How to write a research report


Research studies, when reported, follow certain standard patterns, styles, and formats for maintaining parity in reporting and for easy grasp by others who are concerned with those studies. All research activities go to waste unless the findings are recorded and reported for reference by persons other than the researcher. Therefore, every research activity is concluded by presenting the results including major and minor recon~mendations. The reporting of a research study depends on the purpose with which it was undertaken. One might have conducted a study as personal research, as an institutional project, as a project funded by an outside agency, or towards fulfilling the requirement for the award of a degree.

Read- How to write a research proposal 

Why write a Research Report?

Once you complete your research project, you are expected to write the report. A research report is a precise presentation of the work done by a researcher while investigating a particular problem. Whether the study is conducted by an individual researcher or by an institution, the findings of the study should be reported for several reasons. The reasons are:

  1. People learn more about the area of study. 
  2. The discipline gets enriched with new theories. 
  3. Researchers and practitioners in the field can apply, test, and retest the findings already arrived at.
  4. Other researchers can refer to the findings and utilize the findings for further work. 
  5. Findings can be utilized and implemented by the policymakers or those who had sponsored the project.  
It is important to understand how to write a report. Your final report should be in accordance with the writing style used at your university. Whatever style you adopt, the content of the research report never varies. The final report of a research exercise takes a variety of forms. A research report funded by an educational institution may be in the form of a written document. A research report may also take the form of an article in a professional journal. 

Main Components of Research Report 

At the beginning of the report-
  1. Cover Page
  2. Second Cover 
  3. Preface 
  4. Contents 
  5. List of Table
  6. List of Figures  
Main Body of the Report
  1. Introduction 
  2. Review of related literature 
  3.  Design of the study 
  4. Analysis and interpretation of data 
  5. Main findings and conclusions 
  6. Summary 
End of the Report
  1. Bibliography
  2.  Reference 
  3. Appendices

At the beginning of the report

Title beginning of a report is crucial to the entire work. The beginning of The preliminary section of the research report contains the following items, ignore or less in the order given below: 
  1. Cover or Title Page 
  2. Preface including Acknowledgments 
  3. Table of Contents
  4.  List of Tables 
  5. List of Figures and Illustrations 
  6. Glossary 
Let us describe in brief each of the above six items of the preliminary section of a report.
1-Cover or Title Page -

The cover page (and the second cover page) is the beginning of the report. Though different colleges, universities and spoilsoring institutions prescribe their own format for the title page of their proJect report or thesis, generally, it indicates the following in the downward vertical order: 
  1. Title of the topic, 
  2. Relationship of the report to a degree, 
  3. Course, or organizational requirement 
  4. Name of the researcher/author, name of the supervisor/guide (if required
  5. Name of the institution where the report is to be submitted, and the date of submission.
The title page should carry a concise and adequately descriptive title of the research study. Preferably, it should not contain more than 12 to 15 words. The title should briefly convey what the study is about. Researchers tend to make errors in giving the title by using too many redundant and unimportant words. 
2-Preface including Acknowledgement 
The preface is not a synonym for either an Acknowledgement or a Foreword. A preface should include the reasons why the topic was selected by the researcher. It may explain the history, scope, methodology, and the researcher's opinion about the study. The preface and. acknowledgments can be in the continuation or written separately. This page follows the inner title page. It records acknowledgment with sincerity for the unusual help received from others to conduct the study.
3-Table of Contents 
A table of contents indicates the logical division of the report into various sections and subsections. In other words, the table of contents presents in itemized form, the beginning, the main body, and the end of the report. It should also indicate the page reference for each chapter or section and sub-section on the right-hand side of the table.
4-List of Figures and Illustrations 
The page 'List of Figures' comes immediately after the 'List of Tables' page. You will observe in the following example that the list of figures is written in the same way as the list af tables.
A glossary is a short dictionary, explaining the technical terms and phrases which are used with special connotations by the author. Entries of the technical terms are made in alphabetical order. A glossary may appear in the introductory pages although it usually comes after the bibliography. 
6-List of Abbreviations italic
To avoid repeating long names, again and again, a researcher uses abbreviations. Since abbreviations are not universal, it is necessary to provide the full form of the abbreviations in the beginning. 

The main body of the Report.

