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how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

Writing a report should be concise and to the point. It should also be relevant to the topic. Make sure to check your work with someone and read it aloud. Proofreading is also important because computer programs cannot catch every mistake. You may even want to wait a day before you read it to make sure that it is error-free. Keep in mind that an academic report differs from a business or technical report.

Avoiding the present tense

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When anyone tells you about writing how to write an academic report , you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

The best time to use either tense is determined by the context in which you’re writing. While both are acceptable, you’ll want to ensure that your reader knows when you made your findings. In most cases, the present tense will mean that you’re writing about the time you did the research, while the past tense can be interpreted in different ways.

Introducing your topic

The introduction is the first section of your paper, and it should capture the reader’s interest and make them want to read the rest of your paper. You can do this by opening with a compelling story, question, or example that shows why your topic is important. The hook should also establish the relevance of your paper in the wider context.

The introduction should also have a thesis statement, which should explain your research paper’s topic and point of view. This statement will guide the organization of your essay. A strong thesis statement is specific, clear, and able to be proved.

Stating your thesis statement

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should be able to persuade others while laying out your strong opinions. It should also contain an argument. For example, you could argue that the government should ban 4×4 pickup trucks. Or, you might argue that the amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of it in real life.

A strong thesis statement contradicts a commonly held viewpoint. It is not too complex to explain over the course of the paper. It should also express a single main idea.

Putting together an outline before writing your report

Putting together an outline is a great way to organize your paper. Outline the content that you will cover and how you plan to support your main point. You can use a list format or alpha-numeric format to organize your outline. Regardless of the format, your outline should have a parallel structure and include the same types of words in each section. It is also a good idea to include citations whenever possible.

When you’re writing, outlining will help you get the most out of your writing. It will save you time and effort when writing because you can make full sentences and well-developed essays with an outline.

Avoiding jargon

One of the most important things to remember when writing an academic report is to avoid using jargon. These words are often difficult to understand, and although they are useful shorthand for scientists, they may alienate non-specialist readers. The use of jargon is the most common reason that readers complain about writing, but there are ways to replace these terms with plainer versions.

Jargon is specialized terminology used by a specific group. It can be incredibly difficult to understand if you’re not part of the group. It also tends to make your writing more complicated and shows that you’re trying to show off your knowledge.

How to Write an Academic Report – Examples and Tips

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When writing an academic report, you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

Owen Ingram is a research-based content writer, who works for Cognizantt, a globally recognised professional SEO service and Research Prospect , a Servizio di redazione di saggi e dissertazioni . Mr Owen Ingram holds a PhD degree in English literature. He loves to express his views on a range of issues including education, technology, and more.

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Report writing

What is a report and how does it differ from writing an essay? Reports are concise and have a formal structure. They are often used to communicate the results or findings of a project.

Essays by contrast are often used to show a tutor what you think about a topic. They are discursive and the structure can be left to the discretion of the writer.

Who and what is the report for?

Before you write a report, you need to be clear about who you are writing the report for and why the report has been commissioned.

Keep the audience in mind as you write your report, think about what they need to know. For example, the report could be for:

  • the general public
  • academic staff
  • senior management
  • a customer/client.

Reports are usually assessed on content, structure, layout, language, and referencing. You should consider the focus of your report, for example:

  • Are you reporting on an experiment?
  • Is the purpose to provide background information?
  • Should you be making recommendations for action?

Language of report writing

Reports use clear and concise language, which can differ considerably from essay writing.

They are often broken down in to sections, which each have their own headings and sub-headings. These sections may include bullet points or numbering as well as more structured sentences. Paragraphs are usually shorter in a report than in an essay.

Both essays and reports are examples of academic writing. You are expected to use grammatically correct sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation.

Academic writing is formal so you should avoid using apostrophes and contractions such as “it’s” and "couldn't". Instead, use “it is” and “could not”.

Structure and organisation

Reports are much more structured than essays. They are divided in to sections and sub-sections that are formatted using bullet points or numbering.

Report structures do vary among disciplines, but the most common structures include the following:

The title page needs to be informative and descriptive, concisely stating the topic of the report.

Abstract (or Executive Summary in business reports)

The abstract is a brief summary of the context, methods, findings and conclusions of the report. It is intended to give the reader an overview of the report before they continue reading, so it is a good idea to write this section last.

An executive summary should outline the key problem and objectives, and then cover the main findings and key recommendations.

Table of contents

Readers will use this table of contents to identify which sections are most relevant to them. You must make sure your contents page correctly represents the structure of your report.

Take a look at this sample contents page.

Introduction

In your introduction you should include information about the background to your research, and what its aims and objectives are. You can also refer to the literature in this section; reporting what is already known about your question/topic, and if there are any gaps. Some reports are also expected to include a section called ‘Terms of references’, where you identify who asked for the report, what is covers, and what its limitations are.

Methodology

If your report involved research activity, you should state what that was, for example you may have interviewed clients, organised some focus groups, or done a literature review. The methodology section should provide an accurate description of the material and procedures used so that others could replicate the experiment you conducted.

Results/findings

The results/findings section should be an objective summary of your findings, which can use tables, graphs, or figures to describe the most important results and trends. You do not need to attempt to provide reasons for your results (this will happen in the discussion section).

In the discussion you are expected to critically evaluate your findings. You may need to re-state what your report was aiming to prove and whether this has been achieved. You should also assess the accuracy and significance of your findings, and show how it fits in the context of previous research.

Conclusion/recommendations

Your conclusion should summarise the outcomes of your report and make suggestions for further research or action to be taken. You may also need to include a list of specific recommendations as a result of your study.

The references are a list of any sources you have used in your report. Your report should use the standard referencing style preferred by your school or department eg Harvard, Numeric, OSCOLA etc.

You should use appendices to expand on points referred to in the main body of the report. If you only have one item it is an appendix, if you have more than one they are called appendices. You can use appendices to provide backup information, usually data or statistics, but it is important that the information contained is directly relevant to the content of the report.

Appendices can be given alphabetical or numerical headings, for example Appendix A, or Appendix 1. The order they appear at the back of your report is determined by the order that they are mentioned in the body of your report. You should refer to your appendices within the text of your report, for example ‘see Appendix B for a breakdown of the questionnaire results’. Don’t forget to list the appendices in your contents page.

Presentation and layout

Reports are written in several sections and may also include visual data such as figures and tables. The layout and presentation is therefore very important.

Your tutor or your module handbook will state how the report should be presented in terms of font sizes, margins, text alignment etc.

You will need good IT skills to manipulate graphical data and work with columns and tables. If you need to improve these skills, try the following online resources:

  • Microsoft online training through Linkedin Learning
  • Engage web resource on using tables and figures in reports

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Writing an academic report

Although you may not realize it, writing an academic report is different than writing an academic essay. in an essay, you can provide your thoughts and opinions about a topic or statement. in an academic report, you should provide a description or analysis of a set of actions you took to research a specific question or phenomenon..

Academic reports are used to present and discuss the results of an experiment, survey, or other research method. These reports often require a specific layout and the inclusion of a certain set of sections. Below, we describe the most often-used sections in an academic report in the order in which they generally appear. Before we begin, note that when writing an academic report, you must always follow the guidelines for formal academic writing, including citing trustworthy sources and using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

The sections that are usually included in an academic report are as follows:

Introduction

Literature review/background.

In the introduction to your academic report, you present the research topic or question and explain why you chose to study that topic. You may also present a general overview of the work you did and your findings, expanding on these points further in the main body of the text. At the end of the introduction, you may want to present a brief summary of the way in which the rest of the report is organized.

In this section, you will briefly summarize work on this topic that other researchers have conducted, including their findings. You can also provide any background information on the topic that your readers should have before you present your own work. Remember that your reader is interested in your work, not the work of others. It isn’t necessary to go into excessive detail regarding other studies, especially if they aren’t relevant to your work. Focus on summarizing work that relates in some way to the work you have performed.

The methods section is where you describe the steps you took in your research. For example, you can describe the methodology you used to build your study, the sampling method you used to obtain survey participants, and the steps you took in a scientific experiment. Make sure to describe all your steps in detail using the past tense (since you’re describing something that already happened, not something that will happen).

