If you are a student, no matter what your major is, you will need to write research reports. Higher educational institutions bring you up as a scientist who will contribute to the development of a certain field. You will be required to carry out the common activities for scientists: doing research and writing reports about what you found out. A well-organized process always helps to save time and efforts. So in this article, I am willing to help you and tell how to write a research report step by step.
Research Report Definition
Before you start working on a certain assignment, it is necessary to understand its nature and major requirements. That is why I will start this article with a brief research report definition.
A research report is a paper that presents the results of your scientific work. However, there is a certain unified research report format and requirements for what to include. It is not enough just to give the data you have collected. You need to provide a brief theoretical background of the problem researched, mention your predecessors, formulate the hypothesis, tell about the methods and techniques of data gathering, provide the results and evaluate them, and finally draw your conclusions. Usually, to cover all the points fully, you will need a whole dissertation, but a research report should tell about it all in the form of a paper having a few pages only.
Conciseness matters a lot here. And we believe you do need a guideline on how to write a good research report.
When I needed to write my report back when I was a student, I benefited from the assistance of experts. And now I can share my knowledge with you.
Step by Step Process of Research Report Writing
Let me warn you: this will not be easy. A research report is not the kind of paper that can be done in one sitting.
Before starting to write, you need to get prepared well. This is a kind of investment in your own productivity. That is why a research paper can be distinguished as a project and as a ready product. Before you get a product, you should deal with the project.
Step 1: Orientation
Find the best topic. However, most likely you will not be able to come up with an exact formulation at once. So, you need to choose the direction you will work in, the field you will deal with. At this stage, the general references provided by your advisor will be enough. After you have found a direction to work in, analyze the existing problems in the field. There may be different approaches, dilemmas and problematic points. Find something to question, and this is it. Write down your project description. That is the way you consider it.
Step 2: Gathering the Theoretical Data
The next thing you will need for your research report is the well-formulated theoretical basis. You should work with the references which specifically deal with the problem investigated. It will be a good idea to communicate with your scientific advisor not to miss some vital sources. Make sure you review the references attentively and do not forget to make notes and copies of the points that relate to your particular issue.
Step 3: Actual Research
So, it is time to try everything on practice. At this stage, you should deal with the core of your research project: carry out research. Select the best suitable qualitative or quantitative methods and techniques (observation, experiment, questionnaires, or something else), and decide how you can apply them in your research. Mind the fact that selection of methods is pretty much dependent on the topic. For example, if you study economics and you need a market research report, you will need to deal with the quantitative methods of data collection. As a result, you will get the set of raw data.
Step 4: Processing the Data
Any data has no value unless it is organized and sorted out. Here is when you come into play as a true researcher for the first time and make your own contribution. You should consider what you got in the course of the research, classify the results, structure the data, and state the logical connections. Only after this is done, you are ready to write a research report.
Step 5: Outline Your Research Report
Writing itself requires a plan, so you do not get stuck and can follow all the necessary points one by one. Remember Julius Caesar’s hint: divide and rule. The outline should reflect the adequate thinking process and include all the necessary requirements of a research report. Let me mention them again: introduction, hypothesis, theoretical background, methods/techniques, research results, their discussion (it may be subdivided based on the ideas you came up with), and conclusions.
Step 6: Drafting
The more accurate your first draft is, the less work will be required further on. Just go ahead and elaborate on every point you mention in the outline. Do not forget to cite the used materials carefully, add transitions between the parts to make your text a coherent whole. Get back to the notes you took while working with sources.
However, it is not the time to pay too much attention to style, choice of words, flow of sentences, wordiness, and repetitions. Minding all that at this step stage bring more harm, since this will distract you from the main research report idea. Remember that you deal not only with the text itself, but also with tables, graphs, diagrams, and any other illustrations that may be needed.
Step 7: Polishing
You will come back to your draft as many times as it is needed for you to make sure it is well-done. Check whether all the necessary details are included (you may need to review some sources for that). Review the validity of your data and its interpretation. Finally, polish the style, spelling, choice of words, and structure of sentences. Remember that there should not be any ambiguity in a research report. Do not rely on grammar checking software: there are a lot of issues that they may miss. Still, such programs will be helpful for the final self-check.
After you follow all the steps mentioned above, you get the product: a well-done research paper. Moreover, now you have an experience of handling such a task, so you already know how to write a research report if you need one in future.
Hints for the Process of Research Report Writing
Besides the main requirements for and guidelines on writing a research report, there are some hints on easy writing which come with experience. It is always better to learn from advice than from your own mistakes.
Notes, and Again Notes!
I have already mentioned the necessity to make notes while working with sources. However, you should write down not only the thoughts of others but also your own conclusions, questions, etc. Mind mapping will come in handy in further writing of your research report. Just fill your mind map with new points every time they come to your mind.
Devices are quite reliable, but still, they may lead to serious issues if they get broken in the most important situation. Make sure to create backups for your drafts and materials: add them to clouds and virtual disks not to depend on a single device.
Manage the Deadlines
Evaluate your work adequately and set deadlines for every step. Make sure to be done with the first draft till the middle of the submission time frame. Believe me, you will need all that time to polish your research paper and to double check everything you included.
Mind Your Biorhythms
To organize your efforts in the best way, mind your personal biorhythms. Simply put, if you are a night owl, do not get up early in the morning, aiming to do more. On the other hand, there is no use for early birds to stay up late hours.
Do Not Be Shy to Ask and Consult
Your scientific advisor is here for you, so do not be afraid to ask questions. Remember that questions appear in case of the active thinking process. So, only those who do not care, do not have doubts. Sometimes, one question and answer about your research report from your scientific advisor may replace a day spent at the library.