• 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 Method

Home » Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Table of Contents

Research Report

Research Report

Definition:

Research Report is a written document that presents the results of a research project or study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, in a clear and objective manner.

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the findings of the research to the intended audience, which could be other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public.

Components of Research Report

Components of Research Report are as follows:

Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for the research report and provides a brief overview of the research question or problem being investigated. It should include a clear statement of the purpose of the study and its significance or relevance to the field of research. It may also provide background information or a literature review to help contextualize the research.

Literature Review

The literature review provides a critical analysis and synthesis of the existing research and scholarship relevant to the research question or problem. It should identify the gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the literature and show how the current study addresses these issues. The literature review also establishes the theoretical framework or conceptual model that guides the research.

Methodology

The methodology section describes the research design, methods, and procedures used to collect and analyze data. It should include information on the sample or participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis techniques. The methodology should be clear and detailed enough to allow other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and objective manner. It should provide a detailed description of the data and statistics used to answer the research question or test the hypothesis. Tables, graphs, and figures may be included to help visualize the data and illustrate the key findings.

The discussion section interprets the results of the study and explains their significance or relevance to the research question or problem. It should also compare the current findings with those of previous studies and identify the implications for future research or practice. The discussion should be based on the results presented in the previous section and should avoid speculation or unfounded conclusions.

The conclusion summarizes the key findings of the study and restates the main argument or thesis presented in the introduction. It should also provide a brief overview of the contributions of the study to the field of research and the implications for practice or policy.

The references section lists all the sources cited in the research report, following a specific citation style, such as APA or MLA.

The appendices section includes any additional material, such as data tables, figures, or instruments used in the study, that could not be included in the main text due to space limitations.

Types of Research Report

Types of Research Report are as follows:

Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree, although it can also be written by researchers or scholars in other fields.

Research Paper

Research paper is a type of research report. A research paper is a document that presents the results of a research study or investigation. Research papers can be written in a variety of fields, including science, social science, humanities, and business. They typically follow a standard format that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections.

Technical Report

A technical report is a detailed report that provides information about a specific technical or scientific problem or project. Technical reports are often used in engineering, science, and other technical fields to document research and development work.

Progress Report

A progress report provides an update on the progress of a research project or program over a specific period of time. Progress reports are typically used to communicate the status of a project to stakeholders, funders, or project managers.

Feasibility Report

A feasibility report assesses the feasibility of a proposed project or plan, providing an analysis of the potential risks, benefits, and costs associated with the project. Feasibility reports are often used in business, engineering, and other fields to determine the viability of a project before it is undertaken.

Field Report

A field report documents observations and findings from fieldwork, which is research conducted in the natural environment or setting. Field reports are often used in anthropology, ecology, and other social and natural sciences.

Experimental Report

An experimental report documents the results of a scientific experiment, including the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Experimental reports are often used in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to communicate the results of laboratory experiments.

Case Study Report

A case study report provides an in-depth analysis of a specific case or situation, often used in psychology, social work, and other fields to document and understand complex cases or phenomena.

Literature Review Report

A literature review report synthesizes and summarizes existing research on a specific topic, providing an overview of the current state of knowledge on the subject. Literature review reports are often used in social sciences, education, and other fields to identify gaps in the literature and guide future research.

Research Report Example

Following is a Research Report Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance among High School Students

This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students. The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The findings indicate that there is a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students. The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers, as they highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities.

Introduction:

Social media has become an integral part of the lives of high school students. With the widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, students can connect with friends, share photos and videos, and engage in discussions on a range of topics. While social media offers many benefits, concerns have been raised about its impact on academic performance. Many studies have found a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance among high school students (Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Paul, Baker, & Cochran, 2012).

Given the growing importance of social media in the lives of high school students, it is important to investigate its impact on academic performance. This study aims to address this gap by examining the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students.

Methodology:

The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The questionnaire was developed based on previous studies and was designed to measure the frequency and duration of social media use, as well as academic performance.

The participants were selected using a convenience sampling technique, and the survey questionnaire was distributed in the classroom during regular school hours. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

The findings indicate that the majority of high school students use social media platforms on a daily basis, with Facebook being the most popular platform. The results also show a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students.

Discussion:

The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. The negative correlation between social media use and academic performance suggests that strategies should be put in place to help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. For example, educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this study provides evidence of the negative impact of social media on academic performance among high school students. The findings highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. Further research is needed to explore the specific mechanisms by which social media use affects academic performance and to develop effective strategies for addressing this issue.

Limitations:

One limitation of this study is the use of convenience sampling, which limits the generalizability of the findings to other populations. Future studies should use random sampling techniques to increase the representativeness of the sample. Another limitation is the use of self-reported measures, which may be subject to social desirability bias. Future studies could use objective measures of social media use and academic performance, such as tracking software and school records.

Implications:

The findings of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. Educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. For example, teachers could use social media platforms to share relevant educational resources and facilitate online discussions. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. They could also engage in open communication with their children to understand their social media use and its impact on their academic performance. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students. For example, schools could implement social media policies that restrict access during class time and encourage responsible use.

References:

  • Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245.
  • Paul, J. A., Baker, H. M., & Cochran, J. D. (2012). Effect of online social networking on student academic performance. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 8(1), 1-19.
  • Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.
  • Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.

Note*: Above mention, Example is just a sample for the students’ guide. Do not directly copy and paste as your College or University assignment. Kindly do some research and Write your own.

Applications of Research Report

Research reports have many applications, including:

  • Communicating research findings: The primary application of a research report is to communicate the results of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public. The report serves as a way to share new knowledge, insights, and discoveries with others in the field.
  • Informing policy and practice : Research reports can inform policy and practice by providing evidence-based recommendations for decision-makers. For example, a research report on the effectiveness of a new drug could inform regulatory agencies in their decision-making process.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research in a particular area. Other researchers may use the findings and methodology of a report to develop new research questions or to build on existing research.
  • Evaluating programs and interventions : Research reports can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions in achieving their intended outcomes. For example, a research report on a new educational program could provide evidence of its impact on student performance.
  • Demonstrating impact : Research reports can be used to demonstrate the impact of research funding or to evaluate the success of research projects. By presenting the findings and outcomes of a study, research reports can show the value of research to funders and stakeholders.
  • Enhancing professional development : Research reports can be used to enhance professional development by providing a source of information and learning for researchers and practitioners in a particular field. For example, a research report on a new teaching methodology could provide insights and ideas for educators to incorporate into their own practice.