The main body of the report presents the actual work done by an investigator or a researcher. It tells us precisely and clearly about the investigational study from the beginning to the end. The methodology section of the final report should be written in the past tense because the study has been completed. You will find six sections/chapters in the main body. These are-
  1. Introduction 
  2. Review of Related Literature 
  3. Design of the Study 
  4. Analysis and Interpretation of Data 
  5. Main Findings and Recommendations 
  6. Summary 
This is the first chapter of a thesis or a research report. It introduces the topic or problem under investigation and its importance. The introductory chapter : 
  1. Gives the theoretical background to the specific area of investigation, 
  2. States the problem under investigation with specific reference to its placement in the broader area under study.
  3. Describes the significance of the present problem.
  4. Defines the important terms used in the investigation and its reporting, states precisely the objective(s) of the study.
  5.  States the hypothesis hypotheses of the study that would be tested through statistical analysis of data, [however, in philosophical and historical research there is no need to formulate and test a hypothesis.
2-Review of related literature 
The second chapter of a research report usually consists of the review of the important literature related to the problem under study. This includes the abstraction of earlier research studies and the theoretical articles and papers of important authorities in the field. This chapter has two functions. While selecting a problem area or simply a topic for investigation, the researcher goes through many books, journals, research abstracts, encyclopedias, etc. to finally formulate a problem for investigation. The review of related literature is the first task for a researcher in order to decide on a specific problem for investigation. It also helps in formulating the theoretical framework for the entire study. Secondly, such a review helps the researcher to formulate the broader assumptions about the factors variables involved in the problem and later develop the hypothesis/hypotheses for the study.
3-Design of the study
The design ofa study is usually described in the third chapter of the report. Broadly speaking, this chapter provides a detailed overview of "how" the study was conducted. The various sub-sections include: 
  1. Description of the research methodology, i.e., - descriptive, experimental.
  2. Variables: the dependent, independent and intervening variables with their operational definitions.
  3. Sample: defining the population, and the sampling procedure followed to select the sample for the present study.
  4. listing and describing various tools and techniques used in the study, like questionnaires, attitude scales, etc., whether these have been adopted or developed by the investigator, their reliability, validity, item description, administration, and scoring.
  5. Describing the statistical technique used in the analysis of data including the rationale of the use and method of data analysis. In philosophical and historical researches, for example, this type of sub-section may not be there. 
4-Analysis and interpretation of data
This is the fourth chapter of the research report. It is the heart of the whole report, for it includes the outcome of the research. The collected data are presented in tabular form and analyzed with the help of statistical techniques -parametric and non-parametric. The tables are interpreted and if necessary, the findings are also presented graphically. The figures do not necessarily repeat the tables but present data visually for easy understanding and easy comparison. Data may be presented in parts under relevant sections. The analysis of the data not only includes the actual calculations but also the final results. It is essential that at each stage of analysis the objective(s) of the study and their coverage is taken care of. This chapter also presents the details about the testing of each hypothesis and the conclusions arrived at.
5-Main findings and conclusion 
This is usually the fifth chapter in a research report. The major findings of the study analyzed and interpreted in the preceding chapter are precisely and objectively stated in this chapter. The fourth chapter contains such presentations as only a specialist or a trained researcher can understand because of the complexities involved, but in the fifth chapter, the major findings are presented in a non-technical language so that even a non-specialist such as a planner or an administrator in the field can make sense out of them. 
Some researchers include a summary along with the research report (as the last chapter) or as a pull-out to the report itself. It sums up precisely the whole of the research report right from the theoretical background to the suggestions for further study. Sometimes researchers get tempted to report more than what the data say. It is advisable to check this tendency and be always careful to report within the framework provided by the analysis and interpretation of data, within the limits of the findings of the study. 

End of the Report 

The end of the report consists of references and appendix appendices. References come at the end after the last chapter of the report. The last section labeled references appears at the top of a new sheet of paper. The reference section is a list of the works that have been cited in the report thesis. All references quoted in the text are listed alphabetically according to the last name of the authors. The works of the same author should be listed according to the date of publication with the earliest appearing first. It is different from a footnote in the sense that the latter is a specific reference to only one or more citations on a particular page. 
1-Bibliography and References 
Research reports present both bibliographies and references. Although many researchers use these terms interchangeably, the two terms have definite and distinct meanings. A bibliography is a list of titles - books, research reports, articles, etc. that may or may not have been referred to in the text of the research report. References include only such studies, books or papers that have been actually referred to in the text of the research report. Whereas research reports should present references, books meant for larger circulation may be listed in bibliographies that should include all such titles as have been referred to. 
Usually, the appendices present the raw data, the true copy of the tools used in the study, important statistical calculations, photographs and charts not used inside the text. These are ordered serially like Appendix-1, Appendix- 2, or they can be serialized with capital letters (Appendix A, Appendix B), etc. to facilitate referencing within the text. The appendices provide reference facilities to readers and others interested in that particular field of investigation. 


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