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WRITING RESEARCH REPORT

(Last Updated On: 30th November 2022)

Introduction

Writing research report is not a new phenomenon but, rather an integral part of scholarship, industrial and academic world. Carrying out a research is not completed until it is reported or disseminated in order for others to benefit i.e. the need to communicate a research work or studies to other interested parties in the form of; conference/seminar/workshop papers; as articles in journals or magazines; reports to funding agencies and thesis or dissertation for degrees in tertiary education institutions.

Thus, writing research reports is a necessity among undergraduate, postgraduate students, academics, industry professionals and researchers. Also, one of the characteristics of a research is that it must be “organized” and in order to make a research well organized, it must be writing and reported carefully. Writing research reports often influence by the nature of research, guidelines of institutions or organizations etc.

Objectives of Writing Research Report

There are lots of objectives for writing research reports but for the purpose of this assignments few will be mentioned:

  1. The core purpose of a research report is to communicate it to others people who may benefits from it
  2. To serve as bulk literature or empirical studies available in the aspect of study which others may use as reference material or start point.
  3. Because research cyclical in nature, suggestions and recommendations offers by earlier researchers may be the beginning of another research problem for other.
  4. To know what has been done and gaps in the area of the study
  5. It helps reduce duplication of research efforts.

What Research Reports Must Explain

Essex University, (2016). Explains that research reports must explain to others the following

i. What was done?

ii. Why it was done?

iii. How it was done?

iv. What was found?

v. What it means?

Format, Language and Structure

A key feature of writing research report is that it must follow a formal structured in sections. The use of sections makes it easy for the reader to jump straight to the information they need.

Unlike an essay which is written in a single narrative style from start to finish, each section of a research report has its own purpose and will need to be written in an appropriate style to suit. For example, the methods and results sections are mainly descriptive, whereas the discussion section needs to be analytical. Understanding the function of each section will help to structure our information and use the correct writing style.

The standard format allows people to read the work selectively: for example a reader may be interested in just the methods, a specific result, the interpretation or perhaps just the abstract. The structure and style of a research report are therefore very important and should conform to the specific requirements of institution or organization of interest.

The norms in research report writing are; standard format of presentation and formal language or style of communication. The obvious reasons for these are promotion of clarity, conciseness, completeness and accuracy of the reports. Unfortunately, there are no universally accepted formats of presentation of research reports, but only general guidelines, with several variations specific to individual organizations or institutions. 

DRAFTING AND EDITING A RESEARCH REPORT

1st draft (Put each section together for the first time)

2nd draft  (Put each section together for the second time)

1st editing (Getting your paper into shape)

2nd editing (what is on top and what lies beneath)

NOTE: Always use the guideline provided to you

Although, there is no universal format that a dissertation must follow but there are acceptable standard that is peculiar to every format. For convenience, the general content of a thesis or dissertation has been categorized by Darwish (2016) as follows:

A). FRONT MATTER OR COVER PAGES OR PRELIMINARY PAGES

i.          Title page (it contains the title of the research, name of the researcher and degree involved)

ii.         Certification page/Affirmation page (It contains statement indicating that the student actually carried out the study with the signature of the

            supervisor and other examiners)

iii.        Dedication Page (often dedicated to God or parents).

iv.        Acknowledgements page (greeting include appreciation of scholars whose works were cited or consulted during the research)

v.         Table of contents (list of all chapters/section and the pages they fall) it help easy navigation of the paper.

vi.        List of tables (it contains the list of the tables used in the study so they readers can locate them easily)

vii.       List of figures (same as figues.)

iv.        Abstract: The abstract is often required to be no more than a given maximum number of words, usually between 100 and 300 depend.  It should describe the most important aspects of the study, including the problem investigated, the type of subjects (sample) and data collection method involved, the analytical procedures used, and the major results and conclusions

An abstract is a concise single paragraph summary of completed work or work in progress, of about 200 to 300 words. It should contain a brief account of what was done and why, the method employed, results obtained and conclusion reached. An abstract should stand on its own, and not refer to any other part of the paper such as figure or table. It should focus on summarizing results\, with background information limited to a sentence or two; if absolutely necessary. What is reported in the abstract must be consistent with what is reported in the thesis. Correct spelling, clear sentences and phrases and proper reporting of quantities (correct units and significant figure) are very essential. Abstract is usually written in a single line space.

