Research Report Outline

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  1. Research Report Outline Format
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One of the reasons for carrying out research is to add to the existing body of knowledge. Therefore, when conducting research, you need to document your processes and findings in a research report.

What Is a Research Paper Outline Outlines are tools that are used by authors to chronologically arrange their written ideas about a central topic or thesis. Details in an outline are deductively written which means that it starts by mentioning the major topics, followed by subtopics and supporting details. Characteristics of an Effective Research Report An effective research report has—at least—the following four characteristics:. Focus: an effective report emphasizes the important information. Accuracy: an effective report does not mislead the reader. Clarity: an effective report does not confuse the reader. Conciseness: an effective report does not waste the reader’s time.

  1. Download and personalize a research paper outline template in MLA or APA Format to write your own. Examples and Templates are available in Word and PDF.
  2. An outline template for a research paper is a plan or guide that will assist you in organizing your thoughts and arguments into a meaningful paper. The outline will start with an introduction, the body which will include relevant details such as the questionnaires, examples, sample size, analysis, and results; in the end, you’ll include a.

With a research report, it is easy to outline the findings of your systematic investigation and any gaps needing further inquiry. Knowing how to create a detailed research report will prove useful when you need to conduct research.

What is a Research Report?

A research report is a well-crafted document that outlines the processes, data, and findings of a systematic investigation. It is an important document that serves as a first-hand account of the research process, and it is typically considered as an objective and accurate source of information.

In many ways, a research report can be considered as a summary of the research process that clearly highlights findings, recommendations, and other important details. Reading a well-written research report should provide you with all the information you need about the core areas of the research process.

Features of a Research Report

So how do you recognize a research report when you see one? Here are some of the basic features that define a research report.

  • It is a detailed presentation of research processes and findings, and it usually includes tables and graphs.
  • It is written in a formal language.
  • A research report is usually written in the third person.
  • It is informative and based on first-hand verifiable information.
  • It is formally structured with headings, sections, and bullet points.
  • It always includes recommendations for future actions.

Types of Research Report

The research report is classified based on 2 things; nature of research and target audience.

Nature of Research

  • Qualitative Research Report

This is the type of report written for qualitative research. It outlines the methods, processes, and findings of a qualitative method of systematic investigation. In educational research, a qualitative research report provides an opportunity for one to apply his or her knowledge and develop skills in planning and executing qualitative research projects.

A qualitative research report is usually descriptive in nature. Hence, in addition to presenting details of the research process, you must also create a descriptive narrative of the information.

  • Quantitative Research Report

A quantitative research report is a type of research report that is written for quantitative research. Quantitative research is a type of systematic investigation that pays attention to numerical or statistical values in a bid to find answers to research questions.

In this type of research report, the researcher presents quantitative data to support the research process and findings. Unlike a qualitative research report that is mainly descriptive, a quantitative research report works with numbers; that is, it is numerical in nature.

Target Audience

Also, a research report can be said to be technical or popular based on the target audience. If you're dealing with a general audience, you would need to present a popular research report, and if you're dealing with a specialized audience, you would submit a technical report.

  • Technical Research Report

A technical research report is a detailed document that you present after carrying out industry-based research. This report is highly specialized because it provides information for a technical audience; that is, individuals with above-average knowledge in the field of study.

In a technical research report, the researcher is expected to provide specific information about the research process, including statistical analyses and sampling methods. Also, the use of language is highly specialized and filled with jargon.

Examples of a technical research report include legal and medical research reports.

  • Popular Research Report

A popular research report is one for a general audience; that is, for individuals who do not necessarily have any knowledge in the field of study. A popular research report aims to make information accessible to everyone.

It is written in very simple language, which makes it easy to understand the findings and recommendations. Examples of popular research reports are the information contained in newspapers and magazines.

Importance of a Research Report

  • Knowledge Transfer

As already stated above, one of the reasons for carrying out research is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and this is made possible with a research report. A research report serves as a means to effectively communicate the findings of a systematic investigation to all and sundry.