How to write Research Report

Here are some steps you can follow to write a research report:

  • Identify the research question: The first step in writing a research report is to identify your research question. This will help you focus your research and organize your findings.
  • Conduct research : Once you have identified your research question, you will need to conduct research to gather relevant data and information. This can involve conducting experiments, reviewing literature, or analyzing data.
  • Organize your findings: Once you have gathered all of your data, you will need to organize your findings in a way that is clear and understandable. This can involve creating tables, graphs, or charts to illustrate your results.
  • Write the report: Once you have organized your findings, you can begin writing the report. Start with an introduction that provides background information and explains the purpose of your research. Next, provide a detailed description of your research methods and findings. Finally, summarize your results and draw conclusions based on your findings.
  • Proofread and edit: After you have written your report, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and make sure that your report is well-organized and easy to read.
  • Include a reference list: Be sure to include a list of references that you used in your research. This will give credit to your sources and allow readers to further explore the topic if they choose.
  • Format your report: Finally, format your report according to the guidelines provided by your instructor or organization. This may include formatting requirements for headings, margins, fonts, and spacing.

Purpose of Research Report

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the results of a research study to a specific audience, such as peers in the same field, stakeholders, or the general public. The report provides a detailed description of the research methods, findings, and conclusions.

Some common purposes of a research report include:

  • Sharing knowledge: A research report allows researchers to share their findings and knowledge with others in their field. This helps to advance the field and improve the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Identifying trends: A research report can identify trends and patterns in data, which can help guide future research and inform decision-making.
  • Addressing problems: A research report can provide insights into problems or issues and suggest solutions or recommendations for addressing them.
  • Evaluating programs or interventions : A research report can evaluate the effectiveness of programs or interventions, which can inform decision-making about whether to continue, modify, or discontinue them.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies.

When to Write Research Report

A research report should be written after completing the research study. This includes collecting data, analyzing the results, and drawing conclusions based on the findings. Once the research is complete, the report should be written in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

In academic settings, research reports are often required as part of coursework or as part of a thesis or dissertation. In this case, the report should be written according to the guidelines provided by the instructor or institution.

In other settings, such as in industry or government, research reports may be required to inform decision-making or to comply with regulatory requirements. In these cases, the report should be written as soon as possible after the research is completed in order to inform decision-making in a timely manner.

Overall, the timing of when to write a research report depends on the purpose of the research, the expectations of the audience, and any regulatory requirements that need to be met. However, it is important to complete the report in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

Characteristics of Research Report

There are several characteristics of a research report that distinguish it from other types of writing. These characteristics include:

  • Objective: A research report should be written in an objective and unbiased manner. It should present the facts and findings of the research study without any personal opinions or biases.
  • Systematic: A research report should be written in a systematic manner. It should follow a clear and logical structure, and the information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Detailed: A research report should be detailed and comprehensive. It should provide a thorough description of the research methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Accurate : A research report should be accurate and based on sound research methods. The findings and conclusions should be supported by data and evidence.
  • Organized: A research report should be well-organized. It should include headings and subheadings to help the reader navigate the report and understand the main points.
  • Clear and concise: A research report should be written in clear and concise language. The information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand, and unnecessary jargon should be avoided.
  • Citations and references: A research report should include citations and references to support the findings and conclusions. This helps to give credit to other researchers and to provide readers with the opportunity to further explore the topic.

Advantages of Research Report

Research reports have several advantages, including:

  • Communicating research findings: Research reports allow researchers to communicate their findings to a wider audience, including other researchers, stakeholders, and the general public. This helps to disseminate knowledge and advance the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Providing evidence for decision-making : Research reports can provide evidence to inform decision-making, such as in the case of policy-making, program planning, or product development. The findings and conclusions can help guide decisions and improve outcomes.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research on a particular topic. Other researchers can build on the findings and conclusions of the report, which can lead to further discoveries and advancements in the field.
  • Demonstrating expertise: Research reports can demonstrate the expertise of the researchers and their ability to conduct rigorous and high-quality research. This can be important for securing funding, promotions, and other professional opportunities.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies. Producing a high-quality research report can help ensure compliance with these requirements.

Limitations of Research Report

Despite their advantages, research reports also have some limitations, including:

  • Time-consuming: Conducting research and writing a report can be a time-consuming process, particularly for large-scale studies. This can limit the frequency and speed of producing research reports.
  • Expensive: Conducting research and producing a report can be expensive, particularly for studies that require specialized equipment, personnel, or data. This can limit the scope and feasibility of some research studies.
  • Limited generalizability: Research studies often focus on a specific population or context, which can limit the generalizability of the findings to other populations or contexts.
  • Potential bias : Researchers may have biases or conflicts of interest that can influence the findings and conclusions of the research study. Additionally, participants may also have biases or may not be representative of the larger population, which can limit the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Accessibility: Research reports may be written in technical or academic language, which can limit their accessibility to a wider audience. Additionally, some research may be behind paywalls or require specialized access, which can limit the ability of others to read and use the findings.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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.

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.
  • 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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Writing up a Research Report

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  • Michael Blankenagel 3  
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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 conclusions are valid. The governing principle for writing the report is full disclosure: to explain everything and ensure replicability by another researcher.

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Früh, M., Keimer, I., & Blankenagel, M. (2019). The impact of Balanced Scorecard excellence on shareholder returns. IFZ Working Paper No. 0003/2019. Retrieved June 09, 2021, from https://zenodo.org/record/2571603#.YMDUafkzZaQ .

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How to produce a research report

from the research report

A research report is a document in which a researcher presents the results of an original study. In the past, research reports were published as PDFs. But as you will see from the examples in this guide, the best research reports today are published as highly visual, interactive web pages.

Indeed — over the last five years, we’ve seen an explosion of research reports and white papers from businesses and NGOs.

Take, for example, this recent report on Green Mortgages from IMLA, made with the assistance of digital agency Rostrum. It’s a beautifully designed report, rich with infographics and data visualisations .

from the research report

The biggest SaaS companies are also investing in reports, including Slack , Twilio , and Atlassian .

It's not only businesses publishing reports. The white paper below, from the Publishers Association, dives into an initiative on the future role of artificial intelligence in the publishing industry.

from the research report

Join the BBC, Penguin, and the University of Cambridge. Craft stunning, interactive web content with Shorthand. Publish your first story for free — no code or web design skills required. Sign up now.

What is a research report?

A research report is an in-depth document that contains the results of a research project. It includes information about the research topic, the research question, the methodology used to collect data from respondents, the results of the research, and the conclusion of the researcher.

The report also includes information about the funding source or partnerships for the project, if applicable. The purpose of a research report is to communicate the findings of research studies to a wider audience. The report should be clear, concise, and well-organised so that readers can easily understand the information presented.

