How to Write a Research Paper
Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.
Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.
Develop Your Thesis Statement
When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.
Create an Outline
Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.
Organize Your Notes
When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.
Write Your Final Draft
After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.
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This quick guide 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.
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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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Research Report Writing Guidelines
What is a research report? Such question is of a great importance for all students without exception. As a college or university student, you will most likely be asked to compose a huge pile of reports throughout the course of study. A report is a type of work most widely applied in psychology, engineering, and the sciences. Here, your goal is to write concisely on the topic so that readers may easily comprehend the results and goal of the paper.
Research report structure
It is quite necessary to familiarize yourself with course information to assure that you have all chances to cope with different types of research report. Typically, it consists of three main parts: 1) preliminary/background material; 2) body: 3) additional material. Each section includes a different kind of content (as shown below).
- The preliminary material may comprise the title, table of contents (if required), and synopsis or abstract.
- The body includes an introduction or introductory paragraph, literature review, methodology, discussion, concluding part, and tips.
- Additional material may consist of bibliography or the list of references and appendices (if any).
How to write a research report step by step
Step #1 – Break Down the Task
First, you have to determine what is expected of you, as with any other assignment. The following questions may turn out to be useful when analyzing the task requirements:
- What is the aim?
(It can be reporting on an investigation, persuading, or analyzing.)
- Who will be the readers?
(It may be a professor or the people your instructor asked you to report to.)
- What is the word limit?
(Often, the word limit is applied only to the body.)
- What is a topic?
(A topic may be given by an instructor, or you can make your own choice.)
- What is the expected research report format?
(You may be given a format name or provided a sample.)
Step #2 – Develop the First Rough Copy
Apply section headings to assist with your draft plan. Create a thesis statement, which specifies the overall goal of the paper. Write down everything you have already learned regarding the topic in the corresponding sections.
Step #3 – Investigate
The first and second steps will direct the procedure of investigation. It might be necessary to research report topics that are similar to yours in order to get as much information as possible. Do not forget to have correct reference details for absolutely all sources you can use in the paper later. The research will take a lot of your time, approximately as much as the writing part. However, if done properly, it will make the writing process a lot easier and faster.
Step #4 – Make a Rough Copy of the Body
- Research report introduction. An introductory part is a right place for a thesis statement and the background info. Additional information can contain a short literature review available on the topic; it will give you a possibility to define a place of the research in the field. Nevertheless, do not try to fit everything into the intro – there are other sections that will allow you to discuss the literature on the topic and present other interesting information in more details.
- Review of Literature. At the time you are asked to present a literature review, it is necessary to structure all findings carefully. It may turn out to be important to apply a chronological format that will allow you to discuss stages from the earliest to the latest one, placing them properly chronologically. Again, it will be necessary to indicate where your exploration fits.
- Here, it is necessary to classify what methodology has been applied. This part has to be clearly written in order to make it easy for other scientists to duplicate your work if needed.
- Usually, passive voice rather than active.
- Reference any information you have taken from other sources when writing a qualitative research report.
- Enumerate and label any graphs or diagrams appropriately.
- Do not discuss results in this section.
- Use visuals where necessary to explain your point.
- Here, you need to point out what you have discovered when researching the topic. Give results, but try not to interpret them.
- During this stage, talk about the relevance of results and in which way your findings refer to other studies. It will relate back to the review of literature and thesis.
- It is a summary, which covers the most important findings. There is no need to add any new information here.
- The given part consists of suggestions concerning things that need to be completed as a result of your findings. As usual, recommendations are listed in overriding priority.
Step #5 – Draft the Additional Material
- This part comprises all references applied in your paper.
- These have to add extra information. In case you add appendices, they need to be referred to in the text and have a clear reason for being added. Each appendix should be numbered and named.
Step #6 – Draw up the Preliminary Information
- Be sure that the title indicates exactly what you are working on.
- Table of Contents. List all appendices, graphs/tables, subheadings, and sections and provide page numbers for each.
- Synopsis/Abstract. This section provides a very short paper’s overview in a condensed form.
Step #7 – Proofread and Edit your Paper
The final step is proofreading the paper to be sure that you followed all the guidelines for writing a research report as stated in your course information book.
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- How to Write a Research Report
Research Report Structure
Abstract (optional), title of the research, introduction, theoretical analysis and research scope, results or findings, discussion of findings analysis, literature review.
Writing paper is a part of the experience that every student has to go through to get an education. It belongs to one of the problems - solving tasks completion of which shows the depth of knowledge and ability to draw personal conclusions . After receiving or selecting a topic a student is expected to analyze the information, and present the results in the form of a research paper. The research presentation is preceded by the research report. In short, your research report shows the significance of your thesis or dissertation, the feasibility of an analysis plan, and the expected result. Here are the tips on how to write a research report that corresponds to basic academic writing requirements.
The idea of any research is to pick a hypothesis and conduct the experiments to prove it. The results should be analyzed and presented in the conclusion. A rule to remember when writing reports is to stay precise and up to the point. The report is not an advertisement, it sums up, not sells the research. Keep it short and informative. Regardless of the topic, there is a core structure you should follow. The following list will include obligatory and optional parts recommended to be included in the report for better quality.
