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Research Reports

Research Report

A research report is a piece of writing presenting a set of written findings to a person or a body of persons. A research report can be used to enhance one's research abilities, critical analysis and writing skills. A research report is a separate type of assignment, which is different from a thesis or a dissertation. In particular, it's is less of a research proposition (statement), which is based on the results of a theoretical research, but rather is a descriptive assignment, the purpose of which is to present results of an experiment, inquiry or investigation. In other words, its main purpose is to describe what has taken place rather than go through a body of existing knowledge, collect data, analyze etc.


Besides being a kind of teaching assignment, research reports are also widely used outside of the teaching context. To be precise, research reports are used by institutions and organizations for various purposes and in different areas. The purpose of the report is to present findings of a specific event or phenomenon, to establish connections between a series of events and explain such connections (cf. Polish governmental report of Lech Kaczynski's plane crash). A research report is, in essence a persuasive document, which is heavily relying on elements, which help to persuade the audience: figures, charts, pictures, diagrams, formulas. The most common research report format is called IMRAD, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. Such structure of the paper reflects conventional standards of academic research and thus establishes credibility. Another option for a research report is to follow a problem - solution format, where the problem is presented first and then discussed; afterwards  the solution is offered and assessed.


Writing a research report usually indicates writing for a specific audience. This, in turn, sets forth specific requirements for the style and language of the report. If the research report is intended for an audience with a background similar to yours, subject-specific terminology and jargon can be acceptable, however if you are going to present your report to someone with no or little knowledge of the subject matter, make the language as simple and clear as possible and avoid lengthy and unclear words. Of course, when it comes to writing academic papers there is often a balance between simplicity and accuracy of expression (after all, there are specific terms which cannot be replaced by synonyms; otherwise intended meaning will be inevitably lost).


As it has been previously mentioned, a typical research report consists of the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.  In each of those sections you do the following:

1) Introduce the problem

2) Explain how you studied it

3) Present what you found

4) Explain the results


In addition to these four sections, the research report should consist of a title, an abstract, an introduction, methods, results and discussion sections as well as the conclusion, acknowledgments and references. In the end appendices may follow.


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