Many research reports are formally structured, with headings and — for PDFs — page numbers,

As mentioned above, research reports have traditionally been published as PDFs , but are increasingly moving to interactive content .

The rise of the research report

Why are these organisations investing in research reports and white papers? 

Most of these teams aren’t filled with scientists or academics, and their readers aren’t usually trawling research databases for help with their work. 

The reason is — let’s be blunt — most content published on the web underwhelms. 

Even on the most well-attended blogs, organic traffic and dwell-time generally remains flat. CTAs are stubbornly un-clicked. The common fate of most content is to gather dust almost immediately after publication. 

There are many reasons for this. Search has clearly become much more competitive. It’s difficult for most organisations to get their ordinary blog content ranked anywhere near the first page.

Social media, too, has long been a ‘pay-to-play’ environment, with only extremely brave (or foolish) content teams banking on their posts going viral.

The move to quality over quantity

To meet these challenges, the most successful content teams have committed to producing high-quality content. Rather than pumping out content-for-content’s-sake — which, to be frank, few humans actually want to read — these teams produce content that helps, informs, and delights their readers.

High quality content takes a range of forms, including ebooks, longform content , all-encompassing ‘skyscraper’ guides, and feature stories . It's often highly visual, immersive, and multimedia, and can include elements like audio, video, and interactive infographics .

Because this content is produced to genuinely help the reader, it’s much more likely to be read, shared, and — critically for SEO — linked. Readers tend to stay on the page for longer, another key metric for SEO. They’re also more likely to click calls-to-action.

This is borne out by our customers at Shorthand. After nine months using Shorthand as an investment in producing high quality content, Imperial College London’s feature stories saw 142% higher average unique pageviews and 50% higher average time on page.

Honda, too, saw the average site dwell time increase by 85% after transitioning to publishing immersive, high quality digital stories (again, built with Shorthand).

Clearly, quality content gets better results. But it isn’t easy to make. It requires investment, dedication, and clear goals. 

In this guide, we focus on one of the best-performing genres of quality content — the research report, which has become the not-so-secret weapon for the world’s leading content teams.  

What should a research report include? 

For most organisations, research reports will sit somewhere between marketing and academia. 

On the one hand, they need to be as rigorous, scientific, and statistically literate as any published research paper. There's no point — and real reputational risk — in publishing a sloppy, factually inaccurate report.

On the other hand, most research reports outside of academia are published to support sales and marketing efforts. For some companies, such as market research firms, these reports  are  the product itself. Research reports need to be beautifully produced, clearly written, and have clear takeaways for the reader.

But unlike academia, there's also no one-size-fits-all structure. With that in mind, here are some common sections to keep in mind when writing a research report. 

Navigation . For print reports and PDFs, it's common to include a table of contents after the title page. But if you're producing your report natively for the web — which we highly recommend — then it's worth giving your reader a way to jump back and forth. At Shorthand, we make it simple to create a custom top navigation, which allows readers to easily browse through longer content. 

Introduction section . For research reports, your introduction is a good opportunity to outline the scope of your work; note your research questions, research design, and research methods; establish context and significance; and add any background information you think might be relevant.

Literature review . These take a specific form in academic research, but outside of academia, it might pay to show some awareness of other research that has been conducted in your space. 

Research Methodology . Again, this doesn't need to have all the rigour of an academic journal article. But to establish credibility, it pays to outline how you produced and analysed the qualitative or quantitative data at the heart of your report. For example, if you collected your data from an online questionnaire, it pays to point this out. 

Research findings . The most important part of your report will be your results section, covering of your findings. As we discuss below, for quantitative research, this section should be rich with data visualisations and infographics . This will likely be the most compelling part of the report for your readers. 

Discussion section . This is where you can contextualise the results, and offer an argument about the significance of the data. In many research reports for brands, this section and the 'research findings' sections are merged.

Conclusion. This is where you can pull the various threads of your research report together. This will also allow you to carefully advance an argument about the significance of the research, and what it suggests about the future.

Craft stunning, interactive research reports with Shorthand. Publish your first story for free — no code or web design skills required. Sign up now.

Trust the process

from the research report

More than any other genre of content, research reports require consistent — and persistent — project management. Unlike blog posts or case studies, a research report can't be turned around in a week or two.

This can be daunting for teams that haven't published research before — and daunting projects have a way of getting postponed.

As with any large project, the best thing to do is create a realistic plan. This plan will need to include all the different stakeholders — including writers, designers, and management — and factor in their likely contribution. Part of this will involve taking a realistic look at their future commitments. 

Plan time for data collection, drafting, data visualisation, design, editing , and writing. This will all take longer than you think.

Once you've established your plan — and once it's been signed off by all relevant stakeholders — stick to it. Trust it. Try not to deviate too much from the process.

Produce fresh data

Data is the core of any research report. It will be the stuff that gets quoted and highlighted, and it will be what earns your report any backlinks or extra addition. 

Without fresh data, your report is just another bunch of unsupported assertions — and there’s more than enough of those on the web already.

The way you get fresh data will depend on what exactly you’re researching. You might be analysing usage patterns in software. You might be interviewing your customers or a professional cohort. 

It could be anything — but whatever it is, make sure it’s fresh and unique to your report. 

If you're looking for more examples and inspiration, check out our guide on how to get started with data storytelling , as well as our post on  8 examples of powerful data stories .

Don't cut corners with the data

(or anything else).

Odds are, your research report isn’t going to be peer reviewed, and it won’t be published in a scientific journal. But this doesn't give you an excuse to cut corners. 

A research report is a form of ‘anchor’ content. It is specifically produced to earn attention for your brand. 

But attention can swing both ways. If people notice mistakes or major errors in your report, then this will impact the reputation of your organisation.

What are the most common mistakes for research reports? 

The most common areas where research reports fall down are in data collection, data analysis, and data visualisation. Make sure you have someone sufficiently numerate to double-check your process and results. 

Establish the reputation of your brand

A research report is an invaluable way to establish your brand as a leader in your field. This is important for SEO and engagement. But it’s also important for the buying process — whatever it is your organisation is trying to sell.

Simply put, potential leads are much more likely to take action with organisations that they trust. This is true for businesses — but it is also true for NGOs, universities, and government agencies.

You can read more in our guide to brand storytelling .

The most effective research reports are presented as a neutral interpretation of data — without any embellishment or sales flourishes.

Ideally, you want your readers to engage with your report as an accurate representation of the world. You want them to trust it — and trust you. Anything that betrays your agenda will weaken this trust, and make the report less effective.

