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The Report Body
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This resource is an updated version of Muriel Harris’s handbook Report Formats: a Self-instruction Module on Writing Skills for Engineers , written in 1981. The primary resources for the editing process were Paul Anderson’s Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach (6th ed.) and the existing OWL PowerPoint presentation, HATS: A Design Procedure for Routine Business Documents.
The body of your report is a detailed discussion of your work for those readers who want to know in some depth and completeness what was done. The body of the report shows what was done, how it was done, what the results were, and what conclusions and recommendations can be drawn.
The introduction states the problem and its significance, states the technical goals of the work, and usually contains background information that the reader needs to know in order to understand the report. Consider, as you begin your introduction, who your readers are and what background knowledge they have. For example, the information needed by someone educated in medicine could be very different from someone working in your own field of engineering.
The introduction might include any or all of the following.
- Problems that gave rise to the investigation
- The purpose of the assignment (what the writer was asked to do)
- History or theory behind the investigation Literature on the subject
- Methods of investigation
While academic reports often include extensive literature reviews, reports written in industry often have the literature review in an appendix.
Summary or background
This section gives the theory or previous work on which the experimental work is based if that information has not been included in the introduction.
This section describes the major pieces of equipment used and recaps the essential step of what was done. In scholarly articles, a complete account of the procedures is important. However, general readers of technical reports are not interested in a detailed methodology. This is another instance in which it is necessary to think about who will be using your document and tailor it according to their experience, needs, and situation.
A common mistake in reporting procedures is to use the present tense. This use of the present tense results in what is sometimes called “the cookbook approach” because the description sounds like a set of instructions. Avoid this and use the past tense in your “methods/procedures” sections.
This section presents the data or the end product of the study, test, or project and includes tables and/or graphs and a brief interpretation of what the data show. When interpreting your data, be sure to consider your reader, what their situation is and how the data you have collected will pertain to them.
Discussion of results
This section explains what the results show, analyzes uncertainties, notes significant trends, compares results with theory, evaluates limitations or the chance for faulty interpretation, or discusses assumptions. The discussion section sometimes is a very important section of the report, and sometimes it is not appropriate at all, depending on your reader, situation, and purpose.
It is important to remember that when you are discussing the results, you must be specific. Avoid vague statements such as “the results were very promising.”
This section interprets the results and is a product of thinking about the implications of the results. Conclusions are often confused with results. A conclusion is a generalization about the problem that can reasonably be deduced from the results.
Be sure to spend some time thinking carefully about your conclusions. Avoid such obvious statements as “X doesn’t work well under difficult conditions.” Be sure to also consider how your conclusions will be received by your readers, and as well as by your shadow readers—those to whom the report is not addressed, but will still read and be influenced by your report.
The recommendations are the direction or actions that you think must be taken or additional work that is need to expand the knowledge obtained in your report. In this part of your report, it is essential to understand your reader. At this point you are asking the reader to think or do something about the information you have presented. In order to achieve your purposes and have your reader do what you want, consider how they will react to your recommendations and phrase your words in a way to best achieve your purposes.
Conclusions and recommendations do the following.
- They answer the question, “So what?”
- They stress the significance of the work
- They take into account the ways others will be affected by your report
- They offer the only opportunity in your report for you to express your opinions
What are the differences between Results, Conclusions, and Recommendations?
Assume that you were walking down the street, staring at the treetops, and stepped in a deep puddle while wearing expensive new shoes. What results, conclusions, and recommendations might you draw from this situation?
Some suggested answers follow.
- Results : The shoes got soaking wet, the leather cracked as it dried, and the soles separated from the tops.
- Conclusions : These shoes were not waterproof and not meant to be worn when walking in water. In addition, the high price of the shoes is not closely linked with durability.
- Recommendations : In the future, the wearer of this type of shoe should watch out for puddles, not just treetops. When buying shoes, the wearer should determine the extent of the shoes’ waterproofing and/or any warranties on durability.
10.7 Body of the report
The body of the report is of course the main text of the report, the sections between the introduction and conclusion. Illustrated below are sample pages.
In all but the shortest reports (two pages or less), use headings to mark off the different topics and subtopics covered. Headings are the titles and subtitles you see within the actual text of much professional scientific, technical, and business writing. Headings are like the parts of an outline that have been pasted into the actual pages of the document.
Headings are an important feature of professional technical writing: they alert readers to upcoming topics and subtopics, help readers find their way around in long reports and skip what they are not interested in, and break up long stretches of straight text.
Headings are also useful for writers. They keep you organized and focused on the topic. When you begin using headings, your impulse may be to slap in the headings after you’ve written the rough draft. Instead, visualize the headings before you start the rough draft, and plug them in as you write.
Your task in this chapter is to learn how to use headings and to learn the style and format of a specific design of headings. Here are a number of helpful tips:
- Make the phrasing of headings self-explanatory: instead of “Background” or “Technical Information,” make it more specific, such as “Physics of Fiber Optics.”
- Make headings indicate the range of topic coverage in the section. For example, if the section covers the design and operation of a pressurized water reactor, the heading “Pressurized Water Reactor Design” would be incomplete and misleading.
- Avoid “stacked” headings—any two consecutive headings without intervening text.
- Avoid pronoun reference to headings. For example, if you have a heading “Torque,” don’t begin the sentence following it with something like this: “This is a physics principle…..”
- When possible, omit articles from the beginning of headings. For example, “The Pressurized Water Reactor” can easily be changed to “Pressurized Water Reactor” or, better yet, “Pressurized Water Reactors.”
- Don’t use headings as lead-ins to lists or as figure titles.
- Avoid “widowed” headings: that’s where a heading occurs at the bottom of a page and the text it introduces starts at the top of the next page. Keep at least two lines of body text with the heading, or force it to start the new page.
If you manually format each individual heading using the guidelines presented in the preceding list, you’ll find you’re doing quite a lot of repetitive work. The styles provided by Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, and other software save you this work. You simply select Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, and so on. You’ll notice the format and style are different from what is presented here. However, you can design your own styles for headings.
Bulleted and numbered lists
In the body of a report, also use bulleted, numbered, and two-column lists where appropriate. Lists help by emphasizing key points, by making information easier to follow, and by breaking up solid walls of text. Always introduce the list so that your audience understand the purpose and context of the list. Whenever practical, provide a follow-up comment, too. Here are some additional tips:
- Use lists to highlight or emphasize text or to enumerate sequential items.
- Use a lead-in to introduce the list items and to indicate the meaning or purpose of the list (and punctuate it with a colon).
- Use consistent spacing, indentation, punctuation, and caps style for all lists in a document.
- Make list items parallel in phrasing.
- Make sure that each item in the list reads grammatically with the lead-in.
- Avoid using headings as lead-ins for lists.