B). BODY OF THE REPORT/ MAIN PART

i. Introduction: According Ikemefuna (2016), the introduction gives an overview of the intended research. It provides the necessary background or context for the research problem, identifies influences or debates to engage with, but avoiding straying into a long exposition of specific sources. The introduction should establish solid and convincing framework for the research. It should be noted that for undergraduate and postgraduate thesis, the whole of the chapter one is called the INTRODUCTION with various sub-headings as mentioned below. The introduction generally has this format

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the study (usually 2 pages)

1.2       Statement of the research problem (establishing the gaps to show there is a problem to solve)    

1.3       The research Objectives (developed from the problem) it is usually between 3-5

1.4       The research questions/Hypothesis- (questions/predictions from the problem/objectives of the study)  and it usually the same number with                  objectives.

1.5       Rationale and significance of the research (indicating why it is worth doing, who benefits from the study)  

1.6.      Scope of the Study (it is about the limitation or the research covering area e.g Unilorin students).

1.7       Definition of key concepts (i.e explanation of the key variables as used in the study).

ii. Literature Review: Some authors present the material included here as a separate section under its own heading (as it is shown here), while others present it as part of a longer INTRODUCTION section.  In either case, the review of the related literature describes and analyzes the published studies that are directly related to, and/or have some relevance to, the topic and research questions at hand.  Related literature should be integrated with, and weaved into, the material in this section and not be simply cataloged. Again at the undergraduate and many postgraduate thesis, whole CHAPTER TWO is called LITERATURE REVIEW and in most cases sub-divided into 3-4 depends on the institution. It often has the following sub-heading:

2.1       Conceptual Review: This offers definitions and meaning of major variables in the topic and other related scholarly point of view related to the

            focus of the study. E.g

2.1.1    Meaning of Social Media

2.1.2    History of Social Media

2.1.3    Forms of Social Media etc

2.2    Empirical Studies/Review: This includes the review of research by earlier researchers that is related to the current study. i.e review of what earlier researchers have done in the area of your problem in terms of topic, name of the researcher(s), year of the study, objectives, theories used, methodology used, findings/conclusion, recommendations and what the empirical work offer the current study. Note: two or more empirical studies is fine but some supervisor may demand for 10 and above. Empirical studies format usually take this form.

2.2.0    Empirical Studies

2.2.1    Factors influencing online shopping…

2.2.2    Website Credibility and Online shopping experience of …

2.2.3    …………………………………………………………

2.3       Theoretical  Framework: This sub-head introduces the theory(ies) that are relevant at explaining the research problem. Often two theories are common. The theories explain the problem in relation to other related variables and current circumstance. Theories like Agenda Setting, Uses and Gratification, Source Credibility are often used in media researches. 

Wong (2016) highlighted the functions and pit falls to be avoided in literature review. The functions include: 

i. Ensures that one is not “reinventing the wheel” 

ii. Acknowledging those who have laid the groundwork for the research 

iii. Demonstrates ones knowledge of the research problem. 

iv. Allows for critical evaluation of relevant literature information 

v. Provides theoretical framework upon which the conceptual framework for the

Study may be developed.

vi. Indicates the potential of the proposed study for contributing significantly to

Existing knowledge (by resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major

gap in the literature). 

The pitfalls to be avoided are: 

i. Lack of organization and structure 

ii. Lack of focus and coherence 

iii. Being repetitive and verbose 

iv. Failure to cite influential papers 

v. Failure to keep up with recent developments 

vi. Failure to critically evaluate cited papers. 

