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Research Methodology - Structure And Components Of Research Reports

STRUCTURE OF A RESEARCH REPORT - Structure And Components Of Research Reports

   Posted On :  27.05.2018 11:42 pm

A research report has a different structure and layout in comparison to a project report.

A research report has a different structure and layout in comparison to a project report. A research report is for reference and is often quite a long document. It has to be clearly structured for the readers to quickly find the information wanted. It needs to be planned carefully to make sure that the information given in the report is put under correct headings.


Cover sheet: This should contain some or all of the following:
Full title of the report
Name of the researcher
Name of the unit of which the project is a part Name of the institution 

Title page: Full title of the report.
Your name
Acknowledgement: a thanks giving to the people who helped you.


List of the Tables

Headings and sub-headings used in the report should be given with their page numbers. Each chapter should begin on a new page. Use a consistent system in dividing the report into parts. The simplest may be to use chapters for each major part and subdivide these into sections and sub-sections. 1, 2, 3 etc. Can be used as the numbers for each chapter. The sections of chapter 3 (for example) would be 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and so on. For further sub-division of a sub-section you may use 3.2.1, 3.2.2, and so on.

Abstract or Summary or Executive Summary or Introduction:

This presents an overview of the whole report. It should let the reader see in advance, what is in the report. This includes what you set out to do, how review of literature is focused and narrowed in your research, the relation of the methodology you chose to your objectives, a summary of your findings and analysis of the findings



Aims And Purpose or Aims And Objectives:

Why did you do this work? What was the problem you were investigating? If you are not including review of literature, mention the specific research/es which is/are relevant to your work.

Review of Literature

This should help to put your research into a background context and to explain its importance. Include only the books and articles which relate directly to your topic. You need to be analytical and critical, and not just describe the works that you have read.


Methodology deals with the methods and principles used in an activity, in this case research. In the methodology chapter, explain the method/s you used for the research and why you thought they were the appropriate ones. You may, for example, be depending mostly upon secondary data or you might have collected your own data. You should explain the method of data collection, materials used, subjects interviewed, or places you visited. Give a detailed account of how and when you carried out your research and explain why you used the particular method/s, rather than other methods. Included in this chapter should be an examination of ethical issues, if any.

Results or Findings

What did you find out? Give a clear presentation of your results. Show the essential data and calculations here. You may use tables, graphs and figures.

Analysis and Discussion

Interpret your results. What do you make out of them? How do they compare with those of others who have done research in this area? The accuracy of your measurements/results should be discussed and deficiencies, if any, in the research design should be mentioned.


What do you conclude? Summarize briefly the main conclusions which you discussed under “Results.” were you able to answer some or all of the questions which you raised in your aims and objectives? Do not be tempted to draw conclusions which are not backed up by your evidence. Note the deviation/s from expected results and any failure to achieve all that you had hoped.


Make your recommendations, if required. The suggestions for action and further research should be given.


You may not need an appendix, or you may need several. If you have used questionnaires, it is usual to include a blank copy in the appendix. You could include data or calculations, not given in the body, that are necessary, or useful, to get the full benefit from your report. There may be maps, drawings, photographs or plans that you want to include. If you have used special equipment, you may include information about it.

The plural of an appendix is appendices. If an appendix or appendices are needed, design them thoughtfully in a way that your readers find it/them convenient to use.


List all the sources which you referred in the body of the report. You may use the pattern prescribed by American Psychological Association, or any other standard pattern recognized internationally.


In the case of small projects, this may not be in the form of a critical review of the literature, but this is often asked for and is a standard part of larger projects. Sometimes students are asked to write Review of Literature on a topic as a piece of work in its own right. In its simplest form, the review of literature is a list of relevant books and other sources, each followed by a description and comment on its relevance.
The literature review should demonstrate that you have read and analysed the literature relevant to your topic. From your readings, you may get ideas about methods of data collection and analysis. If the review is part of a project, you will be required to relate your readings to the issues in the project, and while describing the readings, you should apply them to your topic. A review should include only relevant studies. The review should provide the reader with a picture of the state of knowledge in the subject.
Your literature search should establish what previous researches have been carried out in the subject area. Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of sources that you should consult:
1. Introductory material;
2. Journal articles and
3. Books.
To get an idea about the background of your topic, you may consult one or more textbooks at the appropriate time. It is a good practice to review in cumulative stages - that is, do not think you can do it all at one go. Keep a careful record of what you have searched, how you have gone about it, and the exact citations and page numbers of your readings. Write notes as you go along. Record suitable notes on everything you read and note the methods of investigations. Make sure that you keep a full reference, complete with page numbers. You will have to find your own balance between taking notes that are too long and detailed, and ones too brief to be of any use. It is best to write your notes in complete sentences and paragraphs, because research has shown that you are more likely to understand your notes later if they are written in a way that other people would understand. Keep your notes from different sources and/or about different points on separate index cards or on separate sheets of paper. You will do mainly basic reading while you are trying to decide on your topic. You may scan and make notes on the abstracts or summaries of work in the area. Then do a more thorough job of reading later on, when you are more confident of what you are doing. If your project spans several months, it would be advisable towards the end to check whether there are any new and recent references.


There are many methods of referencing your work; some of the most common ones are the numbered style, american psychological association style and the harvard method, with many other variations. Just use the one you are most familiar and comfortable with. Details of all the works referred by you should be given in the reference section.


Well-produced, appropriate illustrations enhance the presentability of a report. With today’s computer packages, almost anything is possible. However, histograms, bar charts and pie charts are still the three ‘staples’. Readers like illustrated information, because it is easier to absorb and it’s more memorable. Illustrations are useful only when they are easier to understand than words or figures and they must be relevant to the text. Use the algorithm included to help you decide whether or not to use an illustration. They should never be included for their own sake, and don’t overdo it; too many illustrations distract the attention of readers.

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