- Avoid overusing lists; using too many lists destroys their effectiveness.
- Use similar types of lists consistently in similar text in the same document.
Following up a list with text helps your reader understand context for the information distilled into list form. The tips above provide a practical guide to formatting lists.
Graphics and figure titles
In technical report, you are likely to need drawings, diagrams, tables, and charts. These not only convey certain kinds of information more efficiently but also give your report an added look of professionalism and authority. If you’ve never put these kinds of graphics into a report, there are some relatively easy ways to do so—you don’t need to be a professional graphic artist. For strategies for adding graphics and tables to reports, see the chapter on Creating and Using Visuals. See the chapter on visuals for more help with the principles for creating visuals.
For most reports, you will need to include a final section. When you plan the final section of your report, think about the functions it can perform in relation to the rest of the report. A conclusion does not necessarily just summarize a report. Instead, use the conclusion to explain the most significant findings you made in relation to your report topic.
Appendixes are those extra sections following the conclusion. What do you put in appendixes? Anything that does not comfortably fit in the main part of the report but cannot be left out of the report altogether. The appendix is commonly used for large tables of data, big chunks of sample code, fold-out maps, background that is too basic or too advanced for the body of the report, or large illustrations that just do not fit in the body of the report. Anything that you feel is too large for the main part of the report or that you think would be distracting and interrupt the flow of the report is a good candidate for an appendix. Notice that each one is given a letter (A, B, C, and so on).
Documenting your information sources is all about establishing, maintaining, and protecting your credibility in the profession. You must cite (“document”) borrowed information regardless of the shape or form in which you present it. Whether you directly quote it, paraphrase it, or summarize it—it’s still borrowed information. Whether it comes from a book, article, a diagram, a table, a web page, a product brochure, an expert whom you interview in person—it’s still borrowed information.
Documentation systems vary according to professionals and fields. For a technical writing class in college, you may be using either MLA or APA style. Engineers use the IEEE system, examples of which are shown throughout this chapter. Another commonly used documentation system is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Page-numbering style used in traditional report design differs from contemporary report design primarily in the former’s use of lowercase roman numerals in front matter (everything before the introduction).
- All pages in the report (within but excluding the front and back covers) are numbered; but on some pages, the numbers are not displayed.
- In the contemporary design, all pages throughout the document use arabic numerals; in the traditional design, all pages before the introduction (first page of the body of the report) use lowercase roman numerals.
- On special pages, such as the title page and page one of the introduction, page numbers are not displayed.
- Page numbers can be placed in one of several areas on the page. Usually, the best and easiest choice is to place page numbers at the bottom center of the page (remember to hide them on special pages).
- If you place page numbers at the top of the page, you must hide them on chapter or section openers where a heading or title is at the top of the page.
Chapter Attribution Information
This chapter was derived by Annemarie Hamlin, Chris Rubio, and Michele DeSilva, Central Oregon Community College, from Online Technical Writing by David McMurrey – CC: BY 4.0
Technical Writing Copyright © 2017 by Allison Gross, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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How to Write a Body of a Research Paper
The main part of your research paper is called “the body.” To write this important part of your paper, include only relevant information, or information that gets to the point. Organize your ideas in a logical order—one that makes sense—and provide enough details—facts and examples—to support the points you want to make.
Transition words and phrases, adding evidence, phrases for supporting topic sentences.
- Transition Phrases for Comparisons
- Transition Phrases for Contrast
- Transition Phrases to Show a Process
- Phrases to Introduce Examples
- Transition Phrases for Presenting Evidence
How to Make Effective Transitions
Examples of effective transitions, drafting your conclusion, writing the body paragraphs.
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- The third and fourth paragraphs follow the same format as the second:
- Transition or topic sentence.
- Topic sentence (if not included in the first sentence).
- Supporting sentences including a discussion, quotations, or examples that support the topic sentence.
- Concluding sentence that transitions to the next paragraph.
The topic of each paragraph will be supported by the evidence you itemized in your outline. However, just as smooth transitions are required to connect your paragraphs, the sentences you write to present your evidence should possess transition words that connect ideas, focus attention on relevant information, and continue your discussion in a smooth and fluid manner.
You presented the main idea of your paper in the thesis statement. In the body, every single paragraph must support that main idea. If any paragraph in your paper does not, in some way, back up the main idea expressed in your thesis statement, it is not relevant, which means it doesn’t have a purpose and shouldn’t be there.
Each paragraph also has a main idea of its own. That main idea is stated in a topic sentence, either at the beginning or somewhere else in the paragraph. Just as every paragraph in your paper supports your thesis statement, every sentence in each paragraph supports the main idea of that paragraph by providing facts or examples that back up that main idea. If a sentence does not support the main idea of the paragraph, it is not relevant and should be left out.
A paper that makes claims or states ideas without backing them up with facts or clarifying them with examples won’t mean much to readers. Make sure you provide enough supporting details for all your ideas. And remember that a paragraph can’t contain just one sentence. A paragraph needs at least two or more sentences to be complete. If a paragraph has only one or two sentences, you probably haven’t provided enough support for your main idea. Or, if you have trouble finding the main idea, maybe you don’t have one. In that case, you can make the sentences part of another paragraph or leave them out.
Arrange the paragraphs in the body of your paper in an order that makes sense, so that each main idea follows logically from the previous one. Likewise, arrange the sentences in each paragraph in a logical order.
If you carefully organized your notes and made your outline, your ideas will fall into place naturally as you write your draft. The main ideas, which are building blocks of each section or each paragraph in your paper, come from the Roman-numeral headings in your outline. The supporting details under each of those main ideas come from the capital-letter headings. In a shorter paper, the capital-letter headings may become sentences that include supporting details, which come from the Arabic numerals in your outline. In a longer paper, the capital letter headings may become paragraphs of their own, which contain sentences with the supporting details, which come from the Arabic numerals in your outline.
In addition to keeping your ideas in logical order, transitions are another way to guide readers from one idea to another. Transition words and phrases are important when you are suggesting or pointing out similarities between ideas, themes, opinions, or a set of facts. As with any perfect phrase, transition words within paragraphs should not be used gratuitously. Their meaning must conform to what you are trying to point out, as shown in the examples below:
- “Accordingly” or “in accordance with” indicates agreement. For example :Thomas Edison’s experiments with electricity accordingly followed the theories of Benjamin Franklin, J. B. Priestly, and other pioneers of the previous century.
- “Analogous” or “analogously” contrasts different things or ideas that perform similar functions or make similar expressions. For example: A computer hard drive is analogous to a filing cabinet. Each stores important documents and data.
- “By comparison” or “comparatively”points out differences between things that otherwise are similar. For example: Roses require an alkaline soil. Azaleas, by comparison, prefer an acidic soil.
