Preparing a Research Report

The research report is considered as a major component of the research work, because through this report the research problem, the research design, the analysis and findings are brought to the knowledge of the world. The research report converts the research work into a public asset from its earlier state of private asset.

The research report shows the readers the progress in knowledge made in the specific area or discipline. The report by bringing to light the new frontiers of knowledge enhances the society’s intellectual well-being. The report by highlighting the design and methodology, runs as a fore-runner for future researchers in this or related area. The analyses and interpretations may give a boost to knowledge. The findings and suggestions take the readers into enlightenment from ignorance. Every research must endeavor to achieve this.

Research report is a record of the whole of every bit of the research work. This document is a reservoir of knowledge for current and future references and use to solve societal problems. Research report is the means through which communication of the entire work to the society is made. For other researchers, a documented research is a source of information and that a research report generates more research interests. Research report propagates knowledge throughout the humanity or the globe.

The role of a research report is best known in the absence of the same – Assume for a while, that no researcher gives out his research work in the form of a report. Then the research work is just like a lamp in the pot. When, it takes the form of report it is like a lamp on the hillock illuminating the surroundings. If a research report is not made, even the researcher may not be able tell his work at a future date. Thanks to human’s potentials to forget. Such waste of efforts should never occur. If only a research report was made out, re-inventing the wheel would not take place otherwise, same problem may be analyzed by different people at different places or in the same place at different times or at the same time. This is a greater waste of human energy. Thus a research report conserves energy that would otherwise would have been spent uselessly.

Contents of Research Report

A research report generally contains three aspects:

  1. Preliminary Section,
  2. Main Body and
  3. Reference Section.

These are briefly given below:

1. Preliminary Section

The preliminary section deals with title, acknowledgement, etc.

  1. Title Page: The title of the research report usually bears the investigator’s name, a statement as to the course for which the study has been required, the date of submission, and the name of the institution making that requirement. In reports of studies not undertaken for any course, the investigator’s name, the institution he belongs to and the date of completion of the work is indicated. In a published thesis the latter information is substituted or supplemented by the name of the publishers and the date and place of publication.
  2. Acknowledgement Page : The acknowledgement page is largely one of courtesy in which the investigator acknowledges the guidance and assistance he has received in the development of the study. Acknowledgement may not refer to the guide so much as to others who may have aided in a special way. It is rightly said that good taste calls for acknowledgements to be expressed simply and tactfully.
  3. Preface or Foreword : Sometimes a preface or foreword of one or two pages long, follows the acknowledgement page, bearing some initial remarks and perhaps a brief statement of the scope, aim and general character of the research.
  4. Table of Contents : A well-developed table of contents renders a good deal of assistance to a reader in choosing rapidly and judiciously what he should, subsequently, read carefully. It is usually desirable to include in it not only the chapter headings, but also the headings of the major subdivisions of the chapters. Sometimes the topics within the subdivisions are also included and are found enlightening by the readers.
  5. Lists of Tables and Figures : Another device used to supplement the table of contents for throwing more light on the subject of the thesis is that of giving lists of tables and figures which occur in the report.

2. Main Body of the Report

The main body of the research report contains all the material aspect of the research work.

