research samples are and where they came from

The accuracy of any statistical functions or equations

Validation of testing and measuring processes

When does a report require design validation?

A robust design validation process is often a gold standard in highly technical research reports. Design validation ensures the objects of a study are measured accurately, which lends more weight to your report and makes it valuable to more specialized industries.

Product development and engineering projects are the most common research-report examples that typically involve a design validation process. Depending on the scope and complexity of your research, you might face additional steps to validate your data and research procedures.

If you’re including design validation in the report (or report proposal), explain and justify your data-collection processes. Good design validation builds greater trust in a research report and lends more weight to its conclusions.

Choosing the right analysis method

Just as the quality of your report depends on properly validated research, a useful conclusion requires the most contextually relevant analysis method. This means comparing different statistical methods and choosing the one that makes the most sense for your research.

Most broadly, research analysis comes down to quantitative or qualitative methods (respectively: measurable by a number vs subjectively qualified values). There are also mixed research methods, which bridge the need for merging hard data with qualified assessments and still reach a cohesive set of conclusions.

Some of the most common analysis methods in research reports include:

Significance testing (aka hypothesis analysis), which compares test and control groups to determine how likely the data was the result of random chance.

Regression analysis , to establish relationships between variables, control for extraneous variables , and support correlation analysis.

Correlation analysis (aka bivariate testing), a method to identify and determine the strength of linear relationships between variables. It’s effective for detecting patterns from complex data, but care must be exercised to not confuse correlation with causation.

With any analysis method, it's important to justify which method you chose in the report. You should also provide estimates of the statistical accuracy (e.g., the p-value or confidence level of quantifiable data) of any data analysis.

This requires a commitment to the report's primary aim. For instance, this may be achieving a certain level of customer satisfaction by analyzing the cause and effect of changes to how service is delivered. Even better, use statistical analysis to calculate which change is most positively correlated with improved levels of customer satisfaction.

  • Tips for writing research reports

There's endless good advice for writing effective research reports, and it almost all depends on the subjective aims of the people behind the report. Due to the wide variety of research reports, the best tips will be unique to each author's purpose.

Consider the following research report tips in any order, and take note of the ones most relevant to you:

No matter how in depth or detailed your report might be, provide a well-considered, succinct summary. At the very least, give your readers a quick and effective way to get up to speed.

Pare down your target audience (e.g., other researchers, employees, laypersons, etc.), and adjust your voice for their background knowledge and interest levels

For all but the most open-ended research, clarify your objectives, both for yourself and within the report.

Leverage your team members’ talents to fill in any knowledge gaps you might have. Your team is only as good as the sum of its parts.

Justify why your research proposal’s topic will endure long enough to derive value from the finished report.

Consolidate all research and analysis functions onto a single user-friendly platform. There's no reason to settle for less than developer-grade tools suitable for non-developers.

What's the format of a research report?

The research-reporting format is how the report is structured—a framework the authors use to organize their data, conclusions, arguments, and recommendations. The format heavily determines how the report's outline develops, because the format dictates the overall structure and order of information (based on the report's goals and research objectives).

What's the purpose of a research-report outline?

A good report outline gives form and substance to the report's objectives, presenting the results in a readable, engaging way. For any research-report format, the outline should create momentum along a chain of logic that builds up to a conclusion or interpretation.

What's the difference between a research essay and a research report?

There are several key differences between research reports and essays:

Research report:

Ordered into separate sections

More commercial in nature

Often includes infographics

Heavily descriptive

More self-referential

Usually provides recommendations

Research essay

Does not rely on research report formatting

More academically minded

Normally text-only

Less detailed

Omits discussion of methods

Usually non-prescriptive 

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Home Market Research

Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them

Research Reports

Reports are usually spread across a vast horizon of topics but are focused on communicating information about a particular topic and a niche target market. The primary motive of research reports is to convey integral details about a study for marketers to consider while designing new strategies.

Certain events, facts, and other information based on incidents need to be relayed to the people in charge, and creating research reports is the most effective communication tool. Ideal research reports are extremely accurate in the offered information with a clear objective and conclusion. These reports should have a clean and structured format to relay information effectively.

What are Research Reports?

Research reports are recorded data prepared by researchers or statisticians after analyzing the information gathered by conducting organized research, typically in the form of surveys or qualitative methods .

A research report is a reliable source to recount details about a conducted research. It is most often considered to be a true testimony of all the work done to garner specificities of research.

The various sections of a research report are:

  • Background/Introduction
  • Implemented Methods
  • Results based on Analysis
  • Deliberation

Learn more: Quantitative Research

Components of Research Reports

Research is imperative for launching a new product/service or a new feature. The markets today are extremely volatile and competitive due to new entrants every day who may or may not provide effective products. An organization needs to make the right decisions at the right time to be relevant in such a market with updated products that suffice customer demands.

The details of a research report may change with the purpose of research but the main components of a report will remain constant. The research approach of the market researcher also influences the style of writing reports. Here are seven main components of a productive research report:

  • Research Report Summary: The entire objective along with the overview of research are to be included in a summary which is a couple of paragraphs in length. All the multiple components of the research are explained in brief under the report summary.  It should be interesting enough to capture all the key elements of the report.
  • Research Introduction: There always is a primary goal that the researcher is trying to achieve through a report. In the introduction section, he/she can cover answers related to this goal and establish a thesis which will be included to strive and answer it in detail.  This section should answer an integral question: “What is the current situation of the goal?”.  After the research design was conducted, did the organization conclude the goal successfully or they are still a work in progress –  provide such details in the introduction part of the research report.
  • Research Methodology: This is the most important section of the report where all the important information lies. The readers can gain data for the topic along with analyzing the quality of provided content and the research can also be approved by other market researchers . Thus, this section needs to be highly informative with each aspect of research discussed in detail.  Information needs to be expressed in chronological order according to its priority and importance. Researchers should include references in case they gained information from existing techniques.
  • Research Results: A short description of the results along with calculations conducted to achieve the goal will form this section of results. Usually, the exposition after data analysis is carried out in the discussion part of the report.

Learn more: Quantitative Data

  • Research Discussion: The results are discussed in extreme detail in this section along with a comparative analysis of reports that could probably exist in the same domain. Any abnormality uncovered during research will be deliberated in the discussion section.  While writing research reports, the researcher will have to connect the dots on how the results will be applicable in the real world.
  • Research References and Conclusion: Conclude all the research findings along with mentioning each and every author, article or any content piece from where references were taken.

Learn more: Qualitative Observation

15 Tips for Writing Research Reports

Writing research reports in the manner can lead to all the efforts going down the drain. Here are 15 tips for writing impactful research reports:

  • Prepare the context before starting to write and start from the basics:  This was always taught to us in school – be well-prepared before taking a plunge into new topics. The order of survey questions might not be the ideal or most effective order for writing research reports. The idea is to start with a broader topic and work towards a more specific one and focus on a conclusion or support, which a research should support with the facts.  The most difficult thing to do in reporting, without a doubt is to start. Start with the title, the introduction, then document the first discoveries and continue from that. Once the marketers have the information well documented, they can write a general conclusion.
  • Keep the target audience in mind while selecting a format that is clear, logical and obvious to them:  Will the research reports be presented to decision makers or other researchers? What are the general perceptions around that topic? This requires more care and diligence. A researcher will need a significant amount of information to start writing the research report. Be consistent with the wording, the numbering of the annexes and so on. Follow the approved format of the company for the delivery of research reports and demonstrate the integrity of the project with the objectives of the company.
  • Have a clear research objective: A researcher should read the entire proposal again, and make sure that the data they provide contributes to the objectives that were raised from the beginning. Remember that speculations are for conversations, not for research reports, if a researcher speculates, they directly question their own research.
  • Establish a working model:  Each study must have an internal logic, which will have to be established in the report and in the evidence. The researchers’ worst nightmare is to be required to write research reports and realize that key questions were not included.

Learn more: Quantitative Observation

  • Gather all the information about the research topic. Who are the competitors of our customers? Talk to other researchers who have studied the subject of research, know the language of the industry. Misuse of the terms can discourage the readers of research reports from reading further.
  • Read aloud while writing. While reading the report, if the researcher hears something inappropriate, for example, if they stumble over the words when reading them, surely the reader will too. If the researcher can’t put an idea in a single sentence, then it is very long and they must change it so that the idea is clear to everyone.
  • Check grammar and spelling. Without a doubt, good practices help to understand the report. Use verbs in the present tense. Consider using the present tense, which makes the results sound more immediate. Find new words and other ways of saying things. Have fun with the language whenever possible.
  • Discuss only the discoveries that are significant. If some data are not really significant, do not mention them. Remember that not everything is truly important or essential within research reports.

Learn more: Qualitative Data

  • Try and stick to the survey questions. For example, do not say that the people surveyed “were worried” about an research issue , when there are different degrees of concern.
  • The graphs must be clear enough so that they understand themselves. Do not let graphs lead the reader to make mistakes: give them a title, include the indications, the size of the sample, and the correct wording of the question.
  • Be clear with messages. A researcher should always write every section of the report with an accuracy of details and language.
  • Be creative with titles – Particularly in segmentation studies choose names “that give life to research”. Such names can survive for a long time after the initial investigation.
  • Create an effective conclusion: The conclusion in the research reports is the most difficult to write, but it is an incredible opportunity to excel. Make a precise summary. Sometimes it helps to start the conclusion with something specific, then it describes the most important part of the study, and finally, it provides the implications of the conclusions.
  • Get a couple more pair of eyes to read the report. Writers have trouble detecting their own mistakes. But they are responsible for what is presented. Ensure it has been approved by colleagues or friends before sending the find draft out.

Learn more: Market Research and Analysis

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Research Method

Home » Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Paper

Research Paper

Definition:

Research Paper is a written document that presents the author’s original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue.

It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new knowledge or insights to a particular field of study, and to demonstrate the author’s understanding of the existing literature and theories related to the topic.

Structure of Research Paper

The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper:

The title page contains the title of the paper, the name(s) of the author(s), and the affiliation(s) of the author(s). It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the paper is to be published.

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper, typically ranging from 100 to 250 words. It should include the research question, the methods used, the key findings, and the implications of the results. The abstract should be written in a concise and clear manner to allow readers to quickly grasp the essence of the research.

Introduction

The introduction section of a research paper provides background information about the research problem, the research question, and the research objectives. It also outlines the significance of the research, the research gap that it aims to fill, and the approach taken to address the research question. Finally, the introduction section ends with a clear statement of the research hypothesis or research question.

Literature Review

The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. The literature review should also demonstrate the research gap and how the current study seeks to address it.

The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. This section should provide sufficient detail for other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the research, using tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data. The findings should be presented in a clear and concise manner, with reference to the research question and hypothesis.

The discussion section of a research paper interprets the findings and discusses their implications for the research question, the literature review, and the field of study. It should also address the limitations of the study and suggest future research directions.

The conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the study, restates the research question and hypothesis, and provides a final reflection on the significance of the research.

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style such as APA, MLA or Chicago.

How to Write Research Paper

You can write Research Paper by the following guide:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down to a research question that is specific and researchable.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: The literature review helps you identify the gap in the existing research and provides a basis for your research question. It also helps you to develop a theoretical framework and research hypothesis.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : The thesis statement is the main argument of your research paper. It should be clear, concise and specific to your research question.
  • Plan your Research: Develop a research plan that outlines the methods, data sources, and data analysis procedures. This will help you to collect and analyze data effectively.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: Collect data using various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. Analyze data using statistical tools or other qualitative methods.
  • Organize your Paper : Organize your paper into sections such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Ensure that each section is coherent and follows a logical flow.
  • Write your Paper : Start by writing the introduction, followed by the literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and follows the required formatting and citation styles.
  • Edit and Proofread your Paper: Review your paper for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that it is well-structured and easy to read. Ask someone else to review your paper to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Cite your Sources: Ensure that you properly cite all sources used in your research paper. This is essential for giving credit to the original authors and avoiding plagiarism.

Research Paper Example

Note : The below example research paper is for illustrative purposes only and is not an actual research paper. Actual research papers may have different structures, contents, and formats depending on the field of study, research question, data collection and analysis methods, and other factors. Students should always consult with their professors or supervisors for specific guidelines and expectations for their research papers.

Research Paper Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract: This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults. A literature review was conducted to examine the existing research on the topic. A survey was then administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Introduction: Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among young adults. While social media has many benefits, including increased communication and social connectivity, it has also been associated with negative outcomes, such as addiction, cyberbullying, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults.

Literature Review: The literature review highlights the existing research on the impact of social media use on mental health. The review shows that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems. The review also identifies the factors that contribute to the negative impact of social media, including social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Methods : A survey was administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The survey included questions on social media use, mental health status (measured using the DASS-21), and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results : The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Discussion : The study’s findings suggest that social media use has a negative impact on the mental health of young adults. The study highlights the need for interventions that address the factors contributing to the negative impact of social media, such as social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Conclusion : In conclusion, social media use has a significant impact on the mental health of young adults. The study’s findings underscore the need for interventions that promote healthy social media use and address the negative outcomes associated with social media use. Future research can explore the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health. Additionally, longitudinal studies can investigate the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

Limitations : The study has some limitations, including the use of self-report measures and a cross-sectional design. The use of self-report measures may result in biased responses, and a cross-sectional design limits the ability to establish causality.

Implications: The study’s findings have implications for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals can use the findings to develop interventions that address the negative impact of social media use on mental health. Educators can incorporate social media literacy into their curriculum to promote healthy social media use among young adults. Policymakers can use the findings to develop policies that protect young adults from the negative outcomes associated with social media use.

References :

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 15, 100918.
  • Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., … & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9.
  • Van der Meer, T. G., & Verhoeven, J. W. (2017). Social media and its impact on academic performance of students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 16, 383-398.

Appendix : The survey used in this study is provided below.

Social Media and Mental Health Survey

  • How often do you use social media per day?
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • 2 to 4 hours
  • More than 4 hours
  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Others (Please specify)
  • How often do you experience the following on social media?
  • Social comparison (comparing yourself to others)
  • Cyberbullying
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Have you ever experienced any of the following mental health problems in the past month?
  • Do you think social media use has a positive or negative impact on your mental health?
  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative
  • In your opinion, which factors contribute to the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Social comparison
  • In your opinion, what interventions could be effective in reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Education on healthy social media use
  • Counseling for mental health problems caused by social media
  • Social media detox programs
  • Regulation of social media use

Thank you for your participation!

Applications of Research Paper

Research papers have several applications in various fields, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by generating new insights, theories, and findings that can inform future research and practice. They help to answer important questions, clarify existing knowledge, and identify areas that require further investigation.
  • Informing policy: Research papers can inform policy decisions by providing evidence-based recommendations for policymakers. They can help to identify gaps in current policies, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and inform the development of new policies and regulations.
  • Improving practice: Research papers can improve practice by providing evidence-based guidance for professionals in various fields, including medicine, education, business, and psychology. They can inform the development of best practices, guidelines, and standards of care that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • Educating students : Research papers are often used as teaching tools in universities and colleges to educate students about research methods, data analysis, and academic writing. They help students to develop critical thinking skills, research skills, and communication skills that are essential for success in many careers.
  • Fostering collaboration: Research papers can foster collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers by providing a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. They can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

When to Write Research Paper

Research papers are typically written when a person has completed a research project or when they have conducted a study and have obtained data or findings that they want to share with the academic or professional community. Research papers are usually written in academic settings, such as universities, but they can also be written in professional settings, such as research organizations, government agencies, or private companies.

Here are some common situations where a person might need to write a research paper:

  • For academic purposes: Students in universities and colleges are often required to write research papers as part of their coursework, particularly in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills, critical thinking skills, and academic writing skills.
  • For publication: Researchers often write research papers to publish their findings in academic journals or to present their work at academic conferences. Publishing research papers is an important way to disseminate research findings to the academic community and to establish oneself as an expert in a particular field.
  • To inform policy or practice : Researchers may write research papers to inform policy decisions or to improve practice in various fields. Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies, guidelines, and best practices that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • To share new insights or ideas: Researchers may write research papers to share new insights or ideas with the academic or professional community. They may present new theories, propose new research methods, or challenge existing paradigms in their field.

Purpose of Research Paper

The purpose of a research paper is to present the results of a study or investigation in a clear, concise, and structured manner. Research papers are written to communicate new knowledge, ideas, or findings to a specific audience, such as researchers, scholars, practitioners, or policymakers. The primary purposes of a research paper are:

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge : Research papers aim to add new knowledge or insights to a particular field or discipline. They do this by reporting the results of empirical studies, reviewing and synthesizing existing literature, proposing new theories, or providing new perspectives on a topic.
  • To inform or persuade: Research papers are written to inform or persuade the reader about a particular issue, topic, or phenomenon. They present evidence and arguments to support their claims and seek to persuade the reader of the validity of their findings or recommendations.
  • To advance the field: Research papers seek to advance the field or discipline by identifying gaps in knowledge, proposing new research questions or approaches, or challenging existing assumptions or paradigms. They aim to contribute to ongoing debates and discussions within a field and to stimulate further research and inquiry.
  • To demonstrate research skills: Research papers demonstrate the author’s research skills, including their ability to design and conduct a study, collect and analyze data, and interpret and communicate findings. They also demonstrate the author’s ability to critically evaluate existing literature, synthesize information from multiple sources, and write in a clear and structured manner.