  • Identification of Knowledge Gaps

With a research report, you'd be able to identify knowledge gaps for further inquiry. A research report shows what has been done while hinting at other areas needing systematic investigation.

  • In market research, a research report would help you understand the market needs and peculiarities at a glance.
  • A research report allows you to present information in a precise and concise manner.
  • It is time-efficient and practical because, in a research report, you do not have to spend time detailing the findings of your research work in person. You can easily send out the report via email and have stakeholders look at it.

Guide to Writing a Research Report

A lot of detail goes into writing a research report, and getting familiar with the different requirements would help you create the ideal research report. A research report is usually broken down into multiple sections, which allows for a concise presentation of information.

Structure of a Research Report

  • Title

This is the title of your systematic investigation. Your title should be concise and point to the aims, objectives, and findings of a research report.

  • Table of Contents

This is like a compass that makes it easier for readers to navigate the research report.

  • Abstract

An abstract is an overview that highlights all important aspects of the research including the research method, data collection process, and research findings. Think of an abstract as a summary of your research report that presents pertinent information in a concise manner.

An abstract is always brief; typically 100-150 words and goes straight to the point. The focus of your research abstract should be the 5Ws and 1H format – What, Where, Why, When, Who and How.

  • Introduction

Here, the researcher highlights the aims and objectives of the systematic investigation as well as the problem which the systematic investigation sets out to solve. When writing the report introduction, it is also essential to indicate whether the purposes of the research were achieved or would require more work.

In the introduction section, the researcher specifies the research problem and also outlines the significance of the systematic investigation. Also, the researcher is expected to outline any jargons and terminologies that are contained in the research.

  • Literature Review

A literature review is a written survey of existing knowledge in the field of study. In other words, it is the section where you provide an overview and analysis of different research works that are relevant to your systematic investigation.

It highlights existing research knowledge and areas needing further investigation, which your research has sought to fill. At this stage, you can also hint at your research hypothesis and its possible implications for the existing body of knowledge in your field of study.

  • An Account of Investigation

This is a detailed account of the research process, including the methodology, sample, and research subjects. Here, you are expected to provide in-depth information on the research process including the data collection and analysis procedures.

In a quantitative research report, you'd need to provide information surveys, questionnaires and other quantitative data collection methods used in your research. In a qualitative research report, you are expected to describe the qualitative data collection methods used in your research including interviews and focus groups.

  • Findings

In this section, you are expected to present the results of the systematic investigation.

  • Discussion

This section further explains the findings of the research, earlier outlined. Here, you are expected to present a justification for each outcome and show whether the results are in line with your hypotheses or if other research studies have come up with similar results.

  • Conclusions

This is a summary of all the information in the report. It also outlines the significance of the entire study.

  • References and Appendices

This section contains a list of all the primary and secondary research sources.

Tips for Writing a Research Report

  • Define the Context for the Report

As is obtainable when writing an essay, defining the context for your research report would help you create a detailed yet concise document. This is why you need to create an outline before writing so that you do not miss out on anything.

  • Define your Audience

Writing with your audience in mind is essential as it determines the tone of the report. If you're writing for a general audience, you would want to present the information in a simple and relatable manner. For a specialized audience, you would need to make use of technical and field-specific terms.

  • Include Significant Findings

The idea of a research report is to present some sort of abridged version of your systematic investigation. In your report, you should exclude irrelevant information while highlighting only important data and findings.

  • Include Illustrations

Your research report should include illustrations and other visual representations of your data. Graphs, pie charts, and relevant images lend additional credibility to your systematic investigation.

  • Choose the Right Title

A good research report title is brief, precise, and contains keywords from your research. It should provide a clear idea of your systematic investigation so that readers can grasp the entire focus of your research from the title.

  • Proofread the Report

Before publishing the document, ensure that you give it a second look to authenticate the information. If you can, get someone else to go through the report, too, and you can also run it through proofreading and editing software.