The first thing to remember about the abstract is the size requirements. It might be very short around 150- 200 words. It is an optional section of the report. An abstract describes the scope and expectations set to the results. There is a great difference between the Introduction and Abstract. The common mistake is mixing up these two sections. The research abstract might also come in multiple languages. Another key point to take into account is the glossary of your research. A great idea is to present the key concepts in the abstract.
The number of reports might be unlimited. Depending on the duration of your research, you might need to present a couple of reports to inform your supervisor about the progress. The report has to be titled. For sure, the wording of the title will be changing, so the reports will contain a working title. The title and the first page of the research are formatted according to the instructions provided by your educational institution. Selecting the wording of the title is vital. Your research and report title should reflect the scope and the analysis conducted in the study.
In short, your introduction states the issue to be researched and the methodology. As long as these two points are considered, the introduction will be effective. Apart from stating the problem, the reviews of resources, previous researches conducted in the field, and relevancy of the topic should be mentioned. Regardless of the type of paper (thesis, dissertation, term paper), the report is a concise presentation. Hence, its content should be chosen carefully.
This section contains a description of the material that will be analyzed. For the report, it is worth to include the specific features the data under analysis have. After that, the tool used for analysis should be described in a precise manner. In case your data and tools analysis is lengthy, and all the information is obligatory, then use appendixes.
Using visual aids is considered to be the most effective way of presenting your research . The tables, graphs, schemes, stats, and other graphic materials work better than any piece of text. The findings of the research should show that every aim and objective stated in the introduction and described in the main body was achieved. The method of the research is not that important for this part.
The research findings analysis is the most important part. The supervisors want to see the novelty in the research. It is not about summarizing the existing data, but about drawing unique conclusions. This section might be integrated into the results and findings. The main point is to deliver an extensive explanation and personal interpretation of the results. It is also a stage where you double-check the objectives, the title of the research to see if they correspond to your findings. As it was mentioned, the report is an interim paper that displays the current state of the research. It is not a final version and can be modified. Nevertheless, it should be written in a proper academic style .
The research is composed of theoretical and practical parts. The theoretical part summarizes the previous researches and identifies the novel features of your research. This part is important for overall research conduct. Regardless of the type, either thesis report or any other, the list of sources you refer to should be presented. Its extensiveness is optional.
Using the tips on how to write a research report along with the rules of academic writing, you should be able to create a good quality paper. Every paper should be free of plagiarism, based on relevant literature, and datum. Remember to dedicate enough time to proofread all the materials. Whether the report is sent over the email or presented during an interview, its format should be flawless.
If you are struggling to find the answers to all the questions about the reports design and academic writing, do not hesitate to address specialists for assistance.
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Eight guidelines for report writing
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1. Know your purpose
This is the major aim: the reason you're writing the report in the first place. Because it determines the kind of report you write, it's a critical (and often neglected) first step.
Give it a think. Are you writing a factual, instructional or leading report? Remember:
Once your major aim has been defined this way, your subsidiary aims will fall into place - you inform in order to explain , and inform and explain in order to persuade . This starting point gives you vital focus, and drives absolutely everything else.
2. Know your readers
Before you start writing your report, consider its audience. Why? Because you can't hit the nail on the head if you can't see the bleedin' nail. In short, to be successful, a report must ensure that its target readers can:
Achieving this demands more than presenting the facts accurately. It also means that you must communicate acceptably and intelligibly to the reader. But who is he/she?
We can get a clearer picture of our reader by asking three questions:
3. Know your objective
By matching the purpose to the reader, you are ready to set your objective. In other words, what do you want the reader to think and do after reading your report? (People are not brainiacs - often, you have to make it explicit. 'Do this ...!')
Here's an example of an objective:
To persuade my MD to authorise a proposed system of flexible working hours
The words " persuade " and " authorize " are the biggies here. They show that you must produce a logical and consistent case: one that will spur your MD to act. Also, once you've set the objective, you can anticipate the likely problems in meeting them - such as the fact that your MD likes to see all staff standing briskly to attention at 7am.
4. Choose an approach
I recommend a top-down approach to writing a report. This starts with the thesis statement (pretentiously also called the "terms of reference"), follows with the information-gathering and continues into three stages of ongoing refinement.
5. Decide on structure
Here are 11 basic elements of a standard report. I'm not a masochist, so this structure does not need to be rigidly adhered to. Instead, bring your own circumstances, needs and creativity to the mix, and use whatever's appropriate.
6. Use the right style
Use hard facts and figures, evidence and justification. Use efficient language - big reports with too many words are awful. The best reports are simple and quick to read because the writer has interpreted the data and developed viable recommendations.
Remember that reports are conservative and often formal documents, so your font choices should not be cutesy, clever or sexy. For the body of the document, choose a serif font such as Times Roman or Cambria with a point size of 11 or 12. You can use a sans serif font such as Arial or Calibri for bolded headings to complement the body text.
8. Leave time to refine
No report is perfect, and definitely not when it's still Draft 1. Unfortunately, well-written reports are those that have gone through the mill a couple of times, either with your gimlet eye or under the skeptical gaze of someone else. Leave as much time as you can afford to check, check and double-check, and then ask yourself:
A final word
I'm going to ignore my own advice here and stubbornly refuse to write a proper conclusion. I hate them. They're completely boring. So let's just use this space to congratulate you on having read this far - you're a champ! - and that's that.
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Home Market Research
Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them
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:
- Implemented Methods
- Results based on Analysis
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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