Characteristics of Research Paper

Research papers have several characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of academic or professional writing. Here are some common characteristics of research papers:

  • Evidence-based: Research papers are based on empirical evidence, which is collected through rigorous research methods such as experiments, surveys, observations, or interviews. They rely on objective data and facts to support their claims and conclusions.
  • Structured and organized: Research papers have a clear and logical structure, with sections such as introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. They are organized in a way that helps the reader to follow the argument and understand the findings.
  • Formal and objective: Research papers are written in a formal and objective tone, with an emphasis on clarity, precision, and accuracy. They avoid subjective language or personal opinions and instead rely on objective data and analysis to support their arguments.
  • Citations and references: Research papers include citations and references to acknowledge the sources of information and ideas used in the paper. They use a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research papers are often peer-reviewed, which means they are evaluated by other experts in the field before they are published. Peer-review ensures that the research is of high quality, meets ethical standards, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • Objective and unbiased: Research papers strive to be objective and unbiased in their presentation of the findings. They avoid personal biases or preconceptions and instead rely on the data and analysis to draw conclusions.

Advantages of Research Paper

Research papers have many advantages, both for the individual researcher and for the broader academic and professional community. Here are some advantages of research papers:

  • Contribution to knowledge: Research papers contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field or discipline. They add new information, insights, and perspectives to existing literature and help advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or issue.
  • Opportunity for intellectual growth: Research papers provide an opportunity for intellectual growth for the researcher. They require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can help develop the researcher’s skills and knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Research papers can help advance the researcher’s career by demonstrating their expertise and contributions to the field. They can also lead to new research opportunities, collaborations, and funding.
  • Academic recognition: Research papers can lead to academic recognition in the form of awards, grants, or invitations to speak at conferences or events. They can also contribute to the researcher’s reputation and standing in the field.
  • Impact on policy and practice: Research papers can have a significant impact on policy and practice. They can inform policy decisions, guide practice, and lead to changes in laws, regulations, or procedures.
  • Advancement of society: Research papers can contribute to the advancement of society by addressing important issues, identifying solutions to problems, and promoting social justice and equality.

Limitations of Research Paper

Research papers also have some limitations that should be considered when interpreting their findings or implications. Here are some common limitations of research papers:

  • Limited generalizability: Research findings may not be generalizable to other populations, settings, or contexts. Studies often use specific samples or conditions that may not reflect the broader population or real-world situations.
  • Potential for bias : Research papers may be biased due to factors such as sample selection, measurement errors, or researcher biases. It is important to evaluate the quality of the research design and methods used to ensure that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Ethical concerns: Research papers may raise ethical concerns, such as the use of vulnerable populations or invasive procedures. Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants to ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.
  • Limitations of methodology: Research papers may be limited by the methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, certain research methods may not capture the complexity or nuance of a particular phenomenon, or may not be appropriate for certain research questions.
  • Publication bias: Research papers may be subject to publication bias, where positive or significant findings are more likely to be published than negative or non-significant findings. This can skew the overall findings of a particular area of research.
  • Time and resource constraints: Research papers may be limited by time and resource constraints, which can affect the quality and scope of the research. Researchers may not have access to certain data or resources, or may be unable to conduct long-term studies due to practical limitations.

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Chapter 11: Presenting Your Research

Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a  title page . The title is centred in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behaviour?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal Psychological Science .

  • “Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior”
  • “Time Crawls: The Temporal Resolution of Infants’ Visual Attention”
  • “Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues”
  • “Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs”
  • “Serial vs. Parallel Processing: Sometimes They Look Like Tweedledum and Tweedledee but They Can (and Should) Be Distinguished”
  • “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words: The Social Effects of Expressive Writing”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The  abstract  is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word  Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The  introduction  begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The  opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behaviour (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003 [1] ). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humourous anecdote:

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (Jacoby, 1999, p. 3)

Although both humour and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the  literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).

Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.

An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).

We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favourite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the  balance  of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to  ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The  closing  of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) [2] concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behaviour during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions. (p. 378)

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The  method section  is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centred on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Three ways of organizing an APA-style method. Long description available.

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The  results section  is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Several journals now encourage the open sharing of raw data online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) [3] suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The  discussion  is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how  can  they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they  would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What  new  research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968) [4] , for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centred at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendices, Tables, and Figures

Appendices, tables, and figures come after the references. An  appendix  is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centred at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendices come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figures 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

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Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g.,  Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different colour each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Long Descriptions

Figure 11.1 long description: Table showing three ways of organizing an APA-style method section.

In the simple method, there are two subheadings: “Participants” (which might begin “The participants were…”) and “Design and procedure” (which might begin “There were three conditions…”).

In the typical method, there are three subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”).

In the complex method, there are four subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Materials” (“The stimuli were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”). [Return to Figure 11.1]

  • Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.),  The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist  (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ↵
  • Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383. ↵

A type of research article which describes one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors.

The page at the beginning of an APA-style research report containing the title of the article, the authors’ names, and their institutional affiliation.

A summary of a research study.

The third page of a manuscript containing the research question, the literature review, and comments about how to answer the research question.

An introduction to the research question and explanation for why this question is interesting.

A description of relevant previous research on the topic being discusses and an argument for why the research is worth addressing.

The end of the introduction, where the research question is reiterated and the method is commented upon.

The section of a research report where the method used to conduct the study is described.

The main results of the study, including the results from statistical analyses, are presented in a research article.

Section of a research report that summarizes the study's results and interprets them by referring back to the study's theoretical background.

Part of a research report which contains supplemental material.

Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition Copyright © 2015 by Paul C. Price, Rajiv Jhangiani, & I-Chant A. Chiang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Research reports

This resource will help you identify the common elements and basic format of a research report.

Research reports generally follow a similar structure and have common elements, each with a particular purpose. Learn more about each of these elements below.

Common elements of reports

Your title should be brief, topic-specific, and informative, clearly indicating the purpose and scope of your study. Include key words in your title so that search engines can easily access your work. For example:  Measurement of water around Station Pier.

An abstract is a concise summary that helps readers to quickly assess the content and direction of your paper. It should be brief, written in a single paragraph and cover: the scope and purpose of your report; an overview of methodology; a summary of the main findings or results; principal conclusions or significance of the findings; and recommendations made.

The information in the abstract must be presented in the same order as it is in your report. The abstract is usually written last when you have developed your arguments and synthesised the results.

The introduction creates the context for your research. It should provide sufficient background to allow the reader to understand and evaluate your study without needing to refer to previous publications. After reading the introduction your reader should understand exactly what your research is about, what you plan to do, why you are undertaking this research and which methods you have used. Introductions generally include:

  • The rationale for the present study. Why are you interested in this topic? Why is this topic worth investigating?
  • Key terms and definitions.
  • An outline of the research questions and hypotheses; the assumptions or propositions that your research will test.

Not all research reports have a separate literature review section. In shorter research reports, the review is usually part of the Introduction.

A literature review is a critical survey of recent relevant research in a particular field. The review should be a selection of carefully organised, focused and relevant literature that develops a narrative ‘story’ about your topic. Your review should answer key questions about the literature:

  • What is the current state of knowledge on the topic?
  • What differences in approaches / methodologies are there?
  • Where are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
  • What further research is needed? The review may identify a gap in the literature which provides a rationale for your study and supports your research questions and methodology.

The review is not just a summary of all you have read. Rather, it must develop an argument or a point of view that supports your chosen methodology and research questions.

The purpose of this section is to detail how you conducted your research so that others can understand and replicate your approach.

You need to briefly describe the subjects (if appropriate), any equipment or materials used and the approach taken. If the research method or method of data analysis is commonly used within your field of study, then simply reference the procedure. If, however, your methods are new or controversial then you need to describe them in more detail and provide a rationale for your approach. The methodology is written in the past tense and should be as concise as possible.

This section is a concise, factual summary of your findings, listed under headings appropriate to your research questions. It’s common to use tables and graphics. Raw data or details about the method of statistical analysis used should be included in the Appendices.

Present your results in a consistent manner. For example, if you present the first group of results as percentages, it will be confusing for the reader and difficult to make comparisons of data if later results are presented as fractions or as decimal values.

In general, you won’t discuss your results here. Any analysis of your results usually occurs in the Discussion section.

Notes on visual data representation:

  • Graphs and tables may be used to reveal trends in your data, but they must be explained and referred to in adjacent accompanying text.
  • Figures and tables do not simply repeat information given in the text: they summarise, amplify or complement it.
  • Graphs are always referred to as ‘Figures’, and both axes must be clearly labelled.
  • Tables must be numbered, and they must be able to stand-alone or make sense without your reader needing to read all of the accompanying text.

The Discussion responds to the hypothesis or research question. This section is where you interpret your results, account for your findings and explain their significance within the context of other research. Consider the adequacy of your sampling techniques, the scope and long-term implications of your study, any problems with data collection or analysis and any assumptions on which your study was based. This is also the place to discuss any disappointing results and address limitations.

Checklist for the discussion

  • To what extent was each hypothesis supported?
  • To what extent are your findings validated or supported by other research?
  • Were there unexpected variables that affected your results?
  • On reflection, was your research method appropriate?
  • Can you account for any differences between your results and other studies?

Conclusions in research reports are generally fairly short and should follow on naturally from points raised in the Discussion. In this section you should discuss the significance of your findings. To what extent and in what ways are your findings useful or conclusive? Is further research required? If so, based on your research experience, what suggestions could you make about improvements to the scope or methodology of future studies?

Also, consider the practical implications of your results and any recommendations you could make. For example, if your research is on reading strategies in the primary school classroom, what are the implications of your results for the classroom teacher? What recommendations could you make for teachers?

A Reference List contains all the resources you have cited in your work, while a Bibliography is a wider list containing all the resources you have consulted (but not necessarily cited) in the preparation of your work. It is important to check which of these is required, and the preferred format, style of references and presentation requirements of your own department.

Appendices (singular ‘Appendix’) provide supporting material to your project. Examples of such materials include:

  • Relevant letters to participants and organisations (e.g. regarding the ethics or conduct of the project).
  • Background reports.
  • Detailed calculations.

Different types of data are presented in separate appendices. Each appendix must be titled, labelled with a number or letter, and referred to in the body of the report.

Appendices are placed at the end of a report, and the contents are generally not included in the word count.

Fi nal ti p

While there are many common elements to research reports, it’s always best to double check the exact requirements for your task. You may find that you don’t need some sections, can combine others or have specific requirements about referencing, formatting or word limits.

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Scientific Reports

What this handout is about.

This handout provides a general guide to writing reports about scientific research you’ve performed. In addition to describing the conventional rules about the format and content of a lab report, we’ll also attempt to convey why these rules exist, so you’ll get a clearer, more dependable idea of how to approach this writing situation. Readers of this handout may also find our handout on writing in the sciences useful.

Background and pre-writing

Why do we write research reports.

You did an experiment or study for your science class, and now you have to write it up for your teacher to review. You feel that you understood the background sufficiently, designed and completed the study effectively, obtained useful data, and can use those data to draw conclusions about a scientific process or principle. But how exactly do you write all that? What is your teacher expecting to see?

To take some of the guesswork out of answering these questions, try to think beyond the classroom setting. In fact, you and your teacher are both part of a scientific community, and the people who participate in this community tend to share the same values. As long as you understand and respect these values, your writing will likely meet the expectations of your audience—including your teacher.

So why are you writing this research report? The practical answer is “Because the teacher assigned it,” but that’s classroom thinking. Generally speaking, people investigating some scientific hypothesis have a responsibility to the rest of the scientific world to report their findings, particularly if these findings add to or contradict previous ideas. The people reading such reports have two primary goals:

  • They want to gather the information presented.
  • They want to know that the findings are legitimate.

Your job as a writer, then, is to fulfill these two goals.

How do I do that?

Good question. Here is the basic format scientists have designed for research reports:

  • Introduction

Methods and Materials

This format, sometimes called “IMRAD,” may take slightly different shapes depending on the discipline or audience; some ask you to include an abstract or separate section for the hypothesis, or call the Discussion section “Conclusions,” or change the order of the sections (some professional and academic journals require the Methods section to appear last). Overall, however, the IMRAD format was devised to represent a textual version of the scientific method.

The scientific method, you’ll probably recall, involves developing a hypothesis, testing it, and deciding whether your findings support the hypothesis. In essence, the format for a research report in the sciences mirrors the scientific method but fleshes out the process a little. Below, you’ll find a table that shows how each written section fits into the scientific method and what additional information it offers the reader.

states your hypothesis explains how you derived that hypothesis and how it connects to previous research; gives the purpose of the experiment/study
details how you tested your hypothesis clarifies why you performed your study in that particular way
provides raw (i.e., uninterpreted) data collected (perhaps) expresses the data in table form, as an easy-to-read figure, or as percentages/ratios
considers whether the data you obtained support the hypothesis explores the implications of your finding and judges the potential limitations of your experimental design

Thinking of your research report as based on the scientific method, but elaborated in the ways described above, may help you to meet your audience’s expectations successfully. We’re going to proceed by explicitly connecting each section of the lab report to the scientific method, then explaining why and how you need to elaborate that section.

Although this handout takes each section in the order in which it should be presented in the final report, you may for practical reasons decide to compose sections in another order. For example, many writers find that composing their Methods and Results before the other sections helps to clarify their idea of the experiment or study as a whole. You might consider using each assignment to practice different approaches to drafting the report, to find the order that works best for you.

What should I do before drafting the lab report?

The best way to prepare to write the lab report is to make sure that you fully understand everything you need to about the experiment. Obviously, if you don’t quite know what went on during the lab, you’re going to find it difficult to explain the lab satisfactorily to someone else. To make sure you know enough to write the report, complete the following steps:

  • What are we going to do in this lab? (That is, what’s the procedure?)
  • Why are we going to do it that way?
  • What are we hoping to learn from this experiment?
  • Why would we benefit from this knowledge?
  • Consult your lab supervisor as you perform the lab. If you don’t know how to answer one of the questions above, for example, your lab supervisor will probably be able to explain it to you (or, at least, help you figure it out).
  • Plan the steps of the experiment carefully with your lab partners. The less you rush, the more likely it is that you’ll perform the experiment correctly and record your findings accurately. Also, take some time to think about the best way to organize the data before you have to start putting numbers down. If you can design a table to account for the data, that will tend to work much better than jotting results down hurriedly on a scrap piece of paper.
  • Record the data carefully so you get them right. You won’t be able to trust your conclusions if you have the wrong data, and your readers will know you messed up if the other three people in your group have “97 degrees” and you have “87.”
  • Consult with your lab partners about everything you do. Lab groups often make one of two mistakes: two people do all the work while two have a nice chat, or everybody works together until the group finishes gathering the raw data, then scrams outta there. Collaborate with your partners, even when the experiment is “over.” What trends did you observe? Was the hypothesis supported? Did you all get the same results? What kind of figure should you use to represent your findings? The whole group can work together to answer these questions.
  • Consider your audience. You may believe that audience is a non-issue: it’s your lab TA, right? Well, yes—but again, think beyond the classroom. If you write with only your lab instructor in mind, you may omit material that is crucial to a complete understanding of your experiment, because you assume the instructor knows all that stuff already. As a result, you may receive a lower grade, since your TA won’t be sure that you understand all the principles at work. Try to write towards a student in the same course but a different lab section. That student will have a fair degree of scientific expertise but won’t know much about your experiment particularly. Alternatively, you could envision yourself five years from now, after the reading and lectures for this course have faded a bit. What would you remember, and what would you need explained more clearly (as a refresher)?

Once you’ve completed these steps as you perform the experiment, you’ll be in a good position to draft an effective lab report.

Introductions

How do i write a strong introduction.

For the purposes of this handout, we’ll consider the Introduction to contain four basic elements: the purpose, the scientific literature relevant to the subject, the hypothesis, and the reasons you believed your hypothesis viable. Let’s start by going through each element of the Introduction to clarify what it covers and why it’s important. Then we can formulate a logical organizational strategy for the section.

The inclusion of the purpose (sometimes called the objective) of the experiment often confuses writers. The biggest misconception is that the purpose is the same as the hypothesis. Not quite. We’ll get to hypotheses in a minute, but basically they provide some indication of what you expect the experiment to show. The purpose is broader, and deals more with what you expect to gain through the experiment. In a professional setting, the hypothesis might have something to do with how cells react to a certain kind of genetic manipulation, but the purpose of the experiment is to learn more about potential cancer treatments. Undergraduate reports don’t often have this wide-ranging a goal, but you should still try to maintain the distinction between your hypothesis and your purpose. In a solubility experiment, for example, your hypothesis might talk about the relationship between temperature and the rate of solubility, but the purpose is probably to learn more about some specific scientific principle underlying the process of solubility.

For starters, most people say that you should write out your working hypothesis before you perform the experiment or study. Many beginning science students neglect to do so and find themselves struggling to remember precisely which variables were involved in the process or in what way the researchers felt that they were related. Write your hypothesis down as you develop it—you’ll be glad you did.