How to Gather Research Data for Your Report

  • Understand the Problem

Every research aims at solving a specific problem or set of problems, and this should be at the back of your mind when writing your research report. Understanding the problem would help you to filter the information you have and include only important data in your report.

  • Know what your report seeks to achieve

This is somewhat similar to the point above because, in some way, the aim of your research report is intertwined with the objectives of your systematic investigation. Identifying the primary purpose of writing a research report would help you to identify and present the required information accordingly.

  • Identify your audience

Knowing your target audience plays a crucial role in data collection for a research report. If your research report is specifically for an organization, you would want to present industry-specific information or show how the research findings are relevant to the work that the company does.

  • Create Surveys/Questionnaires

A survey is a research method that is used to gather data from a specific group of people through a set of questions. It can be either quantitative or qualitative.

A survey is usually made up of structured questions, and it can be administered online or offline. However, an online survey is a more effective method of research data collection because it helps you save time and gather data with ease.

You can seamlessly create an online questionnaire for your research on Formplus. With the multiple sharing options available in the builder, you would be able to administer your survey to respondents in little or no time.

Formplus also has a report summary tool that you can use to create custom visual reports for your research.

Step-by-step guide on how to create an online questionnaire using Formplus

  • Sign into Formplus

In the Formplus builder, you can easily create different online questionnaires for your research by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus.

Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on Create new form to begin.

  1. Edit Form Title: Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, 'Research Questionnaire.”
  2. Edit Form: Click on the edit icon to edit the form.
  3. Add Fields: Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder.
  4. Edit fields
  5. Click on 'Save'
  6. Preview form.
  • Form Customization

With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily change the outlook of your form and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images, and even change the font according to your needs.

  • Multiple Sharing Options

Formplus offers various form sharing options, which enables you to share your questionnaire with respondents easily. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization's social media pages.

You can also send out your survey form as email invitations to your research subjects too. If you wish, you can share your form's QR code or embed it on your organization's website for easy access.

Always remember that a research report is just as important as the actual systematic investigation because it plays a vital role in communicating research findings to everyone else. This is why you must take care to create a concise document summarizing the process of conducting any research.

In this article, we've outlined essential tips to help you create a research report. When writing your report, you should always have the audience at the back of your mind, as this would set the tone for the document.

An outline is an ordered list of the topics covered in a research paper. It is useful to both writer and reader. The writer who writes from an outline is less likely to stray from the point or to commit a structural error—overdeveloping one topic while skimping on another, for example. The reader, in turn, benefits from the outline in the form of a complete and detailed table of contents.

Conventional Research Paper Outline Format

The conventions of formal outlining require that main ideas be designated by Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, and so on). Sub-ideas branching off from the main ideas are designated by capital letters (A, B, C, D, and so on). Subdivisions of these sub-ideas are designated by Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on). And minor ideas are designated by lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, and so on). Here is an example of the proper form of an outline:

I. Main idea

A. Sub-idea

B. Sub-idea

1. Division of a sub-idea

2. Division of a sub-idea

a. Minor idea

b. Minor idea

II. Main idea

The presumption behind this arrangement is obvious: You do not merely generalize; you support your contentions and propositions with examples and details. Indeed, that is exactly what you are expected to do—to make assertions that are supported by concrete examples and specific details. If you have not been diligent in gathering specific facts about your topic, this deficiency will now be painfully obvious. Notice that every subdivided category must have at least two sections because it is impossible to divide anything into fewer than two parts. An outline that divides the subject into three or four levels—that is, down to examples or details—generally is adequate for most college research papers. If further subdivisions are necessary, the format is as follows:

I.

A.

1.

a.

(1)

(a)

The basic principle remains the same: Larger ideas or elements are stacked to the left, with smaller ideas or elements to the right.