- “Corresponds to” or “correspondingly” indicates agreement or conformity. For example: The U.S. Constitution corresponds to England’s Magna Carta in so far as both established a framework for a parliamentary system.
- “Equals,”“equal to,” or “equally” indicates the same degree or quality. For example:Vitamin C is equally as important as minerals in a well-balanced diet.
- “Equivalent” or “equivalently” indicates two ideas or things of approximately the same importance, size, or volume. For example:The notions of individual liberty and the right to a fair and speedy trial hold equivalent importance in the American legal system.
- “Common” or “in common with” indicates similar traits or qualities. For example: Darwin did not argue that humans were descended from the apes. Instead, he maintained that they shared a common ancestor.
- “In the same way,”“in the same manner,”“in the same vein,” or “likewise,” connects comparable traits, ideas, patterns, or activities. For example: John Roebling’s suspension bridges in Brooklyn and Cincinnati were built in the same manner, with strong cables to support a metallic roadway. Example 2: Despite its delicate appearance, John Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge was built as a suspension bridge supported by strong cables. Example 3: Cincinnati’s Suspension Bridge, which Roebling also designed, was likewise supported by cables.
- “Kindred” indicates that two ideas or things are related by quality or character. For example: Artists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are considered kindred spirits in the Impressionist Movement. “Like” or “as” are used to create a simile that builds reader understanding by comparing two dissimilar things. (Never use “like” as slang, as in: John Roebling was like a bridge designer.) For examples: Her eyes shone like the sun. Her eyes were as bright as the sun.
- “Parallel” describes events, things, or ideas that occurred at the same time or that follow similar logic or patterns of behavior. For example:The original Ocktoberfests were held to occur in parallel with the autumn harvest.
- “Obviously” emphasizes a point that should be clear from the discussion. For example: Obviously, raccoons and other wildlife will attempt to find food and shelter in suburban areas as their woodland habitats disappear.
- “Similar” and “similarly” are used to make like comparisons. For example: Horses and ponies have similar physical characteristics although, as working farm animals, each was bred to perform different functions.
- “There is little debate” or “there is consensus” can be used to point out agreement. For example:There is little debate that the polar ice caps are melting.The question is whether global warming results from natural or human-made causes.
Other phrases that can be used to make transitions or connect ideas within paragraphs include:
- Use “alternately” or “alternatively” to suggest a different option.
- Use “antithesis” to indicate a direct opposite.
- Use “contradict” to indicate disagreement.
- Use “on the contrary” or “conversely” to indicate that something is different from what it seems.
- Use “dissimilar” to point out differences between two things.
- Use “diverse” to discuss differences among many things or people.
- Use “distinct” or “distinctly” to point out unique qualities.
- Use “inversely” to indicate an opposite idea.
- Use “it is debatable,” “there is debate,” or “there is disagreement” to suggest that there is more than one opinion about a subject.
- Use “rather” or “rather than” to point out an exception.
- Use “unique” or “uniquely” to indicate qualities that can be found nowhere else.
- Use “unlike” to indicate dissimilarities.
- Use “various” to indicate more than one kind.
Writing Topic Sentences
Remember, a sentence should express a complete thought, one thought per sentence—no more, no less. The longer and more convoluted your sentences become, the more likely you are to muddle the meaning, become repetitive, and bog yourself down in issues of grammar and construction. In your first draft, it is generally a good idea to keep those sentences relatively short and to the point. That way your ideas will be clearly stated.You will be able to clearly see the content that you have put down—what is there and what is missing—and add or subtract material as it is needed. The sentences will probably seem choppy and even simplistic.The purpose of a first draft is to ensure that you have recorded all the content you will need to make a convincing argument. You will work on smoothing and perfecting the language in subsequent drafts.
Transitioning from your topic sentence to the evidence that supports it can be problematic. It requires a transition, much like the transitions needed to move from one paragraph to the next. Choose phrases that connect the evidence directly to your topic sentence.
- Consider this: (give an example or state evidence).
- If (identify one condition or event) then (identify the condition or event that will follow).
- It should go without saying that (point out an obvious condition).
- Note that (provide an example or observation).
- Take a look at (identify a condition; follow with an explanation of why you think it is important to the discussion).
- The authors had (identify their idea) in mind when they wrote “(use a quotation from their text that illustrates the idea).”
- The point is that (summarize the conclusion your reader should draw from your research).
- This becomes evident when (name the author) says that (paraphrase a quote from the author’s writing).
- We see this in the following example: (provide an example of your own).
- (The author’s name) offers the example of (summarize an example given by the author).
If an idea is controversial, you may need to add extra evidence to your paragraphs to persuade your reader. You may also find that a logical argument, one based solely on your evidence, is not persuasive enough and that you need to appeal to the reader’s emotions. Look for ways to incorporate your research without detracting from your argument.
Writing Transition Sentences
It is often difficult to write transitions that carry a reader clearly and logically on to the next paragraph (and the next topic) in an essay. Because you are moving from one topic to another, it is easy to simply stop one and start another. Great research papers, however, include good transitions that link the ideas in an interesting discussion so that readers can move smoothly and easily through your presentation. Close each of your paragraphs with an interesting transition sentence that introduces the topic coming up in the next paragraph.
Transition sentences should show a relationship between the two topics.Your transition will perform one of the following functions to introduce the new idea:
- Indicate that you will be expanding on information in a different way in the upcoming paragraph.
- Indicate that a comparison, contrast, or a cause-and-effect relationship between the topics will be discussed.
- Indicate that an example will be presented in the next paragraph.
- Indicate that a conclusion is coming up.
Transitions make a paper flow smoothly by showing readers how ideas and facts follow one another to point logically to a conclusion. They show relationships among the ideas, help the reader to understand, and, in a persuasive paper, lead the reader to the writer’s conclusion.
Each paragraph should end with a transition sentence to conclude the discussion of the topic in the paragraph and gently introduce the reader to the topic that will be raised in the next paragraph. However, transitions also occur within paragraphs—from sentence to sentence—to add evidence, provide examples, or introduce a quotation.
The type of paper you are writing and the kinds of topics you are introducing will determine what type of transitional phrase you should use. Some useful phrases for transitions appear below. They are grouped according to the function they normally play in a paper. Transitions, however, are not simply phrases that are dropped into sentences. They are constructed to highlight meaning. Choose transitions that are appropriate to your topic and what you want the reader to do. Edit them to be sure they fit properly within the sentence to enhance the reader’s understanding.