In this section, you will describe the results of your study. For example, you will provide information such as survey participants’ answers, medical test results, data from scientific experiments, and any statistical analysis results. You may find it helpful to use figures and tables to present these results in an easy-to-read format. However, note that if you present data in a table or figure, it is not necessary to also provide all the same data in the text. If you use tables or figures, only discuss particularly important findings in the text.

In this section, you will discuss the implications of your findings, explaining them and relating them to the previous research presented in your literature review. You will interpret your findings and describe how these findings answer (or don’t answer) your research questions. You should also describe any limitations of your work, such as sample size or missing data, and discuss how you could resolve those issues in future work.

If all this sounds like too much work, or you simply lack the time, you can find a reliable writing service for students and pay for college papers . This way, you get a high-quality academic report without going through any trouble. Such services can help you deal with all kinds of writing assignments you get as a part of your studies.

The conclusion is where you summarize your main work and findings as well as the implications of your work. You should not introduce any new material in this section. You should also provide recommendations based on your findings and discuss any future research needed.

Of course, you should check with your academic institution or professor to see if they want you to include any other sections or information. In addition, make sure you follow the style guide required by your institution (e.g., APA or Chicago).

Writing an academic report doesn’t have to be stressful and intimidating. Using the information above, you can finish your report and avoid undue stress.

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Report writing

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Organising your information, abstract / executive summary, literature review, results / data / findings, reference list / bibliography.

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Useful links for report writing

  • Study Advice Helping students to achieve study success with guides, video tutorials, seminars and one-to-one advice sessions.
  • Maths Support A guide to Maths Support resources which may help if you're finding any mathematical or statistical topic difficult during the transition to University study.

how to write an academic report

  • Academic Phrasebank Use this site for examples of linking phrases and ways to refer to sources.
  • Academic writing LibGuide Expert guidance on punctuation, grammar, writing style and proof-reading.
  • Reading and notemaking LibGuide Expert guidance on managing your reading and making effective notes.
  • Guide to citing references Includes guidance on why, when and how to use references correctly in your academic writing.

The structure of a report has a key role to play in communicating information and enabling the reader to find the information they want quickly and easily. Each section of a report has a different role to play and a writing style suited to that role. Therefore, it is important to understand what your audience is expecting in each section of a report and put the appropriate information in the appropriate sections.

The guidance on this page explains the job each section does and the style in which it is written. Note that all reports are different so you must pay close attention to what you are being asked to include in your assignment brief. For instance, your report may need all of these sections, or only some, or you may be asked to combine sections (e.g. introduction and literature review, or results and discussion). The video tutorial on structuring reports below will also be helpful, especially if you are asked to decide on your own structure.

  • Finding a structure for your report (video) Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic.
  • Finding a structure for your report (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.

how to write an academic report

  • When writing an essay, you need to place your information  to make a strong argument
  • When writing a report, you need to place your information  in the appropriate section

Consider the role each item will play in communicating information or ideas to the reader, and place it in the section where it will best perform that role. For instance:

  • Does it provide background to your research? ( Introduction  or  Literature Review )
  • Does it describe the types of activity you used to collect evidence? ( Methods )
  • Does it present factual data? ( Results )
  • Does it place evidence in the context of background? ( Discussion )
  • Does it make recommendations for action? ( Conclusion )

how to write an academic report

  • the purpose of the work
  • methods used for research
  • main conclusions reached
  • any recommendations

The introduction … should explain the rationale for undertaking the work reported on, and the way you decided to do it. Include what you have been asked (or chosen) to do and the reasons for doing it.

- State what the report is about. What is the question you are trying to answer? If it is a brief for a specific reader (e.g. a feasibility report on a construction project for a client), say who they are.

- Describe your starting point and the background to the subject: e.g., what research has already been done (if you have to include a Literature Review, this will only be a brief survey); what are the relevant themes and issues; why are you being asked to investigate it now?

- Explain how you are going to go about responding to the brief. If you are going to test a hypothesis in your research, include this at the end of your introduction. Include a brief outline of your method of enquiry. State the limits of your research and reasons for them, e.g.

how to write an academic report

Introduce your review by explaining how you went about finding your materials, and any clear trends in research that have emerged. Group your texts in themes. Write about each theme as a separate section, giving a critical summary of each piece of work, and showing its relevance to your research. Conclude with how the review has informed your research (things you'll be building on, gaps you'll be filling etc).

  • Literature reviews LibGuide Guide on starting, writing and developing literature reviews.
  • Doing your literature review (video) Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic.
  • Doing your literature review (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.

The methods  should be written in such a way that a reader could replicate the research you have done. State clearly how you carried out your investigation. Explain why you chose this particular method (questionnaires, focus group, experimental procedure etc). Include techniques and any equipment you used. If there were participants in your research, who were they? How many? How were they selected?

Write this section  concisely  but  thoroughly  – Go through what you did step by step, including everything that is relevant. You know what you did, but could a reader follow your description?

how to write an academic report

Label your graphs and tables clearly. Give each figure a title and describe in words what the figure demonstrates. Save your interpretation of the results for the Discussion section.

The discussion ...is probably the longest section. It brings everything together, showing how your findings respond to the brief you explained in your introduction and the previous research you surveyed in your literature review. This is the place to mention if there were any problems (e.g. your results were different from expectations, you couldn't find important data, or you had to change your method or participants) and how they were, or could have been, solved.

  • Writing up your report page More information on how to write your discussion and other sections.

The conclusions ...should be a short section with no new arguments or evidence. This section should give a feeling of closure and completion to your report. Sum up the main points of your research. How do they answer the original brief for the work reported on? This section may also include:

  • Recommendations for action
  • Suggestions for further research

how to write an academic report

If you're unsure about how to cite a particular text, ask at the Study Advice Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for help.

  • Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian

The appendices ...include any additional information that may help the reader but is not essential to the report's main findings. The report should be able to stand alone without the appendices. An appendix can include for instance: interview questions; questionnaires; surveys; raw data; figures; tables; maps; charts; graphs; a glossary of terms used.

  • A separate appendix should be used for each distinct topic or set of data.
  • Order your appendices in the order in which you refer to the content in the text.
  • Start each appendix on a separate page and label sequentially with letters or numbers e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B,…
  • Give each Appendix a meaningful title e.g. Appendix A: Turnover of Tesco PLC 2017-2021.
  • Refer to the relevant appendix where appropriate in the main text e.g. 'See Appendix A for an example questionnaire'.
  • If an appendix contains multiple figures which you will refer to individually then label each one using the Appendix letter and a running number e.g. Table B1, Table B2. Do not continue the numbering of any figures in your text, as your text should be able to stand alone without the appendices.
  • If your appendices draw on information from other sources you should include a citation and add the full details into your list of references (follow the rules for the referencing style you are using).

For more guidance see the following site:

  • Appendices guidance from University of Southern California Detailed guidance on using appendices. Part of the USC's guide to Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper.
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  • Last Updated: Jan 29, 2024 11:27 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reports

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Key features of academic reports

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Written assignments

Explore common components in academic reports you could use in your studies

You may need to submit multiple academic reports during your degree. Here, we explore the general features of academic reports.

You course will probably only need some of these features, and you have other requirements that aren't included here. Report requirements vary across departments so you should check your course handbook or ask your subject tutor or lecturer if you're unsure what you need in your report.

Key parts of an academic report

A report is different to an essay . There is no single right way to structure a report – the structure depends on the purpose. In general, however, academic reports feature some of the sections below.

1. Title page

2. author declaration.

This is a form you need to sign and include with any report or essay written that you submit confirm that the assignment is entirely your own work. You can pick up these forms at your faculty department office.

3. Abstract (or Executive Summary)

An abstract is a short (around 150 words) summary of the whole report. It should be written last. Unlike a conclusion, the abstract needs to include a brief overview of all the stages of the report, not just the results. One purpose of an abstract is to give just enough information to enable a prospective reader to judge whether they need to read the full report.

If you are new to writing abstracts, one approach is to write one or two sentences to represent each of the sections of your report. Have a look at abstracts or executive summaries in reports in the Library or online to get an idea of the style they use.

