Research Report Meaning, Characteristics and Types

characteristics of a good research report

Table of Contents:-

Research Report Meaning

A research report is a document that conveys the outcomes of a study or investigation. Its purpose is to communicate the research’s findings, conclusions, and implications to a particular audience. This report aims to offer a comprehensive and unbiased overview of the research process, methodology, and results.

Once the researcher has completed data collection, data processing, developing and testing hypotheses, and interpretation of responses, the next important phase in research is the preparation of the research report. A research report is essential for the communication of research findings to its potential users.

According to Lancaster, “A report is a statement of collected and considered facts, so drawn-ups to give clear and concise information to persons who are not already in possession of the full facts of the subject matter of the report”.

When researchers communicate their results in writing, they create a research report. It includes the research methodology, approaches, data collection precautions, research findings, and recommendations for solving related problems. Managers can put this result into action for more effective decision making.

Generally, top management places a higher emphasis on obtaining the research outcome rather than delving into the research procedure. Hence, the research report acts as a presentation that highlights the procedure and methodology adopted by the researcher. The research report presents the complete procedure in a comprehensive way that in turn helps the management in making crucial decisions. Creating a research report adheres to a specific format, sequence, and writing style. Enhance the effectiveness of a research report by incorporating various charts, graphs, diagrams, tables, etc. By using different representation techniques, researchers can convince the audience as well as the management in an effective way.

Characteristics of Good Research Report

Characteristics of a good research report are listed below:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Clarity and Completeness
  3. Simplicity
  4. Appearance
  5. Reliability
  6. Brevity
  7. Comprehensibility and Readability
  8. Timelines
  9. Economy
  10. Logical Content
characteristics of a good research report

The following paragraphs outline the characteristics of a good research report.

1) Accuracy

Information presented in reports must be accurate, as inaccuracies can frequently lead to problems for managers. The report must present information as accurately as possible.

2) Simplicity

A good report communicates its message clearly and without ambiguity through its language. It is a document of practical utility; hence it should be grammatically accurate, brief and clear.

3) Clarity and Completeness

The report must be comprehensive in every aspect. There should be no room for ambiguity. Clarity relies on the effective organization of facts. Report writers must proceed methodically. They should make their purpose clear, define their sources, state their findings, and finally make necessary recommendations. They should divide their report into short paragraphs with headings, and insert other suitable signposts for making the report clear.

4) Brevity

Executives often lack the time to read lengthy reports. Hence, reports should concisely convey the key points. Conciseness should not come at the expense of clarity. It should also not compromise on completeness. Sometimes, it is important to have a detailed conversation about the facts. We need to address this discussion directly.

5) Appearance

The arrangement, organization, format, layout, and presentation of a report should be visually appealing and whenever feasible, attention-grabbing.

6) Comprehensibility and Readability

Reports should be clear and straightforward for easy comprehension. They should minimize the use of technical language. The writer must present the facts in elegant and grammatically correct English.

7) Reliability

Reports should be reliable and should not create an erroneous impression in the minds of readers either due to oversight or neglect. The facts presented in a report should be pertinent. It is important that every fact in a report aligns with the central purpose, but it’s also vital to ensure that all pertinent information is present. Irrelevant facts make a report confusing; exclusion of relevant facts makes it incomplete and is probable to mislead.

8) Economy

Report writing should not incur unnecessary expenses. Utilize cost-effective methods and maintain a consistent level of quality when communicating the content.

9) Timelines

Reports can be valuable and effective when they reach the readers in a timely manner. Any delay in the submission of reports makes the preparation of reports a futile exercise and sometimes obsolete too.

10) Logical Content

The report should logically present its content. Impartially present the facts. Distinctive points should have clear and self-explanatory headings and sub-headings. The scientific accuracy of facts is very essential for a report. Since reports invariably lead to decision-making, inaccurate facts may lead to unsuccessful decisions.

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Types of Research Reports

Research reports are of the following types:

1) Technical Report

Technical reports are reports which contain detailed information about the research problem and its findings. These reports are typically subject to review by individuals interested in research methodology. Such reports include detailed descriptions of used methods for research design such as universe selection, sample preparation, designing questionnaire, identifying potential data sources, etc. These reports provide a complete description of every step, method, and tool used. When crafting technical reports, we assume that users possess knowledge of research methodology, which is why the language used in these reports is technical. Technical reports are valuable in situations where there is a need for statistical analysis of collected data. Researchers also employ it in conducting a series of research studies, where they can repetitively use the methodology.

2) Manuscripts for Journal Articles

When authors prepare a report with a particular layout or design for publishing in an academic or scientific journal, it becomes a “manuscript for journal articles”. Journal articles are a concise and complete presentation of a particular research study. While technical reports present a detailed description of all the activities in research, journal articles are known for presenting only a few critical areas or findings of a study. The readers or audience of journal articles include other researchers, management and executives, strategic analysts and the general public, interested in the topic.

In general, a manuscript for a journal article typically ranges from 10 to 30 pages in length. Sometimes there is a page or word limit for preparing the report. Authors primarily submit manuscripts for journal articles online, although they occasionally send paper copies through regular mail.

3) Thesis and Dissertations

Students working towards a Master’s, PhD, or another higher degree generally produce a thesis or dissertation, which is a form of research report. Like other normal research reports, the thesis or dissertation usually describes the design, tools or methods and results of the student’s research in detail. These reports typically include a detailed section called the literature review, which encompasses relevant literature and previous studies on the topic. Firstly, the work or research of the student is analysed by a professional researcher or an expert in that particular research field, and then the thesis is written under the guidance of a professional supervisor. Dissertations and theses usually span approximately 120 to 300 pages in length.

Generally, the university or institution decides the length of the dissertation or thesis. A distinctive feature of a thesis or a dissertation is that it is quite economical, as it requires few printed and bound copies of the report. Sometimes electronic copies are required to be submitted along with the hard copy of the thesis or dissertations. Compact discs (CDs) are used to generate the electronic copy.

4) Other Types of Research Reports

Along with the above-mentioned types, there are some other types of research reports, which are as follows:

1) Popular Report

A popular report is prepared for the use of administrators, executives, or managers. It is simple and attractive in the form of a report. Clear and concise statements are used with less technical or statistical terms. Data representation is kept very simple through minimal use of graphs and charts. It has a different format than that of a technical one by liberally using margins and blank spaces. The style of writing a popular report is journalistic and precise. It is written to facilitate reading rapidly and comprehending quickly.

ii) Interim Report

An interim report is a kind of report which is prepared to show the sponsors, the progress of research work before the final presentation of the report. It is prepared when there is a certain time gap between the data collection and presentation. In this scenario, the completed portion of data analysis along with its findings is described in a particular interim report.

iii) Summary Report

This type of report is related to the interest of the general public. The findings of such a report are helpful for the decision making of general users. The language used for preparing a summary report is comprehensive and simple. The inclusion of numerous graphs and tables enhances the report’s overall clarity and comprehension. The main focus of this report is on the objectives, findings, and implications of the research issue.

iv) Research Abstract

The research abstract is a short presentation of the technical report. All the elements of a particular technical report, such as the research problem, objectives, sampling techniques, etc., are described in the research abstract but the description is concise and easy.

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