Transition Phrases for Comparisons:
- We also see
- In addition to
- Notice that
- Beside that,
- In comparison,
- Once again,
- For example,
- Comparatively, it can be seen that
- We see this when
- This corresponds to
- In other words,
- At the same time,
- By the same token,
Transition Phrases for Contrast:
- By contrast,
- On the contrary,
- An exception to this would be …
- Alongside that,we find …
- On one hand … on the other hand …
- [New information] presents an opposite view …
- Conversely, it could be argued …
- Other than that,we find that …
- We get an entirely different impression from …
- One point of differentiation is …
- Further investigation shows …
- An exception can be found in the fact that …
Transition Phrases to Show a Process:
- At the top we have … Near the bottom we have …
- Here we have … There we have …
- Continuing on,
- We progress to …
- Close up … In the distance …
- With this in mind,
- Moving in sequence,
- Proceeding sequentially,
- Moving to the next step,
- First, Second,Third,…
- Examining the activities in sequence,
- As a result,
- The end result is …
- To illustrate …
- One consequence of …
- If … then …
- It follows that …
- This is chiefly due to …
- The next step …
- Later we find …
Phrases to Introduce Examples:
- For instance,
- In particular,
- This includes,
- To illustrate,
- One illustration is
- One example is
- This is illustrated by
- This can be seen when
- This is especially seen in
- This is chiefly seen when
Transition Phrases for Presenting Evidence:
- Another point worthy of consideration is
- At the center of the issue is the notion that
- Before moving on, it should be pointed out that
- Another important point is
- Another idea worth considering is
- Even more important,
- Getting beyond the obvious,
- In spite of all this,
- It follows that
- It is clear that
- More importantly,
- Most importantly,
How to make effective transitions between sections of a research paper? There are two distinct issues in making strong transitions:
- Does the upcoming section actually belong where you have placed it?
- Have you adequately signaled the reader why you are taking this next step?
The first is the most important: Does the upcoming section actually belong in the next spot? The sections in your research paper need to add up to your big point (or thesis statement) in a sensible progression. One way of putting that is, “Does the architecture of your paper correspond to the argument you are making?” Getting this architecture right is the goal of “large-scale editing,” which focuses on the order of the sections, their relationship to each other, and ultimately their correspondence to your thesis argument.
It’s easy to craft graceful transitions when the sections are laid out in the right order. When they’re not, the transitions are bound to be rough. This difficulty, if you encounter it, is actually a valuable warning. It tells you that something is wrong and you need to change it. If the transitions are awkward and difficult to write, warning bells should ring. Something is wrong with the research paper’s overall structure.
After you’ve placed the sections in the right order, you still need to tell the reader when he is changing sections and briefly explain why. That’s an important part of line-by-line editing, which focuses on writing effective sentences and paragraphs.
Effective transition sentences and paragraphs often glance forward or backward, signaling that you are switching sections. Take this example from J. M. Roberts’s History of Europe . He is finishing a discussion of the Punic Wars between Rome and its great rival, Carthage. The last of these wars, he says, broke out in 149 B.C. and “ended with so complete a defeat for the Carthaginians that their city was destroyed . . . .” Now he turns to a new section on “Empire.” Here is the first sentence: “By then a Roman empire was in being in fact if not in name.”(J. M. Roberts, A History of Europe . London: Allen Lane, 1997, p. 48) Roberts signals the transition with just two words: “By then.” He is referring to the date (149 B.C.) given near the end of the previous section. Simple and smooth.
Michael Mandelbaum also accomplishes this transition between sections effortlessly, without bringing his narrative to a halt. In The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets , one chapter shows how countries of the North Atlantic region invented the idea of peace and made it a reality among themselves. Here is his transition from one section of that chapter discussing “the idea of warlessness” to another section dealing with the history of that idea in Europe.
The widespread aversion to war within the countries of the Western core formed the foundation for common security, which in turn expressed the spirit of warlessness. To be sure, the rise of common security in Europe did not abolish war in other parts of the world and could not guarantee its permanent abolition even on the European continent. Neither, however, was it a flukish, transient product . . . . The European common security order did have historical precedents, and its principal features began to appear in other parts of the world. Precedents for Common Security The security arrangements in Europe at the dawn of the twenty-first century incorporated features of three different periods of the modern age: the nineteenth century, the interwar period, and the ColdWar. (Michael Mandelbaum, The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets . New York: Public Affairs, 2002, p. 128)
It’s easier to make smooth transitions when neighboring sections deal with closely related subjects, as Mandelbaum’s do. Sometimes, however, you need to end one section with greater finality so you can switch to a different topic. The best way to do that is with a few summary comments at the end of the section. Your readers will understand you are drawing this topic to a close, and they won’t be blindsided by your shift to a new topic in the next section.
Here’s an example from economic historian Joel Mokyr’s book The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress . Mokyr is completing a section on social values in early industrial societies. The next section deals with a quite different aspect of technological progress: the role of property rights and institutions. So Mokyr needs to take the reader across a more abrupt change than Mandelbaum did. Mokyr does that in two ways. First, he summarizes his findings on social values, letting the reader know the section is ending. Then he says the impact of values is complicated, a point he illustrates in the final sentences, while the impact of property rights and institutions seems to be more straightforward. So he begins the new section with a nod to the old one, noting the contrast.
In commerce, war and politics, what was functional was often preferred [within Europe] to what was aesthetic or moral, and when it was not, natural selection saw to it that such pragmatism was never entirely absent in any society. . . . The contempt in which physical labor, commerce, and other economic activity were held did not disappear rapidly; much of European social history can be interpreted as a struggle between wealth and other values for a higher step in the hierarchy. The French concepts of bourgeois gentilhomme and nouveau riche still convey some contempt for people who joined the upper classes through economic success. Even in the nineteenth century, the accumulation of wealth was viewed as an admission ticket to social respectability to be abandoned as soon as a secure membership in the upper classes had been achieved. Institutions and Property Rights The institutional background of technological progress seems, on the surface, more straightforward. (Joel Mokyr, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress . New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 176)
Note the phrase, “on the surface.” Mokyr is hinting at his next point, that surface appearances are deceiving in this case. Good transitions between sections of your research paper depend on:
- Getting the sections in the right order
- Moving smoothly from one section to the next
- Signaling readers that they are taking the next step in your argument
- Explaining why this next step comes where it does
Every good paper ends with a strong concluding paragraph. To write a good conclusion, sum up the main points in your paper. To write an even better conclusion, include a sentence or two that helps the reader answer the question, “So what?” or “Why does all this matter?” If you choose to include one or more “So What?” sentences, remember that you still need to support any point you make with facts or examples. Remember, too, that this is not the place to introduce new ideas from “out of the blue.” Make sure that everything you write in your conclusion refers to what you’ve already written in the body of your paper.
Back to How To Write A Research Paper .
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Desire and Disgust Reports Example
Infectious diseases reports examples, introduction.