4. Acknowledgements

This is a separate page acknowledging the support of those people who have contributed to the assignment. An acknowledgements page is normally necessary only in major reports.

5. Table of Contents

This should list clearly all the sections and subsections of your report and the page numbers where each of those sections begins. A common (but not compulsory) way to organise reports is to use hierarchically numbered headings.

For example:

After the Table of Contents comes a separate list of any tables, charts or diagrams that you have included in the report. Tables should be called ‘Table 1 [plus the title]’, ‘Table 2’, so on and so forth. Charts or diagrams should be called ‘Figure 1 [plus the title]’, ‘Figure 2’ and so on. Include in this separate list the page number of each table or chart.

6. Introduction

In the introduction you should describe the purpose (aim) of the report and explain why it is necessary and/or useful. Depending on the purpose of the report, you might break down the overall aim into specific objectives. Additionally, you might define key terms (words) that you use in the report, so that your reader is quite clear what you mean when you use those terms.

The following four sections are normally used only in reports about primary (your own) research, such as an experiment, survey or observation. If your report is based entirely on reading, you will probably replace these four sections with a number of topic headings of your choice.

7. Literature review

In this section you describe previous and current thinking and research on the topic. In other words, you report by summarising what others have written about the topic. Because you are reporting others’ work, your literature review will probably contain many in-text citations  to the books and articles you have read. In more scientific research it is common to end the literature review with one or more hypotheses for your own research. In many reports the literature review is incorporated into the introduction and may have a simpler title, such as ‘Background’.

8. Method(s) (or Methodology or Research design)

These three terms – ‘method’, ‘methodology’ and ‘research design’ – actually have slightly different meanings; consult a research methods text for more information. This section, however, is where you tell the reader how you collected the data used in the report (i.e. your methods). You might, for example, describe, step-by-step, an experiment you carried out or describe a situation you observed. This description normally needs to be quite detailed. It is also normally necessary to explain why you collected the data in that way and justify your methods, which may need to be quite detailed.

You might include some in-text references to research methods literature to help explain your choice of methods.

9. Results (or Findings)

This is where you present the results of your research – ‘what you found out’. There should be no discussion or analysis of those results. This section often includes tables or charts.

If you have created one or more hypotheses for your report, you should state in this section whether you can accept or reject them.

10. Discussion of results (or Analysis or Interpretation)

This is often the most important part of a report, because it shows what you think about your results. In the discussion you should comment on your results. This can include:

  • Describing and suggesting reasons for any patterns in the results, possibly including anomalies (results that don’t ‘fit in with’ the rest).
  • Explaining what you found (perhaps with reference to theory).
  • Commenting on how much your findings agree or disagree with the literature.
  • Considering the accuracy and reliability of your results (and how the methods you used might have affected that accuracy).
  • Considering the implications of your results – what they might mean for your practice, for example.
  • Discussing what further research in this area might be useful in future.

11. Conclusions

In the conclusions you summarise the key findings of your report. (Imagine you have to reduce everything you found out down to just five or six sentences.) No new information should be included. It can be helpful to revisit the aim(s) and objectives from your introduction, and perhaps to comment also on how well those aims and objectives have been met.

12. Recommendations

Not all reports include recommendations. But if your report is on a work-related issue or case study, and especially if the issue concerns problem-solving or improving practice, it may well be appropriate to make recommendations. These are suggestions for future action on the issue in the report. Usually, these will be suggestions, arising from your research, which you think will improve a situation.

13. References (or Reference list or Bibliography)

This is a list, written in a very particular style, of the books and articles you read for and used in the report. A bibliography includes all sources you have used whereas a reference list contains only sources you have actually cited in your text.

14. Appendices

Appendices are extra sections at the very back of a report in which supplementary information is stored. This could be tables of data, copies of observation forms or notes, extracts (not photocopies) from large documents (for example, Parliamentary Enquiries) to which you have referred, or any other essential information which you have mentioned in your report and to which you would like your reader to be able to refer. Put each source in a separate Appendix; Appendix A [or 1], Appendix B [or 2], and so on.

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Reports and essays: key differences

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6+ Academic Report Examples – PDF

Academic Report Examples

As a way of evaluating a student’s logical capacity, comprehension level and writing skill , some professors require their students to write a document presenting their ideas, thoughts, analyses, etc. about a certain topic. Other than writing an essay , the students can also use a report in order effectively present their objective deductions and findings.

acdemic report

A formal report is another way of presenting facts and analysis you have gathered from your readings about a certain topic. In requires thorough research, readings, rationalizing, analyzing and making a point. It goes beyond that of an essay, it is more than just arguing a position and drawing conclusions, although a report can also do that, it must comprehensively present pertinent facts and information in order for the reader to see the subject in new light.

As you may know, report writing is a very useful skill not only academically but also in your future career. Not only does it hones your writing skills it also improves your analytical and critical thinking skills since it urges you to come up with objective findings based on facts. Therefore, it will surely help you be good at whatever job you wish to pursue in the future; no employer says no to a critically and analytically adept individual. You may also see marketing report examples.

Academic Research Report Template

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Academic Report Format Guide Example

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Difference Between an Essay and Report

An essay and a report are both effective ways of presenting information and data. However, some professors may prefer one over the other. In order to know the difference between the two, a list of their differences are presented below:

  • Essay are rarely used outside the academic realm.
  • It focuses on analyzing or evaluating theory, past research by other people, and ideas.
  • Rarely presents the findings of a newly conducted research.
  • It only has four significant parts or elements.
  • The flow of writing is continuous and does not have dividing sections.
  • It usually does not include table, charts, and/or diagrams.
  • It should not be used as the method in arriving at conclusions.
  • Is usually not reflective about the process of researching and writing the essay itself.
  • It does not include recommendations.
  • It is argumentative and mostly based on ideas.
  • Only offers conclusions on a question or on presented issues or problems.

You may also see business report examples.

  • Originated from the professional world but is still used academically.
  • Often presents data and findings that the researcher himself has gathered.
  • Uses data gathering methods such as surveys, experiment or case study, or by applying theory.
  • Commonly has at least 12 parts or sections and 14 parts or sections at most.
  • Topics are divided into different sections or headings or sub-headings.
  • It usually contains tables, graphs, charts and diagrams.
  • Includes the method/s the researcher used.
  • It includes recommendations on what actions to make.
  • It is an informative and fact-based document.
  • Follows specific style for each section.
  • It is written with a specific purpose and reader in mind.

You may also like examples of short report .

Management Decisions and Control Academic Report Example

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Flood Mitigation and Water Storage Engineering Academic Report Example

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Contents of an Academic Report

An effective academic report must have the contents and sections necessary to nit-pick and through explain a subject. Listed below are the contents of an academic report:

  • Author Declaration
  • Abstract or Executive Summary
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Method or Methodology or Research Design
  • Results or Findings
  • Discussion of Results or Analysis or Interpretation
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • References or Bibliography

How to Write an Academic Report

1. title page.

This means what it literally means. The title of the general report should be indicated on this page of the academic report. In some cases, the title page also includes your name as the author and student number, the name of the course and the course code. For example:

Communication Skills Relevant in International Business

John Smith (012345) Business 300

2. Author Declaration

In some universities or colleges, you will need to fill out a form from the department or faculty conforming that the report is in fact your own output. This form is attached to any assigned report or essay for your course.

3. Abstract or Executive Summary

An abstract is a short opening for your entire report. It is a basically a summary of the report as a whole and therefore should only be around 150 words in length. In order to effectively write it, a good techniques is writing it after all the sections, headings and sub-headings have been presented. Here’s a tip: write one or two sentences representing each section of the report in order to have a complete and comprehensive abstract.

4. Acknowledgements

Although acknowledgements are normally necessary in major reports, it can also be included in an academic report. This acknowledges the people who have supported you in your research and has contributed in the completion of the report. However, do not go overboard. This should only be short and direct to the point. You may also like consulting report examples.

6. Table of Contents

This is where the reader goes to look for specific sections or topics found in your report. This contains the actual titles of each section, heading and sub-headings along with their actual page numbers. A good way or organizing your table of contents is to list the contents in according to hierarchy numbers, from first to last. After the list of the contents comes a separate list for the tables, charts, diagrams, etc that is found in your report. You may also check out management report examples.

