A research report is an outcome of a scientific investigation, and its purpose is to convey the information contained in the report to the reader or audience. This is the only way a researcher can communicate to the audience the new knowledge and information he or she has accumulated through his or her scientific investigation.
The work of a researcher will remain incomplete unless he or she publishes a written report. Report writing is thus an integral part of a research study.
When writing your report, keep in mind that your purpose is to inform the readers of what you investigated, why and how you conducted your investigation, what your findings were, and finally, what conclusions you arrived at.
As the investigator and author, your job is simply to report, not to convince, and usually not to advocate. You must provide enough details so that the readers can reach their conclusions about the quality of your research and the integrity of your conclusions.
Most often, the audiences of a study will be groups ranging from top policymakers and administrators to academicians, mid-level managers, field workers, or business managers.
It is critical that you carefully identify the intended audience for your report; otherwise, your report will likely be misdirected and less effective.
While preparing your report, you should consider who your readers are, what they exactly know already, and what they want to know more out of your report to make an informed consent.
You should also consider the attitude the audience will adopt toward your report.
If you apprehend that reader may be somewhat hostile toward your report, you may want to add more supporting evidence and documentation than you would if their reception was thought to be more favorable.
The educational background and work experience of the audience is also a key factor in the preparation of your report.
A report written for top executives will differ considerably from that prepared for lay people in terms of style, word usage, and complexity.
Even age, gender, and other demographic characteristics might serve to shape the report.
Therefore, special attention should be devoted to preparing reports that are simply worded, sequentially organized, logically presented, and are explicit regarding findings.
Before you start drafting your report, you must be ensured that
- Every specific objective has been dealt with.
- An appropriate analysis of the data has been performed with statistical rigor.
- Only the relevant tables and charts have been furnished to support and specify conclusions from these devices.
- The conclusions you are going to draw, and the recommendations you are going to make are appropriate and relevant to the specific objectives.
- Which tables will be furnished in the text of the report for a comprehensive conclusion, and which in the appendix?
Structuring a Report
The procedure to be followed in reporting a scientific study consists of rather precise and well-defined steps that may be modified only slightly. Immediately following a title page, a study report is usually prepared under the following broad headings:
- Table of contents
- Executive summary/Abstract