This report is a summary of Sections 3.1 to 3.10 of Chapter 3 – “Infectious Diseases and Treatments” – of “Biology of Disease” (Ahmed, Dawson, Smith & Wood, 2007). Section 3.1: Introduction. A small number of pathogenic microorganisms can cause systemic disease – affecting the entire body. This chapter looks at selected examples of major body systems infections, including microorganisms that can cause generalized infections.
Three Phase Electric Power Advantages Report
Simply put, a three phase electric power transmission is a means of transmitting electric power using three wires. Transmission of an ac (alternating current) relies on this bit of technology. Also a type of polyphone system, it is the most widespread means used by electric power distribution grids all over the world to distribute power.
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Good Report About The Title Of The Paper
The assessment of respiratory functions is mandatory in the diagnosis of lung diseases and related disorders. These functions are assessed by measuring the lung volumes and capacities. In the present experiment, we learnt the use and operation of BIOPAC airflow transducer for measuring the lung volumes. We understood the rationale behind the precautions taken while experimentation. We could successfully correlate the obtained results with the physiological conditions of the subjects of the study.
Experiment on Respiratory Volumes
Report on strategic plan to care for the skin.
Skin is an important component of the human body. It has many functions in ensuring the body health. Caring for the skin means keeping it in good shape to ensure the wellbeing. The nursing home clients have skin problems ranging from pressure ulcers to skin tears. This is alarming because of the serious damage that might occur. This strategic plan will help the clients have skin that will promote good health.
Theory Academic Report Example
A collision refers to a physical situation where kinetic energy of momentum of an object is transferred from an object to the other one. In physics, collisions are classified as either elastic or inelastic. Conservation laws; energy conservation and momentum conservation are important tools in the analysis of collisions. Various literatures and experimental studies have confirmed that it is difficult to assess the interaction of bodies during collision. Therefore, main objective of this work is to demonstrate to relate the various parameters such as velocities and masses of the system using the principle of conservation of energy and momentum.
The momentum of an object of mass, m and velocity, v is represented mathematically as shown below:
Elastic and inelastic collisions report sample, introduction and theory, example of physics report, experiment 6.
Introduction: Newton’s laws of motion are very fundamental topic in physics. Motions of a body and force acting on the body to create motion are justified by these laws. In this experiment property of spring is also discussed. Spring is an interesting device which is widely used in daily life. In physics or any experiment related to physics, spring is utilized for its property of storing elastic potential energy.
Example Of Report On Electrostatics
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Objective: Purpose of the Falling Ball Viscometer experiment was to measure the viscosity of glycerin or glycerol by using falling ball viscometer technique.
Sample report on cardiovascular system.
Free Nutrition Analysis Report Example
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The report discusses the aspects of food in detail regarding the ethics and moral duty that is the liability of the restaurants and caterers. Food is the basic necessity of life. Healthy food is essential for the proper growth of the body a d minds. Owing to it, serious concerns have been arising regarding the healthy food available in restaurants. Often people are motivated to take their meals from outside restaurants in cases e.g. while travelling, in hurry, on duty, for enjoyment, etc. So this report discusses all the issues at one place.
Biochemical Oxygen Demand Report Examples
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Reem A. Alotaibi 2001100196 Introductory Biology
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The present study discusses the consequences of alcohol consumption on the human body. In particular, the investigation focuses on the influence of the intoxicant on participants in the event industry. An event refers to any public gathering of people for a given purpose. The sector includes sports, meetings, and cultural activities. In relation to the events industry, the study specifically examines alcohol consumption among athletes.
Effect on the Physiological Processes
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Is there a significant difference in changes in mean power output during the 30 second Wingate test between active and passive recovery?
The 30 second wingate test, which requires the athlete to cycle for 30 seconds, was conducted for 10 participants for the purpose this study. The results of the test for all 10 athletes were collected, and the same have been discussed here.
The results of the test collected for the 10 athletes were as follows:
As can be seen from the results contained in this table, there are significant differences in the performance of the ten athletes in the two phases of the test.
The following chart shares the details of the Wingate test from the passive phase of the test:
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Aim: - Understanding and learning the techniques of determining centre of gravity. - Locate of centre of gravity of different uniform lamina.
Introduction to Lab session:
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A forty-three year old male with cases of irritated eyes and increasingly blurry vision. The man also reports cases of skin irritation which are at certain instances severe and cases of difficulty in breathing.
His skin irritation and difficulty in breathing stared six months ago.at the onset these complications were mild and isolated in their frequency but gradually they are becoming more persistent. Irritation of the eyes started three months ago and his vision started to get blurry a month ago.
Past medical history
Early signs of diabetes report.
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- A Research Guide
- Research Paper Guide
Research Paper Body Paragraph Structure
- Ways to start paragraph
- Step by step guide
- Research paragraph examples
Learning the basics of a paragraph structure
- Title (cover page).
- Literature review.
- Research methodology.
- Data analysis.
- Reference page.
5 winning ways to start a body paragraph
- Topic Sentence : it should provide a clear focus and introduce the specific aspect you will discuss. For example, “One key factor influencing climate change is…”.
- Opening Statement: grab your readers’ attention with a thought-provoking or surprising statement related to your topic. For instance, “The alarming increase in global temperatures has reached a critical point, demanding immediate action.”
- Quotation: find a relevant quote from a reputable source. It won’t only add credibility to your research but will also engage the reader right from the start.
- Anecdote or example: start your academic paragraph with a funny story or a real-world example that illustrates the significance of your research topic.
- Background information : provide a brief background or context for the topic you are about to discuss. For example, “In recent years, the prevalence of cyber-attacks has skyrocketed, posing a severe threat to individuals, organizations, and even national security.”
A step-by-step guide to starting a concise body paragraph
Step 1: introduce the main point or argument., step 2: provide evidence or examples., step 3: explain and analyze., step 4: connect to the main argument., step 5: review and revise., flawless body paragraph example: how does it look.
- Topic Sentence: Rising global temperatures have significant implications for ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Evidence/Example 1: According to a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global average temperatures have increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times (IPCC, 2021). This temperature rise has led to melting polar ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, and coastal erosion (Smith et al., 2019).
- Explanation/Analysis 1: The significant increase in global temperatures has caused observable changes in the Earth’s physical environment. The melting of polar ice caps not only contributes to the rise in sea levels but also disrupts marine ecosystems.
- Evidence/Example 2: In addition to the loss of coastal habitats, higher temperatures have also resulted in shifts in the geographical distribution of species. Research by Parmesan and Yohe (2019) indicates that many plant and animal species have altered their ranges and migration patterns in response to changing climate conditions.
- Explanation/Analysis 2: The observed shifts in species distribution highlight the vulnerability of ecosystems to climate change. As temperature zone modification, species that cannot adapt or migrate to suitable habitats may face reduced reproductive success and increased risk of extinction.