7. Introduction

The introduction must present the purpose or objective of the report and explain why the report is necessary or how it’s useful. It must immediately let the reader know that the report is useful in the field it is focused on and that it has a positive impact and recommendations on the subject at hand. In addition, you can define key terms you have repeatedly used in the report so that the reader has a clear idea on what you mean when you use the term. You might be interested in recruitment report examples.

Author’s Note : The following sections (8-11) are primarily used in major reports such as research, an experiment, survey or observation. If your report is based on reading, you can replace these sections with topic heading of your own choosing.

8. Literature Review

In this section, describe and report the previous and current thinking and research on the topic. You include a summary on what other have written about the topic you are reporting. This section will mostly consist of in-text citations from the books, articles, reports, etc. you have read about the topic. You may also see report examples in excel .

Simply, it is a review of all the literature you have read in order to form your own thinking about the topic. These literature are your basis for conducting your own report. The literature review should follow the format, MLA or APA format, you professor has required in citing your references.

9. Method or Methodology or Research Design

This section is all about the method or way you have gathered or collected your data. You present and tell your reader/s how were you able the data you have in your report. For example, you can describe the step-by-step process you did when you conducted an experiment or write a detailed description of a situation you have observed. In addition, in this section it is normal that you also have to explain why you collected the data through that method. An normally, the justification should also be quite detailed. You can include some in-text references to research methods references to help explain and justify your choice of method(s). You may also like monthly report examples & samples.

10. Results or Findings

Simply present the results or findings of your report in this section. There is no need for discussions, analysis and explanations of the results. Oftentimes, this section includes a table to comprehensively present the findings. Aside from that, this is also where you state whether you accept or reject the hypothesis or hypotheses you have made in you report. You may also check out sample activity reports .

11. Discussion of Results or Analysis or Interpretation

This is where you present what you think about the results you have formulated in your report. You can also include comment abut your results in this section. Here are other things the discussion section can include:

  • Describing and suggesting reasons for any patterns in the results, possibly including anomalies (results that don’t ‘fit in with’ the rest).
  • Explaining what you found (perhaps with reference to theory). You may also see performance report examples.
  • Commenting on how much your findings agree or disagree with the literature.
  • Considering the accuracy and reliability of your results (and how the methods you used might have affected that accuracy).
  • Considering the implications of your results – what they might mean for your practice, for example. • Discussing what further research in this area might be useful in future. You may also like investigation report samples and examples.

12. Conclusions

In the conclusions, you should summarize the key findings of your report. Remember that all the information that you include in the conclusions should have been presented before and are new information. The conclusions should effectively summarize and present all the major points you have made so far in you report.

13. Recommendations

Recommendations are not necessarily needed in all academic reports, however, work-related and case studies should always present recommendations. These suggestions are for future actions in order to solve or improve issues or problems presented in the report. You may also check out free report examples & samples.

14. References or Bibliography

There should be a list on all the references you have used to cite and to back your claims. It should only contain all the literature you have cited in your report. Depending on the requirement, you can follow either an MLA or APA format for citation.

15. Appendices

Appendices contains all the supplementary information is ‘stored’. This could be table of data, copies of observation forms or notes, extracts from large documents, a transcript of a recording, etc. You might be interested in technical report examples & samples.

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How to Write an Academic Report

Rebecca Renner

How to write a humanities paper

When you’re in college, and even in high school, your teachers and professors will ask you to communicate about your studies in the form of scholarly writing. In many subjects, scholarly writing can take the form of an academic report. These reports often mimic the formatting of the standard scholarly papers in your field. In this way, they act as training for your future career in research or academia. So it's important to take them seriously, format them correctly and dig into the research as if the study of that subject was your job.

What Are Academic Reports?

An academic report is a piece of writing produced for class that uses a formal style to convey information learned through reading and experimentation. Academic reports are a required part of many fields of study, including chemistry, physics, biology, sociology and even humanities like political science.

What differentiates an academic report from an essay is that an academic report focuses on presenting information obtained from research and reading rather than discussing opinions of other writers. Essentially, academic reports are more empirical.

Academic reports in various subjects share standard formatting guidelines. For example, all reports in the sciences must include certain subheadings. These subheadings correspond to the scientific method, and their inclusion makes the replication of experiments easier for other scientists during the process of peer review.

Unlike essays, academic reports can and should use different visual forms, such as graphs and tables. A report doesn't need to use a bibliography if it doesn’t refer to other texts for information. However, as a student, it's better to include background research because in most cases, you're not yet an expert in the field.

Know Your Assignment

Before you start writing, read your teacher’s assignment carefully. Many teachers include additional parameters for their assignments that you would not know by just reading a how-to on the internet. Make note of the parts of the assignment that you think you'll forget.

Your teacher’s instructions will most likely include their desired report writing format. If you’re writing a report in a subject you have been taking for a while, the teachers may assume that you already know the format they require. If you're unsure, ask your teacher for the specific requirements. You can also look at report writing samples online. Even if you already know the format, sometimes it's good to look at a visual example before you start writing. Don’t assume you have everything memorized. Assuming it's a quick way to make mistakes.

Determine Your Intent

After you understand your teacher’s instructions, figure out what you’re going to write about and how you’re going to write it. In other words, determine your report’s subject, purpose and intent.

Here’s an example: Your teacher has given you an assignment to create an experiment that uses chemistry to explain something in your environment. First, you would figure out what you want to explain. You might decide to study your town’s water quality. To determine your subject, write your idea in the form of a question. You might write: Is the water quality in our town potable according to EPA standards? Your report will use research and evidence to explain the answer to this question.

Read Up on Your Subject

Doing background research is an integral part of writing any report. Background research can prove the validity of your subject. It can also help you by giving you information you might have had to determine from research in the field. In other words, background research makes your field research easier and gives you less work in the long run.

To find previous research done on your subject, first, ask your school’s librarian which scholarly research portals are available on your school’s website. These portals, such as JSTOR and Wiley Online, allow you to access scholarly papers published on your subject without having to pay to read them. However, if your school doesn't have this option, next check with your local public library for free resources. Google Scholar is a good, free online alternative. But be wary of websites like Wikipedia that lack fact checking or peer review.

As you read, be sure to make a list of all of the papers you'll reference when you write. Even if you don't quote them directly, academic integrity requires you to make note of them in your works cited.

Find Something New

The next step in writing your report is to find new information. You already read up on your subject, so now it’s time to create an experiment to answer your question. As you work, write down every step you take. Everything you do will need to be noted in your report.

If you're investigating the water quality of your town, you might select a random sample of houses and ask those people if you could take a sample of water from their tap. After you have collected your samples, you would analyze them using your lab’s equipment and record the results. Use an appropriate method of statistical analysis to analyze those results. Then, create a visual representation of them with graphs and tables.

Methods of discovery for other subjects are similar. You might instead decide to analyze the rhetoric of a political candidate for your political science class. One way you could go about this is to determine the most common words the candidate uses while giving speeches. Tabulating these words and comparing them to the content and messages of the speeches themselves might give you plenty to analyze in a written report.

Outline Your Paper

After you have performed your experiments and collected data, now you need to arrange that information in a way that is both easy-to-read and appropriate for your field of study. If your report is for a class in the sciences, you'll probably need some variation of these subheadings: introduction, materials, methods, results, discussion and conclusion. Sometimes abstracts and appendices are also included. Again, follow your teacher’s specific guidelines in order to know that you’ve gotten things right.

The introduction of your report will describe your reasons for conducting your experiment. It will answer this question: What motivated you to pursue the results of this experiment? The introduction will also summarize other parts of your paper.

The materials section is fairly simple. Under this subheading, you'll need to list the materials you used to perform your experiment. Make sure your list is accurate. The point of this section is to make it easier for other scientists to replicate your experiment.

The methods section is essentially a step-by-step guide on how to perform your experiment. If you think of your experiment like a dish, then the methods section is its recipe, giving instructions to other people, so they might perform your experiment, too.

The results section presents raw data as well as analyzed data. The results section will include tables and graphs. It can include some explanation, but it should not go into too much detail.

