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 Contents
- 1 What is Research Report?
- 2 Research Report Definition
- 3 Contents of Research Report
- 4 Significance of Report Writing
- 5 Qualities of Good Report
- 6 Steps in Writing Research Report
- 7 Precautions for Writing Research Reports
- 8 Types of Research 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.
- Preliminary Part
- Table of contents
- List of tables
- List of graphs
- Introduction of the Report
- Background of the research study
- Statement of the problem
- Brief outline of the chapters
- Review of Literature
- 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 Research Methodology
- 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
- Concluding Remarks
- Suggestions to the problems
- Direction for further research
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.
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.
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
Analysis of the subject matter
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.
Preparation of rough draft
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.
Rewriting and polishing
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.
Writing the final draft
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
Following are the ways through which the results of the research report can be presented on the basis of information contained:
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.
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.
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 representation:
- Oral 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.
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.