What are the main components of written Research Report? Which components are essential in long report.
Reports may be defined in terms of their degree of formally and design. The formal report follows a well-delineated and longer format. This contrasts to the more informal or short report.
Short reports are appropriate when the problem is well defined, of limited scope, and has a simple and straightforward methodology. Most information, progress, and interim reports are of this kind: a report of cost-of-living changes for upcoming labor negotiations or an exploration of filling “dumping” charges against a foreign competitioner.
Short reports are about give pages. At the beginning, there should be a brief statement on the authorization for the study, the problem examined, and its breadth and depth. Next are the conclusions and recommendations, followed by the findings that support them. Section headings should be used.
Long reports are of two types, the technical or base report and the management report. The choice depends on the audience and the researcher’s objectives.
The Technical Report
This report should include full documentation and detail. It will normally survive all working papers and original data files and so will become the major source document. It is the report that other researchers will want to see because it has the full story of what was done and how it was done.
A technical report should also include a full presentation and analysis of significant data. Conclusions and recommendations should be clearly related to specific findings. Technical jargon should be minimized but defined when used. There can be brief references to other research, theories, and techniques. While you expect the reader to be familiar with these references, it is useful to include some short explanations, perhaps as footnotes or end notes.
The Management Report
Sometimes the client has no research background and is interested in results rather than methodology. The major communication medium in this case is the management report. It is still helpful to have a technical report if the client later wishes to have a technical appraisal of the study.
The style of the report should encourage rapid reading, quick comprehension of major findings, and prompt understanding of the implication and conclusions. The report tone is journalistic and must be accurate. Headlines and underlining for emphasis is helpful; pictures and graphs often replace tables. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and direct. Consider liberal use of white space and wide margins. It may be desirable to put a single finding on each page.
Prefatory materials do not have direct bearing on the research itself. Instead, they assist the reader in using the researcher report.
Letter of Transmittal
When the relationship between the researcher and the client is formal, a letter of transmittal should be included. This is appropriate when a report is for a specific client (e.g., the company president) and when it is generated for an outside organization.
The title page should include four items: the title of the report, the date, and for whom and by whom it was prepared. The title should be brief but include the following of three elements: (1) the variables included in the study, (2) the type of relationship among the variables, and (3) the population to which the results may be applied.
When the report is sent to a public organization, it is common to include a letter of authorization showing the authority for undertaking the research.
An executive summary can serve two purposes. It may be a report in miniature – covering all the aspects in the body of the report in abbreviated form. Or it could be a concise summary of the major findings and conclusions, including recommendations. Two pages are generally sufficient for executive summaries.
Table of Contents
As a rough guide, any report of several sections that totals more than 6 to 10 pages should have a table of contents.
The introduction prepares the reader for the report by describing the parts of the project: the problem statement, research objectives, and background material. In most projects, the introduction can be taken from the research proposal with minor editing.
The problem statement contains the need for the research project. The problem is usually represented by a management question. It is followed by a more detailed set of objectives.
The research objectives address the purpose of the project. These may be research question(s) and associated investigative questions. In correlational or casual studies, the hypothesis statements are included.
Background material may be of two types. It may be the preliminary results of exploration from an experience survey, focus group, or another source. Alternatively, it could be secondary data from the literature review. A traditional organizational scheme is to think of the concentric circles of a target.
The methodology is an important section. It contains at least five parts.
The researcher explicitly defines the target population being studied and the sampling methods used.
In an experimental study, the materials, tests, equipment, control conditions, and other devices should be described.
This part of the report describes the specifies of gathering the data. Its contents depend on the selected design. Survey work generally uses a team with field and central supervision. How many were involved? What was their training? How were they managed? When were the data collected? How much time did it take? What were the conditions in the field? How were irregularities handled.
This section summarizes the methods used to analyze the data. Describe data handling, preliminary analysis, statistical tests, computer programs, and other technical information. The rationale for the choice of analysis approaches should be clear. A brief description or commentary on assumptions and appropriateness of use should be presented.
This is generally the longest section of the report. The objective is to explain the data rather than draw interpretations or conclusions. When quantitative data can be presented, this should be done as simply as possible with charts, graphics, and tables.
The data need to include everything you have collected. The criterion for inclusion is, “Is this material important to the reader’s understanding of the problem and the findings?” However, make sure to show findings unfavorable to your hypotheses and those that support them.
Summary and Conclusions
The summary is a brief statement of the essential findings. Sectional summaries may be used if there are many specific findings. These may be combined into an overall summary. In simple descriptive research, a summary may complete the report, as conclusions and recommendations may not be required.
There are usually a few ideas about corrective actions. In academic research, the recommendations are often further study suggestions that broaden or test understanding of the subject area. In applied research the recommendations will usually be for managerial action rather research action. The writer may offer several alternatives with justifications.
The appendices are the place for complex tables, statistical tests, supporting documents, copies of forms and questionnaires, detailed descriptions of the methodology, instructions to field workers, and other evidence important for later support.
The use of secondary data requires a bibliography. Proper citation, style, and formats are unique to the purpose of the report. Style requirements are often specified by the instructor, program, institution, or client.
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