Writing the Research Report

A research report explains the investigation and results of a single research question (or small set of highly-related questions). Research reports are published in a format we are very familiar with, the IMRD, that plays nicely with an idealized version of the scientific method (see figure below).  The term "research report" is more accurate than the term "article" which refers to any major publication (reviews, reports, editorials, guidelines, etc) found in any journal, peer-reviewed or not.

Research Reports Use IMRD to Manage Real Estate, Following an Idealized Scientific Method

As we discussed earlier, the IMRD format is an expectation of science readers and a guideline for science writers -- it imposes a structure that makes it easy (well, in relative terms) for both readers and writers to know what they should be doing. Readers come to know what kinds of information are found in each part of the research report. Writers use this same information to organize reports so that readers can navigate their material easily.  This is one communication behavior that helps take the focus off HOW something looks (important in genres like poetry, for instance, where readers must consider the contribution of form to meaning) and keeps the focus on CONTENT.

The Parts of a Research Report

I. Front Material

      A. Title, describing the major import of your work.
      B. Abstract, summarizing the research in 100-300 words (varies according to journal).

II. Introduction

      A. Define the problem or topic and state the question your research will answer.
      B. Survey the literature relevant to your topic.
      C. Explain the significance of your work in the light of other research
      D. State your hypothesis.

III. Methods

      A. Describe the subjects of your research.
      B. Describe the apparatus, materials, and instruments.
      C. Describe the procedure of the experiment.
      D. Explain your plan for analyzing the data.

IV. Results

      A. In a systematic way, present the data for each of the variables being measured.
      B. Present quantitative data graphically.

V. Discussion

      A. Analyze and interpret the data gathered.
      B. Draw generalizations from your analysis of the data.
      C. Summarize the major points of the research.
      D. Discuss future directions in the field in the light of your findings.

VI. References 


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