Obviously, your report isn’t neutral. It’s an investment in a piece of content. And, like all content you publish, you have an end goal in mind. 

But, done well, a professionally produced report will accomplish those goals — including better engagement, reputational gain, and lead generation — without you needing to aggressively sell your product or service.

Visualise your data

After collecting data and analysing your findings, you need to consider your data visualisations. This includes any relevant charts, graphs, and maps. 

Your data visualisations will be the centrepiece of your report. They will likely be the parts of your report that readers skip to. They’re also likely to be the information readers retain and share. 

With this in mind, they're worth doing right. There are many different data visualisation tools out there, and there's no single best approach. 

Read more about data visualisation in our guide to effective data journalism .

Some reports will benefit from a chart or map that readers can click and interrogate in the browser. Others will benefit from scroll-based animation, as used in this story from the Council of the European Union.

One constant across the best research reports on the web, though, is the use of interactive data visualisation. While it was common in the past to use static images of charts and graphs — usually recycling visual assets used in the PDF version of the report — this approach is gradually being supplanted by more advanced techniques. 

Some of these data visualisation techniques will require web design and developer resource. Others — like Shorthand itself — will be easier to use out-of-the-box. 

from the research report

PDFs are an extraordinarily common method of publishing research reports — even today. Indeed, some organisations publish their reports as ‘PDF-first,’ with any web publication treated as a poor cousin.

This is the wrong approach. And with the rise of new web technologies and more powerful web browsers, it’s also extremely outdated. For better results, we recommend producing reports first and foremost for the web. 

Web-based reports have many distinct advantages over the PDF, including:

  • They can be read on all screen sizes, including phones. No pinching or zooming required. 
  • They can be easily indexed and optimised for search. 
  • They can include interactive data visualisations and animations, video, and high resolution images. Even the most beautiful PDF can't compete with a visually-immersive digital story.
  • They are easier to share. A high-resolution PDF is simply too clunky to share on all channels (including social media).

If you want you to read more about the problems with the PDF, check out our guide on why the PDF is falling out of favour .

Get inspired by the best

With the rise of digital storytelling platforms, the calibre of published research reports on the web has improved markedly. That means that there are plenty of excellent reports to check out for inspiration. 

At Shorthand, we’ve collected some of the best reports — including thought-leadership reports, annual reports for businesses and NGOs, and original research — in our collection of featured stories .

Publish your first story free with Shorthand

Craft sumptuous content at speed. No code required.

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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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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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GeoPoll

How to Write Effective Research Reports

Frankline kibuacha | dec. 02, 2022 | 3 min. read.

A research report is a document that summarizes and provides an analysis of the findings of a research project. It is an important document that serves as a first-hand account of the research process, data, and findings of a research study, and it is typically considered an objective and accurate source of information.

There are a few questions a research report should answer:

  • What are you researching?
  • What is the goal of your research?
  • What are your methods for researching?
  • What did you find in your research?
  • How does this compare to other findings?
  • And what is the impact of this finding on the world?

A research report is normally organized into three broad sections. First, an introduction provides a brief background on the topic and introduces the reader to your perspective. The second section is the body of the report, which should include the research findings and supporting evidence. Finally, the conclusion, which summarizes your arguments and the implications of your study for future research.

Every year, GeoPoll carries out hundreds of research studies and produces reports on several topics, both for clients and internally commissioned studies. In this article, we highlight some tips for writing great reports from our experience.

Tips for writing excellent research reports

  • Start from the basics – with an outline – It is a good idea to outline the research context and findings before taking the plunge, as it helps with the flow and structure of the research report. Once you have the broader information well documented, filling the gaps with the content and findings becomes more straightforward and sets the tone for the report.
  • Consider the target audience – To guide the report, always keep the target audience in mind and then select a format that is clear, logical and obvious to the audience. A report meant for top decision-makers, for example, could be more concise than one meant for other researchers. Writing for the audience ensures that the research findings help the cause, so consider writing in their language to make it easy to understand at their level.
  • Answer the research questions – Every effective research starts with a clear objective. In writing the report, make sure that the data provided contribute to the goal, which is, in reality, the real purpose for conducting the research in the first place.
  • Be simple and clear – Research reports need not be complicated. Aim to write the report with an accuracy of details and language that is simplest and clearest to the reader. Use clear titles that clearly describe the following section in a way that readers will want to get into.
  • Provide the methodology implemented – Researchers should also include a summary of the methods used to conduct the research, which provides the overall approaches and perspectives of the research process. The methodology details aspects such as the research objectives, the sample used , broken down into demographics such as gender, location, age, and other sample characteristics, data collection modes used, and data analysis methods. Sharing your methodology gives legitimacy to your research.
  • Choose graphs correctly – Research reports often feature graphs to bring out data clearly. To fulfill this purpose, the graphs you use in your report must be clear enough so that the readers understand them themselves. Use clear titles, try and include the original question, and choose the best chart types to represent the data.
  • Remain relevant – Not everything is genuinely essential to a research report, and you should aim at prioritizing only the significant discoveries. The idea of a research report is to present an abridged yet impactful version of your research, and it’s OK to exclude irrelevant information while highlighting only essential data and findings.
  • Grammar and spelling are imperative – Even more important than most writings, research reports need to be written following the best language practices to help to understand the report and not unconsciously water down the seriousness of the information. Read aloud while writing to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Use grammar and spell-checking tools and engage other people to proofread the report to ensure it reads well for the target audience.
  • Choose an impactful title – A good research report title is brief, precise, and provides a clear idea of the underlying research so that readers can grasp the entire focus of your research from the title.
  • Shoot for a strong conclusion – The conclusion in the research reports is primarily important because it summarizes the information and recommendations, and often, some readers skim through to the conclusion. Make a precise summary, highlight the findings that stand out, and provide the implications or courses of action derived from the research findings.

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Methodology

  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

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Exploring the Research Report: What You Need to Know.

Research reports provide a comprehensive overview of the research conducted on a particular topic or issue. In this article, we will explore what constitutes a research report and how to effectively use them in academic work. We will examine the types of information found in these documents and explain how to interpret and synthesize data for further analysis. Additionally, readers will learn strategies for finding relevant sources and resources related to their chosen field of study. Finally, we discuss the importance of writing clear conclusions based on evidence-based reasoning that can be used as part of an argumentative paper or presentation.

and writing

I. introduction to research reports, ii. understanding the components of a research report, iii. the goals and benefits of conducting a research report, iv. assessing the quality of a research report, v. steps for writing an effective research report, vi. ethical considerations when conducting & disseminating results from a study, vii. conclusion: key takeaways about exploring the value of achieving insight through a comprehensive analysis.

