Writing a Research Report

by Business English

I pointed out in Short Report Writing that a short report has a small number of sections. These may include: an introduction, procedure, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

A formal business research or analytical document, on the other hand, has many more sections, such as:

  • Title page: the front page of the report includes the title of the report, the author’s name and the date.
  • Contents: shows the table of contents with the sections and subsections and page numbers.
  • Summary: sums up the report in five sentences. It includes one-sentence descriptions of the aim of the report, how the research was conducted, the results, conclusion and key recommendation. This may also be called the Abstract.
  • Introduction: presents the importance or relevance of the subject in two or three paragraphs. It provides background research and information about the issue.
  • Procedure: explains the methods used in gathering the information. You describe where you got the information and how you got it.
  • Findings: reports on what you discovered using the procedure you used. You include the facts and data you gathered during the research. Use different kinds of tables and figures  to support your arguments.
  • Discussion: gives your interpretation of the findings or results. Describe how the findings are similar to or different from what you found in your research.
  • Conclusion: uses the main findings to give your opinion about what you learned or experienced. You give your assessment or evaluation of the situation.
  • Recommendations: proposes what can be done to solve a problem or what course of action to take. Your suggestions can be short term or long term depending on what you want to achieve.
  • Appendices: provides additional information, such as tables or graphs, as evidence to support your findings.
It is essential that whenever you are tasked with a research report, be it in school or work, that you focus your energies on completing each of those elements. The research method requires a thorough understanding of the content you read and an opinion that you can prove based on the research you have done. This is useful in marketing, finance, and professional consulting services.

Before you go, why not try a sample question?

In which section, do these sentences fit best?

  1. Tobacco use is the leading cause of death in the United States. a) Recommendations, b) Introduction, c) Discussion
  2. It is now time to restrict the use of cell phones in moving vehicles. a) Procedure, b) Summary, c) Recommendations
Put your answer in the comments and we will tell you if you are correct!

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