It is advisable to make use of subheadings in the organization of the literature Review as it brings order and coherence to the review.

iii. Methodology: The methodology section includes a description of the research sample (subjects), data collection method, measurement instruments, and data analysis procedures.  The description of sample/subjects includes not only the sample size and statistics regarding the subjects but also a definition and description of the population from which the sample was selected.  This section also describes the method used in selecting the sample or samples.  In the case of questionnaire surveys, information on response rates also should be provided. The description of instruments should identify and briefly describe all instruments used to collect data pertinent to the study, be they tests, questionnaires, interview or observation forms, or unobtrusive data such as absenteeism reports or productivity figures.  When possible, information on validity and reliability of the measures used should be reported.  Also, sources should be cited for measurement instruments/procedures (e.g., scales) developed by other researchers.  The method section is usually concluded with a few statements about the analysis procedures utilized to test the study’s hypotheses.

iv. Results and Discussion: Some authors use a single section to both present and discuss the data analysis results.  Others deal with the two issues in two separate sections.  In either case, the statistical techniques that were applied to the data must be mentioned and the results of each analysis summarized, tabulated, and then discussed.  For each research hypothesis, the statistical test of significance selected and applied to the data is briefly described, followed by a statement indicating whether the hypothesis was supported or not supported. Tables and figures are used to present analyses results in summary and/or graph form and to add clarity to the presentation.  Good tables and figures are uncluttered, self-explanatory, and non-redundant. In addition to simply presenting the results in a straightforward manner, the author also has to provide the readers with his/her interpretation of the results, implications of the findings, conclusions and recommendations. Each result is discussed in terms of the original hypothesis to which it relates and in terms of its agreement or disagreement with results obtained by other researchers in similar/related studies.  If the results are consistent with the theoretical model, researcher’s expectations, and/or findings of other researchers, explanations must be provided as to what the results mean and what their theoretical and practical implications are.  When the results do not support the hypotheses and/or contradict previous findings, not only their meaning, but also possible reasons for the discrepancies must be discussed. Often during a study apparent and/or interesting relationships will be noticed that were not hypothesized by the researcher.  These unforeseen results should be acknowledged and discussed. Such results often form the basis for future studies specifically designed to examine the issue more carefully. Finally, the researcher should address the study’s limitations and make recommendations for future research.  It is notable that in the discussion portion of this section the researcher is often permitted more freedom to express opinions and reasonable speculations/assertions that may be rather indirectly and implicitly based on data analysis results

v. Conclusion and Recommendations: This section is very similar to the abstract section except that it appears at the end of the report (preceding the REFERENCE section).  It summarizes the study’s findings in an easy to understand manner.  It also explains the practical implications of those findings, and points to recommended directions for future research in that area

C). END MATTER

i. References: The references section contains the lists all the sources of materials cited in a research study. It should be stressed that most papers/studies today especially in the field of mass communication and media studies generally adopted the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing and citation format. APA is one of many referencing styles used in academic writing. APA stands for American Psychological Association. Consistency of style is important!

 It is of two sides:

1. The first indicating within your paper the sources of the information you have used to write your work. This demonstrates support for your ideas, arguments and views.  Sometimes this is referred to as: citing in text, in text citations or text citations. e.g Abdulbaki (2017:3) this is used when the citation come at the beginning of a paragraph. Another example is (Abdulbaki, 2017:3) when the name cited come at the end of a paragraph. 

2. The second part to referencing is the construction of a reference list. The reference list shows the complete details of everything you cited and appears in an alphabetical list on a separate page, at the end of your assignment.  Meanwhile, at the end of the paper/study, all the name of authors cited in the “text” should be compiled and arranged alphabetical order with the authors’ last names/surname first, followed by the initials. Every source cited in the study must be included in the references, and every entry listed in the references must appear in the paper. 

It should be emphasized that there is usually different approach to do the citation for books, journal articles, online blogs, and magazine articles. 

Book: Reference list:

Anaeto, S. G., Onabanjo, O. S. and Osifeso, J.B. (2008). Models and Theories of Communication. Bowie, Maryland: African Renaissance Books.

Journal

Abdulbaki, S. S. and Mustaffa, C. S. (2012). The  influence of source’s gender, age, and socio- economic status on effective dissemination of information on maternal mortality in Nigeria. Journal of communication and media research, 4(1), 143-152  

Why Reference?

When you reference you use the standardised style to acknowledge the source of information used in your study.