As for the form a hypothesis should take, it’s best not to be too fancy or complicated; an inventive style isn’t nearly so important as clarity here. There’s nothing wrong with beginning your hypothesis with the phrase, “It was hypothesized that . . .” Be as specific as you can about the relationship between the different objects of your study. In other words, explain that when term A changes, term B changes in this particular way. Readers of scientific writing are rarely content with the idea that a relationship between two terms exists—they want to know what that relationship entails.

Not a hypothesis:

“It was hypothesized that there is a significant relationship between the temperature of a solvent and the rate at which a solute dissolves.”

Hypothesis:

“It was hypothesized that as the temperature of a solvent increases, the rate at which a solute will dissolve in that solvent increases.”

Put more technically, most hypotheses contain both an independent and a dependent variable. The independent variable is what you manipulate to test the reaction; the dependent variable is what changes as a result of your manipulation. In the example above, the independent variable is the temperature of the solvent, and the dependent variable is the rate of solubility. Be sure that your hypothesis includes both variables.

Justify your hypothesis

You need to do more than tell your readers what your hypothesis is; you also need to assure them that this hypothesis was reasonable, given the circumstances. In other words, use the Introduction to explain that you didn’t just pluck your hypothesis out of thin air. (If you did pluck it out of thin air, your problems with your report will probably extend beyond using the appropriate format.) If you posit that a particular relationship exists between the independent and the dependent variable, what led you to believe your “guess” might be supported by evidence?

Scientists often refer to this type of justification as “motivating” the hypothesis, in the sense that something propelled them to make that prediction. Often, motivation includes what we already know—or rather, what scientists generally accept as true (see “Background/previous research” below). But you can also motivate your hypothesis by relying on logic or on your own observations. If you’re trying to decide which solutes will dissolve more rapidly in a solvent at increased temperatures, you might remember that some solids are meant to dissolve in hot water (e.g., bouillon cubes) and some are used for a function precisely because they withstand higher temperatures (they make saucepans out of something). Or you can think about whether you’ve noticed sugar dissolving more rapidly in your glass of iced tea or in your cup of coffee. Even such basic, outside-the-lab observations can help you justify your hypothesis as reasonable.

Background/previous research

This part of the Introduction demonstrates to the reader your awareness of how you’re building on other scientists’ work. If you think of the scientific community as engaging in a series of conversations about various topics, then you’ll recognize that the relevant background material will alert the reader to which conversation you want to enter.

Generally speaking, authors writing journal articles use the background for slightly different purposes than do students completing assignments. Because readers of academic journals tend to be professionals in the field, authors explain the background in order to permit readers to evaluate the study’s pertinence for their own work. You, on the other hand, write toward a much narrower audience—your peers in the course or your lab instructor—and so you must demonstrate that you understand the context for the (presumably assigned) experiment or study you’ve completed. For example, if your professor has been talking about polarity during lectures, and you’re doing a solubility experiment, you might try to connect the polarity of a solid to its relative solubility in certain solvents. In any event, both professional researchers and undergraduates need to connect the background material overtly to their own work.

Organization of this section

Most of the time, writers begin by stating the purpose or objectives of their own work, which establishes for the reader’s benefit the “nature and scope of the problem investigated” (Day 1994). Once you have expressed your purpose, you should then find it easier to move from the general purpose, to relevant material on the subject, to your hypothesis. In abbreviated form, an Introduction section might look like this:

“The purpose of the experiment was to test conventional ideas about solubility in the laboratory [purpose] . . . According to Whitecoat and Labrat (1999), at higher temperatures the molecules of solvents move more quickly . . . We know from the class lecture that molecules moving at higher rates of speed collide with one another more often and thus break down more easily [background material/motivation] . . . Thus, it was hypothesized that as the temperature of a solvent increases, the rate at which a solute will dissolve in that solvent increases [hypothesis].”

Again—these are guidelines, not commandments. Some writers and readers prefer different structures for the Introduction. The one above merely illustrates a common approach to organizing material.

How do I write a strong Materials and Methods section?

As with any piece of writing, your Methods section will succeed only if it fulfills its readers’ expectations, so you need to be clear in your own mind about the purpose of this section. Let’s review the purpose as we described it above: in this section, you want to describe in detail how you tested the hypothesis you developed and also to clarify the rationale for your procedure. In science, it’s not sufficient merely to design and carry out an experiment. Ultimately, others must be able to verify your findings, so your experiment must be reproducible, to the extent that other researchers can follow the same procedure and obtain the same (or similar) results.

Here’s a real-world example of the importance of reproducibility. In 1989, physicists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman announced that they had discovered “cold fusion,” a way of producing excess heat and power without the nuclear radiation that accompanies “hot fusion.” Such a discovery could have great ramifications for the industrial production of energy, so these findings created a great deal of interest. When other scientists tried to duplicate the experiment, however, they didn’t achieve the same results, and as a result many wrote off the conclusions as unjustified (or worse, a hoax). To this day, the viability of cold fusion is debated within the scientific community, even though an increasing number of researchers believe it possible. So when you write your Methods section, keep in mind that you need to describe your experiment well enough to allow others to replicate it exactly.

With these goals in mind, let’s consider how to write an effective Methods section in terms of content, structure, and style.

Sometimes the hardest thing about writing this section isn’t what you should talk about, but what you shouldn’t talk about. Writers often want to include the results of their experiment, because they measured and recorded the results during the course of the experiment. But such data should be reserved for the Results section. In the Methods section, you can write that you recorded the results, or how you recorded the results (e.g., in a table), but you shouldn’t write what the results were—not yet. Here, you’re merely stating exactly how you went about testing your hypothesis. As you draft your Methods section, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much detail? Be precise in providing details, but stay relevant. Ask yourself, “Would it make any difference if this piece were a different size or made from a different material?” If not, you probably don’t need to get too specific. If so, you should give as many details as necessary to prevent this experiment from going awry if someone else tries to carry it out. Probably the most crucial detail is measurement; you should always quantify anything you can, such as time elapsed, temperature, mass, volume, etc.
  • Rationale: Be sure that as you’re relating your actions during the experiment, you explain your rationale for the protocol you developed. If you capped a test tube immediately after adding a solute to a solvent, why did you do that? (That’s really two questions: why did you cap it, and why did you cap it immediately?) In a professional setting, writers provide their rationale as a way to explain their thinking to potential critics. On one hand, of course, that’s your motivation for talking about protocol, too. On the other hand, since in practical terms you’re also writing to your teacher (who’s seeking to evaluate how well you comprehend the principles of the experiment), explaining the rationale indicates that you understand the reasons for conducting the experiment in that way, and that you’re not just following orders. Critical thinking is crucial—robots don’t make good scientists.
  • Control: Most experiments will include a control, which is a means of comparing experimental results. (Sometimes you’ll need to have more than one control, depending on the number of hypotheses you want to test.) The control is exactly the same as the other items you’re testing, except that you don’t manipulate the independent variable-the condition you’re altering to check the effect on the dependent variable. For example, if you’re testing solubility rates at increased temperatures, your control would be a solution that you didn’t heat at all; that way, you’ll see how quickly the solute dissolves “naturally” (i.e., without manipulation), and you’ll have a point of reference against which to compare the solutions you did heat.

Describe the control in the Methods section. Two things are especially important in writing about the control: identify the control as a control, and explain what you’re controlling for. Here is an example:

“As a control for the temperature change, we placed the same amount of solute in the same amount of solvent, and let the solution stand for five minutes without heating it.”

Structure and style

Organization is especially important in the Methods section of a lab report because readers must understand your experimental procedure completely. Many writers are surprised by the difficulty of conveying what they did during the experiment, since after all they’re only reporting an event, but it’s often tricky to present this information in a coherent way. There’s a fairly standard structure you can use to guide you, and following the conventions for style can help clarify your points.

  • Subsections: Occasionally, researchers use subsections to report their procedure when the following circumstances apply: 1) if they’ve used a great many materials; 2) if the procedure is unusually complicated; 3) if they’ve developed a procedure that won’t be familiar to many of their readers. Because these conditions rarely apply to the experiments you’ll perform in class, most undergraduate lab reports won’t require you to use subsections. In fact, many guides to writing lab reports suggest that you try to limit your Methods section to a single paragraph.
  • Narrative structure: Think of this section as telling a story about a group of people and the experiment they performed. Describe what you did in the order in which you did it. You may have heard the old joke centered on the line, “Disconnect the red wire, but only after disconnecting the green wire,” where the person reading the directions blows everything to kingdom come because the directions weren’t in order. We’re used to reading about events chronologically, and so your readers will generally understand what you did if you present that information in the same way. Also, since the Methods section does generally appear as a narrative (story), you want to avoid the “recipe” approach: “First, take a clean, dry 100 ml test tube from the rack. Next, add 50 ml of distilled water.” You should be reporting what did happen, not telling the reader how to perform the experiment: “50 ml of distilled water was poured into a clean, dry 100 ml test tube.” Hint: most of the time, the recipe approach comes from copying down the steps of the procedure from your lab manual, so you may want to draft the Methods section initially without consulting your manual. Later, of course, you can go back and fill in any part of the procedure you inadvertently overlooked.
  • Past tense: Remember that you’re describing what happened, so you should use past tense to refer to everything you did during the experiment. Writers are often tempted to use the imperative (“Add 5 g of the solid to the solution”) because that’s how their lab manuals are worded; less frequently, they use present tense (“5 g of the solid are added to the solution”). Instead, remember that you’re talking about an event which happened at a particular time in the past, and which has already ended by the time you start writing, so simple past tense will be appropriate in this section (“5 g of the solid were added to the solution” or “We added 5 g of the solid to the solution”).
  • Active: We heated the solution to 80°C. (The subject, “we,” performs the action, heating.)
  • Passive: The solution was heated to 80°C. (The subject, “solution,” doesn’t do the heating–it is acted upon, not acting.)

Increasingly, especially in the social sciences, using first person and active voice is acceptable in scientific reports. Most readers find that this style of writing conveys information more clearly and concisely. This rhetorical choice thus brings two scientific values into conflict: objectivity versus clarity. Since the scientific community hasn’t reached a consensus about which style it prefers, you may want to ask your lab instructor.

How do I write a strong Results section?

Here’s a paradox for you. The Results section is often both the shortest (yay!) and most important (uh-oh!) part of your report. Your Materials and Methods section shows how you obtained the results, and your Discussion section explores the significance of the results, so clearly the Results section forms the backbone of the lab report. This section provides the most critical information about your experiment: the data that allow you to discuss how your hypothesis was or wasn’t supported. But it doesn’t provide anything else, which explains why this section is generally shorter than the others.

Before you write this section, look at all the data you collected to figure out what relates significantly to your hypothesis. You’ll want to highlight this material in your Results section. Resist the urge to include every bit of data you collected, since perhaps not all are relevant. Also, don’t try to draw conclusions about the results—save them for the Discussion section. In this section, you’re reporting facts. Nothing your readers can dispute should appear in the Results section.

Most Results sections feature three distinct parts: text, tables, and figures. Let’s consider each part one at a time.

This should be a short paragraph, generally just a few lines, that describes the results you obtained from your experiment. In a relatively simple experiment, one that doesn’t produce a lot of data for you to repeat, the text can represent the entire Results section. Don’t feel that you need to include lots of extraneous detail to compensate for a short (but effective) text; your readers appreciate discrimination more than your ability to recite facts. In a more complex experiment, you may want to use tables and/or figures to help guide your readers toward the most important information you gathered. In that event, you’ll need to refer to each table or figure directly, where appropriate:

“Table 1 lists the rates of solubility for each substance”

“Solubility increased as the temperature of the solution increased (see Figure 1).”

If you do use tables or figures, make sure that you don’t present the same material in both the text and the tables/figures, since in essence you’ll just repeat yourself, probably annoying your readers with the redundancy of your statements.

Feel free to describe trends that emerge as you examine the data. Although identifying trends requires some judgment on your part and so may not feel like factual reporting, no one can deny that these trends do exist, and so they properly belong in the Results section. Example:

“Heating the solution increased the rate of solubility of polar solids by 45% but had no effect on the rate of solubility in solutions containing non-polar solids.”

This point isn’t debatable—you’re just pointing out what the data show.

As in the Materials and Methods section, you want to refer to your data in the past tense, because the events you recorded have already occurred and have finished occurring. In the example above, note the use of “increased” and “had,” rather than “increases” and “has.” (You don’t know from your experiment that heating always increases the solubility of polar solids, but it did that time.)

You shouldn’t put information in the table that also appears in the text. You also shouldn’t use a table to present irrelevant data, just to show you did collect these data during the experiment. Tables are good for some purposes and situations, but not others, so whether and how you’ll use tables depends upon what you need them to accomplish.

Tables are useful ways to show variation in data, but not to present a great deal of unchanging measurements. If you’re dealing with a scientific phenomenon that occurs only within a certain range of temperatures, for example, you don’t need to use a table to show that the phenomenon didn’t occur at any of the other temperatures. How useful is this table?

A table labeled Effect of Temperature on Rate of Solubility with temperature of solvent values in 10-degree increments from -20 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius that does not show a corresponding rate of solubility value until 50 degrees Celsius.

As you can probably see, no solubility was observed until the trial temperature reached 50°C, a fact that the text part of the Results section could easily convey. The table could then be limited to what happened at 50°C and higher, thus better illustrating the differences in solubility rates when solubility did occur.

As a rule, try not to use a table to describe any experimental event you can cover in one sentence of text. Here’s an example of an unnecessary table from How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper , by Robert A. Day:

A table labeled Oxygen requirements of various species of Streptomyces showing the names of organisms and two columns that indicate growth under aerobic conditions and growth under anaerobic conditions with a plus or minus symbol for each organism in the growth columns to indicate value.

As Day notes, all the information in this table can be summarized in one sentence: “S. griseus, S. coelicolor, S. everycolor, and S. rainbowenski grew under aerobic conditions, whereas S. nocolor and S. greenicus required anaerobic conditions.” Most readers won’t find the table clearer than that one sentence.

When you do have reason to tabulate material, pay attention to the clarity and readability of the format you use. Here are a few tips:

  • Number your table. Then, when you refer to the table in the text, use that number to tell your readers which table they can review to clarify the material.
  • Give your table a title. This title should be descriptive enough to communicate the contents of the table, but not so long that it becomes difficult to follow. The titles in the sample tables above are acceptable.
  • Arrange your table so that readers read vertically, not horizontally. For the most part, this rule means that you should construct your table so that like elements read down, not across. Think about what you want your readers to compare, and put that information in the column (up and down) rather than in the row (across). Usually, the point of comparison will be the numerical data you collect, so especially make sure you have columns of numbers, not rows.Here’s an example of how drastically this decision affects the readability of your table (from A Short Guide to Writing about Chemistry , by Herbert Beall and John Trimbur). Look at this table, which presents the relevant data in horizontal rows:

A table labeled Boyle's Law Experiment: Measuring Volume as a Function of Pressure that presents the trial number, length of air sample in millimeters, and height difference in inches of mercury, each of which is presented in rows horizontally.

It’s a little tough to see the trends that the author presumably wants to present in this table. Compare this table, in which the data appear vertically:

A table labeled Boyle's Law Experiment: Measuring Volume as a Function of Pressure that presents the trial number, length of air sample in millimeters, and height difference in inches of mercury, each of which is presented in columns vertically.

The second table shows how putting like elements in a vertical column makes for easier reading. In this case, the like elements are the measurements of length and height, over five trials–not, as in the first table, the length and height measurements for each trial.

  • Make sure to include units of measurement in the tables. Readers might be able to guess that you measured something in millimeters, but don’t make them try.
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432
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  • Don’t use vertical lines as part of the format for your table. This convention exists because journals prefer not to have to reproduce these lines because the tables then become more expensive to print. Even though it’s fairly unlikely that you’ll be sending your Biology 11 lab report to Science for publication, your readers still have this expectation. Consequently, if you use the table-drawing option in your word-processing software, choose the option that doesn’t rely on a “grid” format (which includes vertical lines).

How do I include figures in my report?

Although tables can be useful ways of showing trends in the results you obtained, figures (i.e., illustrations) can do an even better job of emphasizing such trends. Lab report writers often use graphic representations of the data they collected to provide their readers with a literal picture of how the experiment went.

When should you use a figure?

Remember the circumstances under which you don’t need a table: when you don’t have a great deal of data or when the data you have don’t vary a lot. Under the same conditions, you would probably forgo the figure as well, since the figure would be unlikely to provide your readers with an additional perspective. Scientists really don’t like their time wasted, so they tend not to respond favorably to redundancy.

If you’re trying to decide between using a table and creating a figure to present your material, consider the following a rule of thumb. The strength of a table lies in its ability to supply large amounts of exact data, whereas the strength of a figure is its dramatic illustration of important trends within the experiment. If you feel that your readers won’t get the full impact of the results you obtained just by looking at the numbers, then a figure might be appropriate.

Of course, an undergraduate class may expect you to create a figure for your lab experiment, if only to make sure that you can do so effectively. If this is the case, then don’t worry about whether to use figures or not—concentrate instead on how best to accomplish your task.

Figures can include maps, photographs, pen-and-ink drawings, flow charts, bar graphs, and section graphs (“pie charts”). But the most common figure by far, especially for undergraduates, is the line graph, so we’ll focus on that type in this handout.