A detailed discussion of results is reserved for the next section, aptly called the discussion. The discussion section will explain your experiment’s results, and tell the reader why those results matter. The discussion section could also discuss the validity of the data and possible ways the experimenter would change their methods in order to get better, more satisfying or more accurate results.

The last part of your paper is the conclusion. Like in an essay, the conclusion summarizes the rest of the report. It also circles back to the introduction. It asks the question: Have the results of the experiment satisfied the reason it was pursued?

While you're creating your outline, address each of these required subheadings with a few bullet points. There's no need to go into great detail until you write the report itself.

How Do You Write a Book Report?

In some ways, writing a book report is very different from writing an academic report. While both require formal writing, writing a book report is often more like writing an essay about the book than it's like reporting academic findings. Book reports generally don't need sections, and they don't need to list procedures and the like. However, refer back to your assignment for specifics on how your teacher or professor would like your work completed.

Compose Your Report

While you're composing your report, be sure to maintain higher-level academic diction. Flesh out the ideas in your outline, offering explanation and further references were necessary.

In a scientific report, some of your sections will include more writing than others. For example, your materials section may just be a simple list. However, some teachers might require that you give an explanation for each item on your materials list, defining how it was used and discussing alternatives. The results section may also have a low word count, as it's mostly composed of numbers and graphs. The introduction, discussion and conclusion will be heaviest on verbiage and analysis. If you struggle with writing these sections, remember you're simply describing what you have done and why it matters. Also, don’t forget that your first draft will always be messy. You can fix small mistakes when you're revising.

Review and Revision

Once you finish the first draft of your report, read it over once yourself. Mark any place in the text that seems light on reasoning or explanation. Fill these places in before you do anything else.

After you have made additions and developed the content of your report, read it over again looking for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Correct these errors yourself, and then find a classmate, friend or teacher, and ask them to read your report, too. Make sure the person you ask is someone you can trust to give you a thorough critique. If your mother tells you that everything you write is perfect, she’s probably not the best choice for revision buddies.

Ask the person critiquing your report to make marks on your paper indicating mistakes or places with underdeveloped reasoning. Afterward, read what they have written and edit your paper accordingly. The best revision strategy is to ask more than one person to read all of your work. Having a variety of opinions will give you a more accurate picture of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Double Check

Before you turn in your report, give it one last look over. Do you see any grammatical mistakes? Have you included everything your teacher asked for in their assignment? If everything looks good, it’s time to print out the final draft of your work. Format your report according to your teacher’s guidelines. You can even go the extra mile by presenting it in a folder or clipping it into a binder. You have spent a lot of time and energy on this project, so treat your work with respect.

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Rebecca Renner is a teacher and freelance writer from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her byline has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Glamour and elsewhere.

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how to write an academic report

A Guide for Students is created to help you ace your academic. In this detailed encounter, we will cover the fundamentals of academic report writing and uncover effective tips to score high in academic reports.

Learn More about the Academic Report

An academic report stands as a formal document showcasing research outcomes with clarity and brevity. While such reports may be perceived as monotonous, there are strategies available to enhance reader engagement and vitality within your document.

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Structure of an academic report .

The report's sections vary depending on the type and the audience for whom it is intended. However, the conventional structure of an academic report is discussed here. These sections are:

1. Title Page

The title page includes the main title of the report, the author's name, and the date the report was completed.

2.  Abstract

The abstract is a summary of the contents of the report. It should be no more than one paragraph long and should be concise and to the point.

3.  Table of Contents

The content table provides an overview of the sections in the report. It should be organized using headings and subheadings to make it easy to navigate.

4.  Introduction

The Introduction of the report  provides background information on the topic. It should also include the purpose or objectives of the research and any hypotheses tested in Introduction . 

5.  Methods

The Methodology section should describe how the research was conducted. A Methodology includes information on what data was collected and how it was collected.

6.  Results

The results Section presents the findings of the research in an objective manner. Any data or statistical analysis should be included in the results Section . 

7.  Discussion

The Discussion section is where the interpretation of the results occurs. This is where you discuss what these results mean concerning your hypotheses and any broader implications.

8.  Conclusion

The Conclusion briefly summarizes the main points from each section of the report. It should also include suggestions for future research on the topic. 

9.  References

The references list provides total citations for all sources used in the report.

10. Appendices

Appendices include any additional material that is not essential to understanding the report's contents but may be helpful for further context or background information (e.g., raw data, surveys, etc.)

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Organizing your information.

After understanding the common sections in an academic report, let's delve into organizing information within each section. Consider these tips:

  • Utilize headings and subheadings for clearer, reader-friendly content. Headings should be concise, outlining different topics. Subheadings can further break down these topics.
  • Maintain formal language. Avoid contractions (e.g., don't) and first-person pronouns (e.g., I, me, we). Prefer third-person pronouns (e.g., he/she/it/they). If first-person pronouns are necessary, use them sparingly to maintain a formal and unbiased tone.

Practical Tips for Academic Report Planning

Prior to writing, allocate time for report planning. Clarify your message and its presentation. Formulate a main point outline with supporting evidence. This approach maintains writing focus, ensuring a coherent and organized report.

1. Start With a Strong Introduction

The introduction establishes your report's foundation with a topic overview and main points. Include a thesis or hypothesis to give readers a preview of what's to come.

2. Support Your Claims With Evidence.

As mentioned earlier, academic reports depend on research findings. So, it's vital to back all claims with evidence from your investigation, including data from surveys, experiments, or sources like books and articles. Properly citing your sources helps readers find more information easily.

3. Use Active Voice.

One way to engage your reader is to use active voice throughout your report. The passive voice sounds dull and can make your writing hard to follow. For example, compare these two sentences:  

  •   The data was analyzed by the researcher.
  •   The researcher analyzed the data.

See how the second sentence sounds more dynamic? That’s the effect you want to aim for in your academic report.

4. Make Sure Your Ideas Flow Smoothly.

To maintain reader engagement, ensure smooth flow between paragraphs. Use transitions like "in addition," "moreover," and topic sentences to introduce main ideas. Clear idea connections enhance reader involvement in your argument.

5. Use Strong Verbs

Boost report appeal with strong verbs. They convey confidence and vitality, vital for dull subjects. For instance, switch "data suggest" to "data indicate" for added impact. Apply this to your report's verb choices.

6. Cite Your Sources

Whenever using external information, cite sources in the right style (Harvard, MLA, APA, etc.). It showcases academic integrity and your credible, well-researched approach.

7.  Edit and Proofread

After writing, edit and proofread your report. This ensures error-free, readable content. If feasible, have others review it too; fresh eyes often catch mistakes.

By following these tips, you can write an academic report that is clear, concise, and easy for your reader to follow—an essential factor in keeping them engaged with your work from start to finish. So, don't be afraid to upgrade your language and make sure your ideas flow smoothly; doing so will result in a more compelling academic report overall.

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Research Method

Home » Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Table of Contents

Research Report

Research Report

Definition:

Research Report is a written document that presents the results of a research project or study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, in a clear and objective manner.

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the findings of the research to the intended audience, which could be other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public.

Components of Research Report

Components of Research Report are as follows:

Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for the research report and provides a brief overview of the research question or problem being investigated. It should include a clear statement of the purpose of the study and its significance or relevance to the field of research. It may also provide background information or a literature review to help contextualize the research.

Literature Review

The literature review provides a critical analysis and synthesis of the existing research and scholarship relevant to the research question or problem. It should identify the gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the literature and show how the current study addresses these issues. The literature review also establishes the theoretical framework or conceptual model that guides the research.

Methodology

The methodology section describes the research design, methods, and procedures used to collect and analyze data. It should include information on the sample or participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis techniques. The methodology should be clear and detailed enough to allow other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and objective manner. It should provide a detailed description of the data and statistics used to answer the research question or test the hypothesis. Tables, graphs, and figures may be included to help visualize the data and illustrate the key findings.

The discussion section interprets the results of the study and explains their significance or relevance to the research question or problem. It should also compare the current findings with those of previous studies and identify the implications for future research or practice. The discussion should be based on the results presented in the previous section and should avoid speculation or unfounded conclusions.