Good writing involves more than just stringing together a series of sentences. Crafting compelling stories, persuading readers to believe in an argument and effectively communicating information are all hallmarks of good writing. To become adept at such tasks requires both practice and a deep understanding of the nuances within language.

Writing is like any other skill – it can be honed through consistent effort. The more one writes, the better they get at creating captivating stories that draw audiences in or constructing persuasive arguments with sound evidence from reliable sources. Regularly engaging in this activity is necessary to gain fluency and reach proficiency level.

Writing also entails researching topics for accuracy before committing them to paper (or screen). Drawing conclusions based on sound research leads writers down paths toward higher quality work; according to recent reports released by Harvard University, finding credible resources has been identified as being key factor for success among authors today. It’s important then that extensive research be conducted prior making assertions about certain topics or ideas so that those claims may stand up against scrutiny when challenged by experts on the subject matter.

Exploring the Nature of Research Reports

Research reports are documents prepared by researchers that contain their findings and analysis. They provide a structured overview of specific topics, allowing readers to gain insight into complex areas quickly. Within them, various forms of research data such as surveys or interviews are presented in an organized manner along with any relevant conclusions drawn from these sources. Research reports also allow for collaboration between different organizations and individuals as they can be shared with ease via digital formats like PDFs or online services like Google Docs. Through this method, new ideas and discoveries can be disseminated across large distances rapidly.

When constructing a research report there is typically an established format that must followed; it usually contains several key sections: title page, introduction/abstract, methodology section (detailing methods used), results section (including findings from data collection), discussion/analysis section (conclusions drawn based on evidence found) and references list. These components work together to create a comprehensive record which communicates the authors’ understanding of their topic while providing detailed information regarding both its origin and present state.

Research reports are an essential part of any scientific or academic study. It is critical to understand the components which make up a research report, as this will help you better comprehend and analyze data from the paper.

At its core, a research report consists of three main elements: Introduction, Body/Main Text & Conclusion.

  • The introduction section outlines the scope and purpose of your research project.
  • The body section contains all relevant information that can be used to explain your results; it includes experimental design descriptions, findings from statistical analyses and test results.

These sections should complement each other and create a comprehensive argument for what was discovered during your study – demonstrating how different components interact with each other to inform conclusions about hypotheses posed at beginning stage.

The Pursuit of Knowledge

Research reports are essential for the exploration and advancement of knowledge in any field. Through them, investigators uncover insights into complex topics to better understand phenomena or develop theories. By conducting a research report, scientists can analyze data collected through their study to form conclusions about the world around us. Furthermore, well-executed studies may bring forth revolutionary solutions that benefit our society as a whole.

Though there are numerous objectives one might strive for when executing a research project, some goals remain paramount throughout: accuracy and objectivity of findings; efficacy in methodology; comprehensiveness in analysis; clarity and concision when reporting results; dissemination of information beyond academia itself so that general public can benefit from scientific discoveries. When done properly, successful implementation will lead to far-reaching positive effects both within the immediate area under investigation and across wider societal levels. Thus it is crucial researchers keep these fundamental ideals at forefront while designing their experiments.

When assessing the quality of a research report, there are several factors to consider. For starters, one must analyze the methodology . Are the methods used appropriate for answering the questions posed in the study? Were they rigorously implemented and reported? The next point to review is evidence , which includes data collection, analysis techniques, replication efforts and more. Finally, it is important to assess whether or not conclusions made by researchers align with their evidence; if not this could suggest a lack of rigor within a research report.

Establishing the Purpose

The first step in writing an effective research report is to establish a clear purpose for conducting your investigation. This should include the reason why you are studying this topic, as well as any specific questions that need answering. Depending on what kind of research you have conducted and its complexity, it may also be necessary to provide background information about previous related studies or relevant literature reviews before stating your main objectives.

Gathering Data

Once the purpose of your project has been established, it’s time to begin gathering data related to your question or hypothesis through various methods such as surveys, interviews, laboratory experiments etc.. It is important to take into consideration different kinds of sources and analyze them thoroughly before making conclusions from them. Once all pertinent materials have been collected, synthesizing these pieces of evidence becomes crucial when constructing a solid argument within the context of the overall research paper.

Essential Guidelines for Ethical Treatment of Research Subjects It is crucial that research studies are conducted ethically to protect the rights and dignity of those involved. Participants must be provided with full information about the study, including potential risks and benefits, before they provide informed consent. Researchers should also take care to ensure participants’ anonymity in any reported results from a study or its dissemination.

A robust set of ethical considerations can make up an entire section within a research report itself. This includes outlining what steps have been taken by researchers during data collection, such as conducting focus groups in-person instead of remotely; ensuring participant protection from physical risk if undertaking field work or experiments; guaranteeing confidentiality throughout all stages – not only when gathering data but also analysis and writing up – and making sure vulnerable individuals (e.g., children) receive appropriate guardianship prior to their involvement.

  • Ensuring no direct harm comes to research participants
  • Respecting privacy & confidentiality
  • Minimizing psychological distress

Furthermore, it is important that the results generated are appropriately disseminated through suitable channels – which may include academic publications like journals or conference proceedings – so they may be accessible yet secure at all times. There is often debate over who holds responsibility for both archiving findings securely and determining how freely these should be shared publicly: this will vary depending on specific legal frameworks related to intellectual property laws governing public access restrictions among different countries or institutions around the world.

In conclusion, exploring the value of achieving insight through a comprehensive analysis can be very beneficial. It encourages thoughtful decision-making and allows us to identify patterns that could otherwise go undetected. By engaging in such an investigation, one can make well-informed decisions backed by evidence and arrive at meaningful solutions.

Key takeaways from this research report include:

  • Assessing data holistically is essential for uncovering valuable insights.

This involves looking beyond individual metrics or factors when analyzing information so as to gain a more accurate understanding of its meaning.

  • Comprehensive analyses are not limited to any particular type of data.

They are applicable to both quantitative and qualitative datasets alike, which means that they can serve multiple purposes depending on the context. The benefits associated with conducting thorough investigations extend far beyond their results . This includes improved problem solving abilities , enhanced organizational efficiency , reduced costs incurred due to unforeseen issues , better resource allocation strategies , etc .

English: In conclusion, the research report is an invaluable tool for obtaining reliable data and information in a wide variety of fields. Understanding how to effectively use this resource can be extremely beneficial in any investigation or study. This article has outlined some of the key points that must be taken into account when exploring the research report, including considerations related to methodology, types of sources used, as well as ethical issues associated with its use. The knowledge gained through careful reading and analysis will enable researchers to make informed decisions regarding their work.