- Connect to the main argument: These examples demonstrate that the rising global temperatures associated with climate change have profound implications for ecosystems and biodiversity.
The bottom line
- Writing a Research Paper
- Research Paper Title
- Research Paper Sources
- Research Paper Problem Statement
- Research Paper Thesis Statement
- Hypothesis for a Research Paper
- Research Question
- Research Paper Outline
- Research Paper Summary
- Research Paper Prospectus
- Research Paper Proposal
- Research Paper Format
- Research Paper Styles
- AMA Style Research Paper
- MLA Style Research Paper
- Chicago Style Research Paper
- APA Style Research Paper
- Research Paper Structure
- Research Paper Cover Page
- Research Paper Abstract
- Research Paper Introduction
- Research Paper Body Paragraph
- Research Paper Literature Review
- Research Paper Background
- Research Paper Methods Section
- Research Paper Results Section
- Research Paper Discussion Section
- Research Paper Conclusion
- Research Paper Appendix
- Research Paper Bibliography
- APA Reference Page
- Annotated Bibliography
- Bibliography vs Works Cited vs References Page
- Research Paper Types
- What is Qualitative Research
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Module 6: Reports
Body sections of a report, learning outcomes.
- Describe various sections that may be used in the body of a report
The body of a report is what comes to mind when most people think of a report; it’s the primary content. In this page, we will discuss several sections that are frequently used in formal reports:
- Purpose (or problem statement)
- Research (or methods)
- Recommendation (or solution)
- Overview of alternative options
- Methods of operation
This list may look intimidating, so it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a Table of Contents for every formal report. Remember, as the writer, you should use what best suits the material’s and organization’s requirements. There may be additional sections needed in unique cases.
An introduction sets up the structure of a report. Essentially, the introduction tells the reader what is to come and in what order, and it reminds the reader of the key criteria that instigated the report’s creation. This section is key to the reader following and retaining key points of the report.
Introductions are used in both informational and analytical reports. In an informational report, this helps segment the data that follows. In an analytical report, the introduction helps the reader come to the conclusion the author expects. An introduction is used in all informal reports as well. In an informal report, there may or may not be a separate header with this label, but an introduction must always be present.
Depending upon readers’ expected reception of the content, the introduction may foreshadow the conclusion. With receptive audiences, the outcome is clear in the introduction. With less receptive audiences, it is important to present all the facts and research prior to declaring a conclusion; thus, for less respective audiences, it may be better to foreshadow the conclusion than to fully declare it. This allows the reader to end up at the same conclusion as the author as details develop.
The introduction may also include the problem statement or purpose of the report. However, in longer reports, these may end up either in the background or as their own sections.
The background section of a report explains the circumstances that led to the report’s creation. In some situations, this section may be labeled as criteria or constraints , or the topic may be briefly addressed in the transmittal letter or introduction. This section can appear in both informational and analytical reports.
The background provides a baseline of the current situation and any potential constrictions such as budget, time, human resources, etc. This section explains why the investigation or work was completed. It may introduce how the information is thorough, even if 100 percent certainty is not possible.
Purpose or Problem Statement
As mentioned, the purpose or problem statement section may be part of the background, or it can stand separately, depending upon the complexity of the report. The purpose or problem statement should be worded like this example:
The purpose of this report is to address [the problem or question that the requester needs addressed]. This report will accomplish this by investigating [whatever you researched or developed for the report].
While the example shows the proper phrasing for an analytical report, it could be reworded to fit an informational report: for example, “details from three solutions are listed.”
Research or Methods
The research section (also sometimes called methods ) is where authors establish their credibility as they show how their perspective is supported by outside experts.This section provides background on where data used in the report was found: it is not a section where data is listed .
By telling your audience how you came to know what you have found out, you are demonstrating to them that your results are trustworthy and that they truly hold significance. With strong methods for finding out your facts, your readers will feel comfortable and confident in making the changes your report recommends. Your data will appear later in the evaluation, so that the data is in the same place as the reader is learning about its meaning. Additionally, the data can be presented in full in the appendix .
Completing and sharing research comes with a set of legal issues. Pay special attention Module 4: Research and follow the guidelines and rules you learn there. You’ll always need to provide credit, or citation, for the information you gather from others. Lack of appropriate citation or attribution can cause legal and credibility problems.
Recommendation or Solution
This section may stand on its own, or it may have several subsections depending upon the complexity of the report. Additionally, depending upon the receptivity of the audience to your solution, this section may come earlier or later in the report. In some reports the recommendation is used in lieu of the conclusion . This section is found only in analytical reports.
In this section, you will report your recommendations, beginning with your first choice. Explain why you prioritized each choice by elaborating on different facets the solution’s feasibility: economical, structural, and operational. Emphasize the solution’s benefits. Remember you can suggest that you do not recommend a particular alternative solution. However, you need to explain why you do not recommend the solution, according to the economical, structural, and operational feasibility.
Overview of Alternative Options
In this section, you must underline the key features of each possible option. Make sure they are easy to understand and presented in a friendly layout. Keep in mind that the goal is to allow your audience to make the best decision. This section is typically used in informational reports, where no recommendation is made.
This should be the bulk of your report; you must evaluate the options using the criteria you created. Add graphs, charts, etc. to show that you have studied your options, and have come up with statistics that back up your reasons why your alternative beats the competition. If your audience is likely to be resistant to your recommendation, the evaluation should appear before you make the recommendation. This section is found only in analytical reports.
This section should state the end results of your research and detail how you got there: how you evaluated the alternatives and, from there, you would decided which alternative best fit your organization.
This section explains the benefits of the solution. There is little reason why your proposal should be accepted if there are not meaningful benefits. Thus, be sure to show that your solution will result in substantial benefits for the organization, company, etc. Some may think to omit this section when the report was requested; however, it is always helpful to have comprehensive listing of why something is being proposed and to document all the items the solution addresses.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this section may provide a detailed “how-to” not associated with some type of comparison.
This section may stand alone or be part of the benefits section . A qualifications section is a good place to explain the talent and experience of yourself and your team members. Depending on your readers, this section may be small or large. As with all business documents, you need to be honest when you write your qualifications.
This section may stand alone or be part of the benefits section. In some cases, the resumes of the proposed team for the project are requested or provided. In those situations, this section is found as part of the back matter . A project’s success depends on its management team, and readers are impressed if you can describe your project management structure in your proposal. By identifying each person on your team and explaining what their tasks and responsibilities are, you can coordinate your work efficiently. It is very helpful for each person to know what they will be doing beforehand so there won’t be many problems concerning leadership and time management further into the project.
