Research Paper Examples

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Research paper examples are of great value for students who want to complete their assignments timely and efficiently. If you are a student in the university, your first stop in the quest for research paper examples will be the campus library where you can get to view the research sample papers of lecturers and other professionals in diverse fields plus those of fellow students who preceded you in the campus. Many college departments maintain libraries of previous student work, including large research papers, which current students can examine.

Embark on a journey of academic excellence with iResearchNet, your premier destination for research paper examples that illuminate the path to scholarly success. In the realm of academia, where the pursuit of knowledge is both a challenge and a privilege, the significance of having access to high-quality research paper examples cannot be overstated. These exemplars are not merely papers; they are beacons of insight, guiding students and scholars through the complex maze of academic writing and research methodologies.

At iResearchNet, we understand that the foundation of academic achievement lies in the quality of resources at one’s disposal. This is why we are dedicated to offering a comprehensive collection of research paper examples across a multitude of disciplines. Each example stands as a testament to rigorous research, clear writing, and the deep understanding necessary to advance in one’s academic and professional journey.

Access to superior research paper examples equips learners with the tools to develop their own ideas, arguments, and hypotheses, fostering a cycle of learning and discovery that transcends traditional boundaries. It is with this vision that iResearchNet commits to empowering students and researchers, providing them with the resources to not only meet but exceed the highest standards of academic excellence. Join us on this journey, and let iResearchNet be your guide to unlocking the full potential of your academic endeavors.

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Importance of Research Paper Examples

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A Sample Research Paper on Child Abuse

A research paper represents the pinnacle of academic investigation, a scholarly manuscript that encapsulates a detailed study, analysis, or argument based on extensive independent research. It is an embodiment of the researcher’s ability to synthesize a wealth of information, draw insightful conclusions, and contribute novel perspectives to the existing body of knowledge within a specific field. At its core, a research paper strives to push the boundaries of what is known, challenging existing theories and proposing new insights that could potentially reshape the understanding of a particular subject area.

The objective of writing a research paper is manifold, serving both educational and intellectual pursuits. Primarily, it aims to educate the author, providing a rigorous framework through which they engage deeply with a topic, hone their research and analytical skills, and learn the art of academic writing. Beyond personal growth, the research paper serves the broader academic community by contributing to the collective pool of knowledge, offering fresh perspectives, and stimulating further research. It is a medium through which scholars communicate ideas, findings, and theories, thereby fostering an ongoing dialogue that propels the advancement of science, humanities, and other fields of study.

Research papers can be categorized into various types, each with distinct objectives and methodologies. The most common types include:

  • Analytical Research Paper: This type focuses on analyzing different viewpoints represented in the scholarly literature or data. The author critically evaluates and interprets the information, aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • Argumentative or Persuasive Research Paper: Here, the author adopts a stance on a contentious issue and argues in favor of their position. The objective is to persuade the reader through evidence and logic that the author’s viewpoint is valid or preferable.
  • Experimental Research Paper: Often used in the sciences, this type documents the process, results, and implications of an experiment conducted by the author. It provides a detailed account of the methodology, data collected, analysis performed, and conclusions drawn.
  • Survey Research Paper: This involves collecting data from a set of respondents about their opinions, behaviors, or characteristics. The paper analyzes this data to draw conclusions about the population from which the sample was drawn.
  • Comparative Research Paper: This type involves comparing and contrasting different theories, policies, or phenomena. The aim is to highlight similarities and differences, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the subjects under review.
  • Cause and Effect Research Paper: It explores the reasons behind specific actions, events, or conditions and the consequences that follow. The goal is to establish a causal relationship between variables.
  • Review Research Paper: This paper synthesizes existing research on a particular topic, offering a comprehensive analysis of the literature to identify trends, gaps, and consensus in the field.

Understanding the nuances and objectives of these various types of research papers is crucial for scholars and students alike, as it guides their approach to conducting and writing up their research. Each type demands a unique set of skills and perspectives, pushing the author to think critically and creatively about their subject matter. As the academic landscape continues to evolve, the research paper remains a fundamental tool for disseminating knowledge, encouraging innovation, and fostering a culture of inquiry and exploration.

Browse Sample Research Papers

iResearchNet prides itself on offering a wide array of research paper examples across various disciplines, meticulously curated to support students, educators, and researchers in their academic endeavors. Each example embodies the hallmarks of scholarly excellence—rigorous research, analytical depth, and clear, precise writing. Below, we explore the diverse range of research paper examples available through iResearchNet, designed to inspire and guide users in their quest for academic achievement.