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Research Report

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

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.

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2023 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report

Introduction.

The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report assesses the performance of our healthcare system and identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as disparities, for access to healthcare and quality of healthcare. Quality measures are grouped into six priorities: patient safety, person-centered care, care coordination, effective treatment, healthy living, and care affordability. The report is based on more than 250 measures of quality and disparities covering a broad array of healthcare services and settings. This year’s report focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. healthcare and healthcare systems.

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AHRQ no longer offers print copies of the report, but the files are set up for two-sided color printing and may be downloaded free of charge. If you have questions about printing or copying, contact Doreen Bonnett at 301-427-1899 or [email protected] . slide presentation (PPTX, 10 MB) is also available and can be downloaded free of charge. -->

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Internet Citation: 2023 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. Content last reviewed December 2023. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhqdr23/index.html

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After USA TODAY investigation, military finally releases internal extremism report

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More than a year and a half after it was completed, the Department of Defense has finally published a report about extremism in the ranks.

The report was commissioned by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in April 2021 as one of four “immediate actions” announced in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Dozens of current and former members of the military have since been charged with Jan. 6-related crimes.

Earlier this year, a USA TODAY investigation found that the military had little progress to show on its efforts to combat extremism and that many important initiatives appeared to be stalled or incomplete. 

One such effort was that “Study on Extremist Activity within the Total Force.” The study had been completed by the Institute for Defense Analyses in June 2022, USA TODAY first reported, but had never been released .  

On Tuesday, in response to renewed requests to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, that report was provided to USA TODAY for the first time. 

Its 262 pages will be subject to further expert examination and review, but the report offers some quick insight into what the analysis did – and did not – find. 

The report offers scant new data on extremism in the military

Experts on extremism had been waiting for this report, hoping it would shed new light on how bad the military’s extremism problem is. The report’s primary focus was to gain “greater fidelity on the scope of the problem,” according to Austin’s memo in April 2021.

“I just want good data − small, big, minute, whatever, so that we can address the problem,” Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, told USA TODAY earlier this year.       

But the report appears to offer almost nothing in terms of new data on the scope of the military’s extremism problem. Instead, it collates existing data from sources including the military’s inspector general. 

The authors of the report did research court martial judgments to search for data on extremists and found 10 such cases. But they acknowledged court martials represent only a tiny sliver of extremists – because most cases don’t end in a court martial. 

“Nearly all of these cases were addressed through administrative action, non-judicial punishment, or referral to command for appropriate action,” the report notes. 

Researchers from the Institute for Defense Analyses did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. 

Investigation: After Jan. 6 riot, hundreds of identifiable people remain free. FBI arrests could take years

The report says extremism appears to be becoming more common in the military 

The report concludes that extremism in the military is rare but dangerous.

“The participation in violent extremist activities of even a small number of individuals with military connections and military training could present a risk to the military and to the country as a whole,” it says.

The researchers used publicly available data on extremism, including the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) database maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland.

The Defense Department report makes the same conclusion START researchers have made: “Participation rates for former service members appear to be growing,” it says.

More: Military told FBI of Capitol riot suspect after Jan. 6 attack. He remained free for years

The military’s security clearance process doesn’t take domestic extremism into account

The report says the military’s process for giving security clearances to military and civilian personnel is outdated and inadequate.

“DOD’s processes for awarding security clearances, assessing suitability, and granting access to facilities still focus to a significant extent on Cold War threats and threats related to the Global War on Terrorism rather than the threat of home-grown extremism.”

The researchers recommended updating and standardizing security and suitability questions across the military to ask directly about prohibited extremist activities.

Military security clearances have been much discussed this year after Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira was arrested and charged with posting hundreds of classified documents on a Discord server. 

In addition to Teixeira, three active-duty Marines were charged for their suspected role in the Capitol riot in January. All three Marines worked in intelligence. One was assigned to the National Security Agency headquarters.

Without updating the security clearance process, “the Department remains at risk of unknowingly permitting persons who may have engaged in violent extremist conduct to enter and encumber privileged positions as civilian employees or contractors in the military community,” the report concludes.

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This quick grammar hack can make you more convincing, research finds

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In his latest book, Magic Words , Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger delves into how the specific words and grammar we use directly affect our persuasiveness.

Pulling from his latest research titled "How Verb Tense Changes Persuasion" published in January of this year with Grant Packard of York University and Reihane Boghrati of Arizona State University, he argues that making a change as small as choosing present tense verbs over past tense increases persuasiveness.

Berger's research and other emerging studies in the field demonstrate why you should use the present tense if you wish to be more convincing.

Present tense conveys objectivity

The researchers conducted a total of eight studies to find that using present tense when giving your own opinions or experiences makes them seem truer. 

Experiences are subjective and a past tense really underlines that subjectivity, Berger said, whereas a present tense makes the experience seem more factual and universal. The present tense implies that the speaker's experience can be generalized, perhaps to the listener themselves, and makes you seem more certain and confident in the claims you are making. 

For example, simply saying "That restaurant is great" persuades your audience to think highly of the restaurant more than saying "that restaurant was great."

It's also more vivid and immediate

A similar study published in the latest volume of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology supports Berger's findings: University of Toronto researchers found that Amazon product reviews that were written in the present tense were viewed by others to be more helpful than those written in the past tense. They found the effect persisted beyond Amazon reviews, as well. Participants were 10% more likely to donate to a charity when the donation proposal was made in the present tense rather than in the past or future tense.

The study argues that the present seems more vivid to us than the past or the future, and this adds to your ability to convince, University of Toronto professor and co-author of the study Sam Maglio told the University of Toronto Scarborough news. 

Writers, and increasingly fiction writers, have long used present tense as a method to increase impact and vividness for the readers. Using present tense to describe events is often employed to make the content of the story seem more immediate and intense, author David Jauss wrote in Writer's Digest back in 2014.

"We're all writers; we may not write books or novels or plays, but we're writing all the time," Berger told the Knowledge at Wharton podcast in October 2023. "Every day we're writing emails, PowerPoint presentations, and Word documents in a variety of contexts."

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7 of the biggest medical breakthroughs in 2023

There were major breakthroughs in Alzheimer's and sickle cell treatment.

From new vaccines to the first drugs of their kind for hard-to-treat disorders, 2023 has been a year full of medical breakthroughs.

They offer opportunities for people to protect themselves from diseases, slow down the effects of others and even incorporate artificial intelligence into cancer diagnoses.

Here are seven of the biggest innovations in the health and science space this year.