The conclusion summarizes the key findings of the study and restates the main argument or thesis presented in the introduction. It should also provide a brief overview of the contributions of the study to the field of research and the implications for practice or policy.

The references section lists all the sources cited in the research report, following a specific citation style, such as APA or MLA.

The appendices section includes any additional material, such as data tables, figures, or instruments used in the study, that could not be included in the main text due to space limitations.

Types of Research Report

Types of Research Report are as follows:

Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree, although it can also be written by researchers or scholars in other fields.

Research Paper

Research paper is a type of research report. A research paper is a document that presents the results of a research study or investigation. Research papers can be written in a variety of fields, including science, social science, humanities, and business. They typically follow a standard format that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections.

Technical Report

A technical report is a detailed report that provides information about a specific technical or scientific problem or project. Technical reports are often used in engineering, science, and other technical fields to document research and development work.

Progress Report

A progress report provides an update on the progress of a research project or program over a specific period of time. Progress reports are typically used to communicate the status of a project to stakeholders, funders, or project managers.

Feasibility Report

A feasibility report assesses the feasibility of a proposed project or plan, providing an analysis of the potential risks, benefits, and costs associated with the project. Feasibility reports are often used in business, engineering, and other fields to determine the viability of a project before it is undertaken.

Field Report

A field report documents observations and findings from fieldwork, which is research conducted in the natural environment or setting. Field reports are often used in anthropology, ecology, and other social and natural sciences.

Experimental Report

An experimental report documents the results of a scientific experiment, including the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Experimental reports are often used in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to communicate the results of laboratory experiments.

Case Study Report

A case study report provides an in-depth analysis of a specific case or situation, often used in psychology, social work, and other fields to document and understand complex cases or phenomena.

Literature Review Report

A literature review report synthesizes and summarizes existing research on a specific topic, providing an overview of the current state of knowledge on the subject. Literature review reports are often used in social sciences, education, and other fields to identify gaps in the literature and guide future research.

Research Report Example

Following is a Research Report Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance among High School Students

This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students. The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The findings indicate that there is a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students. The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers, as they highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities.

Introduction:

Social media has become an integral part of the lives of high school students. With the widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, students can connect with friends, share photos and videos, and engage in discussions on a range of topics. While social media offers many benefits, concerns have been raised about its impact on academic performance. Many studies have found a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance among high school students (Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Paul, Baker, & Cochran, 2012).

Given the growing importance of social media in the lives of high school students, it is important to investigate its impact on academic performance. This study aims to address this gap by examining the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students.

Methodology:

The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The questionnaire was developed based on previous studies and was designed to measure the frequency and duration of social media use, as well as academic performance.

The participants were selected using a convenience sampling technique, and the survey questionnaire was distributed in the classroom during regular school hours. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

The findings indicate that the majority of high school students use social media platforms on a daily basis, with Facebook being the most popular platform. The results also show a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students.

Discussion:

The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. The negative correlation between social media use and academic performance suggests that strategies should be put in place to help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. For example, educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this study provides evidence of the negative impact of social media on academic performance among high school students. The findings highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. Further research is needed to explore the specific mechanisms by which social media use affects academic performance and to develop effective strategies for addressing this issue.

Limitations:

One limitation of this study is the use of convenience sampling, which limits the generalizability of the findings to other populations. Future studies should use random sampling techniques to increase the representativeness of the sample. Another limitation is the use of self-reported measures, which may be subject to social desirability bias. Future studies could use objective measures of social media use and academic performance, such as tracking software and school records.

Implications:

The findings of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. Educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. For example, teachers could use social media platforms to share relevant educational resources and facilitate online discussions. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. They could also engage in open communication with their children to understand their social media use and its impact on their academic performance. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students. For example, schools could implement social media policies that restrict access during class time and encourage responsible use.

References:

  • Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245.
  • Paul, J. A., Baker, H. M., & Cochran, J. D. (2012). Effect of online social networking on student academic performance. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 8(1), 1-19.
  • Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.
  • Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.

Note*: Above mention, Example is just a sample for the students’ guide. Do not directly copy and paste as your College or University assignment. Kindly do some research and Write your own.

Applications of Research Report

Research reports have many applications, including:

  • Communicating research findings: The primary application of a research report is to communicate the results of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public. The report serves as a way to share new knowledge, insights, and discoveries with others in the field.
  • Informing policy and practice : Research reports can inform policy and practice by providing evidence-based recommendations for decision-makers. For example, a research report on the effectiveness of a new drug could inform regulatory agencies in their decision-making process.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research in a particular area. Other researchers may use the findings and methodology of a report to develop new research questions or to build on existing research.
  • Evaluating programs and interventions : Research reports can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions in achieving their intended outcomes. For example, a research report on a new educational program could provide evidence of its impact on student performance.
  • Demonstrating impact : Research reports can be used to demonstrate the impact of research funding or to evaluate the success of research projects. By presenting the findings and outcomes of a study, research reports can show the value of research to funders and stakeholders.
  • Enhancing professional development : Research reports can be used to enhance professional development by providing a source of information and learning for researchers and practitioners in a particular field. For example, a research report on a new teaching methodology could provide insights and ideas for educators to incorporate into their own practice.

How to write Research Report

Here are some steps you can follow to write a research report:

  • Identify the research question: The first step in writing a research report is to identify your research question. This will help you focus your research and organize your findings.
  • Conduct research : Once you have identified your research question, you will need to conduct research to gather relevant data and information. This can involve conducting experiments, reviewing literature, or analyzing data.
  • Organize your findings: Once you have gathered all of your data, you will need to organize your findings in a way that is clear and understandable. This can involve creating tables, graphs, or charts to illustrate your results.
  • Write the report: Once you have organized your findings, you can begin writing the report. Start with an introduction that provides background information and explains the purpose of your research. Next, provide a detailed description of your research methods and findings. Finally, summarize your results and draw conclusions based on your findings.
  • Proofread and edit: After you have written your report, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and make sure that your report is well-organized and easy to read.
  • Include a reference list: Be sure to include a list of references that you used in your research. This will give credit to your sources and allow readers to further explore the topic if they choose.
  • Format your report: Finally, format your report according to the guidelines provided by your instructor or organization. This may include formatting requirements for headings, margins, fonts, and spacing.

Purpose of Research Report

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the results of a research study to a specific audience, such as peers in the same field, stakeholders, or the general public. The report provides a detailed description of the research methods, findings, and conclusions.

Some common purposes of a research report include:

  • Sharing knowledge: A research report allows researchers to share their findings and knowledge with others in their field. This helps to advance the field and improve the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Identifying trends: A research report can identify trends and patterns in data, which can help guide future research and inform decision-making.
  • Addressing problems: A research report can provide insights into problems or issues and suggest solutions or recommendations for addressing them.
  • Evaluating programs or interventions : A research report can evaluate the effectiveness of programs or interventions, which can inform decision-making about whether to continue, modify, or discontinue them.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies.

When to Write Research Report

A research report should be written after completing the research study. This includes collecting data, analyzing the results, and drawing conclusions based on the findings. Once the research is complete, the report should be written in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

In academic settings, research reports are often required as part of coursework or as part of a thesis or dissertation. In this case, the report should be written according to the guidelines provided by the instructor or institution.

In other settings, such as in industry or government, research reports may be required to inform decision-making or to comply with regulatory requirements. In these cases, the report should be written as soon as possible after the research is completed in order to inform decision-making in a timely manner.

Overall, the timing of when to write a research report depends on the purpose of the research, the expectations of the audience, and any regulatory requirements that need to be met. However, it is important to complete the report in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

Characteristics of Research Report

There are several characteristics of a research report that distinguish it from other types of writing. These characteristics include:

  • Objective: A research report should be written in an objective and unbiased manner. It should present the facts and findings of the research study without any personal opinions or biases.
  • Systematic: A research report should be written in a systematic manner. It should follow a clear and logical structure, and the information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Detailed: A research report should be detailed and comprehensive. It should provide a thorough description of the research methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Accurate : A research report should be accurate and based on sound research methods. The findings and conclusions should be supported by data and evidence.
  • Organized: A research report should be well-organized. It should include headings and subheadings to help the reader navigate the report and understand the main points.
  • Clear and concise: A research report should be written in clear and concise language. The information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand, and unnecessary jargon should be avoided.
  • Citations and references: A research report should include citations and references to support the findings and conclusions. This helps to give credit to other researchers and to provide readers with the opportunity to further explore the topic.