This section details when, why, and how the solution will be used for the first time. The implementation period is usually a trial period to see if the solution is feasible as planned. Thus, you will pick a time that does not impact the normal operation of existing programs, patterns of operation, etc. In addition, you will describe the location of implementation, who will be involved, costs of implementation, what is expected to happen, the date and time of implementation, the duration of implementation, etc. You should also explain why you chose this time for implementing the solution. State that during this time you will note what works and what needs to be changed.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this may provide a detailed “how-to” not associated with some type of comparison.
A schedule section may be found separately if the product or project is complex. In other instances, it is combined with the implementation section. In some situations, the schedule is part of the back matter and exists more as a list or table of dates and accomplishments.
Schedules help provide readers with three things:
- Schedules give readers a deadline, so they know when to expect a final result.
- Schedules can be critiqued by readers to make sure they are feasible.
- Schedules are a good way to keep track of how a project is proceeding.
In addition to project deadlines, schedules should also include due dates for drafts, resources, and other information that is needed to assist you with your project goal.
Methods of Operation
This section describes how the solution will fit into and be used as a functional part of the day-to-day operation of the company, business, etc. Detail the date you expect to launch the solution into the operation of the company, the place from where the solution will operate, how it will operate, and who will be involved (identify their responsibilities, duties, and any titles, certifications, degrees, etc.).
This section tells how much the solution will cost in dollar amounts. This section is gene rally presented after all the explanation of implementation, benefits, etc. That way the reader is fully appreciative of what the costs cover. It is expected that numbers presented are accurate to the penny, unless otherwise specified by whatever margin of error is appropriate to the situation. In informal reports and some formal reports, this section is part of the body (or evaluation) detail. For some formal reports, there is extensive line by line detail of parts, services, and/or supplies. When this is the case, the costs section may be part of the appendices and will only be referenced from the body.
Numbers in costs are generally presented using tables, tabs, or spreadsheet inserts to align decimal points directly above one another. Text aligns left and numbers align right as in the following table. If all numbers end with zero cents as in $24.00, omit the decimal and following zeros. Ensure any column of information has a heading. Most software offers attractive templates to set apart information and data. The best advice is to use the simplest formatting. These tables should work to aid the reader in understanding and retention, rather than distracting the reader with colors and shapes.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this will be used when the purpose of the reports was to research costs of some item.
The conclusion , as the header says, finishes the body of the report: it provides a summary of the major ideas of the report. While not as long as an executive summary , it may have a similar feel in order to provide a comprehensive reminder of the key components of either an analytical or informational report. The closing of a report should never introduce a fact or idea not presented earlier in the report.
In sales or persuasive reports, include in your conclusion how you’re going to go implement your ideas for the company and how it will enrich the company; explain why the company should choose your course of action. Compare statistics and data and help the readers understand the logical choice and the course of action that would aid in selecting one option over the other. Refer back to your expertise on the subject matter and help them realize that your idea is the choice they are looking for. Based on your experiences, they will most likely take your side if you present the argument efficiently.
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- Body Sections of a Report. Authored by : Susan Kendall. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Authored by : WikiBooks. Provided by : WikiBooks. Located at : http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Professional_and_Technical_Writing/Design/Front_Matter#Lists_of_WikiBooks . Project : Professional and Technical Writing. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
Chapter 4: Structuring, Paragraphing, and Styling
4.8 Sample Body Paragraph
A strong body paragraph should support the claim you make in your thesis statement. Our sample body paragraph develops a key supporting idea (sub-claim) from the argumentative thesis in section 3.4 , which is reproduced here:
Teenagers and young adults seem to use their phones everywhere—in the classroom, at the dinner table, even in restroom stalls—because they want to stay connected to their friends and peers at all times, but I think spending that much time online is detrimental to their social skills and mental health.
The sub-claims that the writer of this thesis statement will have to support in the body of the essay are
- spending too much time online is detrimental to social skills
- spending too much time online is detrimental to mental health
The following sample body paragraph begins to develop the second of these sub-claims:
In addition to impeding social development, excessive cellphone use can contribute to a range of mental health disorders. For example, Jean M. Twinge et al., a team of psychology researchers from San Diego State and Florida State Universities, conclude that increased screen time in adolescents is associated with a higher risk of depressive symptoms when compared to those engaged in nonscreen activities (9). Moreover, in the same study, the authors report that “adolescents using devices 5 or more hours a day (vs. 1 hour) were 66% more likely to have at least one suicide-related outcome” (9). Teenagers and young adults are not only more likely to engage in problematic use or overuse of cellphones, but because they are still maturing cognitively, they are especially vulnerable to the psychological repercussions.
Color Coding Key:
Paragraph-level transition (See section 4.7 for help with paragraph-level transitions)
Topic sentence (See section 4.3 for help with topic sentences)
Sentence-level transitions (See section 4.7 for help with sentence-level transitions)
Supporting evidence (See section 4.4 for help with supporting evidence)
Explaining the evidence (See section 4.5 for help with explaining evidence)
A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing by Amanda Lloyd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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- Academic Skills
- Report writing
This resource will help you identify the common elements and basic format of a research report.
Research reports generally follow a similar structure and have common elements, each with a particular purpose. Learn more about each of these elements below.
Common elements of reports
Your title should be brief, topic-specific, and informative, clearly indicating the purpose and scope of your study. Include key words in your title so that search engines can easily access your work. For example: Measurement of water around Station Pier.
An abstract is a concise summary that helps readers to quickly assess the content and direction of your paper. It should be brief, written in a single paragraph and cover: the scope and purpose of your report; an overview of methodology; a summary of the main findings or results; principal conclusions or significance of the findings; and recommendations made.
The information in the abstract must be presented in the same order as it is in your report. The abstract is usually written last when you have developed your arguments and synthesised the results.
The introduction creates the context for your research. It should provide sufficient background to allow the reader to understand and evaluate your study without needing to refer to previous publications. After reading the introduction your reader should understand exactly what your research is about, what you plan to do, why you are undertaking this research and which methods you have used. Introductions generally include:
- The rationale for the present study. Why are you interested in this topic? Why is this topic worth investigating?
- Key terms and definitions.
- An outline of the research questions and hypotheses; the assumptions or propositions that your research will test.
Not all research reports have a separate literature review section. In shorter research reports, the review is usually part of the Introduction.
A literature review is a critical survey of recent relevant research in a particular field. The review should be a selection of carefully organised, focused and relevant literature that develops a narrative ‘story’ about your topic. Your review should answer key questions about the literature:
- What is the current state of knowledge on the topic?
- What differences in approaches / methodologies are there?
- Where are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
- What further research is needed? The review may identify a gap in the literature which provides a rationale for your study and supports your research questions and methodology.
The review is not just a summary of all you have read. Rather, it must develop an argument or a point of view that supports your chosen methodology and research questions.
The purpose of this section is to detail how you conducted your research so that others can understand and replicate your approach.