  1. Introduction : The first part of the main body of the report, the Introduction, usually includes a statement of the factors leading up to the choice of the problem, the purposes of the study, the value and significance attached to the problem by the investigator as a contribution to knowledge and any other information to express the sincerity of the investigator in his selection. A statement and elucidation of the problem sometimes forms a part of the introduction; but more often/it is set up as a separate unit. If this is stated in a clear-cut and logical manner, the reader is able to get a sufficiently clear insight into the study from the very beginning. The problem should be defined in detail. The exact area the investigation is supposed to cover must be well demarcated. The sources of information selected and their nature and delimitation’s should be mentioned and justified. All terms of a technical nature or those which may seem vague to the lay reader need to be defined carefully. The objectives, limitations, hypotheses, etc. are given. The methodology and design of the study are also given in introduction. To explain the developmental process used for the sturdy the investigator has to describe the techniques and tools he has used for collecting, organizing, analyzing and interpreting his data. The sources of data tapped, the channels prepared or adapted and utilized, the nature of data collected, their validity and reliability – all these should be given in a clear and adequate manner. Data collected, but rejected and the methods tried but not pursued – these should also find their place in the report and should not be just left out of the picture.
  2. Survey of Related Literature : Any research worker has to be up-to-date in his information about studies, related to his own problem, already made by others. References are made to such similar or related studies and their evaluation too is made for the benefit of the reader either in the Introductory chapter, or else in a separate chapter. Herein the author finds another opportunity to justify his own endeavor and to emphasize the worthwhile elements in the treatment, selected by him, of the problem. Read More: The Literature Review in Research
  3. Analysis and Interpretation ;The analysis and interpretation section deals with the main works undertaken. Each objective of the research work, each hypothesis, each research question posed and such other major constituents of the research work are thoroughly probed, analysed using the statistical data collected applying appropriate tools of analysis and interpretations are made in the light of the analysis made. Unusual or complex techniques of collection, organization, analysis and interpretation are explained in full. Whether the original data themselves should be included in the text or given in the appendix depends on the nature of the data. If they are not too extensive and are necessary to clarify the discussion, they should certainly find a place in the text proper, or in the footnotes. If they are extensive and cumbersome, they should be placed in the appendix. Of the various aids used to make the presentation of data more effective, tables and figures are most common. When statistical data are assembled according to certain common factors in the form of tables, significant relationships show up clearly. Depending on the type of material at one’s disposal, many kinds of figures are found useful, e.g., statistical diagrams, photographs and maps, etc. All the information described above is sometimes confined to one chapter with separate subdivisions arranged stage-wise. Otherwise, separate chapters are devoted each major functional area or objective studied. The arrangement depends on the quantity of information one has to convey to the reader regarding the different stages in the process of the development of the study.
  4. Conclusion : The final unit of the report usually contains the findings of the study, the conclusions the investigator has arrived at, and the generalization he has formulated on the basis of the study. In stating the conclusions, the investigator must indicate what his contribution has been to his field of study. He should indicate on what data his various conclusions are based. He should clearly demarcate between the inevitable conclusions and his own interpretation of certain data. The range of applicability of the conclusions should be indicated on the basis of the limitations of the sources, the sample, the tools of collection and analysis, etc. Negative as well as positive results should find a place in the conclusions. Any recommendations, as to the application of the findings, the investigator wishes to make, can find a place in this chapter. Recommendations or suggestions for further study in the field touched by the present research are also found useful and are usually included in the concluding chapter.

3. Referencing Section of the Report

Referencing section of any research report has three elements namely, bibliography, appendix and index.

  1. Bibliography : The ‘works cited’ form of bibliography is preferable over the ‘sources consulted’. Every book, thesis, article, documents which has been cited should be included in the list of ‘works cited’. The bibliography should follow a logical arrangement in alphabetical order. In report of current practice is to have one comprehensive listing-not to divide into books, journals, newspapers, official papers, documents and manuscripts. The author(s) name, the title of the work, date of publication, name of the publisher and the place of publication be mentioned. For articles, the volume number and inclusive pages be also given, the author’s initials or surname should follow the name. When there are three or more authors of a particular work, the co-authors may be referred alphabetically  If there by more than one work by the same author, the author’s name should be listed only once; subsequently a line will substitute his name. This bibliographical listing should not be numbered. It should be given only at the end of the thesis,
  2. Appendix : The appendix section gives a copy of the tools of research used, certain sample statistical workings, articles published by the researcher, etc. Each class of material given may be numbered as Appendix I, Appendix II and so on. It is saner to give the appendices in the same order in which the relevant items are used.
  3. Index : Index is a very important component which facilitates easy location of a concept or entity mentioned in the main body of the work. Here alphabetical order is followed. Page number is given to easy location. Author Index, Subject Index and Sponsor Index are certain indices used. All the three may be separately given and merged into one single class of ‘index’.

Principles of Good Research Report Writing

Following are some important principles for writing a good research report:

  • Make small sentences:Reading begins to get strenuous when sentences used in the research report average more than 25 words.
  • Vary sentence length: In using short sentences do not let the work become choppy. Sentences of considerable length are all right provided. Better they are balanced with enough short sentences.
  • Use simple words: The researcher is advised to use simple words in his research report.
  • Use familiar words: It is better to use familiar words in a research report.
  • Avoid unnecessary words: The use of unnecessary words tire a reader and fog up the writing.
  • Write to express not to impress: The best way to impress the reader of report is to express what you have to say clearly and directly.
  • Write as you talk: The researcher should make his report writing as though it is his speech.
  • Keep as many active verbs as possible: Use of active verbs puts life into report writing.
  • Tie in with reader’s experience: Always write research reports with a particular reader in mind. Relate what you have to tell him about your research report. This is the way to have the reader understand your report.
  • Make the report short and sweet: A short report makes reading interest and sweet. Short report should not mean short-cut report.

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