Anthropology Research Paper Examples

Our anthropology research paper examples delve into the study of humanity, exploring cultural, social, biological, and linguistic variations among human populations. These papers offer insights into human behavior, traditions, and evolution, providing a comprehensive overview of anthropological research methods and theories.

  • Archaeology Research Paper
  • Forensic Anthropology Research Paper
  • Linguistics Research Paper
  • Medical Anthropology Research Paper
  • Social Problems Research Paper

Art Research Paper Examples

The art research paper examples feature analyses of artistic expressions across different cultures and historical periods. These papers cover a variety of topics, including art history, criticism, and theory, as well as the examination of specific artworks or movements.

  • Performing Arts Research Paper
  • Music Research Paper
  • Architecture Research Paper
  • Theater Research Paper
  • Visual Arts Research Paper

Cancer Research Paper Examples

Our cancer research paper examples focus on the latest findings in the field of oncology, discussing the biological mechanisms of cancer, advancements in diagnostic techniques, and innovative treatment strategies. These papers aim to contribute to the ongoing battle against cancer by sharing cutting-edge research.

  • Breast Cancer Research Paper
  • Leukemia Research Paper
  • Lung Cancer Research Paper
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Paper
  • Prostate Cancer Research Paper

Communication Research Paper Examples

These examples explore the complexities of human communication, covering topics such as media studies, interpersonal communication, and public relations. The papers examine how communication processes affect individuals, societies, and cultures.

  • Advertising Research Paper
  • Journalism Research Paper
  • Media Research Paper
  • Public Relations Research Paper
  • Public Speaking Research Paper

Crime Research Paper Examples

The crime research paper examples provided by iResearchNet investigate various aspects of criminal behavior and the factors contributing to crime. These papers cover a range of topics, from theoretical analyses of criminality to empirical studies on crime prevention strategies.

  • Computer Crime Research Paper
  • Domestic Violence Research Paper
  • Hate Crimes Research Paper
  • Organized Crime Research Paper
  • White-Collar Crime Research Paper

Criminal Justice Research Paper Examples

Our criminal justice research paper examples delve into the functioning of the criminal justice system, exploring issues related to law enforcement, the judiciary, and corrections. These papers critically examine policies, practices, and reforms within the criminal justice system.

  • Capital Punishment Research Paper
  • Community Policing Research Paper
  • Corporal Punishment Research Paper
  • Criminal Investigation Research Paper
  • Criminal Justice System Research Paper
  • Plea Bargaining Research Paper
  • Restorative Justice Research Paper

Criminal Law Research Paper Examples

These examples focus on the legal aspects of criminal behavior, discussing laws, regulations, and case law that govern criminal proceedings. The papers provide an in-depth analysis of criminal law principles, legal defenses, and the implications of legal decisions.

  • Actus Reus Research Paper
  • Gun Control Research Paper
  • Insanity Defense Research Paper
  • International Criminal Law Research Paper
  • Self-Defense Research Paper

Criminology Research Paper Examples

iResearchNet’s criminology research paper examples study the causes, prevention, and societal impacts of crime. These papers employ various theoretical frameworks to analyze crime trends and propose effective crime reduction strategies.

  • Cultural Criminology Research Paper
  • Education and Crime Research Paper
  • Marxist Criminology Research Paper
  • School Crime Research Paper
  • Urban Crime Research Paper

Culture Research Paper Examples

The culture research paper examples examine the beliefs, practices, and artifacts that define different societies. These papers explore how culture shapes identities, influences behaviors, and impacts social interactions.

  • Advertising and Culture Research Paper
  • Material Culture Research Paper
  • Popular Culture Research Paper
  • Cross-Cultural Studies Research Paper
  • Culture Change Research Paper

Economics Research Paper Examples

Our economics research paper examples offer insights into the functioning of economies at both the micro and macro levels. Topics include economic theory, policy analysis, and the examination of economic indicators and trends.

  • Budget Research Paper
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis Research Paper
  • Fiscal Policy Research Paper
  • Labor Market Research Paper

Education Research Paper Examples

These examples address a wide range of issues in education, from teaching methods and curriculum design to educational policy and reform. The papers aim to enhance understanding and improve outcomes in educational settings.