Equal Ranking in the Outline

The logic of an outline requires that each entry be based on the same organizing principle as another entry of equal rank. All capital-letter entries consequently must be equivalent in importance and derived from the same organizing principle. Notice the absence of equal ranking in the following example:

I. Rousseau gave the people a new government to work toward.

Research report outline format

A. It would be a government based on the general will.

B. The new government would serve the people instead of the people serving the government.

C. The people tore down the Bastille.

Entry C is out of place because it is not of equal rank with entries A and B. A and B are sub-ideas that characterize the new government proposed by Rousseau; C is a statement that describes the revolt of the French people against the old government.

Parallel Ranking in the Outline

The clarity and readability of an outline are improved if its entries are worded in similar grammatical form. Notice the lack of parallelism in the following outline:

I. The uses of the laser in the military

A. For range finding

B. For surveillance

C. To illuminate the enemy’s position

Entries A and B consist of the preposition “for” followed by a noun, whereas entry C is worded as an infinitive phrase. C should be reworded to make it grammatically like entries A and B:

I. The uses of the laser in the military

A. For range finding

B. For surveillance

C. For illuminating the enemy’s position

The outline now is easier to read because its entries are parallel.

Types of Research Paper Outlines

The three main types of outlines are the topic outline, the sentence outline, and the paragraph outline. Never mix or combine the different formats in a research paper: use one type of outline exclusively.

The Topic Outline Template

The topic outline words each entry as a phrase, breaking down the subject into major subheadings. Topic outlines are particularly useful for outlining relatively simple subjects. Here is a topic outline of the paper on Grigori Rasputin:

Grigori Rasputin’s Other Side

Thesis: After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

I. The ambiguity of the real Rasputin

A. His birth

B. Popular historical view

1. His supporters

2. His detractors

II. Rasputin’s religious feelings

A. His vitality and exuberance

B. His simple peasant faith

III. Rasputin’s desire for peace in Russia

A. His concern for the Russian underdog

1. His loyalty to the peasantry

2. His opposition to anti-Semitism

B. His opposition to all wars

IV. Rasputin’s gentle, compassionate side

A. His kindness to the Romanovs

B. His love for family

Notice that the thesis of the research paper is a separate entry immediately after the title. It is also customary to omit introduction and conclusion entries.

The Sentence Outline Template

The sentence outline uses a complete sentence for each entry. Some instructors allow the entries to be worded as questions, but most prefer declarative sentences. Sentence outlines are especially well suited for complex subjects. Here is a sentence outline of the research paper on Grigori Rasputin:

Grigori Rasputin’s Other Side

Research Report Outline Format

Thesis: After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

I. The real Rasputin is difficult to discover.

A. The birth of Rasputin coincided with a shooting star.

B. The popular historical view of Rasputin portrays him as primarily evil.

1. Supporters called him a spiritual leader.

2. Detractors called him a satyr and charged that his depraved faithful were merely in awe of his sexual endowments.

II. Rasputin had intense religious feelings.

A. He was both vital and exuberant.

B. He had a simple peasant faith in God.

III. Rasputin’s passionate desire for peace in Russia revealed itself in several ways.

A. He was concerned for the Russian underdog.

1. He wanted a tsar who would stand up for the peasantry.

2. He spoke out boldly against anti-Semitism.

B. Because of his humanitarian spirit, he was opposed to all wars.

IV. Rasputin had a gentle, compassionate side.

A. He showed great kindness to the Romanovs.

B. Maria Rasputin tells of her father’s love for his family.

The Paragraph Outline Template

The paragraph outline records each entry as a complete paragraph, in effect producing a condensed version of the research paper. This form is useful mainly for long papers whose individual sections can be summarized in whole paragraphs; it is seldom recommended by instructors for ordinary college papers. Here is the Rasputin paper in the form of a paragraph outline:

Assessment links. Grigori Rasputin’s Other Side

Thesis: After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

I. Rasputin himself always attached great significance to the fact that at the time of his birth, a shooting star was seen streaking across the horizon. He considered the phenomenon to be an omen that he was fated to have influence and special powers. The popular historical view of Rasputin paints him primarily as evil. In his day, however, he attracted numerous supporters, who thought of him as their spiritual leader. But he also had many detractors who called him a satyr and accused his followers of sexual depravity.