At the undergraduate level, you can often draw and label your graphs by hand, provided that the result is clear, legible, and drawn to scale. Computer technology has, however, made creating line graphs a lot easier. Most word-processing software has a number of functions for transferring data into graph form; many scientists have found Microsoft Excel, for example, a helpful tool in graphing results. If you plan on pursuing a career in the sciences, it may be well worth your while to learn to use a similar program.

Computers can’t, however, decide for you how your graph really works; you have to know how to design your graph to meet your readers’ expectations. Here are some of these expectations:

  • Keep it as simple as possible. You may be tempted to signal the complexity of the information you gathered by trying to design a graph that accounts for that complexity. But remember the purpose of your graph: to dramatize your results in a manner that’s easy to see and grasp. Try not to make the reader stare at the graph for a half hour to find the important line among the mass of other lines. For maximum effectiveness, limit yourself to three to five lines per graph; if you have more data to demonstrate, use a set of graphs to account for it, rather than trying to cram it all into a single figure.
  • Plot the independent variable on the horizontal (x) axis and the dependent variable on the vertical (y) axis. Remember that the independent variable is the condition that you manipulated during the experiment and the dependent variable is the condition that you measured to see if it changed along with the independent variable. Placing the variables along their respective axes is mostly just a convention, but since your readers are accustomed to viewing graphs in this way, you’re better off not challenging the convention in your report.
  • Label each axis carefully, and be especially careful to include units of measure. You need to make sure that your readers understand perfectly well what your graph indicates.
  • Number and title your graphs. As with tables, the title of the graph should be informative but concise, and you should refer to your graph by number in the text (e.g., “Figure 1 shows the increase in the solubility rate as a function of temperature”).
  • Many editors of professional scientific journals prefer that writers distinguish the lines in their graphs by attaching a symbol to them, usually a geometric shape (triangle, square, etc.), and using that symbol throughout the curve of the line. Generally, readers have a hard time distinguishing dotted lines from dot-dash lines from straight lines, so you should consider staying away from this system. Editors don’t usually like different-colored lines within a graph because colors are difficult and expensive to reproduce; colors may, however, be great for your purposes, as long as you’re not planning to submit your paper to Nature. Use your discretion—try to employ whichever technique dramatizes the results most effectively.
  • Try to gather data at regular intervals, so the plot points on your graph aren’t too far apart. You can’t be sure of the arc you should draw between the plot points if the points are located at the far corners of the graph; over a fifteen-minute interval, perhaps the change occurred in the first or last thirty seconds of that period (in which case your straight-line connection between the points is misleading).
  • If you’re worried that you didn’t collect data at sufficiently regular intervals during your experiment, go ahead and connect the points with a straight line, but you may want to examine this problem as part of your Discussion section.
  • Make your graph large enough so that everything is legible and clearly demarcated, but not so large that it either overwhelms the rest of the Results section or provides a far greater range than you need to illustrate your point. If, for example, the seedlings of your plant grew only 15 mm during the trial, you don’t need to construct a graph that accounts for 100 mm of growth. The lines in your graph should more or less fill the space created by the axes; if you see that your data is confined to the lower left portion of the graph, you should probably re-adjust your scale.
  • If you create a set of graphs, make them the same size and format, including all the verbal and visual codes (captions, symbols, scale, etc.). You want to be as consistent as possible in your illustrations, so that your readers can easily make the comparisons you’re trying to get them to see.

How do I write a strong Discussion section?

The discussion section is probably the least formalized part of the report, in that you can’t really apply the same structure to every type of experiment. In simple terms, here you tell your readers what to make of the Results you obtained. If you have done the Results part well, your readers should already recognize the trends in the data and have a fairly clear idea of whether your hypothesis was supported. Because the Results can seem so self-explanatory, many students find it difficult to know what material to add in this last section.

Basically, the Discussion contains several parts, in no particular order, but roughly moving from specific (i.e., related to your experiment only) to general (how your findings fit in the larger scientific community). In this section, you will, as a rule, need to:

Explain whether the data support your hypothesis

  • Acknowledge any anomalous data or deviations from what you expected

Derive conclusions, based on your findings, about the process you’re studying

  • Relate your findings to earlier work in the same area (if you can)

Explore the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings

Let’s look at some dos and don’ts for each of these objectives.

This statement is usually a good way to begin the Discussion, since you can’t effectively speak about the larger scientific value of your study until you’ve figured out the particulars of this experiment. You might begin this part of the Discussion by explicitly stating the relationships or correlations your data indicate between the independent and dependent variables. Then you can show more clearly why you believe your hypothesis was or was not supported. For example, if you tested solubility at various temperatures, you could start this section by noting that the rates of solubility increased as the temperature increased. If your initial hypothesis surmised that temperature change would not affect solubility, you would then say something like,

“The hypothesis that temperature change would not affect solubility was not supported by the data.”

Note: Students tend to view labs as practical tests of undeniable scientific truths. As a result, you may want to say that the hypothesis was “proved” or “disproved” or that it was “correct” or “incorrect.” These terms, however, reflect a degree of certainty that you as a scientist aren’t supposed to have. Remember, you’re testing a theory with a procedure that lasts only a few hours and relies on only a few trials, which severely compromises your ability to be sure about the “truth” you see. Words like “supported,” “indicated,” and “suggested” are more acceptable ways to evaluate your hypothesis.

Also, recognize that saying whether the data supported your hypothesis or not involves making a claim to be defended. As such, you need to show the readers that this claim is warranted by the evidence. Make sure that you’re very explicit about the relationship between the evidence and the conclusions you draw from it. This process is difficult for many writers because we don’t often justify conclusions in our regular lives. For example, you might nudge your friend at a party and whisper, “That guy’s drunk,” and once your friend lays eyes on the person in question, she might readily agree. In a scientific paper, by contrast, you would need to defend your claim more thoroughly by pointing to data such as slurred words, unsteady gait, and the lampshade-as-hat. In addition to pointing out these details, you would also need to show how (according to previous studies) these signs are consistent with inebriation, especially if they occur in conjunction with one another. To put it another way, tell your readers exactly how you got from point A (was the hypothesis supported?) to point B (yes/no).

Acknowledge any anomalous data, or deviations from what you expected

You need to take these exceptions and divergences into account, so that you qualify your conclusions sufficiently. For obvious reasons, your readers will doubt your authority if you (deliberately or inadvertently) overlook a key piece of data that doesn’t square with your perspective on what occurred. In a more philosophical sense, once you’ve ignored evidence that contradicts your claims, you’ve departed from the scientific method. The urge to “tidy up” the experiment is often strong, but if you give in to it you’re no longer performing good science.

Sometimes after you’ve performed a study or experiment, you realize that some part of the methods you used to test your hypothesis was flawed. In that case, it’s OK to suggest that if you had the chance to conduct your test again, you might change the design in this or that specific way in order to avoid such and such a problem. The key to making this approach work, though, is to be very precise about the weakness in your experiment, why and how you think that weakness might have affected your data, and how you would alter your protocol to eliminate—or limit the effects of—that weakness. Often, inexperienced researchers and writers feel the need to account for “wrong” data (remember, there’s no such animal), and so they speculate wildly about what might have screwed things up. These speculations include such factors as the unusually hot temperature in the room, or the possibility that their lab partners read the meters wrong, or the potentially defective equipment. These explanations are what scientists call “cop-outs,” or “lame”; don’t indicate that the experiment had a weakness unless you’re fairly certain that a) it really occurred and b) you can explain reasonably well how that weakness affected your results.

If, for example, your hypothesis dealt with the changes in solubility at different temperatures, then try to figure out what you can rationally say about the process of solubility more generally. If you’re doing an undergraduate lab, chances are that the lab will connect in some way to the material you’ve been covering either in lecture or in your reading, so you might choose to return to these resources as a way to help you think clearly about the process as a whole.

This part of the Discussion section is another place where you need to make sure that you’re not overreaching. Again, nothing you’ve found in one study would remotely allow you to claim that you now “know” something, or that something isn’t “true,” or that your experiment “confirmed” some principle or other. Hesitate before you go out on a limb—it’s dangerous! Use less absolutely conclusive language, including such words as “suggest,” “indicate,” “correspond,” “possibly,” “challenge,” etc.

Relate your findings to previous work in the field (if possible)

We’ve been talking about how to show that you belong in a particular community (such as biologists or anthropologists) by writing within conventions that they recognize and accept. Another is to try to identify a conversation going on among members of that community, and use your work to contribute to that conversation. In a larger philosophical sense, scientists can’t fully understand the value of their research unless they have some sense of the context that provoked and nourished it. That is, you have to recognize what’s new about your project (potentially, anyway) and how it benefits the wider body of scientific knowledge. On a more pragmatic level, especially for undergraduates, connecting your lab work to previous research will demonstrate to the TA that you see the big picture. You have an opportunity, in the Discussion section, to distinguish yourself from the students in your class who aren’t thinking beyond the barest facts of the study. Capitalize on this opportunity by putting your own work in context.

If you’re just beginning to work in the natural sciences (as a first-year biology or chemistry student, say), most likely the work you’ll be doing has already been performed and re-performed to a satisfactory degree. Hence, you could probably point to a similar experiment or study and compare/contrast your results and conclusions. More advanced work may deal with an issue that is somewhat less “resolved,” and so previous research may take the form of an ongoing debate, and you can use your own work to weigh in on that debate. If, for example, researchers are hotly disputing the value of herbal remedies for the common cold, and the results of your study suggest that Echinacea diminishes the symptoms but not the actual presence of the cold, then you might want to take some time in the Discussion section to recapitulate the specifics of the dispute as it relates to Echinacea as an herbal remedy. (Consider that you have probably already written in the Introduction about this debate as background research.)

This information is often the best way to end your Discussion (and, for all intents and purposes, the report). In argumentative writing generally, you want to use your closing words to convey the main point of your writing. This main point can be primarily theoretical (“Now that you understand this information, you’re in a better position to understand this larger issue”) or primarily practical (“You can use this information to take such and such an action”). In either case, the concluding statements help the reader to comprehend the significance of your project and your decision to write about it.

Since a lab report is argumentative—after all, you’re investigating a claim, and judging the legitimacy of that claim by generating and collecting evidence—it’s often a good idea to end your report with the same technique for establishing your main point. If you want to go the theoretical route, you might talk about the consequences your study has for the field or phenomenon you’re investigating. To return to the examples regarding solubility, you could end by reflecting on what your work on solubility as a function of temperature tells us (potentially) about solubility in general. (Some folks consider this type of exploration “pure” as opposed to “applied” science, although these labels can be problematic.) If you want to go the practical route, you could end by speculating about the medical, institutional, or commercial implications of your findings—in other words, answer the question, “What can this study help people to do?” In either case, you’re going to make your readers’ experience more satisfying, by helping them see why they spent their time learning what you had to teach them.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Beall, Herbert, and John Trimbur. 2001. A Short Guide to Writing About Chemistry , 2nd ed. New York: Longman.

Blum, Deborah, and Mary Knudson. 1997. A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers . New York: Oxford University Press.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Briscoe, Mary Helen. 1996. Preparing Scientific Illustrations: A Guide to Better Posters, Presentations, and Publications , 2nd ed. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Council of Science Editors. 2014. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers , 8th ed. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Davis, Martha. 2012. Scientific Papers and Presentations , 3rd ed. London: Academic Press.

Day, Robert A. 1994. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper , 4th ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

Porush, David. 1995. A Short Guide to Writing About Science . New York: Longman.

Williams, Joseph, and Joseph Bizup. 2017. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace , 12th ed. Boston: Pearson.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • Research Report
  • Post last modified: 11 January 2022
  • Reading time: 25 mins read
  • Post category: Research Methodology

the research report of

What is Research Report?

Research reporting is the oral or written presentation of the findings in such detail and form as to be readily understood and assessed by the society, economy or particularly by the researchers.

As earlier said that it is the final stage of the research process and its purpose is to convey to interested persons the whole result of the study. Report writing is common to both academic and managerial situations. In academics, a research report is prepared for comprehensive and application-oriented learning. In businesses or organisations, reports are used for the basis of decision making.

Table of Content

  • 1 What is Research Report?
  • 2 Research Report Definition
  • 3.1 Preliminary Part
  • 3.2 Introduction of the Report
  • 3.3 Review of Literature
  • 3.4 The Research Methodology
  • 3.5 Results
  • 3.6 Concluding Remarks
  • 3.7 Bibliography
  • 4 Significance of Report Writing
  • 5 Qualities of Good Report
  • 6.1 Analysis of the subject matter
  • 6.2 Research outline
  • 6.3 Preparation of rough draft
  • 6.4 Rewriting and polishing
  • 6.5 Writing the final draft
  • 7 Precautions for Writing Research Reports
  • 8.1.1 Technical Report
  • 8.1.2 Popular Report
  • 8.2.1 Written Report
  • 8.2.2 Oral Report

Research Report Definition

According to C. A. Brown , “A report is a communication from someone who has information to someone who wants to use that information.”

According to Goode and Hatt , “The preparation of report is the final stage of research, and it’s purpose is to convey to the interested persons the whole result of the study, in sufficient detail and so arranged as to enable each reader to comprehend the data and to determine for himself the validity of the conclusions.”

It is clear from the above definitions of a research report, it is a brief account of the problem of investigation, the justification of its selection and the procedure of analysis and interpretation. It is only a summary of the entire research proceedings.

In other words, it can be defined as written documents, which presents information in a specialized and concise manner.

Contents of Research Report

Although no hard and fast rules can be laid down, the report must contain the following points.

  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables
  • List of graphs
  • Introduction
  • Background of the research study
  • Statement of the problem
  • Brief outline of the chapters
  • Books review
  • Review of articles published in books, journals, periodicals, etc
  • Review of articles published in leading newspapers
  • Working papers / discusssion paper / study reports
  • Articles on authorised websites
  • A broad conclusion and indications for further research
  • The theoretical framework (variables)
  • Model / hypothesis
  • Instruments for data collection
  • Data collection
  • Pilot study
  • Processing of data
  • Hypothesis / model testing
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Tables and figures
  • Conclusions
  • Shortcomings
  • Suggestions to the problems
  • Direction for further research

Preliminary Part

The preliminary part may have seven major components – cover, title, preface, acknowledgement, table of contents, list of tables, list of graphs. Long reports presented in book form have a cover made up of a card sheet. The cover contains title of the research report, the authority to whom the report is submitted, name of the author, etc.

The preface introduces the report to the readers. It gives a very brief introduction of the report. In the acknowledgements author mention names of persons and organisations that have extended co-operation and helped in the various stages of research. Table of contents is essential. It gives the title and page number of each chapter.

Introduction of the Report

The introduction of the research report should clearly and logically bring out the background of the problem addressed in the research. The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the research project to the readers. A clear statement of the problem with specific questions to be answered is presented in the introduction. It contains a brief outline of the chapters.

Review of Literature

The third section reviews the important literature related to the study. A comprehensive review of the research literature referred to must be made. Previous research studies and the important writings in the area under study should be reviewed. Review of literature is helpful to provide a background for the development of the present study.

The researcher may review concerned books, articles published in edited books, journals and periodicals. Researcher may also take review of articles published in leading newspapers. A researcher should study working papers/discussion papers/study reports. It is essential for a broad conclusion and indications for further research.

The Research Methodology

Research methodology is an integral part of the research. It should clearly indicate the universe and the selection of samples, techniques of data collection, analysis and interpretation, statistical techniques, etc.

Results contain pilot study, processing of data, hypothesis/model testing, data analysis and interpretation, tables and figures, etc. This is the heart of the research report. If a pilot study is planned to be used, it’s purpose should be given in the research methodology.

The collected data and the information should be edited, coded, tabulated and analysed with a view to arriving at a valid and authentic conclusion. Tables and figures are used to clarify the significant relationship. The results obtained through tables, graphs should be critically interpreted.

Concluding Remarks

The concluding remarks should discuss the results obtained in the earlier sections, as well as their usefulness and implications. It contains findings, conclusions, shortcomings, suggestions to the problem and direction for future research. Findings are statements of factual information based upon the data analysis.

Conclusions must clearly explain whether the hypothesis have been established and rejected. This part requires great expertise and preciseness. A report should also refer to the limitations of the applicability of the research inferences. It is essential to suggest the theoretical, practical and policy implications of the research. The suggestions should be supported by scientific and logical arguments. The future direction of research based on the work completed should also be outlined.

Bibliography

The bibliography is an alphabetic list of books, journal articles, reports, etc, published or unpublished, read, referred to, examined by the researcher in preparing the report. The bibliography should follow standard formats for books, journal articles, research reports.

The end of the research report may consist of appendices, listed in respect of all technical data. Appendices are for the purpose of providing detailed data or information that would be too cumbersome within the main body of the research report.

Significance of Report Writing

Report writing is an important communication medium in organisations. The most crucial findings might have come out through a research report. Report is common to academics and managers also. Reports are used for comprehensive and application oriented learning in academics. In organisations, reports are used for the basis of decision making. The importance of report writing can be discussed as under.

Through research reports, a manager or an executive can quickly get an idea of a current scenario which improves his information base for making sound decisions affecting future operations of the company or enterprise. The research report acts as a means of communication of various research findings to the interested parties, organisations and general public.