MORE: Record number of Americans have signed up for Obamacare this year, HHS says

New rsv vaccines and immunizations.

For the first time ever, after years of setbacks, there are multiple vaccines and shots available for several different groups to prevent RSV .

For adults over age 60 , who are at higher risk for serious complications from RSV because immune systems weaken with age, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two vaccines.

"So much focus is placed on flu and now COVID. but, each year in the U.S., we see tens of thousands of older adults hospitalized from RSV, thousands die from RSV complications," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor.

"It still has significant public health consequences for those that are most vulnerable, and so now having a high efficacy vaccine is really a tremendous breakthrough for the last year and I think will have significant public health benefit for years to come," he added.

PHOTO: The US FDA approves GSK's Arexvy, the world's first respiratory syncytial virus ( RSV) vaccine for older adults.

The FDA also approved a maternal RSV vaccine , which is given to pregnant mothers in the third trimester between 32 weeks' and 36 weeks' gestation and is designed to pass antibodies to babies in the womb. It can provide protection from severe illness through the first six months of life.

Lastly, for babies under 8 months old , there are two monoclonal antibody shots available. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the body's ability to fight off pathogens. They are different from vaccines, which stimulate the immune system.

1st CRISPR gene-editing technique to treat sickle cell

Earlier this month, the FDA approved two gene therapies to treat sickle cell disease (SCD), including the first CRISPR gene-editing therapy.

SCD is a genetic condition in which red blood cells have a crescent, or sickle, shape, causing them to be hard and sticky.

"It is a disease that really touches every organ in the body," Dr. Sharl Azar, medical director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC News. "A quarter of our patients will have had a stroke by the time they're in their 40s. Many of our patients will have had their first joint replacement by the time they're in their 30s. Many others will have had their first heart attack in their 20s."

MORE: Federal judge says research can't be used to link acetaminophen to autism, ADHD

"If the disease goes unchecked, it can lead to blindness, it can lead to dialysis dependence and most of our patients may not see their 45th or 50th birthday," he continued.

One of these therapies, Lyfgenia, uses a piece of a virus to deliver a gene for fetal hemoglobin, which prevents blood cells from sticking together and constricting blood flow, which is delivered back into the patient.

The other therapy, Casgevy, used CRISPR/Cas9 to genetically edit the stem cells to produce more fetal hemoglobin, which are then also put back into the patient

"From a scientific and medical standpoint, both of these therapies aim to do the same thing, they just do it in a slightly different way," Azar said. "So, the important thing to emphasize here is that these are not a cure for sickle cell disease. The patients will still have sickle cell disease on the other side of the intervention. The hope is that they will just have a milder form of the disease, where they can see a lot less pain and hopefully fewer complications and hopefully even a longer life."

Over-the-counter birth control pill

In July, the FDA approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill , meaning it can be sold without a prescription.

Called Opill by French drugmaker HRA Pharma and its parent company Perrigo, public health experts have said it will broaden birth control access for millions of people in the United States.

PHOTO: This illustration provided by Perrigo in May, 2023, depicts proposed packaging for the company's birth control medication Opill.

Opill is a progestin-only pill -- sometimes called the "minipill", meaning it doesn't contain estrogen like combination birth control pills. Doctors say progestin-only pills pose fewer medical risks than combination pills.

The drug is expected to appear on shelves at convenience stores, grocery chains and online in early 2024.

Scientists pinpoint possible cause of morning sickness

Morning sickness is an extremely common early symptom of pregnancy, with up to 80% of pregnant women experiencing it in the first trimester -- and now researchers believe they have discovered the cause.

A team mainly from the U.S., U.K. and Sri Lanka discovered a link between a hormone called GDF15, produced by the fetus in the placenta, and morning sickness.

Results, published earlier this month in the journal Nature , found women with severe nausea and vomiting and blood levels of GDF15 during the first trimester that were significantly higher compared to women who didn't experience sickness.

MORE: COVID-19 and flu continue to increase but CDC director believes US has hit peak of RSV,

Additionally, women who are more sensitive to the hormone become the sickest, which may explain the small percentage of women who suffer an extreme form of morning sickness hyperemesis gravidarum, which is the leading cause of hospitalization in the early stage of pregnancy and famously experienced by Catherine, Princess of Wales during all three of her pregnancies.

Researchers said the finding could help treat women with morning sickness, especially severe forms, by lowering levels of the hormone during pregnancy.

First drug fully approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer's

In the past, Alzheimer's disease treatment has been marked by several drugs that have failed clinical trials but, in July, the FDA granted full approval for a new drug called Leqembi .

Manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Biogen, it is the first drug of its kind that has shown to slow cognitive decline in early Alzheimer's patients.

Leqembi works by targeting amyloid beta, the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and affects memory and thought. It marks the plaques for clearance by the body's immune system, which slows Alzheimer's symptoms.

"It's a significant milestone in Alzheimer's disease treatment," Brownstein said. "It is a very big step in giving individuals suffering from this disease more time, and clinical trials have shown to modestly slow cognitive decline, especially in people with early Alzheimer's disease, and so by slowing cognitive decline, that drug could provide individuals more time to engage in activities that they enjoy."

PHOTO: This Dec. 21, 2022, image provided by Eisai in January 2023, shows vials and packaging for their medication Leqembi.

Brownstein noted that there are still questions surrounding the drug's accessibility. The full approval means Medicare can start covering the cost of treatment for patients, making it more widely available, but that's for a subset of patients.

"This drug, like many others, requires substantial investment for research and development, and so, because of that, companies use drug pricing to recover the costs associated with developing and bringing these drugs to market," he said. "Unfortunately, that pricing, that means that this drug will be out of reach for some, and that's really something that needs to be addressed because of course, this drug should be available to anyone suffering from this disease."

An mRNA vaccine to treat pancreatic cancer

A research team funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a personalized mRNA vaccine with partners at BioNTech, against pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer in the U.S.

BioNTech performed gene sequencing on more samples to identify neoantigens -- proteins that are unique to cancer cells – that may stimulate an immune response.

In early clinical trials, patients received a drug that inhibits cancer cells from suppressing the immune system, then were given their personalized vaccine split in nine doses over many months.

Eighteen of the 19 patients successfully had vaccines created for them and 16 were healthy enough to receive at least some of the doses, according to the NIH.

MORE: Massachusetts officials report cluster of hepatitis A cases they say resembles 2018 outbreak

About half of the patients saw the vaccine trigger T cells, a type of immune system cell that destroys infected cells, that targeted the specific cancer cells in each patient.