II. Rasputin had intense religious feelings. He was so filled with vitality and exuberance that he could stay awake until the early hours of the morning, dancing and drinking in frenzied religious fervor. He did not have the theology of a sophisticated church cleric; instead he expressed his religion in the simple terms of a Russian peasant.

III. Rasputin’s passionate desire for peace in Russia revealed itself in several ways. For instance, he was concerned for the Russian underdogs, for the peasants and the Jews, always encouraging the tsar to protect these unfortunate groups. And, his humanitarian and pacifist nature made him a determined opponent of all wars.

IV. Rasputin had a gentle, compassionate side. He was completely devoted to the tsar’s family and was known to have had a calming influence on the hemophiliac son of the tsar. Maria Rasputin gives a glowing report of her father’s kindness and love.

The Decimal Outline Template

Other outline forms use various methods of indenting, labeling, and spacing. One form that has been gaining favor in business and science is the decimal outline. Based on the decimal accounting system, this outline form permits an unlimited number of subdivisions through the simple addition of another decimal place. Here is the body of the Rasputin research paper notated in the decimal outline form:

Grigori Rasputin’s Other Side

Thesis: After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

1. The ambiguity of the real Rasputin

1.1. His birth

1.2. Popular historical view

1.2.1. His supporters

1.2.2. His detractors

2. Rasputin’s religious feelings

2.1. His vitality and exuberance

2.2. His simple peasant faith

3. Rasputin’s desire for peace in Russia

3.1. His concern for the Russian underdog

3.1.1. His loyalty to the peasantry

3.1.2. His opposition to anti-Semitism

3.2. His opposition to all wars

4. Rasputin’s gentle, compassionate side

Research Report Outline Template

4.1. His kindness to the Romanovs

4.2. His love for family

Notice that the decimal outline form uses the same indentation pattern as other outlines, with larger ideas stacked to the left and smaller ideas to the right.

How to Choose an Outline Format

Which kind of outline should you use? If you are a beginning writer, and if your research has uncovered much detail on your subject, don’t hesitate: Use a detailed sentence outline. Develop it at least down to the third level—the level of Arabic numerals. In doing so, you actually erect a kind of scaffolding for the paper. To write the rough draft, you simply transcribe from the outline, fill in the blanks, insert transitions and connectives—and you have a research paper. The main entries of a sentence outline should be the topic sentences of various paragraphs. Its details should be exactly the kind you intend to use to support the topic sentence.

Not all instructors require a formal outline for a research paper. Indeed, not all writers would benefit from making one. Some writers compose organically and do not like to be hemmed in by a predefined plan. Others like to have a visible scaffolding for their papers. The point is, if your instructor does not require an outline and you do not feel you would benefit from making one, then simply sit down and begin writing the paper. On the other hand, if an outline would help you write a paper but is not required, go ahead and outline to your heart’s content. If given a choice between outlining and not outlining, do what suits you. The idea is to write the best paper you can, not the best outline.

Finally, we don’t want to leave you with the impression that the movement from thesis to outline to final paper is always neat, predictable, and certain. It is anything but. Writing, as we’ve said before, is a messy business. It leaves behind a litter of scrawled-over papers and almost never proceeds in a straight, unbroken line. For example, you could begin by drafting an outline and find to your dismay that the actual paper you write turns out to be considerably different from what you outlined. If that should happen to you, simply change the outline while being comforted by the thought that it has happened at one time or another to every writer. In fact, it is a healthy sign: It shows that once inspired, you were smart enough to write freely, that you weren’t hog-tied by misplaced loyalty to an outline. When it comes to writing, almost nothing occurs in an ideal way, and every paper is accompanied by a good deal of fumbling, false starts, dead ends, and unexpected departures from plans. Expect complications, and your outlook as you tackle your paper will be healthily realistic.

Apa Research Report Outline

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