Good report writing play, a significant role of conveying unknown facts about the phenomenon to the concerned parties. This may provide new insights and new opportunities to the people. Research report plays a key role in making effective decisions in marketing, production, banking, materials, human resource development and government also. Good report writing is used for economic planning and optimum utilisation of resources for the development of a nation.

Report writing facilitates the validation of generalisation. A research report is an end product of research. As earlier said that report writing provides useful information in arriving at rational decisions that may reform the business and society. The findings, conclusions, suggestions and recommendations are useful to academicians, scholars and policymakers. Report writing provides reference material for further research in the same or similar areas of research to the concerned parties.

While preparing a research report, a researcher should take some proper precautions. Report writing should be simple, lucid and systematic. Report writing should be written speedily without interrupting the continuity of thought. The report writing should sustain the interest of readers.

Qualities of Good Report

Report writing is a highly skilled job. It is a process of analysing, understanding and consolidating the findings and projecting a meaningful view of the phenomenon studied. A good report writing is essential for effective communication.

Following are the essential qualities of good report:

  • A research report is essentially a scientific documentation. It should have a suggestive title, headings and sub-headings, paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence.
  • Good research report should include everything that is relevant and exclude everything that is irrelevant. It means that it should contain the facts rather than opinion.
  • The language of the report should be simple and unambiguous. It means that it should be free from biases of the researchers derived from the past experience. Confusion, pretentiousness and pomposity should be carefully guarded against. It means that the language of the report should be simple, employing appropriate words, idioms and expressions.
  • The report must be free from grammatical mistakes. It must be grammatically accurate. Faulty construction of sentences makes the meaning of the narrative obscure and ambiguous.
  • The report has to take into consideration two facts. Firstly, for whom the report is meant and secondly, what is his level of knowledge. The report has to look to the subject matter of the report and the fact as to the level of knowledge of the person for whom it is meant. Because all reports are not meant for research scholars.

Steps in Writing Research Report

Report writing is a time consuming and expensive exercise. Therefore, reports have to be very sharply focused in purpose content and readership. There is no single universally acceptable method of writing a research report.

Following are the general steps in writing a research report:

Analysis of the subject matter

Research outline, preparation of rough draft, rewriting and polishing, writing the final draft.

This is the first and important step in writing a research report. It is concerned with the development of a subject. Subject matter should be written in a clear, logical and concise manner. The style adopted should be open, straightforward and dignified and folk style language should be avoided.

The data, the reliability and validity of the results of the statistical analysis should be in the form of tables, figures and equations. All redundancy in the data or results presented should be eliminated.

The research outline is an organisational framework prepared by the researcher well in advance. It is an aid to logical organisation of material and a reminder of the points to be stressed in the report. In the process of writing, if need be, outline may be revised accordingly.

Time and place of the study, scope and limitations of the study, study design, summary of pilot study, methods of data collection, analysis interpretation, etc., may be included in a research outline.

Having prepared the primary and secondary data, the researcher has to prepare a rough draft. While preparing the rough draft, the researcher should keep the objectives of the research in mind, and focus on one objective at a time. The researcher should make a checklist of the important points that are necessary to be covered in the manuscript. A researcher should use dictionary and relevant reference materials as and when required.

This is an important step in writing a research report. It takes more time than a rough draft. While rewriting and polishing, a researcher should check the report for weakness in logical development or presentation. He should take breaks in between rewriting and polishing since this gives the time to incubate the ideas.

The last and important step is writing the final draft. The language of the report should be simple, employing appropriate words and expressions and should avoid vague expressions such as ‘it seems’ and ‘there may be’ etc.

It should not used personal pronouns, such as I, We, My, Us, etc and should substitute these by such expressions as a researcher, investigator, etc. Before the final drafting of the report, it is advisable that the researcher should prepare a first draft for critical considerations and possible improvements. It will be helpful in writing the final draft. Finally, the report should be logically outlined with the future directions of the research based on the work completed.

Precautions for Writing Research Reports

A research report is a means of conveying the research study to a specific target audience. The following precautions should be taken while preparing a research report:

  • Its hould belong enough to cover the subject and short enough to preserve interest.
  • It should not be dull and complicated.
  • It should be simple, without the usage of abstract terms and technical jargons.
  • It should offer ready availability of findings with the help of charts, tables and graphs, as readers prefer quick knowledge of main findings.
  • The layout of the report should be in accordance with the objectives of the research study.
  • There should be no grammatical errors and writing should adhere to the techniques of report writing in case of quotations, footnotes and documentations.
  • It should be original, intellectual and contribute to the solution of a problem or add knowledge to the concerned field.
  • Appendices should been listed with respect to all the technical data in the report.
  • It should be attractive, neat and clean, whether handwritten or typed.
  • The report writer should refrain from confusing the possessive form of the word ‘it’ is with ‘it’s.’ The accurate possessive form of ‘it is’ is ‘its.’ The use of ‘it’s’ is the contractive form of ‘it is.
  • A report should not have contractions. Examples are ‘didn’t’ or ‘it’s.’ In report writing, it is best to use the non-contractive form. Therefore, the examples would be replaced by ‘did not’ and ‘it is.’ Using ‘Figure’ instead of ‘Fig.’ and ‘Table’ instead of ‘Tab.’ will spare the reader of having to translate the abbreviations, while reading. If abbreviations are used, use them consistently throughout the report. For example, do not switch among ‘versus,’ and ‘vs’.
  • It is advisable to avoid using the word ‘very’ and other such words that try to embellish a description. They do not add any extra meaning and, therefore, should be dropped.
  • Repetition hampers lucidity. Report writers must avoid repeating the same word more than once within a sentence.
  • When you use the word ‘this’ or ‘these’ make sure you indicate to what you are referring. This reduces the ambiguity in your writing and helps to tie sentences together.
  • Do not use the word ‘they’ to refer to a singular person. You can either rewrite the sentence to avoid needing such a reference or use the singular ‘he or she.’

Types of Research Report

Research reports are designed in order to convey and record the information that will be of practical use to the reader. It is organized into distinct units of specific and highly visible information. The kind of audience addressed in the research report decides the type of report.

Research reports can be categorized on the following basis:

Classification on the Basis of Information

Classification on the basis of representation.

Following are the ways through which the results of the research report can be presented on the basis of information contained:

Technical Report

A technical report is written for other researchers. In writing the technical reports, the importance is mainly given to the methods that have been used to collect the information and data, the presumptions that are made and finally, the various presentation techniques that are used to present the findings and data.

Following are main features of a technical report:

  • Summary: It covers a brief analysis of the findings of the research in a very few pages. 
  • Nature: It contains the reasons for which the research is undertaken, the analysis and the data that is required in order to prepare a report. 
  • Methods employed: It contains a description of the methods that were employed in order to collect the data. 
  • Data: It covers a brief analysis of the various sources from which the data has been collected with their features and drawbacks 
  • Analysis of data and presentation of the findings: It contains the various forms through which the data that has been analysed can be presented. 
  • Conclusions: It contains a brief explanation of findings of the research. 
  • Bibliography: It contains a detailed analysis of the various bibliographies that have been used in order to conduct a research. 
  • Technical appendices: It contains the appendices for the technical matters and for questionnaires and mathematical derivations. 
  • Index: The index of the technical report must be provided at the end of the report.

Popular Report

A popular report is formulated when there is a need to draw conclusions of the findings of the research report. One of the main points of consideration that should be kept in mind while formulating a research report is that it must be simple and attractive. It must be written in a very simple manner that is understandable to all. It must also be made attractive by using large prints, various sub-headings and by giving cartoons occasionally.

Following are the main points that must be kept in mind while preparing a popular report:

  • Findings and their implications : While preparing a popular report, main importance is given to the findings of the information and the conclusions that can be drawn out of these findings.
  • Recommendations for action : If there are any deviations in the report then recommendations are made for taking corrective action in order to rectify the errors.
  • Objective of the study : In a popular report, the specific objective for which the research has been undertaken is presented.
  • Methods employed : The report must contain the various methods that has been employed in order to conduct a research.
  • Results : The results of the research findings must be presented in a suitable and appropriate manner by taking the help of charts and diagrams.
  • Technical appendices : The report must contain an in-depth information used to collect the data in the form of appendices.

Following are the ways through which the results of the research report can be presented on the basis of representation:

  • Writtenreport
  • Oral report

Written Report

A written report plays a vital role in every business operation. The manner in which an organization writes business letters and business reports creates an impression of its standard. Therefore, the organization should emphasize on the improvement of the writing skills of the employees in order to maintain effective relations with their customers.

Writing effective written reports requires a lot of hard work. Therefore, before you begin writing, it is important to know the objective, i.e., the purpose of writing, collection and organization of required data.

Oral Report

At times, oral presentation of the results that are drawn out of research is considered effective, particularly in cases where policy recommendations are to be made. This approach proves beneficial because it provides a medium of interaction between a listener and a speaker. This leads to a better understanding of the findings and their implications.

However, the main drawback of oral presentation is the lack of any permanent records related to the research. Oral presentation of the report is also effective when it is supported with various visual devices, such as slides, wall charts and whiteboards that help in better understanding of the research reports.

Business Ethics

( Click on Topic to Read )

  • What is Ethics?
  • What is Business Ethics?
  • Values, Norms, Beliefs and Standards in Business Ethics
  • Indian Ethos in Management
  • Ethical Issues in Marketing
  • Ethical Issues in HRM
  • Ethical Issues in IT
  • Ethical Issues in Production and Operations Management
  • Ethical Issues in Finance and Accounting
  • What is Corporate Governance?
  • What is Ownership Concentration?
  • What is Ownership Composition?
  • Types of Companies in India
  • Internal Corporate Governance
  • External Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Governance in India
  • What is Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)?
  • What is Assessment of Risk?
  • What is Risk Register?
  • Risk Management Committee

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

  • Theories of CSR
  • Arguments Against CSR
  • Business Case for CSR
  • Importance of CSR in India
  • Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Developing a CSR Strategy
  • Implement CSR Commitments
  • CSR Marketplace
  • CSR at Workplace
  • Environmental CSR
  • CSR with Communities and in Supply Chain
  • Community Interventions
  • CSR Monitoring
  • CSR Reporting
  • Voluntary Codes in CSR
  • What is Corporate Ethics?

Lean Six Sigma

  • What is Six Sigma?
  • What is Lean Six Sigma?
  • Value and Waste in Lean Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma Team
  • MAIC Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma in Supply Chains
  • What is Binomial, Poisson, Normal Distribution?
  • What is Sigma Level?
  • What is DMAIC in Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV in Six Sigma?
  • Six Sigma Project Charter
  • Project Decomposition in Six Sigma
  • Critical to Quality (CTQ) Six Sigma
  • Process Mapping Six Sigma
  • Flowchart and SIPOC
  • Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility
  • Statistical Diagram
  • Lean Techniques for Optimisation Flow
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • What is Process Audits?
  • Six Sigma Implementation at Ford
  • IBM Uses Six Sigma to Drive Behaviour Change
  • Research Methodology
  • What is Research?

What is Hypothesis?

  • Sampling Method

Research Methods

  • Data Collection in Research
  • Methods of Collecting Data

Application of Business Research

  • Levels of Measurement
  • What is Sampling?
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • What is Management?
  • Planning in Management
  • Decision Making in Management
  • What is Controlling?
  • What is Coordination?
  • What is Staffing?
  • Organization Structure
  • What is Departmentation?
  • Span of Control
  • What is Authority?
  • Centralization vs Decentralization
  • Organizing in Management
  • Schools of Management Thought
  • Classical Management Approach
  • Is Management an Art or Science?
  • Who is a Manager?

Operations Research

  • What is Operations Research?
  • Operation Research Models
  • Linear Programming
  • Linear Programming Graphic Solution
  • Linear Programming Simplex Method
  • Linear Programming Artificial Variable Technique
  • Duality in Linear Programming
  • Transportation Problem Initial Basic Feasible Solution
  • Transportation Problem Finding Optimal Solution
  • Project Network Analysis with Critical Path Method
  • Project Network Analysis Methods
  • Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
  • Simulation in Operation Research
  • Replacement Models in Operation Research

Operation Management

  • What is Strategy?
  • What is Operations Strategy?
  • Operations Competitive Dimensions
  • Operations Strategy Formulation Process
  • What is Strategic Fit?
  • Strategic Design Process
  • Focused Operations Strategy
  • Corporate Level Strategy
  • Expansion Strategies
  • Stability Strategies
  • Retrenchment Strategies
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Strategic Choice and Strategic Alternatives
  • What is Production Process?
  • What is Process Technology?
  • What is Process Improvement?
  • Strategic Capacity Management
  • Production and Logistics Strategy
  • Taxonomy of Supply Chain Strategies
  • Factors Considered in Supply Chain Planning
  • Operational and Strategic Issues in Global Logistics
  • Logistics Outsourcing Strategy
  • What is Supply Chain Mapping?
  • Supply Chain Process Restructuring
  • Points of Differentiation
  • Re-engineering Improvement in SCM
  • What is Supply Chain Drivers?
  • Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) Model
  • Customer Service and Cost Trade Off
  • Internal and External Performance Measures
  • Linking Supply Chain and Business Performance
  • Netflix’s Niche Focused Strategy
  • Disney and Pixar Merger
  • Process Planning at Mcdonald’s

Service Operations Management

  • What is Service?
  • What is Service Operations Management?
  • What is Service Design?
  • Service Design Process
  • Service Delivery
  • What is Service Quality?
  • Gap Model of Service Quality
  • Juran Trilogy
  • Service Performance Measurement
  • Service Decoupling
  • IT Service Operation
  • Service Operations Management in Different Sector

Procurement Management

  • What is Procurement Management?
  • Procurement Negotiation
  • Types of Requisition
  • RFX in Procurement
  • What is Purchasing Cycle?
  • Vendor Managed Inventory
  • Internal Conflict During Purchasing Operation
  • Spend Analysis in Procurement
  • Sourcing in Procurement
  • Supplier Evaluation and Selection in Procurement
  • Blacklisting of Suppliers in Procurement
  • Total Cost of Ownership in Procurement
  • Incoterms in Procurement
  • Documents Used in International Procurement
  • Transportation and Logistics Strategy
  • What is Capital Equipment?
  • Procurement Process of Capital Equipment
  • Acquisition of Technology in Procurement
  • What is E-Procurement?
  • E-marketplace and Online Catalogues
  • Fixed Price and Cost Reimbursement Contracts
  • Contract Cancellation in Procurement
  • Ethics in Procurement
  • Legal Aspects of Procurement
  • Global Sourcing in Procurement
  • Intermediaries and Countertrade in Procurement

Strategic Management

  • What is Strategic Management?
  • What is Value Chain Analysis?
  • Mission Statement
  • Business Level Strategy
  • What is SWOT Analysis?
  • What is Competitive Advantage?
  • What is Vision?
  • What is Ansoff Matrix?
  • Prahalad and Gary Hammel
  • Strategic Management In Global Environment
  • Competitor Analysis Framework
  • Competitive Rivalry Analysis
  • Competitive Dynamics
  • What is Competitive Rivalry?
  • Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy
  • What is PESTLE Analysis?
  • Fragmentation and Consolidation Of Industries
  • What is Technology Life Cycle?
  • What is Diversification Strategy?
  • What is Corporate Restructuring Strategy?
  • Resources and Capabilities of Organization
  • Role of Leaders In Functional-Level Strategic Management
  • Functional Structure In Functional Level Strategy Formulation
  • Information And Control System
  • What is Strategy Gap Analysis?
  • Issues In Strategy Implementation
  • Matrix Organizational Structure
  • What is Strategic Management Process?

Supply Chain

  • What is Supply Chain Management?
  • Supply Chain Planning and Measuring Strategy Performance
  • What is Warehousing?
  • What is Packaging?
  • What is Inventory Management?
  • What is Material Handling?
  • What is Order Picking?
  • Receiving and Dispatch, Processes
  • What is Warehouse Design?
  • What is Warehousing Costs?

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Section 1- Evidence-based practice (EBP)

Chapter 6: Components of a Research Report

Components of a research report.

Partido, B.B.

Elements of  research report

Introduction What is the issue?
Methods What methods have been used to investigate the issue?
Results What was found?
Discussion What are the implications of the findings?

The research report contains four main areas:

  • Introduction – What is the issue? What is known? What is not known? What are you trying to find out? This sections ends with the purpose and specific aims of the study.
  • Methods – The recipe for the study. If someone wanted to perform the same study, what information would they need? How will you answer your research question? This part usually contains subheadings: Participants, Instruments, Procedures, Data Analysis,
  • Results – What was found? This is organized by specific aims and provides the results of the statistical analysis.
  • Discussion – How do the results fit in with the existing  literature? What were the limitations and areas of future research?

Formalized Curiosity for Knowledge and Innovation Copyright © by partido1. All Rights Reserved.

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11.2 Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a title page . The title is centered in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behavior?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

It’s Soooo Cute!

How Informal Should an Article Title Be?

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .

  • “Let’s Get Serious: Communicating Commitment in Romantic Relationships”
  • “Through the Looking Glass Clearly: Accuracy and Assumed Similarity in Well-Adjusted Individuals’ First Impressions”
  • “Don’t Hide Your Happiness! Positive Emotion Dissociation, Social Connectedness, and Psychological Functioning”
  • “Forbidden Fruit: Inattention to Attractive Alternatives Provokes Implicit Relationship Reactance”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The abstract is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The introduction begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behavior (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humorous anecdote (Jacoby, 1999).

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (p. 3).

Although both humor and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).
Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.
An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).
We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favorite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the balance of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The closing of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behavior during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions (p. 378).

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The method section is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centered on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Figure 11.1 Three Ways of Organizing an APA-Style Method

Simple method Typical method Complex method

The participants were…

There were three conditions…

The participants were…

There were three conditions…

Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…

The participants were…

The stimuli were…

There were three conditions…

Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 “Three Ways of Organizing an APA-Style Method” shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The results section is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Some journals now make the raw data available online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The discussion is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how can they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What new research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968), for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centered at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendixes, Tables, and Figures

Appendixes, tables, and figures come after the references. An appendix is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centered at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendixes come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figure 11.2 “Title Page and Abstract” , Figure 11.3 “Introduction and Method” , Figure 11.4 “Results and Discussion” , and Figure 11.5 “References and Figure” show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

Figure 11.2 Title Page and Abstract

Title Page and Abstract

This student paper does not include the author note on the title page. The abstract appears on its own page.

Figure 11.3 Introduction and Method

Introduction and Method

Note that the introduction is headed with the full title, and the method section begins immediately after the introduction ends.

Figure 11.4 Results and Discussion

Results and Discussion

The discussion begins immediately after the results section ends.

Figure 11.5 References and Figure

References and Figure

If there were appendixes or tables, they would come before the figure.

Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g., Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different color each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.), The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Research Report

Research Report Meaning, Characteristics and Types

Table of contents:-, research report meaning, characteristics of good research report, key characteristics of research report, types of research report, stages in preparation of research report, characteristics of a good report.

A research report is a document that conveys the outcomes of a study or investigation. Its purpose is to communicate the research’s findings, conclusions, and implications to a particular audience. This report aims to offer a comprehensive and unbiased overview of the research process, methodology, and results.

Once the researcher has completed data collection , data processing, developing and testing hypotheses, and interpretation of responses, the next important phase in research is the preparation of the research report. A research report is essential for the communication of research findings to its potential users.

The research report must be free from personal bias, external influences, and subjective factors. i.e., it must be free from one’s liking and disliking. The research report must be prepared to meet impersonal needs.

What is Research Report?

According to Lancaster, “A report is a statement of collected and considered facts, so drawn-ups to give clear and concise information to persons who are not already in possession of the full facts of the subject matter of the report”.

When researchers communicate their results in writing, they create a research report. It includes the research methodology, approaches, data collection precautions, research findings, and recommendations for solving related problems. Managers can put this result into action for more effective decision making .

Generally, top management places a higher emphasis on obtaining the research outcome rather than delving into the research procedure. Hence, the research report acts as a presentation that highlights the procedure and methodology adopted by the researcher.

The research report presents the complete procedure in a comprehensive way that in turn helps the management in making crucial decisions. Creating a research report adheres to a specific format, sequence, and writing style.

Enhance the effectiveness of a research report by incorporating various charts, graphs, diagrams, tables, etc. By using different representation techniques, researchers can convince the audience as well as the management in an effective way.

Characteristics of a good research report are listed below:

  • Clarity and Completeness
  • Reliability
  • Comprehensibility and Readability
  • Logical Content

characteristics of a good research report

The following paragraphs outline the characteristics of a good research report.

1) Accuracy

Report information must be accurate and based on facts, credible sources and data to establish reliability and trustworthiness. It should not be biased by the personal feelings of the writer. The information presented must be as precise as possible.

2) Simplicity

The language of a research report should be as simple as possible to ensure easy understanding. A good report communicates its message clearly and without ambiguity through its language.

It is a document of practical utility; therefore, it should be grammatically accurate, brief, and easily understood. 

Jargon and technical words should be avoided when writing the report. Even in a technical report, there should be restricted use of technical terms if it is to be presented to laymen.

3) Clarity and Completeness

The report must be straightforward, lucid, and comprehensive in every aspect. Ambiguity should be avoided at all costs. Clarity is achieved through the strategic and practical organization of information. Report writers should divide their report into short paragraphs with headings and insert other suitable signposts to enhance clarity. They should: 

  • Approach their task systematically, 
  • Clarify their purpose, 
  • Define their sources, 
  • State their findings and 
  • Make necessary recommendations. 

A report should concisely convey the key points without unnecessary length, ensuring that the reader’s patience is not lost and ideas are not confused. Many times, people lack the time to read lengthy reports.

However, a report must also be complete. Sometimes, it is important to have a detailed discussion about the facts. A report is not an essay; therefore, points should be added to it.

5) Appearance

A report requires a visually appealing presentation and, whenever feasible, should be attention-grabbing. An effective report depends on the arrangement, organization, format, layout, typography, printing quality, and paper choice. Big companies often produce very attractive and colourful Annual Reports to showcase their achievements and financial performance.

6) Comprehensibility and Readability

Reports should be clear and straightforward for easy understanding. The style of presentation and the choice of words should be attractive to readers. The writer must present the facts in elegant and grammatically correct English so that the reader is compelled to read the report from beginning to end.

Only then does a report serve its purpose. A report written by different individuals on the same subject matter can vary depending on the intended audience.

7) Reliability

Reports should be reliable and should not create an erroneous impression in the minds of readers due to oversight or neglect. The facts presented in a report should be pertinent.

Every fact in a report must align with the central purpose, but it is also vital to ensure that all pertinent information is included.

Irrelevant facts can make a report confusing, and the exclusion of relevant facts can render it incomplete and likely to mislead.

Report writing should not incur unnecessary expenses. Cost-effective methods should be used to maintain a consistent level of quality when communicating the content.

9) Timelines

Reports can be valuable and practical when they reach the readers promptly. Any delay in the submission of reports renders the preparation of reports futile and sometimes obsolete.

10) Logical Content

The points mentioned in a report should be arranged in a step-by-step logical sequence and not haphazardly. Distinctive points should have self-explanatory headings and sub-headings. The scientific accuracy of facts is very essential for a report.

Planning is necessary before a report is prepared, as reports invariably lead to decision-making, and inaccurate facts may result in unsuccessful decisions.

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A research report serves as a means of communicating research findings to the readers effectively.

Characteristics of Research Report

  • Clarity in Information
  • Optimal Length
  • Objective and Simple Language
  • Clear Thinking and Logical Organization
  • Engaging Style
  • Clarity in Presentation
  • Readability
  • Best Composition Practices
  • Inferences and Conclusions
  • Proper References
  • Attractive Appearance

i) Clarity in Information

A well-defined research report must define the what, why, who, whom, when, where, and how of the research study. It must help the readers to understand the focus of the information presented.

ii) Optimal Length

The report should strike a balance, being sufficiently brief and appropriately extended. It should cover the subject matter adequately while maintaining the reader’s interest.

iii) Objective and Simple Language

The report should be written in an objective style, employing simple language. Correctness, precision, and clarity should be prioritized, avoiding wordiness, indirection, and pompous language.

iv) Clear Thinking and Logical Organization

An excellent report integrates clear thinking, logical organization, and sound interpretation of the research findings.

v) Engaging Style

It should not be dull; instead, it should captivate and sustain the reader’s interest.

vi) Accuracy

Accuracy is paramount. The report must present facts objectively, eschewing exaggerations and superlatives.

vii) Clarity in Presentation

Presentation clarity is achieved through familiar words, unambiguous statements, and explicit definitions of new concepts or terms.

viii) Coherence

The logical flow of ideas and a coherent sequence of sentences contribute to a smooth continuity of thought.

ix) Readability

Even technical reports should be easily understandable. Translate technicalities into reader-friendly language.

x) Best Composition Practices

Follow best composition practices, ensuring readability through proper paragraphing, short sentences, and the use of illustrations, examples, section headings, charts, graphs, and diagrams.

xi) Inferences and Conclusions

Draw sound inferences and conclusions from statistical tables without repeating them in verbal form.

xii) Proper References

Footnote references should be correctly formatted, and the bibliography should be reasonably complete.

xiii) Attractive Appearance

The report should be visually appealing, maintaining a neat and clean appearance, whether typed or printed.

xiv) Error-Free

The report should be free from all types of mistakes, including language, factual, spelling, and calculation errors.

In striving for these qualities, the researcher enhances the overall quality of the report.

Research reports are of the following types:

  • Technical Report
  • Manuscripts for Journal Articles
  • Thesis and Dissertations
  • Other Types of Research Report

Types of Research Report

1) Technical Report

Technical reports are reports which contain detailed information about the research problem and its findings. These reports are typically subject to review by individuals interested in research methodology. Such reports include detailed descriptions of used methods for research design such as universe selection , sample preparation, designing questionnaire , identifying potential data sources, etc. These reports provide a complete description of every step, method, and tool used. When crafting technical reports, we assume that users possess knowledge of research methodology, which is why the language used in these reports is technical. Technical reports are valuable in situations where there is a need for statistical analysis of collected data. Researchers also employ it in conducting a series of research studies, where they can repetitively use the methodology.

2) Manuscripts for Journal Articles

When authors prepare a report with a particular layout or design for publishing in an academic or scientific journal, it becomes a “manuscript for journal articles”. Journal articles are a concise and complete presentation of a particular research study. While technical reports present a detailed description of all the activities in research, journal articles are known for presenting only a few critical areas or findings of a study. The readers or audience of journal articles include other researchers, management and executives, strategic analysts and the general public, interested in the topic.

In general, a manuscript for a journal article typically ranges from 10 to 30 pages in length. Sometimes there is a page or word limit for preparing the report. Authors primarily submit manuscripts for journal articles online, although they occasionally send paper copies through regular mail.

3) Thesis and Dissertations

Students working towards a Master’s, PhD, or another higher degree generally produce a thesis or dissertation, which is a form of research report. Like other normal research reports, the thesis or dissertation usually describes the design, tools or methods and results of the student’s research in detail.

These reports typically include a detailed section called the literature review, which encompasses relevant literature and previous studies on the topic. Firstly, the work or research of the student is analysed by a professional researcher or an expert in that particular research field, and then the thesis is written under the guidance of a professional supervisor. Dissertations and theses usually span approximately 120 to 300 pages in length.

Generally, the university or institution decides the length of the dissertation or thesis. A distinctive feature of a thesis or a dissertation is that it is quite economical, as it requires few printed and bound copies of the report. Sometimes electronic copies are required to be submitted along with the hard copy of the thesis or dissertations. Compact discs (CDs) are used to generate the electronic copy.

4) Other Types of Research Report

Along with the above-mentioned types, there are some other types of research reports, which are as follows:

  • Popular Report
  • Interim Report
  • Summary Report
  • Research Abstract

i) Popular Report

A popular report is prepared for the use of administrators, executives, or managers. It is simple and attractive in the form of a report. Clear and concise statements are used with less technical or statistical terms. Data representation is kept very simple through minimal use of graphs and charts. It has a different format than that of a technical one by liberally using margins and blank spaces. The style of writing a popular report is journalistic and precise. It is written to facilitate reading rapidly and comprehending quickly.

ii) Interim Report

An interim report is a kind of report which is prepared to show the sponsors, the progress of research work before the final presentation of the report. It is prepared when there is a certain time gap between the data collection and presentation. In this scenario, the completed portion of data analysis along with its findings is described in a particular interim report.

iii) Summary Report

This type of report is related to the interest of the general public. The findings of such a report are helpful for the decision making of general users. The language used for preparing a summary report is comprehensive and simple. The inclusion of numerous graphs and tables enhances the report’s overall clarity and comprehension. The main focus of this report is on the objectives, findings, and implications of the research issue.

iv) Research Abstract

The research abstract is a short presentation of the technical report. All the elements of a particular technical report, such as the research problem, objectives, sampling techniques, etc., are described in the research abstract but the description is concise and easy.

Research reports result from meticulous and deliberate work. Consequently, the preparation of the information can be delineated into the following key stages:

1) Logical Understanding and Subject Analysis: This stage involves a comprehensive grasp and analysis of the subject matter.

2) Planning/Designing the Final Outline: In this phase, the final outline of the report is meticulously planned and designed.

3) Write-Up/Preparation of Rough Draft: The report takes shape during this stage through the composition of a rough draft.

4) Polishing/Finalization of the Research Report: The final stage encompasses refining and polishing the report to achieve its ultimate form.

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Logical understanding and subject analysis.

This initial stage focuses on the subject’s development, which can be achieved through two approaches:

  • Logical development and
  • Chronological development

Logical development relies on mental connections and associations between different aspects facilitated by rational analysis. Typically, this involves progressing from simple to complex elements. In contrast, chronological development follows a sequence of time or events, with instructions or descriptions often adhering to chronological order.

Designing the Final Outline of the Research Report

This marks the second stage in report writing. Once the subject matter is comprehended, the subsequent step involves structuring the report, arranging its components, and outlining them. This stage is also referred to as the planning  and organization stage. While ideas may flow through the author’s mind, they must create a plan, sketch, or design. These are necessary for achieving a harmonious succession to become more accessible, and the author may be unsure where to commence or conclude. Effective communication of research results hinges not only on language but predominantly on the meticulous planning and organization of the report.

Preparation of the Rough Draft

The third stage involves the writing and drafting of the report. This phase is pivotal for the researcher as they translate their research study into written form, articulating what they have accomplished and how they intend to convey it.

The clarity in communication and reporting during this stage is influenced by several factors, including the audience, the technical complexity of the problem, the researcher’s grasp of facts and techniques, their proficiency in the language (communication skills), the completeness of notes and documentation, and the availability of analyzed results.

Depending on these factors, some authors may produce the report with just one or two drafts. In contrast, others, with less command over language and a lack of clarity about the problem and subject matter, may require more time and multiple drafts (first draft, second draft, third draft, fourth draft, etc.).

Finalization of the Research Report

This marks the last stage, potentially the most challenging phase in all formal writing. Constructing the structure is relatively easy, but refining and adding the finishing touches require considerable time. Consider, for instance, the construction of a house. The work progresses swiftly up to the roofing (structure) stage, but the final touches and completion demand a significant amount of time.

The rough draft, whether it is the second draft or the n th draft, must undergo rewriting and polishing to meet the requirements. The meticulous revision of the rough draft is what distinguishes a mediocre piece of writing from a good one. During the polishing and finalization phase, it is crucial to scrutinize the report for weaknesses in the logical development of the subject and the cohesion of its presentation. Additionally, attention should be given to the mechanics of writing, including language, usage, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Good research possesses certain characteristics, which are as follows:

  • Empirical Basis
  • Logical Approach
  • Systematic Nature
  • Replicability
  • Validity and Verifiability
  • Theory and Principle Development

1. Empirical Basis: It implies that any conclusion drawn is grounded in hardcore evidence collected from real-life experiences and observations. This foundation provides external validity to research results.

2. Logical Approach: Good research is logical, guided by the rules of reasoning and analytical processes of induction (general to specific) and deduction (particular to the public). Logical reasoning is integral to making research feasible and meaningful in decision-making.

3. Systematic Nature: Good research is systematic, which adheres to a structured set of rules, following specific steps in a defined sequence. Systematic research encourages creative thinking while avoiding reliance on guesswork and intuition to reach conclusions.

4. Replicability: Scientific research designs, procedures, and results should be replicable. This ensures that anyone apart from the original researcher can assess their validity. Researchers can use or replicate results obtained by others, making the procedures and outcomes of the research both replicable and transmittable.

5. Validity and Verifiability: Good research involves precise observation and accurate description. The researcher selects reliable and valid instruments for data collection, employing statistical measures to portray results accurately. The conclusions drawn are correct and verifiable by both the researcher and others.

6. Theory and Principle Development: It contributes to formulating theories and principles, aiding accurate predictions about the variables under study. By making sound generalizations based on observed samples, researchers extend their findings beyond immediate situations, objects, or groups, formulating generalizations or theories about these factors.

1. What are the key characteristics of research report?

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Methodology

Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples

Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design . When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

First, decide how you will collect data . Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question :

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative : Will your data take the form of words or numbers?
  • Primary vs. secondary : Will you collect original data yourself, or will you use data that has already been collected by someone else?
  • Descriptive vs. experimental : Will you take measurements of something as it is, or will you perform an experiment?

Second, decide how you will analyze the data .

  • For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables.
  • For qualitative data, you can use methods such as thematic analysis to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.

Table of contents

Methods for collecting data, examples of data collection methods, methods for analyzing data, examples of data analysis methods, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research methods.

Data is the information that you collect for the purposes of answering your research question . The type of data you need depends on the aims of your research.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

Your choice of qualitative or quantitative data collection depends on the type of knowledge you want to develop.

For questions about ideas, experiences and meanings, or to study something that can’t be described numerically, collect qualitative data .

If you want to develop a more mechanistic understanding of a topic, or your research involves hypothesis testing , collect quantitative data .

Qualitative to broader populations. .
Quantitative .

You can also take a mixed methods approach , where you use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys , observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

If you are exploring a novel research question, you’ll probably need to collect primary data . But if you want to synthesize existing knowledge, analyze historical trends, or identify patterns on a large scale, secondary data might be a better choice.