Among the patients who saw the strong immune system response, the cancer did not return after a year and a half of treatment, including chemotherapy. In those who did not have a strong immune system response, the caner retuned within a year, according to results published earlier this year in the journal Nature.

"It's exciting to see that a personalized vaccine could enlist the immune system to fight pancreatic cancer—which urgently needs better treatments," Dr. Vinod Balachandran, a surgical oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said in a statement. "It's also motivating as we may be able to use such personalized vaccines to treat other deadly cancers."

AI boosts breast cancer detection rates

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasingly used in scientific trials, and a new tool developed this year is helping spot more breast cancer than human screenings.

The tool, named Mia and developed by Imperial College London and Kheiron Medical Technologies detected 13% more early breast cancers.

Across the two pilot phases and the live roll out, Mia detected 24 more cancers and led to 70 more women being recalled, according to a release from Imperial College London.

Of the women who were recalled, additional cancers were found, which raised cancer detection rates by 13%.

"These results have exceeded our expectations," Dr Ben Glocker, a professor in machine learning for imaging at ICL, said in a statement. "These results have exceeded our expectations. Our study shows that using AI can act as an effective safety net -- a tool to prevent subtler signs of cancer falling through the cracks. Seeing firsthand that the use of AI could substantially reduce the rate of missed cancers in breast screening is massive, and a major boost for our mission to transform cancer care with AI technology."

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Research: State of the nation’s health

America’s Health Rankings 2023 Annual Report provides insights employers can use to more effectively care for their employees and their health needs.

from the research report

Eight chronic conditions rose to unprecedented rates, the number of primary care providers decreased by 13%, the premature death rate went up 9% and health disparities continued to widen. These are a few of the findings revealed in the recently released  America's Health Rankings®  2023 Annual Report . 

This report, produced by the United Health Foundation in partnership with the American Public Health Association, offers valuable insights into the nation's health trends that have implications for employers across the country, whether they operate in some of the healthiest states, such as  New Hampshire ,  Massachusetts ,  Vermont ,  Connecticut  and  Minnesota , or in states that have the most room for improvement, such as Louisiana , Mississippi , Arkansas , Oklahoma and Alabama .  View the full 2023 annual report .

Here are 3 trends highlighted in the report, along with takeaways for employers who are looking to optimize benefits for their employees:

Increase in chronic disease prevalence

The 2023 Annual Report highlights the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, citing that 8 chronic conditions, such as arthritis, depression, diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD), reached their highest levels since America’s Health Rankings began tracking them. What’s more: In 2022, 29.3M adults — representing 11.2% of the population — reported having 3 or more chronic conditions.

Why this matters to employers: These conditions not only impact the overall health of employees but also lead to increased health care costs and reduced productivity. 1  Employers may want to consider implementing preventive measures, such as wellness programs and health screenings, to address these chronic diseases and promote healthier lifestyles among their workforces. Learn more about strategies to help manage chronic conditions .

Increase in behavioral health conditions

Behavioral health conditions are on the rise. In 2022, nearly 40.7M adults experienced frequent mental distress — an increase of almost 6.6M adults since 2020. But it’s worth noting that the report also revealed a 7% rise in the number of mental health providers between 2022 and 2023.

Why this matters to employers: Behavioral health issues can significantly affect employee well-being and productivity and lead to a rise in health care costs. 2 Employers may want to prioritize mental health support by offering quality behavioral health benefits, access to a continuum of services, and promoting a supportive work environment. Discover 5 ways to help employees find the behavioral health care they need .

Persistent instances of health disparities

Persistent health disparities among different populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income individuals and rural communities, were also highlighted in the latest annual report. For instance, the percentage of adults with diabetes was 2.1 times higher in West Virginia than in Colorado. Depression was 2.4 times higher among LGBQ+ adults than heterosexual adults. COPD was 7.1 times higher among American Indian/Alaska Native adults than Asian adults.

Why this matters to employers: Employers should be aware of these disparities and strive to provide equitable access to health care services and resources. Tailoring benefits to meet the specific needs of diverse populations may help address these disparities and promote a healthier and more inclusive workforce. Read about the ways employers can help address health disparities and advance health equity .

About America’s Health Rankings

America’s Health Rankings, which analyzes the data encompassing 87 measures from 28 distinct data sources, aims to highlight the impact healthy behaviors can have on overall well-being and the role that community and environmental factors play in a person’s health and well-being.

By investing in the health and well-being of employees, employers may help create a thriving and productive workforce, ultimately benefiting both employees and their own organizations.

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  2. PDF How to Write an Effective Research REport

    How to Write an Effective Research Report Samuel A. Livingston ETS, Princeton, New Jersey March 2012 As part of its nonprofit mission, ETS conducts and disseminates the results of research to advance quality and equity in education and assessment for the benefit of ETS's constituents and the field.

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    Definition: Research Report is a written document that presents the results of a research project or study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, in a clear and objective manner.

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    A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research. Research papers are similar to academic essays, but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research.

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    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.

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    Preparation of a comprehensive written research report is an essential part of a valid research experience, and the student should be aware of this requirement at the outset of the project. Interim reports may also be required, usually at the termination of the quarter or semester. Sufficient time should be allowed for satisfactory completion ...

  8. PDF A quick guide to report writing

    Sections of a report Research reports are the most common type of report. The table below outlines the requirements of the different sections. Although this table is concentrating on a research report, many of the sections are applicable to other types of reports. Sections of a Report Section Features Ask yourself Title Title of report

  9. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 1: Choose your topic Step 2: Identify a problem Step 3: Formulate research questions Step 4: Create a research design Step 5: Write a research proposal Other interesting articles Step 1: Choose your topic First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad.

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    • - Report on the research project - Use research findings to develop some conclusions - Develop an argument about your findings Writing a Research Report: Getting Started Questions your report should address - What was the research problem? - Why is this problem important? - How does the project fit into the context of other research?

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  19. How to Write Effective Research Reports

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  20. How to Write a Literature Review

    When you write a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to: Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context; Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research

  21. Exploring the Research Report: What You Need to Know

    II. Understanding the Components of a Research Report. Research reports are an essential part of any scientific or academic study. It is critical to understand the components which make up a research report, as this will help you better comprehend and analyze data from the paper. At its core, a research report consists of three main elements ...

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  23. What Is Research Report? Definition, Contents, Significance, Qualities

    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.

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    Report Files. AHRQ no longer offers print copies of the report, but the files are set up for two-sided color printing and may be downloaded free of charge. If you have questions about printing or copying, contact Doreen Bonnett at 301-427-1899 or [email protected]. Executive Summary (PDF, 1.3 MB) Introduction (PDF, 1.2 MB) Report (PDF ...

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