  • Early Childhood Education Research Paper
  • Information Processing Research Paper
  • Multicultural Education Research Paper
  • Special Education Research Paper
  • Standardized Tests Research Paper

Health Research Paper Examples

The health research paper examples focus on public health issues, healthcare systems, and medical interventions. These papers contribute to the discourse on health promotion, disease prevention, and healthcare management.

  • AIDS Research Paper
  • Alcoholism Research Paper
  • Disease Research Paper
  • Health Economics Research Paper
  • Health Insurance Research Paper
  • Nursing Research Paper

History Research Paper Examples

Our history research paper examples cover significant events, figures, and periods, offering critical analyses of historical narratives and their impact on present-day society.

  • Adolf Hitler Research Paper
  • American Revolution Research Paper
  • Ancient Greece Research Paper
  • Apartheid Research Paper
  • Christopher Columbus Research Paper
  • Climate Change Research Paper
  • Cold War Research Paper
  • Columbian Exchange Research Paper
  • Deforestation Research Paper
  • Diseases Research Paper
  • Earthquakes Research Paper
  • Egypt Research Paper

Leadership Research Paper Examples

These examples explore the theories and practices of effective leadership, examining the qualities, behaviors, and strategies that distinguish successful leaders in various contexts.

  • Implicit Leadership Theories Research Paper
  • Judicial Leadership Research Paper
  • Leadership Styles Research Paper
  • Police Leadership Research Paper
  • Political Leadership Research Paper
  • Remote Leadership Research Paper

Mental Health Research Paper Examples

The mental health research paper examples provided by iResearchNet discuss psychological disorders, therapeutic interventions, and mental health advocacy. These papers aim to raise awareness and improve mental health care practices.

  • ADHD Research Paper
  • Anxiety Research Paper
  • Autism Research Paper
  • Depression Research Paper
  • Eating Disorders Research Paper
  • PTSD Research Paper
  • Schizophrenia Research Paper
  • Stress Research Paper

Political Science Research Paper Examples

Our political science research paper examples analyze political systems, behaviors, and ideologies. Topics include governance, policy analysis, and the study of political movements and institutions.

  • American Government Research Paper
  • Civil War Research Paper
  • Communism Research Paper
  • Democracy Research Paper
  • Game Theory Research Paper
  • Human Rights Research Paper
  • International Relations Research Paper
  • Terrorism Research Paper

Psychology Research Paper Examples

These examples delve into the study of the mind and behavior, covering a broad range of topics in clinical, cognitive, developmental, and social psychology.

  • Artificial Intelligence Research Paper
  • Assessment Psychology Research Paper
  • Biological Psychology Research Paper
  • Clinical Psychology Research Paper
  • Cognitive Psychology Research Paper
  • Developmental Psychology Research Paper
  • Discrimination Research Paper
  • Educational Psychology Research Paper
  • Environmental Psychology Research Paper
  • Experimental Psychology Research Paper
  • Intelligence Research Paper
  • Learning Disabilities Research Paper
  • Personality Psychology Research Paper
  • Psychiatry Research Paper
  • Psychotherapy Research Paper
  • Social Cognition Research Paper
  • Social Psychology Research Paper

Sociology Research Paper Examples

The sociology research paper examples examine societal structures, relationships, and processes. These papers provide insights into social phenomena, inequality, and change.

  • Family Research Paper
  • Demography Research Paper
  • Group Dynamics Research Paper
  • Quality of Life Research Paper
  • Social Change Research Paper
  • Social Movements Research Paper
  • Social Networks Research Paper

Technology Research Paper Examples

Our technology research paper examples address the impact of technological advancements on society, exploring issues related to digital communication, cybersecurity, and innovation.

  • Computer Forensics Research Paper
  • Genetic Engineering Research Paper
  • History of Technology Research Paper
  • Internet Research Paper
  • Nanotechnology Research Paper

a sample of a research report

Other Research Paper Examples

  • Abortion Research Paper
  • Adoption Research Paper
  • Animal Testing Research Paper
  • Bullying Research Paper
  • Diversity Research Paper
  • Divorce Research Paper
  • Drugs Research Paper
  • Environmental Issues Research Paper
  • Ethics Research Paper
  • Evolution Research Paper
  • Feminism Research Paper
  • Food Research Paper
  • Gender Research Paper
  • Globalization Research Paper
  • Juvenile Justice Research Paper
  • Law Research Paper
  • Management Research Paper
  • Philosophy Research Paper
  • Public Health Research Paper
  • Religion Research Paper
  • Science Research Paper
  • Social Sciences Research Paper
  • Statistics Research Paper
  • Other Sample Research Papers

Each category of research paper examples provided by iResearchNet serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers seeking to deepen their understanding of a specific field. By offering a comprehensive collection of well-researched and thoughtfully written papers, iResearchNet aims to support academic growth and encourage scholarly inquiry across diverse disciplines.