Primary . methods.
Secondary

Descriptive vs. experimental data

In descriptive research , you collect data about your study subject without intervening. The validity of your research will depend on your sampling method .

In experimental research , you systematically intervene in a process and measure the outcome. The validity of your research will depend on your experimental design .

To conduct an experiment, you need to be able to vary your independent variable , precisely measure your dependent variable, and control for confounding variables . If it’s practically and ethically possible, this method is the best choice for answering questions about cause and effect.

Descriptive . .
Experimental

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Research methods for collecting data
Research method Primary or secondary? Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Primary Quantitative To test cause-and-effect relationships.
Primary Quantitative To understand general characteristics of a population.
Interview/focus group Primary Qualitative To gain more in-depth understanding of a topic.
Observation Primary Either To understand how something occurs in its natural setting.
Secondary Either To situate your research in an existing body of work, or to evaluate trends within a research topic.
Either Either To gain an in-depth understanding of a specific group or context, or when you don’t have the resources for a large study.

Your data analysis methods will depend on the type of data you collect and how you prepare it for analysis.

Data can often be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, survey responses could be analyzed qualitatively by studying the meanings of responses or quantitatively by studying the frequencies of responses.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis is used to understand words, ideas, and experiences. You can use it to interpret data that was collected:

  • From open-ended surveys and interviews , literature reviews , case studies , ethnographies , and other sources that use text rather than numbers.
  • Using non-probability sampling methods .

Qualitative analysis tends to be quite flexible and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your choices and assumptions and be careful to avoid research bias .

Quantitative analysis methods

Quantitative analysis uses numbers and statistics to understand frequencies, averages and correlations (in descriptive studies) or cause-and-effect relationships (in experiments).

You can use quantitative analysis to interpret data that was collected either:

  • During an experiment .
  • Using probability sampling methods .

Because the data is collected and analyzed in a statistically valid way, the results of quantitative analysis can be easily standardized and shared among researchers.

Research methods for analyzing data
Research method Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Quantitative To analyze data collected in a statistically valid manner (e.g. from experiments, surveys, and observations).
Meta-analysis Quantitative To statistically analyze the results of a large collection of studies.

Can only be applied to studies that collected data in a statistically valid manner.

Qualitative To analyze data collected from interviews, , or textual sources.

To understand general themes in the data and how they are communicated.

Either To analyze large volumes of textual or visual data collected from surveys, literature reviews, or other sources.

Can be quantitative (i.e. frequencies of words) or qualitative (i.e. meanings of words).

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If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square test of independence
  • Statistical power
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Pearson correlation
  • Null hypothesis
  • Double-blind study
  • Case-control study
  • Research ethics
  • Data collection
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Structured interviews

Research bias

  • Hawthorne effect
  • Unconscious bias
  • Recall bias
  • Halo effect
  • Self-serving bias
  • Information bias

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

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What Is a Research Report?

Understanding research reports, financial analyst research reports, research report impact, conflicts of interest.

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What Is a Research Report? How They're Produced and Impact

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.

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A research report is a document prepared by an analyst or strategist who is a part of the investment research team in a stock brokerage or investment bank . A research report may focus on a specific stock or industry sector, a currency, commodity or fixed-income instrument, or on a geographic region or country. Research reports generally, but not always, have actionable recommendations such as investment ideas that investors can act upon.

Research reports are produced by a variety of sources, ranging from market research firms to in-house departments at large organizations. When applied to the investment industry, the term usually refers to sell-side research, or investment research produced by brokerage houses.

Such research is disseminated to the institutional and retail clients of the brokerage that produces it. Research produced by the buy-side, which includes pension funds, mutual funds, and portfolio managers , is usually for internal use only and is not distributed to external parties.

Financial analysts may produce research reports for the purpose of supporting a particular recommendation, such as whether to buy or sell a particular security or whether a client should consider a particular financial product. For example, an analyst may create a report in regards to a new offering being proposed by a company. The report could include relevant metrics regarding the company itself, such as the number of years they have been in operation as well as the names of key stakeholders , along with statistics regarding the current state of the market in which the company participates. Information regarding overall profitability and the intended use of the funds can also be included.

Enthusiasts of the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) might insist that the value of professional analysts' research reports is suspect and that investors likely place too much confidence in the conclusions such analysts make. While a definitive conclusion about this topic is difficult to make because comparisons are not exact, some research papers do exist which claim empirical evidence supporting the value of such reports.

One such paper studied the market for India-based investments and analysts who cover them. The paper was published in the March 2014 edition of the International Research Journal of Business and Management. Its authors concluded that analyst recommendations do have an impact and are beneficial to investors at least in short-term decisions.

While some analysts are functionally unaffiliated, others may be directly or indirectly affiliated with the companies for which they produce reports. Unaffiliated analysts traditionally perform independent research to determine an appropriate recommendation and may have a limited concern regarding the outcome.

Affiliated analysts may feel best served by ensuring any research reports portray clients in a favorable light. Additionally, if an analyst is also an investor in the company on which the report is based, he may have a personal incentive to avoid topics that may result in a lowered valuation of the securities in which he has invested.

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UT Arlington research contributes $226 million to U.S. economy

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A new report shows that research projects at The University of Texas at Arlington contributed one quarter of a billion dollars—$226.4 million, to be exact—to the national economy through 797 vendor contracts and subcontracts between 2018 and 2022. Of those contracts, 111 were from small businesses and 87 from minority- or woman-owned businesses.

“Research coming from UT Arlington faculty and students not only helps solve some of society’s most vexing problems, but it is also an important economic driver for business development,” said Kate C. Miller, vice president for research and innovation at UTA. “This report makes clear that UTA research spending has a significant ripple effect throughout the local, regional and national economies.”

The report, produced by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), also detailed the impact of UTA’s research spending on specific industries. For example, between 2018 and 2022, companies in the educational services sector received contracts for research-related services from UTA worth $35.9 million; for professional, scientific and technical services contractors, $29.1 million; and for manufacturing companies, $17.8 million.

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IRIS created the report by linking UT Arlington’s administrative data with industry and workforce data from business publisher Orbis, which contains information on characteristics of businesses, such as whether they are owned by minorities or women. The resulting reports masked the identities of any individual organizations once the University administrative data was matched with the Orbis datasets.

IRIS is a national consortium of leading research universities organized around an institutional review board-approved data repository and housed at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

“Linking data from multiple sources this way reveals important insights into the results of university research spending not only for the national and regional economies, but for specific industries as well,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. “Other IRIS reports contain similar information on the career paths, earnings and outcomes for university employees and students. Through these data-driven reports, our goal is to better understand and explain, and ultimately improve, the public value of higher education and research.”

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  • Most People in 35 Countries Say China Has a Large Impact on Their National Economy

1. Views of China and Xi Jinping

Table of contents.

  • Overall favorability of China
  • Confidence in Xi
  • How much influence do people think China has on their country’s economy?
  • Do people think China’s economic influence is positive or negative?
  • Views of Chinese firms operating abroad
  • Concerns about China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors
  • Evaluations of China’s contributions to global peace and stability
  • Acknowledgments
  • About Pew Research Center’s Spring 2024 Global Attitudes Survey
  • The American Trends Panel survey methodology

Across the 35 countries we surveyed, more have unfavorable views of China than favorable ones. The same is true when it comes to Chinese President Xi Jinping: People mostly lack confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs.

But opinions vary widely across regions and across levels of economic development. For example, in the high-income European countries included in the survey, views of China and Xi tend to be broadly negative, while in middle-income nations in sub-Saharan Africa, views are significantly more positive.

Views tend to be among the most and least positive in the Asia-Pacific region – more positive in middle-income countries like Malaysia and Thailand, and more negative in high-income ones like Australia, Japan and South Korea.

A bar chart showing that Attitudes toward China vary widely across regions

A 35-country median of 35% have a favorable view of China, compared with a median of 52% who have a negative view. Opinions vary widely, from 11% favorable in Sweden to 80% favorable in Thailand.

In the 18 high-income countries we polled, views of China are, on balance, negative. There are three notable exceptions where opinion of China is either divided or net positive: Chile, Greece and Singapore. Among Singaporeans, those who are ethnically Chinese are particularly favorable (71%). A majority of Singaporeans who are not ethnically Chinese also see China favorably (59%).

In the 17 middle-income countries we polled, views of China are much rosier. Though three countries stand out for having more negative than positive views: India, the Philippines and Turkey.

Views of China over time

A dot plot showing that Views of China are shifting in many countries

Views of China have turned slightly more positive since last year in Argentina, Canada and Greece (+7 percentage points each).

Over the same period, favorable views have decreased significantly in Israel (-15) and Hungary (-7).

The sharp decrease in favorability among Israelis follows a number of Chinese policy positions related to the Israel-Hamas war. China was an early proponent of a cease-fire in Gaza , and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Israel of going “beyond the scope of self-defense” in the first days of the war. (The survey predated Xi’s calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in his May meetings with Arab leaders .)

Jewish Israelis (25%) have much less favorable views of China than Arab Israelis do (61%). Among Jewish Israelis, this reflects an 18-point decrease in favorability since last year; among Arab Israelis, the decrease was 7 points.

In Hungary, the survey followed China’s offer for a security pact between the two countries but occurred before Xi’s May visit to Budapest .

We also see significant shifts in opinion in some of the countries not surveyed since before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic :

  • In the Philippines and Turkey, favorable views have fallen 6 and 11 percentage points, respectively, since 2019.
  • In Chile, they’ve fallen 8 points since 2017.
  • In Colombia, they’ve increased 12 points since 2017.

In Ghana, the share who are unsure or decline to answer the question has dropped significantly since 2017, and in turn, both positive (+11) and negative (+7) views of China have increased. The same has also happened in Tunisia since 2019: Positive views have increased 5 points (from 63% to 68%) and negative views have increased 9 points (from 16% to 25%) while the share who decline to answer decreased significantly.

Views by age

A dot plot showing that In most countries, younger people have more positive views of China

Younger people tend to have more favorable opinions of China than older people do. This has long been the case in the United States , and is also true in over half of the other countries surveyed.

Gaps are particularly large in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom, where those ages 18 to 34 are around 25 points more likely than those 50 and older to view China positively.

Only in Hungary and South Korea is the pattern reversed, with younger people feeling less favorably toward China.

Views by ideology

In most countries, views of China are not an ideological issue. But, in the U.S. and Israel, those who place themselves on the left of the ideological spectrum (“liberals” in the U.S.) have more favorable views than those on the right (“conservatives” in the U.S.).

In Bangladesh, Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain, those on the right tend to have more positive views on China than those on the left.

A bar chart showing that there are Mixed views of Xi across 35 countries

Few internationally have confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping. A 35-country median of 24% express at least a fair amount confidence in the leader, while 62% have little to no confidence. However, opinion varies widely across high- and middle-income countries (49% and 12% confidence at the median, respectively), as well as across regions.

Views are least positive in North America and Europe: Clear majorities in each country surveyed there have little or no confidence in Xi.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Xi gets some of his highest and lowest ratings. Positive ratings tend to be more common in middle-income countries than high-income countries. For example, roughly half or more in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Thailand have at least a fair amount of confidence in Xi. Conversely, in Australia, Japan and South Korea, at least eight-in-ten lack confidence in him. Middle-income India, where more lack confidence in Xi, and high-income Singapore, where most have confidence in Xi, are two notable exceptions to this pattern.

Views of Xi are more positive than negative in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Kenya (64% vs. 33%) and Nigeria (59% vs. 30%). Notably, large shares in South Africa (33%) and Ghana (21%) refuse to answer or are unsure.

In the Middle East-North Africa region, views of Xi lean positive in Tunisia, but much smaller shares have confidence in him in Israel and Turkey. In Latin America, only around three-in-ten or fewer have confidence in Xi in every country surveyed.

Views of Xi over time

Among countries last surveyed in 2023, opinions of the Chinese leader have become slightly less positive in South Africa (-9) and Israel (-6) and slightly more positive in Argentina (+6) and Hungary (+7).

Confidence has also fallen slightly in two countries last surveyed in 2022: Malaysia (-7) and Singapore (-6).

And, in the Philippines, last surveyed in 2019, confidence has fallen 13 points, from 58% to 45%.

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More people view the U.S. positively than China across 35 surveyed countries

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A new strategy to cope with emotional stress

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Some people, especially those in public service, perform admirable feats: Think of health-care workers fighting to keep patients alive or first responders arriving at the scene of a car crash. But the emotional weight can become a mental burden. Research has shown that emergency personnel are at elevated risk for mental health challenges like post-traumatic stress disorder. How can people undergo such stressful experiences and also maintain their well-being?

A new study from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT revealed that a cognitive strategy focused on social good may be effective in helping people cope with distressing events. The research team found that the approach was comparable to another well-established emotion regulation strategy, unlocking a new tool for dealing with highly adverse situations.

“How you think can improve how you feel,” says  John Gabrieli , the Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, who is a senior author of the paper. “This research suggests that the social good approach might be particularly useful in improving well-being for those constantly exposed to emotionally taxing events.”

The study, published today in PLOS ONE , is the first to examine the efficacy of this cognitive strategy. Nancy Tsai, a postdoc in  Gabrieli’s lab at the McGovern Institute, is the lead author of the paper.

Emotion regulation tools

Emotion regulation is the ability to mentally reframe how we experience emotions — a skill critical to maintaining good mental health. Doing so can make one feel better when dealing with adverse events, and emotion regulation has been shown to boost emotional, social, cognitive, and physiological outcomes across the lifespan.

One emotion regulation strategy is “distancing,” where a person copes with a negative event by imagining it as happening far away, a long time ago, or from a third-person perspective. Distancing has been well-documented as a useful cognitive tool, but it may be less effective in certain situations, especially ones that are socially charged — like a firefighter rescuing a family from a burning home. Rather than distancing themselves, a person may instead be forced to engage directly with the situation.

“In these cases, the ‘social good’ approach may be a powerful alternative,” says Tsai. “When a person uses the social good method, they view a negative situation as an opportunity to help others or prevent further harm.” For example, a firefighter experiencing emotional distress might focus on the fact that their work enables them to save lives. The idea had yet to be backed by scientific investigation, so Tsai and her team, alongside Gabrieli, saw an opportunity to rigorously probe this strategy.

A novel study

The MIT researchers recruited a cohort of adults and had them complete a questionnaire to gather information including demographics, personality traits, and current well-being, as well as how they regulated their emotions and dealt with stress. The cohort was randomly split into two groups: a distancing group and a social good group. In the online study, each group was shown a series of images that were either neutral (such as fruit) or contained highly aversive content (such as bodily injury). Participants were fully informed of the kinds of images they might see and could opt out of the study at any time.

Each group was asked to use their assigned cognitive strategy to respond to half of the negative images. For example, while looking at a distressing image, a person in the distancing group could have imagined that it was a screenshot from a movie. Conversely, a subject in the social good group might have responded to the image by envisioning that they were a first responder saving people from harm. For the other half of the negative images, participants were asked to only look at them and pay close attention to their emotions. The researchers asked the participants how they felt after each image was shown.

Social good as a potent strategy

The MIT team found that distancing and social good approaches helped diminish negative emotions. Participants reported feeling better when they used these strategies after viewing adverse content compared to when they did not, and stated that both strategies were easy to implement.

The results also revealed that, overall, distancing yielded a stronger effect. Importantly, however, Tsai and Gabrieli believe that this study offers compelling evidence for social good as a powerful method better-suited to situations when people cannot distance themselves, like rescuing someone from a car crash, “Which is more probable for people in the real world,” notes Tsai. Moreover, the team discovered that people who most successfully used the social good approach were more likely to view stress as enhancing rather than debilitating. Tsai says this link may point to psychological mechanisms that underlie both emotion regulation and how people respond to stress.

Additionally, the results showed that older adults used the cognitive strategies more effectively than younger adults. The team suspects that this is probably because, as prior research has shown, older adults are more adept at regulating their emotions, likely due to having greater life experiences. The authors note that successful emotion regulation also requires cognitive flexibility, or having a malleable mindset to adapt well to different situations.

“This is not to say that people, such as physicians, should reframe their emotions to the point where they fully detach themselves from negative situations,” says Gabrieli. “But our study shows that the social good approach may be a potent strategy to combat the immense emotional demands of certain professions.”

The MIT team says that future studies are needed to further validate this work, and that such research is promising in that it can uncover new cognitive tools to equip individuals to take care of themselves as they bravely assume the challenge of taking care of others.

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Assessing the U.S. Climate in June 2024

Record-breaking heat waves impacted several regions and four new billion-dollar weather and climate disasters were confirmed in june.

A storm approaching an open field in the summer.

Key Points:

  • The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in June was 71.8°F, 3.4°F above average, ranking second warmest in the 130-year record.
  • Approximately 24 million people across portions of the West, South and Northeast experienced their warmest June for overnight temperatures.
  • Heat waves impacted the Southwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and Puerto Rico this month, breaking temperature records and creating life-threatening conditions.
  • The South Fork fire, one of the most devastating fires in New Mexico history, burned over 17,000 acres, destroyed around 1400 structures and claimed two lives.
  • Catastrophic flooding occurred in parts of the Midwest after days of heavy rains caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, forcing residents to evacuate as water destroyed roads and bridges and led to the partial failure of the Rapidan Dam in Minnesota. 
  • On June 30, Beryl became the earliest Category 4 hurricane and the only Category 4 on record during the month of June in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Four new Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters were confirmed in June. The year-to-date total currently stands at 15 disasters.

