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Ezra's Research Diary: Tried and True Strategies for Effective Undergraduate Research: Write a Research Report

This library guide is designed to help students understand the overall process of undergraduate research at Cornell.

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3 General Goals of Any Research Report

While the expectations for the research report will vary, depending on your area of study, there are 3 general goals that all research reports should have in common. Your research report should:

  1. Acquaint the reader with the problem
  2. Explain the implications or importance of the topic you are investigating and
  3. Present the data fully and provide interpretation

(For more details, see Powell & Connaway, 2004, pp. 269-280)

Some General Components of the Research Report

The expectations for your research report may vary greatly, depending on your area of study and/or your particular class. Most research reports, however, will contain some variation of the following key components:

I. Title: within a reasonable length, the title should be descriptive of the study.

II. Introduction and Problem: includes a statement of the problem, identification of any subproblems, statement of the need for the study, and a note on the organization of the remainder of the report.

III. Literature Review: the section of your paper in which you cite and briefly review the related research studies that have been conducted. In this space, you will describe the foundation on which your research will be/is built. 

IV: Methods/ Data Collection: the purpose of this section is to explain to other scientists or researchers the methods you used, so that they may evaluate their legitimacy and/or attempt to duplicate your results. This may inlcude such details such as: the population and sample, data collection techniques and instruments, and data analysis techniques.

V. Results/ Findings: the section in which you present findings of your research. (Facts only, no interpretation yet.) This may also include visual representations of the data.

VI. Discussion: presents an interpretation and evaluation of the results. This is the synthesis portion of your report, in which you compare and contrast your results with those of other studies and discuss the theoretical implications and practical applications of your work.

VII. Summary and Conclusion: provides a summarization of the study, the results/findings, and the interpretation. This section may also include a brief discussion of the limitations of the study, as well as recommendations for future studies.

VIII. References, Bibliography, and Appendix: includes a list of citations or footnotes, a list of other classic studies or highly relevant items, and any supplementary material that is not essential to an understanding of the text.