You need to briefly describe the subjects (if appropriate), any equipment or materials used and the approach taken. If the research method or method of data analysis is commonly used within your field of study, then simply reference the procedure. If, however, your methods are new or controversial then you need to describe them in more detail and provide a rationale for your approach. The methodology is written in the past tense and should be as concise as possible.
This section is a concise, factual summary of your findings, listed under headings appropriate to your research questions. It’s common to use tables and graphics. Raw data or details about the method of statistical analysis used should be included in the Appendices.
Present your results in a consistent manner. For example, if you present the first group of results as percentages, it will be confusing for the reader and difficult to make comparisons of data if later results are presented as fractions or as decimal values.
In general, you won’t discuss your results here. Any analysis of your results usually occurs in the Discussion section.
Notes on visual data representation:
- Graphs and tables may be used to reveal trends in your data, but they must be explained and referred to in adjacent accompanying text.
- Figures and tables do not simply repeat information given in the text: they summarise, amplify or complement it.
- Graphs are always referred to as ‘Figures’, and both axes must be clearly labelled.
- Tables must be numbered, and they must be able to stand-alone or make sense without your reader needing to read all of the accompanying text.
The Discussion responds to the hypothesis or research question. This section is where you interpret your results, account for your findings and explain their significance within the context of other research. Consider the adequacy of your sampling techniques, the scope and long-term implications of your study, any problems with data collection or analysis and any assumptions on which your study was based. This is also the place to discuss any disappointing results and address limitations.
Checklist for the discussion
- To what extent was each hypothesis supported?
- To what extent are your findings validated or supported by other research?
- Were there unexpected variables that affected your results?
- On reflection, was your research method appropriate?
- Can you account for any differences between your results and other studies?
Conclusions in research reports are generally fairly short and should follow on naturally from points raised in the Discussion. In this section you should discuss the significance of your findings. To what extent and in what ways are your findings useful or conclusive? Is further research required? If so, based on your research experience, what suggestions could you make about improvements to the scope or methodology of future studies?
Also, consider the practical implications of your results and any recommendations you could make. For example, if your research is on reading strategies in the primary school classroom, what are the implications of your results for the classroom teacher? What recommendations could you make for teachers?
A Reference List contains all the resources you have cited in your work, while a Bibliography is a wider list containing all the resources you have consulted (but not necessarily cited) in the preparation of your work. It is important to check which of these is required, and the preferred format, style of references and presentation requirements of your own department.
Appendices (singular ‘Appendix’) provide supporting material to your project. Examples of such materials include:
- Relevant letters to participants and organisations (e.g. regarding the ethics or conduct of the project).
- Background reports.
- Detailed calculations.
Different types of data are presented in separate appendices. Each appendix must be titled, labelled with a number or letter, and referred to in the body of the report.
Appendices are placed at the end of a report, and the contents are generally not included in the word count.
Fi nal ti p
While there are many common elements to research reports, it’s always best to double check the exact requirements for your task. You may find that you don’t need some sections, can combine others or have specific requirements about referencing, formatting or word limits.
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Structure of reports Report sections and what goes in them
Reports are a common academic genre at university. Although the exact nature will vary according to the discipline you are studying, the general structure is broadly similar for all disciplines. The typical structure of a report, as shown on this page, is often referred to as IMRAD, which is short for Introduction, Method , Results And Discussion . As reports often begin with an Abstract , the structure may also be referred to as AIMRAD.
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There are several parts which go at the beginning of the report, before the main content. These are the title page , abstract and contents page .
Your report should have a title page. Information which could be included on this page are:
- the title of the report
- the name(s) of the author(s)
- your student number(s)
- name of the lecturer the report is for
- date of submission
Many longer reports will contain an abstract. This is like a summary of the whole report, and should contain details on the key areas, in other words the purpose, the methodology, the main findings and the conclusions. An abstract is not usually needed for shorter reports such as science lab reports.
Many reports will contain a contents page. This should list all the headings and sub-headings in the report, together with the page numbers. Most word processing software can build a table of contents automatically.
The first section of your report will be the introduction. This will often contain several sub-sections, as outlined below.
There should be some background information on the topic area. This could be in the form of a literature review. It is likely that this section will contain material from other sources, in which case appropriate citations will be needed. You will also need to summarise or paraphrase any information which comes from your text books or other sources.
Many reports, especially science reports, will contain essential theory, such as equations which will be used later. You may need to give definitions of key terms and classify information. As with the background section, correct in-text citations will be needed for any information which comes from your text books or other sources.
This part of the report explains why you are writing the report. The tense you use will depend on whether the subject of the sentence is the report (which still exists) or the experiment (which has finished). See the language for reports section for more information.
Also called Methodology or Procedure, this section outlines how you gathered information, where from and how much. For example, if you used a survey:
- how was the survey carried out?
- how did you decide on the target group?
- how many people were surveyed?
- were they surveyed by interview or questionnaire?
If it is a science lab report, you will need to answer these questions:
- what apparatus was used?
- how did you conduct the experiment?
- how many times did you repeat the procedure?
- what precautions did you take to increase accuracy?
This section, also called Findings, gives the data that has been collected (for example from the survey or experiment). This section will often present data in tables and charts. This section is primarily concerned with description. In other words, it does not analyse or draw conclusions.
The Discussion section, also called Analysis, is the main body of the report, where you develop your ideas. It draws together the background information or theory from the Introduction with the data from the Findings section . Sub-sections (with sub-headings) may be needed to ensure the readers can find information quickly. Although the sub-headings help to clarify, you should still use well constructed paragraphs, with clear topic sentences . This section will often include graphs or other visual material, as this will help the readers to understand the main points. This section should fulfil the aims in the introduction, and should contain sufficient information to justify the conclusions and recommendations which come later in the report.
The conclusions come from the analysis in the Discussion section and should be clear and concise. The conclusions should relate directly to the aims of the report, and state whether these have been fulfilled. At this stage in the report, no new information should be included.
The report should conclude with recommendations. These should be specific. As with the conclusion, the recommendations should derive from the main body of the report and again, no new information should be included.
Any sources cited in the text should be included in full in the reference section. For more information, see the reference section page of the writing section.
Appendices are used to provide any detailed information which your readers may need for reference, but which do not contain key information and which you therefore do not want to include in the body of the report. Examples are a questionnaire used in a survey or a letter of consent for interview participants. Appendices must be relevant and should be numbered so they can be referred to in the main body. They should be labelled Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc. ('appendices' is the plural form of 'appendix').
The diagram below summarises the sections of a report outlined above.
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There is a downloadable checklist for reports (structure and language ) in the writing resources section.
Find out about report language in the next section.
Read the previous article about writing reports .
Author: Sheldon Smith ‖ Last modified: 22 January 2022.
Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .
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