It is important (morally & legally) to acknowledge someone else’s ideas or words you have used. Academic writing encourages paraphrasing information you have researched and read. Paraphrasing means re-wording something you have read in to your own words. If you use someone else’s words or work and fail to acknowledge them – you may be accused of plagiarism and infringing copyright.

Referencing correctly enables the marker or reader of your study to locate the source of the information. They can verify the information or read further on the topic.

Referencing also allows for you to retrace your steps and locate information you have used for study and discover further views or ideas discussed by the author.

ii. Appendices: Appendixes include information and data pertinent to the study that either are not important enough to be included in the main body of the report or are too lengthy.  Appendixes contain such entries as materials especially developed for the study (e.g., tests, questionnaires, and cover letters), coding scheme, print out of raw data, and the computer print-out of statistical analyses. It should be noted that appendice should be numbered when it is more than one e.g appendix 1, appendix 2 etc.

Appendix

DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION

OSUN STATE UNIVERSITY

P.M.B ….

OSUN STATE.

QUESTIONNAIRE

Dear Respondent,

I am Ola Ola with matriculation number MASS1719. I am a final year student in the department and institution above, I am currently working on a paper titled Assessment of Teleprompter in News and Programmes Presentations. This work is purely for academic while any information you offer will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

Thanks

Yours faithfully,

Ola Ola

(SECTION A)

1.         Tick your Sex:

            Male  [    ] Female [    ]

2.         Tick your Age:

            20-25 [    ] 26-30 [    ] 31-35 [    ] 36- 40 [    ] 41 and above [   ] 

3.         Tick your Marital Status

            Single   [    ] Married [    ]      

4.         Indicate your Educational Qualification:

            OND/NCE [     ] Bsc /HND [    ] Msc. and above [     ] Others

5.         Tick your Work Experience:

            1-5 [    ] 6- 10 [    ] 11-15 [   ] 16 – 20 [   ] 21 and above [   ]

SECTION B

(Tick the most suitable answer for each of the questions below from the options)

6.         In the likert scale below indicate the extent which you use teleprompter in your television station?

     
Very HighHighModerateLowVery Low

7.         How often do you use teleprompter in your station?

            Very Often [   ] Often [   ] Sometimes [  ] Rare [  ] Never [  ]

8.         To what extent has teleprompter improved news and programmes presentation on OSBC?

            Very High [   ] High [  ] Moderate [    ] Low [  ] Very Low [   ]

9.         Do you prefer teleprompter to traditional script reading?

            Yes [  ] No [  ] Partially [   ] Undecided [  ]

10.       What challenge presenters and newscasters are facing in using teleprompter at OSBC?

            It requires special dedication [   ] prompt failure [   ] Learning Prompt reading consumes time [  ] Strain of eyes [   ]

            No true connection with audience [  ]

Thanks

Appendix 2

CODING GUIDE FOR NEWSPAPER REPORTAGE OF PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ANTI CORRUPTION WAR: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF NIGERIAN TRIBUNE AND THE PUNCH

For each individual unit of analysis (i.e. editorial content in the newspaper), coders will use this list of 13 descriptive variables (content categories) to document information on an Excel spreadsheet.

Category 1- Story ID:

Serial numbers- Each unit of analysis (editorial content to be coded) is assigned one ID number starting from 1 and ending with the last story.  The default: Excel Spreadsheet assigns numbers automatically.

Category 2- Newspaper:

Each of the 2 newspapers has been assigned a unique ID number i.e Nigerian Tribune (1) and  Punch (2)

Category 3-Topics or Subject Matter:

Each unit of analysis must best be described as falling into only one of these topic categories:

  1. Budget padding
  2. Arms Gate
  3. Declarations of assert/CCT
  4. Electoral fraud
  5. Ekiti-Election fraud
  6. Rotimi Amechi
  7. Panama paper lick

General Tips for Organizing the Report

There are same issues that need attention when writing a technical report, they include the following:

a) The reader(s) of the report

b) Writing the first draft

c) Revising the draft

d) Diagrams, graphs, table and mathematics

e) The Report Layout

f) Heading and Sub-heading

g) Originality

h) Finalizing the report and proofreading

i) The summary

a). The Reader(s) of the Report

This will affect the content, technical level and details required, especially in the introduction.