Advantages of Research Report

Research reports have several advantages, including:

  • Communicating research findings: Research reports allow researchers to communicate their findings to a wider audience, including other researchers, stakeholders, and the general public. This helps to disseminate knowledge and advance the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Providing evidence for decision-making : Research reports can provide evidence to inform decision-making, such as in the case of policy-making, program planning, or product development. The findings and conclusions can help guide decisions and improve outcomes.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research on a particular topic. Other researchers can build on the findings and conclusions of the report, which can lead to further discoveries and advancements in the field.
  • Demonstrating expertise: Research reports can demonstrate the expertise of the researchers and their ability to conduct rigorous and high-quality research. This can be important for securing funding, promotions, and other professional opportunities.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies. Producing a high-quality research report can help ensure compliance with these requirements.

Limitations of Research Report

Despite their advantages, research reports also have some limitations, including:

  • Time-consuming: Conducting research and writing a report can be a time-consuming process, particularly for large-scale studies. This can limit the frequency and speed of producing research reports.
  • Expensive: Conducting research and producing a report can be expensive, particularly for studies that require specialized equipment, personnel, or data. This can limit the scope and feasibility of some research studies.
  • Limited generalizability: Research studies often focus on a specific population or context, which can limit the generalizability of the findings to other populations or contexts.
  • Potential bias : Researchers may have biases or conflicts of interest that can influence the findings and conclusions of the research study. Additionally, participants may also have biases or may not be representative of the larger population, which can limit the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Accessibility: Research reports may be written in technical or academic language, which can limit their accessibility to a wider audience. Additionally, some research may be behind paywalls or require specialized access, which can limit the ability of others to read and use the findings.

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How To Write A Lab Report | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on May 20, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment. The main purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method by performing and evaluating a hands-on lab experiment. This type of assignment is usually shorter than a research paper .

Lab reports are commonly used in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This article focuses on how to structure and write a lab report.

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Table of contents

Structuring a lab report, introduction, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about lab reports.

The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but they usually contain the purpose, methods, and findings of a lab experiment .

Each section of a lab report has its own purpose.

  • Title: expresses the topic of your study
  • Abstract : summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
  • Introduction: establishes the context needed to understand the topic
  • Method: describes the materials and procedures used in the experiment
  • Results: reports all descriptive and inferential statistical analyses
  • Discussion: interprets and evaluates results and identifies limitations
  • Conclusion: sums up the main findings of your experiment
  • References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA )
  • Appendices : contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures

Although most lab reports contain these sections, some sections can be omitted or combined with others. For example, some lab reports contain a brief section on research aims instead of an introduction, and a separate conclusion is not always required.

If you’re not sure, it’s best to check your lab report requirements with your instructor.

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Your title provides the first impression of your lab report – effective titles communicate the topic and/or the findings of your study in specific terms.

Create a title that directly conveys the main focus or purpose of your study. It doesn’t need to be creative or thought-provoking, but it should be informative.

  • The effects of varying nitrogen levels on tomato plant height.
  • Testing the universality of the McGurk effect.
  • Comparing the viscosity of common liquids found in kitchens.

An abstract condenses a lab report into a brief overview of about 150–300 words. It should provide readers with a compact version of the research aims, the methods and materials used, the main results, and the final conclusion.

Think of it as a way of giving readers a preview of your full lab report. Write the abstract last, in the past tense, after you’ve drafted all the other sections of your report, so you’ll be able to succinctly summarize each section.

To write a lab report abstract, use these guiding questions:

  • What is the wider context of your study?
  • What research question were you trying to answer?
  • How did you perform the experiment?
  • What did your results show?
  • How did you interpret your results?
  • What is the importance of your findings?

Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for high quality plants. Tomatoes, one of the most consumed fruits worldwide, rely on nitrogen for healthy leaves and stems to grow fruit. This experiment tested whether nitrogen levels affected tomato plant height in a controlled setting. It was expected that higher levels of nitrogen fertilizer would yield taller tomato plants.

Levels of nitrogen fertilizer were varied between three groups of tomato plants. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer, while one experimental group received low levels of nitrogen fertilizer, and a second experimental group received high levels of nitrogen fertilizer. All plants were grown from seeds, and heights were measured 50 days into the experiment.

The effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were tested between groups using an ANOVA. The plants with the highest level of nitrogen fertilizer were the tallest, while the plants with low levels of nitrogen exceeded the control group plants in height. In line with expectations and previous findings, the effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were statistically significant. This study strengthens the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants.

Your lab report introduction should set the scene for your experiment. One way to write your introduction is with a funnel (an inverted triangle) structure:

  • Start with the broad, general research topic
  • Narrow your topic down your specific study focus
  • End with a clear research question

Begin by providing background information on your research topic and explaining why it’s important in a broad real-world or theoretical context. Describe relevant previous research on your topic and note how your study may confirm it or expand it, or fill a gap in the research field.

This lab experiment builds on previous research from Haque, Paul, and Sarker (2011), who demonstrated that tomato plant yield increased at higher levels of nitrogen. However, the present research focuses on plant height as a growth indicator and uses a lab-controlled setting instead.

Next, go into detail on the theoretical basis for your study and describe any directly relevant laws or equations that you’ll be using. State your main research aims and expectations by outlining your hypotheses .

Based on the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants, the primary hypothesis was that the plants with the high levels of nitrogen would grow the tallest. The secondary hypothesis was that plants with low levels of nitrogen would grow taller than plants with no nitrogen.

Your introduction doesn’t need to be long, but you may need to organize it into a few paragraphs or with subheadings such as “Research Context” or “Research Aims.”

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A lab report Method section details the steps you took to gather and analyze data. Give enough detail so that others can follow or evaluate your procedures. Write this section in the past tense. If you need to include any long lists of procedural steps or materials, place them in the Appendices section but refer to them in the text here.

You should describe your experimental design, your subjects, materials, and specific procedures used for data collection and analysis.

Experimental design

Briefly note whether your experiment is a within-subjects  or between-subjects design, and describe how your sample units were assigned to conditions if relevant.

A between-subjects design with three groups of tomato plants was used. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer. The first experimental group received a low level of nitrogen fertilizer, while the second experimental group received a high level of nitrogen fertilizer.

Describe human subjects in terms of demographic characteristics, and animal or plant subjects in terms of genetic background. Note the total number of subjects as well as the number of subjects per condition or per group. You should also state how you recruited subjects for your study.

List the equipment or materials you used to gather data and state the model names for any specialized equipment.

List of materials

35 Tomato seeds

15 plant pots (15 cm tall)

Light lamps (50,000 lux)

Nitrogen fertilizer

Measuring tape

Describe your experimental settings and conditions in detail. You can provide labelled diagrams or images of the exact set-up necessary for experimental equipment. State how extraneous variables were controlled through restriction or by fixing them at a certain level (e.g., keeping the lab at room temperature).

Light levels were fixed throughout the experiment, and the plants were exposed to 12 hours of light a day. Temperature was restricted to between 23 and 25℃. The pH and carbon levels of the soil were also held constant throughout the experiment as these variables could influence plant height. The plants were grown in rooms free of insects or other pests, and they were spaced out adequately.

Your experimental procedure should describe the exact steps you took to gather data in chronological order. You’ll need to provide enough information so that someone else can replicate your procedure, but you should also be concise. Place detailed information in the appendices where appropriate.

In a lab experiment, you’ll often closely follow a lab manual to gather data. Some instructors will allow you to simply reference the manual and state whether you changed any steps based on practical considerations. Other instructors may want you to rewrite the lab manual procedures as complete sentences in coherent paragraphs, while noting any changes to the steps that you applied in practice.

If you’re performing extensive data analysis, be sure to state your planned analysis methods as well. This includes the types of tests you’ll perform and any programs or software you’ll use for calculations (if relevant).