Other Highlights:

Temperature.

Map of the United States depicting Mean Temperature Departures from Average for June 2024.

The Alaska statewide June temperature was 52.8°F, 3.6°F above the long-term average, ranking sixth warmest in the 100-year period of record for the state. Above-average temperatures were observed throughout most of the state, with near-average temperatures observed across much of the Aleutians and South Panhandle.

Map of the United States depicting Mean Temperature Departures from Average for January-June 2024.

For the January–June period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 50.9°F, 3.4°F above average, ranking second warmest on record for this period. Temperatures were above average across nearly all of the contiguous U.S., while record-warm temperatures were observed in parts of the Northeast, Great Lakes, southern Plains and Mid-Atlantic. New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each saw their warmest January–June period. An additional 24 states had a top-five warmest year-to-date period. No state experienced a top-10 coldest event during this six-month period.

The Alaska January–June temperature was 24.6°F, 3.3°F above the long-term average, ranking in the warmest third of the historical record for the state. Much of the state was warmer than average for this six-month period while temperatures were near average across parts of the Panhandle.

Precipitation

Map of the United States depicting Precipitation Percent of Average for June 2024.

Alaska’s average monthly precipitation ranked fifth driest in the historical record. Much of the state was drier than average for the month of June, while near-average precipitation was observed in the North Slope region.  

Map of the United States depicting Precipitation Percent of Average for January-June 2024.

The January–June precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 17.36 inches, 2.06 inches above average, ranking 11th  wettest in the 130-year record. Precipitation was above average across a large portion of the Upper Midwest, Northeast and Deep South as well as in pockets across much of the contiguous U.S., with Rhode Island having its second-wettest year-to-date period on record and Minnesota and Wisconsin ranking third wettest. Conversely, precipitation was below average across parts of the Northwest, northern Plains, west Texas and eastern North Carolina during the January–June period.

The January–June precipitation for Alaska ranked in the middle third of the 100-year record, with below-average precipitation observed across parts of the Central Interior, Cook Inlet, Northeast Interior and South Panhandle regions, near-average precipitation in the Aleutians, Northwest Gulf, Northeast Gulf and North Panhandle and above-average precipitation observed across the remaining climate divisions.

Billion-Dollar Disasters

Four new billion-dollar weather and climate disasters were confirmed in June 2024 , including two hail events that impacted Texas and Colorado at the end of April and end of May, respectively, one severe weather event that impacted the central, southern and eastern U.S. in mid-May and a tornado outbreak that impacted portions of the Central U.S. in mid-May.

There have been 15 confirmed weather and climate disaster events this year , each with losses exceeding $1 billion. These disasters consisted of 13 severe storm events and two winter storms. The total cost of these events exceeds $37 billion, and they have resulted in at least 106 fatalities.

The U.S. has sustained 391 separate weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2024). The total cost of these 391 events exceeds $2.755 trillion .

Other Notable Events

The Correll Fire, which started on June 1 in San Joaquin County, CA burned over 14,000 acres.

The Darlene 3 Fire, which started on June 25 in Deschutes County, OR burned over 3,800 acres, prompted emergency evacuations and left thousands without power.

On June 2, an extreme rotating thunderstorm dropped cantaloupe-size (>6.25 inches in diameter) hail in the Texas Panhandle—this could be the new state record for largest hail diameter.

A series of heat waves brought record-breaking temperatures to portions of the U.S. during June:

  • The National Weather Service office in Caribou, Maine, issued its first-ever Excessive Heat Warning due to “feels-like” temperatures getting close to 110 degrees on June 19.
  • For the first time on record, the entire island of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were placed under a heat advisory or warning by the National Weather Service on June 24.

Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall in Mexico on June 20 as a tropical storm. Some Texas communities saw nearly three times their June average for rainfall over 48 hours from Tropical Storm Alberto, including the Gulf Coast-area city of Rockport, Texas, which received 9.97 inches of rain from the storm; its June average is 3.66 inches. Similarly, Alice, Texas, received 6.57 inches of rain—nearly triple its June average of 2.32 inches.

Map of the United States depicting Significant Climate Anomalies and Events in June 2024.

According to the July 2 U.S. Drought Monitor report , about 19% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 6% from the end of May. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across most of the Southeast, much of the Mid-Atlantic and portions of the Ohio Valley, Tennessee, eastern Oklahoma and northern Plains this month. Drought contracted or was reduced in intensity across much of the Southwest, Kansas, the panhandle of Oklahoma, southern Texas and southern Florida.

Monthly Outlook

Above-average temperatures are favored to impact areas across the western and southern portions of the U.S. in July, while below-average precipitation is likely to occur in the Northwest and south-central Plains. Drought is likely to persist in the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Northwest and Hawaii. Visit the Climate Prediction Center’s Official 30-Day Forecasts and U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook website for more details.

Significant wildland fire potential for July is above normal across portions of the Mid-Atlantic, West, Hawaii and Alaska. For additional information on wildland fire potential, visit the National Interagency Fire Center’s One-Month Wildland Fire Outlook .

This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making. For more detailed climate information, check out our comprehensive June 2024 U.S. Climate Report scheduled for release on July 12, 2024. For additional information on the statistics provided here, visit the Climate at a Glance and National Maps webpages.

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June 2024 Regional Climate Impacts and Outlooks

How a New York short-seller took on one of the world's richest people, wiped out $150 billion in market value, and barely made any money

  • Activist short-seller Hindenburg Research wiped out $153 billion in market value from Adani Group.
  • It recently disclosed that it made just $4 million for its efforts.
  • Detailed below is the war of words that's taken place over the past 18 months.

Insider Today

Nate Anderson, the chief mind behind activist short-seller Hindenburg Research, has had an eventful past 18 months.

In January 2023, he accused the Indian conglomerate owned by Gautam Adani — one of the world's richest people — of fraud, subsequently wiping out $153 billion in market value from its associated companies. This led Indian regulators to his doorstep and forced him into defensive mode. A war of words has persisted ever since.

A year and a half later, the battle continues. And based on new information released by Hindenburg, one might wonder whether it was all worth it.

The firm — which describes itself as specializing in " forensic financial research " — recently disclosed that it's made just $4 million from its considerable efforts. Compared to the nine figures of market value it helped erase, and the $80 billion wiped from Adani's personal fortune, that's a drop in the bucket.

Detailed below is the considerable back-and-forth that's taken place since Hindenburg's initial shot across the bow of Adani Group. The tale that follows highlights the lengths a global conglomerate — and the regulatory body with a vested interest in keeping it afloat — will go to defend itself. It also shows the resolute nature of Anderson as he continues fighting back.

The initial report

Hindenburg accused Indian business magnate Gautam Adani in 2023 of pulling off the "largest con in corporate history." It was the result of a two-year-long investigation, which found a number of financial and accounting irregularities in Adani's empire, the firm said in its 106-page report.

"Indian conglomerate Adani Group has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades," the report said. "We believe the Adani Group has been able to operate a large, flagrant fraud in broad daylight in large part because investors, journalists, citizens and even politicians have been afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal," it later added.

Hindenburg identified at least 38 shell companies closely related to Adani Group, which it said appeared to engage in stock manipulation and money laundering. It cited "numerous examples"of those companies funneling money through private companies owned by Adani, before cash was set to Adani's listed public companies.

The short-seller's investigation also found Adani's private and public companies to have "numerous" undisclosed transactions with other parties, the researchers found, which violates regulatory laws in India.

The "labyrinthian network of shells appears to serve several functions, including shuffling losses into private entities to boost reported earnings, and surreptitiously moving money to prop up entities in the group," Hindenburg said.

Adani Group was also affiliated with a number of funds that displayed "flagrant irregularities," the research firm said, such as being offshore entities, having concealed ownership information, and having portfolios being "almost exclusively" invested in Adani's firms.

One such fund, Elara, controlled another fund that was around 99% concentrated in Adani shares. That suggested to the researchers it was "obvious Adani controls the shares," the report said.

Hindenburg attached a list of 88 questions for Adani to answer, which included inquiries into the billionaire's close contacts, Adani Group executives, and investigations into the company by regulators.

"If Gautam Adani embraces transparency, as he claims, they should be easy questions to answer," the report said.

The response

Nursing deep stock losses, Adani Group hit back with its own 413-page response , calling Hindenburg's original report "nothing but a lie."

"We are shocked and deeply disturbed to read the report published by the 'Madoffs of Manhattan,'" the reply said, referring to Hindenburg.

"The document is a malicious combination of selective misinformation and concealed facts relating to baseless and discredited allegations to drive an ulterior motive," it added.

The firm disclosed information on its accounting practices and professional relationships, while disputing many of the claims in the Hindenburg report.

Transactions that were identified as suspicious by Hindenburg's team were in compliance with local laws and accounting standards, it said. Offshore companies and funds mentioned in Hindenburg's report were merely public shareholders in Adani-listed companies, the retort added.

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"A listed entity does not have control over who buys/sells/owns the publicly traded shares or how much volume is traded, or the source of funds for such public shareholders nor it is required to have such information for its public shareholders under the laws of India. Hence we cannot comment on trading pattern or behavior of public shareholders," Adani's report said.

The firm also criticized Hindenburg for its financial stake in releasing the report, calling the firm an "unethical short seller" and guilty of a "flagrant breach of applicable securities and foreign exchange laws."

"This is rife with conflict of interest and intended only to create a false market in securities to enable Hindenburg, an admitted short seller, to book massive financial gain through wrongful means at the cost of countless investors," it said.

Hindenburg issued a reply to Adani on the same day, denying any wrongdoing from its original report. They argued that Adani Group's reply failed to answer most of their questions. The conglomerate also didn't dispute the existence of certain "suspect" transactions, nor did it explain "their obvious irregularities," researchers added.

"We also believe that fraud is fraud, even when it's perpetrated by one of the wealthiest individuals in the world," Hindenburg Research said in its reply.

Adani Group eventually lawyered up and readied for a fight, though the damage had already been done. In less than a week, Adani, known as the world's third richest man, saw his personal wealth plummet by $52 billion.

Conflict over Hindenburg's short-selling arrangement

Indian regulators have raised specific questions about the structure of Hindenburg's short bet on Adani Group. The Securities and Exchange Board of India — the country's version of the SEC — sent a notice to Hindenberg in June 2024, raising questions about the nature of the report and the firm's relationship with Kingdon Capital Management, a New York hedge-fund involved in building a short position against Adani Group.

Hindenburg's initial report was described to be "misleading" and have contained "inaccurate statements."

"These misrepresentations built a convenient narrative through selective disclosures, reckless statements, and catchy headlines, in order to mislead readers of the report and cause panic in Adani Group stocks, thereby deflating prices to the maximum extent possible and profit from the same," the notice read.

Regulators also revealed that Hindenburg had shared its research with Kingdon prior to publication. The two companies had a profit-sharing agreement, the notice says, with Hindenburg set to get 25% of Kingdon's profits for the short bet.

Kingdon ended up making $22.3 million on the bet, $5.5 million of which is owed Hindenburg. $4.1 million of that had been paid as of the start of June, the document shows.

Hindenburg shrugged off the letter as "nonsense," and an attempt to ward off whistleblowers who expose corruption among the country's most powerful people and companies.

"One might think that a securities regulator would be interested in meaningfully pursuing the parties that ran a secret offshore shell empire engaging in billions of dollars of undisclosed related party transactions through public companies while propping up its stocks through undisclosed share ownership via a network of sham investment entities," Hindenburg said in its reply.

It added: "Instead, SEBI seems more interested in pursuing those who expose such practices."

A passion for 'finding scams'

Backlash is nothing new to Anderson, who's targeted other high-profile financiers and began sniffing out wrongdoers on Wall Street long before he launched Hindenburg Research in 2017.

This decade alone he's been instrumental in weeding out companies in the electric-vehicle industry. His work on Nikola led to fraud charges against its founder, and he also called out now-defunct Lordstown Motors for hyping up commercial interest in its product.

More recently he took aim at activist investor Carl Icahn and his famed operation, Icahn Enterprises.

"Find[ing] scams" has been a life-long passion, he told the New York Times in a 2021 interview , adding that he had spent hours off-the-clock looking into potential schemes, to the chagrin of some of his former bosses.

"I didn't plan it this way," he told the Times. "It was a side hobby that my employers were sometimes annoyed by."

Fraud-finding is one of his top goals of 2024, he wrote in a post on X in January.

"My 2023 New Years professional resolution is to work with our @HindenburgRes team to expose some of the biggest frauds and financial charlatans in the world," Anderson wrote. "I am very confident we will achieve this goal."

Watch: Why Sam Bankman-Fried is facing up to 110 years in prison

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How Science Went to the Dogs (and Cats)

Pets were once dismissed as trivial scientific subjects. Today, companion animal science is hot.

Max, una mezcla de pastor alemán, malinois belga y husky de 2 años, fue fotografiado este mes en el parque Greenlake de Seattle. Max, un perro callejero que fue rescatado en un estado demacrado, participa en el Arca de Darwin, una iniciativa científica comunitaria que investiga la genética y el comportamiento de los animales. Credit... M. Scott Brauer para The New York Times

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Emily Anthes

By Emily Anthes

Emily Anthes, who has both a dog and a cat, has been writing about canine genetics since 2004.

  • June 30, 2024

This article is part of our Pets special section on scientists’ growing interest in our animal companions.

Every dog has its day, and July 14, 2004, belonged to a boxer named Tasha. On that date, the National Institutes of Health announced that the barrel-chested, generously jowled canine had become the first dog to have her complete genome sequenced. “And everything has kind of exploded since then,” said Elaine Ostrander, a canine genomics expert at the National Human Genome Research Institute, who was part of the research team.

In the 20 years since, geneticists have fallen hard for our canine companions, sequencing thousands upon thousands of dogs, including pedigreed purebreds, mysterious mutts, highly trained working dogs, free-ranging village dogs and even ancient canine remains.

Research on canine cognition and behavior has taken off, too. “Now dog posters are taking up half of an animal behavior conference,” said Monique Udell, who directs the human-animal interaction lab at Oregon State University. “And we’re starting to see cat research following that same trend.”

Just a few decades ago, many researchers considered pets to be deeply unserious subjects. (“I didn’t want to study dogs,” said Alexandra Horowitz, who has since become a prominent researcher in the field of canine cognition.) Today, companion animals are absolutely in vogue. Scientists around the world are peering deep into the bodies and minds of cats and dogs, hoping to learn more about how they wriggled their way into our lives, how they experience the world and how to keep them living in it longer. It’s a shift that some experts say is long overdue.

“We have a responsibility to deeply understand these animals if we’re going to live with them,” Dr. Udell said. “We also have this great potential to learn a lot about them and a lot about ourselves in the process.”

Pet projects

For geneticists, dogs and cats are both rich subjects , given their long, close history with humans and their susceptibility to many of the same diseases, from cancer to diabetes.

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  15. Chapter 6: Components of a Research Report

    What are the implications of the findings? The research report contains four main areas: Introduction - What is the issue? What is known? What is not known? What are you trying to find out? This sections ends with the purpose and specific aims of the study. Methods - The recipe for the study. If someone wanted to perform the same study ...

  16. (Pdf) Writing Research Report

    Simply, a research paper/report is a systematic write up. on the findings of the study including methodologies, discussion, conclusions etc. following a definite. style. T he resea rch report ...

  17. PDF THE RESEARCH REPORT

    THE RESEARCH REPORT. This chapter gives attention to two primary topics, both of which present information about research reports. The first part deals with the many valuable things that can be found in research reports beyond the obvious—the results. In the second part we discuss what a research report is and what it is not.

  18. 11.2 Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association

    In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report, an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for ...

  19. Research Report Meaning, Characteristics and Types

    A research report is a document that conveys the outcomes of a study or investigation. Its purpose is to communicate the research's findings, conclusions, and implications to a particular audience. This report aims to offer a comprehensive and unbiased overview of the research process, methodology, and results.

  20. Research Methods

    Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design. When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

  21. Writing up a Research Report

    A research report is one big argument how and why you came up with your conclusions. To make it a convincing argument, a typical guiding structure has developed. In the different chapters, distinct issues need to be addressed to explain to the reader why your...

  22. What Is a Research Report? How They're Produced and Impact

    Research Report: A research report is a document prepared by an analyst or strategist who is a part of the investment research team in a stock brokerage or investment bank . A research report may ...

  23. Report: NIH, federal agencies should boost research on women's health

    The report calls for focused efforts to enhance diagnostic tools for conditions such as endometriosis.

  24. UT Arlington research contributes $226 million to U.S. economy

    A new report shows that research projects at The University of Texas at Arlington contributed one quarter of a billion dollars—$226.4 million, to be exact—to the national economy through 797 vendor contracts and subcontracts between 2018 and 2022. Of those contracts, 111 were from small ...

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    The amount Hindenburg Research made from its short-seller report on Adani Group pales in comparison to the market value it erased.

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