b). Writing the First Draft

It is advisable to start with the main text, not the introduction. Make an outline of the headings and sub-headings and follow them through. Just let the ideas flow at this stage without much worry about spellings and styles. Make rough sketches of diagrams or graphs. Keep a numbered list of references as they are included in the text. W rite the conclusion next followed by the introduction. Do not write the summary at this stage.

c). Revising the Draft

This is the stage at which the report begins to take shape as a professional, technical document. In revising the draft, it should be remembered that the essence of a successful technical report is presentation of concise, accurate information to the intended readership.

d) Diagrams, Graphs, Tables and Mathematics

Diagrams should be kept simple and specific to the report. They should be placed immediately after the text reference to them or as close as possible. Tables should also be presented with table numbers and captions and positioned as close as possible to the text reference to the table. Complicated tables should be taken to the appendix. Mathematics should only be used where it is the most efficient way to convey the information. Larger Mathematical arguments should be taken to the appendix.

e). The Report Layout

The appearance of a report is as important as its content. An attractive well organized report is more reader friendly. It is good to use a standard 12 point font, such as New Times Roman, for the main text. Different font sizes, bold, italic and underline may be used where appropriate but not for excess. Line spacing of 1.5, abstract should be between 200-300 words depend on the requirement.

f). Headings and Sub-headings

Headings and sub-headings are employed to break up the text to guide the reader and should be based on the logical sequence identified at the planning stage. The use of numbering, font size and style are helpful to clarify the structure.

g). Organizing

It is good practice to have most of the thoughts presented in the authors own words. Every use of existing information from both published and unpublished sources should be properly referenced. Use of existing information (outside those assumed to be common knowledge) without reference is plagiarism and is a very serious offence. APA style is commonly used and latest is APA 6th-7th edition.

h). Finishing the Report and Proofreading

As the report nears completion, with all the necessary sections in place, proper proofreading should be effected, page numbers added, content and title pages as well as the summary written. It is advisable to first personally proofread and check your work very well, and then to get someone else to do the same for you.

i). The Summary

The summary should be carefully written to indicate the scope, main results and conclusions of the report. It must be intelligible in itself as many people may only read and refer to it without getting to read the full report.

GENERAL NOTES AND RULE ON STYLE FOR RESEARCH REPORTS

The Department of Psychology, Essex University UK provided the following general notes on style for research reports:

a). Use of Personal Pronouns

Be sparing with the use of personal pronouns (we, I, our, me, etc). Frequent use of personal pronouns can make your writing sound anecdotal (i.e., based on limited evidence), or appear dependent upon your subjective interpretation. NOT need to write: “I conducted a t-test”, as it is obvious that you as the author of the report.

b). Use of Tenses

Tenses can be very difficult to use correctly. These guidelines can only be very general rules of thumb. Basically, anything that is history should be written in the past tense. When you write up your work, even your method and results will be history, and should be described in the past tense. The conclusions of previous workers are history; however yours are still current and should be described in the present tense. The theories and models that were derived from the results and conclusions still make predictions today (even if they are the wrong ones) and their predictions thus should be described using the present tense. Thus, for a previous piece of work that you are describing: “Okekeet al., (1970) found that … they concluded that … and developed the XYZ model. This predicts that…”. If you were discussing the results of your experiment;

“It was found that … and thus we conclude that … the ABC model predicts that …”

c). Other Points to Note

  • Avoid contracting words (don’t, cant, couldn’t, etc). Always proof read your work for typos. For example, the spell checker will not alert you to ‘trials’ being incorrectly spelled as ‘trials’.
  • The word “data” is plural. For example, write: “the data were collected”, not “the data

      was collected”.

  • Affect (verb) to have an influence on something: “something has affected my experiment”; something has changed my experiment.
  • Effect (verb) to cause something to happen: “something has effected my experiment”;

      something has done my experiment for me.

  • Effect (noun) a consequence or an outcome: “this is a negative effect”; this is a bad

      outcome.

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