First, tomato seeds were sown in wooden flats containing soil about 2 cm below the surface. Each seed was kept 3-5 cm apart. The flats were covered to keep the soil moist until germination. The seedlings were removed and transplanted to pots 8 days later, with a maximum of 2 plants to a pot. Each pot was watered once a day to keep the soil moist.

The nitrogen fertilizer treatment was applied to the plant pots 12 days after transplantation. The control group received no treatment, while the first experimental group received a low concentration, and the second experimental group received a high concentration. There were 5 pots in each group, and each plant pot was labelled to indicate the group the plants belonged to.

50 days after the start of the experiment, plant height was measured for all plants. A measuring tape was used to record the length of the plant from ground level to the top of the tallest leaf.

In your results section, you should report the results of any statistical analysis procedures that you undertook. You should clearly state how the results of statistical tests support or refute your initial hypotheses.

The main results to report include:

  • any descriptive statistics
  • statistical test results
  • the significance of the test results
  • estimates of standard error or confidence intervals

The mean heights of the plants in the control group, low nitrogen group, and high nitrogen groups were 20.3, 25.1, and 29.6 cm respectively. A one-way ANOVA was applied to calculate the effect of nitrogen fertilizer level on plant height. The results demonstrated statistically significant ( p = .03) height differences between groups.

Next, post-hoc tests were performed to assess the primary and secondary hypotheses. In support of the primary hypothesis, the high nitrogen group plants were significantly taller than the low nitrogen group and the control group plants. Similarly, the results supported the secondary hypothesis: the low nitrogen plants were taller than the control group plants.

These results can be reported in the text or in tables and figures. Use text for highlighting a few key results, but present large sets of numbers in tables, or show relationships between variables with graphs.

You should also include sample calculations in the Results section for complex experiments. For each sample calculation, provide a brief description of what it does and use clear symbols. Present your raw data in the Appendices section and refer to it to highlight any outliers or trends.

The Discussion section will help demonstrate your understanding of the experimental process and your critical thinking skills.

In this section, you can:

  • Interpret your results
  • Compare your findings with your expectations
  • Identify any sources of experimental error
  • Explain any unexpected results
  • Suggest possible improvements for further studies

Interpreting your results involves clarifying how your results help you answer your main research question. Report whether your results support your hypotheses.

  • Did you measure what you sought out to measure?
  • Were your analysis procedures appropriate for this type of data?

Compare your findings with other research and explain any key differences in findings.

  • Are your results in line with those from previous studies or your classmates’ results? Why or why not?

An effective Discussion section will also highlight the strengths and limitations of a study.

  • Did you have high internal validity or reliability?
  • How did you establish these aspects of your study?

When describing limitations, use specific examples. For example, if random error contributed substantially to the measurements in your study, state the particular sources of error (e.g., imprecise apparatus) and explain ways to improve them.

The results support the hypothesis that nitrogen levels affect plant height, with increasing levels producing taller plants. These statistically significant results are taken together with previous research to support the importance of nitrogen as a nutrient for tomato plant growth.

However, unlike previous studies, this study focused on plant height as an indicator of plant growth in the present experiment. Importantly, plant height may not always reflect plant health or fruit yield, so measuring other indicators would have strengthened the study findings.

Another limitation of the study is the plant height measurement technique, as the measuring tape was not suitable for plants with extreme curvature. Future studies may focus on measuring plant height in different ways.

The main strengths of this study were the controls for extraneous variables, such as pH and carbon levels of the soil. All other factors that could affect plant height were tightly controlled to isolate the effects of nitrogen levels, resulting in high internal validity for this study.

Your conclusion should be the final section of your lab report. Here, you’ll summarize the findings of your experiment, with a brief overview of the strengths and limitations, and implications of your study for further research.

Some lab reports may omit a Conclusion section because it overlaps with the Discussion section, but you should check with your instructor before doing so.

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A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment . Lab reports are commonly assigned in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method with a hands-on lab experiment. Course instructors will often provide you with an experimental design and procedure. Your task is to write up how you actually performed the experiment and evaluate the outcome.

In contrast, a research paper requires you to independently develop an original argument. It involves more in-depth research and interpretation of sources and data.

A lab report is usually shorter than a research paper.

The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but it usually contains the following:

  • Abstract: summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
  • References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA)
  • Appendices: contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

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Academic experts to help craft VCE exams following recent 'stuff-ups' at VCAA

A female student completes her exam using a laptop.

Academic experts will be recruited to help avoid a repeat of embarrassing Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) exam mistakes that caused distress for students sitting their final Year 12 tests, the ABC can reveal.

An investigation into several exam bungles has uncovered a cultural problem at Victoria's Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), with change required before this year's exams are designed.

Last year's VCE exams were plagued with problems and confusing typos, with several errors in the maths and chemistry exams.

Six students were also given the wrong 2023 Chinese exam , which was leaked online.

Students sit at exam tables, writing in exam papers

Some students were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement but details, including a writing prompt, surfaced on social media.

Victorian Education Minister Ben Carroll ordered an investigation into the series of “stuff-ups” in November and as a result, has not given the VCAA board a pay rise this year.

"That's based on a couple of reasons, this has happened twice now, these errors (in 2022 and 2023) … we have to do better," he said.

"A message is being sent from me as minister that it is unacceptable what these Year 12s went through … and we need to improve our standards at the VCAA."

Experts needed to proofread exams

The report into the exam blunders by the former head of the NSW Education Standards Authority, Dr John Bennett, is expected to be handed to the Victorian government next month.

But the ABC understands it will recommend the VCAA work with maths and science academics when drafting and proofreading exams, to improve quality control before the tests end up on students' desks.

"We are going to see a lot more academic rigour and integrity as part of the exam-writing process," Mr Carroll said.

"We need to bring more people into the tent that are experts in the field, to really help us with the writing of the exam and then go through a more rigorous process to ensure the exam questions are 100 per cent watertight correct."

Ben Carroll

Mr Carroll said he plans to make Dr Bennett's report public and implement all recommendations.

"To the VCAA's defence, obviously these things are held very tightly because these are exams and it's a very serious process," he said.

"By and large there have been human errors, but I do believe we can bring in some of those experts in the field, to really help us.

"But it does go to the importance of the VCAA having really strong governance and structures in place."

Mathematician Marty Ross told the ABC bringing in academic experts was "long overdue".

"I've spent a long time looking at exams and the mathematics exams have been a problem for about 20 years," he said.

"There are a lot of things wrong with the VCE exams but the key for me was the lack of involvement with mathematicians in the process.

"It's a no-brainer for me; mathematicians shouldn't just be checking the exams, they should be involved in writing them too."

Students sit at desks completing their exam on lap tops.

VCAA forced to apologise to students

The VCAA last year apologised to students for the "undue stress" the exam mistakes caused and gave assurances "no student was disadvantaged" by the bungles.

"The VCAA acknowledges that the errors in the 2023 VCE examinations did not meet the standards of the organisation or of students and the community," a VCAA spokesperson said.

"The VCAA is actively working to ensure this year's examination processes are stronger and meet the high standards that we expect."

The authority said it had engaged fully with Dr Bennett and panel members, with the review's findings to be presented to the secretary of the Department of Education in March.

Thousands of VCE students received a bonus point after two errors in the second 2023 general maths exam.

The mistake also led to an apology from Mr Carroll, who said the experience was "traumatic" for students.

Year 12 Corpus Christi College students sit at desks in rows during an exam.

But it's not the first time that exam bungles have been found.

A group of Monash University mathematicians told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry last year, mistakes had been appearing on VCE exams for almost 20 years.

The group wrote an open letter slamming the VCAA following mistakes in the specialist maths, further maths and maths methods tests in 2022, and called for an urgent overhaul of VCE exams.

"All five questions are unacceptably flawed. Each question exhibits some fundamental misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the underlying mathematics," the letter said.

A review into the 2022 exam mistakes completed by Deloitte found there was "room for improvement" in the language used in the exams, but there were no "major mathematical errors" within any of the questions.

In a parliamentary submission, Melbourne teacher John Kermond said student confidence was "severely undermined by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority's consistent errors and failure to acknowledge them".

"Students' lives are affected by these errors, the students deserve better," the submission said.

"A couple of marks here and there are potentially life-changing."

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