What is a research report?
A research report is data recorded by a researcher after collecting information through qualitative methods and surveys and analyzing them.
Research reports are as important as conducting the research itself because the report is made public so that other researchers can learn from that particular research, especially through the limitations, methods, and findings section where they note the obstacles that were present during one research so that they can avoid the same during their own research in the same field.
Journal editors, companies, and businesses have come up with research report guidelines; therefore, to write a credible research report, you need to look at those guidelines. Some ethics guide the research process, and one should be aware of them when conducting any research. Research not conducted ethically can have psychological and physical effects on its subjects. Therefore you should follow ethical guidelines to avoid causing harm.
Financial aid for research studies is also an important aspect of ethical research. This is because a lack of sufficient funds may affect the study results.
The writing styles of a research report
The writing style of reports varies, from governments to businesses to journal articles. This fact informs the need to state the writing styles of both scholarly articles and business or government reports.
- First-person pronouns are not to be used.
- A report intended for a professional publication should have charts, graphs, and tables on a separate page.
- Read the guidelines in each journal.
Failure to read the journal’s guidelines reduces the chance for the report to be accepted.
- Ensure you have clearly labeled the graphs, tables, and charts.
- Use the passive voice. An example is, ‘the researchers established that…’. The active voice means you need a few words to write the report.
-Report for business or government
- Start with an executive summary.
- Avoid beating around the bush and head straight to the main point, and give the relevant conclusions.
- State the complicated discussions in a technical appendix.
- Use easy-to-understand quantitative techniques of analysis. The majority of the decision-makers do not understand the methods used in statistics. Therefore give explanations of any complicated procedures that you used. You are required to develop a technical appendix that gives the necessary explanations of any complicated procedure that was used.
- Decision-makers are usually moved by research. Therefore state any findings and conclusions by the researchers and any relevant recommendation.
Research report format
Researchers conducting research for the first time usually find the style of writing a research report odd, but there is a good reason why such rules govern scientific writing. Just as research reports vary from company to company, the research reporting also varies, but most reports are written in a five-section. The following is the five-section format of a research report.
- Literature review
How to write an interesting introduction
The introduction is the first part of the research report. It should inform the reader what to expect in that particular research report. A standard introduction section should have the following.
- Problem statement
The first thing that the writer needs to understand is the type of problem you seek to study and the relevant information. Do your best to make the problem statement short. In other words, make a summary of the problem statement. Mention any existing theory that revolves around the problem you are investigating.
The next information that you must mention is the rationale behind the decision to conduct the research. This part should explain why it is necessary to study that specific problem. There are three reasons why research might be important. One is that the theory behind the research might be critical in explaining a particular occurrence, or it might have a methodological or practical value. Therefore, you should explain to the reader the value that will be added as a result of conducting the research.
- Aims of the study.
This is the last part of the introduction section. It should tell the reader what you are researching and the goal of the research.
How to write a relevant literature review.
The second section in a research report is the literature review. Other research reports include the literature review as part of the introduction. The literature review talks about other studies concerning the same topic. It should not be long but should summarize only the studies that are relevant to your study. Writing a good literature review is about making it as relevant and accurate as possible.
Your literature review should have accurate information about the studies you decide to mention. Therefore, when mentioning the studies, you are required to give a summary of the hypotheses, samples, methods, findings, and implications.
A literature review is more than just mentioning existing research. It is an analysis of the studies and also a synthesis. You should talk about existing studies around the same topic and show how relevant they are to your research. State the developments made in the existing studies, the important conclusions, and the researchers’ challenges. Explain how all that relates to the study you are conducting. The main goal of the literature review is to show how the topic of your research has developed from the past and how your study plays a role in further development.
This section talks about how the research was conducted. The method section is usually in the form of topics. The main topics that are under the method section are as follows.
Variables are either independent or dependent. You should describe each one. Explain how you chose the variables in that study and how you organized them. You are also required to explain the rationale that informed the selection of those variables.
In this section, you must state how many subjects were involved in the study and the selection process that was employed.
Describe the sample. The description is given as demographics, and lifestyle among other characteristics. Whenever the subjects involved are humans, you must indicate their gender or age.
Describe the methods you employed in the collection and analysis of data.
Describe any data transformation method that was employed.
Tips of a detailed results section
This section is made up of the findings of the research. The following are the contents of the results section.
-Description of analysis
State the techniques that you used in the analysis of the data. Use a maximum of one sentence to describe the technique used in the analyses. This section should end with a general description of the content that follows.
-Description of findings
This section requires you to connect your findings with the hypotheses stated in your introduction. Explain to the reader whether the findings were in line with your hypotheses or whether the findings were able to provide the answers to the research questions. Some journal editors and researchers feel the research findings should not be interpreted and discussed in this section. The advice is that a writer should only mention pure relevant facts. Other researchers believe that the writer should not only contain numbers in this section but should also include implications of the results. Many short research articles title this section as ‘Findings and Discussion.’However, what is evident is that the researcher’s goal should inform the type of structure for the research report.
The research data are usually presented in tables, charts, and graphs. The tables, graphs, or charts should be easy for the readers to understand and interpret. Ensuring they are easy to understand is that this is the first section that most readers come to to see if they can get an idea of the whole report before reading the rest of the report.
Guide to writing a good discussion
The discussion is the last section of the research report. The following are the contents of the discussion section.
In this section, you are required to give a summary of the main findings.
Under implications, you are required to explain what the findings mean. You should state whether the current theory, the research, and the findings correspond and how they correspond with research done in the past on the same topic. Finally, you must explain the reason for the corresponding pattern in terms of results.
The research aims to answer questions, but while this is the case, most research projects discover more questions that require investigations in search of answers. The suggestion section is where you should highlight any questions discovered in your research project. Make your suggestions practical and relevant.