Sample Research Papers: To Read or Not to Read?

When you get an assignment to write a research paper, the first question you ask yourself is ‘Should I look for research paper examples?’ Maybe, I can deal with this task on my own without any help. Is it that difficult?

Thousands of students turn to our service every day for help. It does not mean that they cannot do their assignments on their own. They can, but the reason is different. Writing a research paper demands so much time and energy that asking for assistance seems to be a perfect solution. As the matter of fact, it is a perfect solution, especially, when you need to work to pay for your studying as well.

Firstly, if you search for research paper examples before you start writing, you can save your time significantly. You look at the example and you understand the gist of your assignment within several minutes. Secondly, when you examine some sample paper, you get to know all the requirements. You analyze the structure, the language, and the formatting details. Finally, reading examples helps students to overcome writer’s block, as other people’s ideas can motivate you to discover your own ideas.

The significance of research paper examples in the academic journey of students cannot be overstated. These examples serve not only as a blueprint for structuring and formatting academic papers but also as a beacon guiding students through the complex landscape of academic writing standards. iResearchNet recognizes the pivotal role that high-quality research paper examples play in fostering academic success and intellectual growth among students.

Blueprint for Academic Success

Research paper examples provided by iResearchNet are meticulously crafted to demonstrate the essential elements of effective academic writing. These examples offer clear insights into how to organize a paper, from the introductory paragraph, through the development of arguments and analysis, to the concluding remarks. They showcase the appropriate use of headings, subheadings, and the integration of tables, figures, and appendices, which collectively contribute to a well-organized and coherent piece of scholarly work. By studying these examples, students can gain a comprehensive understanding of the structure and formatting required in academic papers, which is crucial for meeting the rigorous standards of academic institutions.

Sparking Ideas and Providing Evidence

Beyond serving as a structural guide, research paper examples act as a source of inspiration for students embarking on their research projects. These examples illuminate a wide array of topics, methodologies, and analytical frameworks, thereby sparking ideas for students’ own research inquiries. They demonstrate how to effectively engage with existing literature, frame research questions, and develop a compelling thesis statement. Moreover, by presenting evidence and arguments in a logical and persuasive manner, these examples illustrate the art of substantiating claims with solid research, encouraging students to adopt a similar level of rigor and depth in their work.

Enhancing Research Skills

Engagement with high-quality research paper examples is instrumental in improving research skills among students. These examples expose students to various research methodologies, from qualitative case studies to quantitative analyses, enabling them to appreciate the breadth of research approaches applicable to their fields of study. By analyzing these examples, students learn how to critically evaluate sources, differentiate between primary and secondary data, and apply ethical considerations in research. Furthermore, these papers serve as a model for effectively citing sources, thereby teaching students the importance of academic integrity and the avoidance of plagiarism.

Research Paper Examples

In essence, research paper examples are a fundamental resource that can significantly enhance the academic writing and research capabilities of students. iResearchNet’s commitment to providing access to a diverse collection of exemplary papers reflects its dedication to supporting academic excellence. Through these examples, students are equipped with the tools necessary to navigate the challenges of academic writing, foster innovative thinking, and contribute meaningfully to the scholarly community. By leveraging these resources, students can elevate their academic pursuits, ensuring their research is not only rigorous but also impactful.

Custom Research Paper Writing Services

In the academic journey, the ability to craft a compelling and meticulously researched paper is invaluable. Recognizing the challenges and pressures that students face, iResearchNet has developed a suite of research paper writing services designed to alleviate the burden of academic writing and research. Our services are tailored to meet the diverse needs of students across all academic disciplines, ensuring that every research paper not only meets but exceeds the rigorous standards of scholarly excellence. Below, we detail the multifaceted aspects of our research paper writing services, illustrating how iResearchNet stands as a beacon of support in the academic landscape.

At iResearchNet, we understand the pivotal role that research papers play in the academic and professional development of students. With this understanding at our core, we offer comprehensive writing services that cater to the intricate process of research paper creation. Our services are designed to guide students through every stage of the writing process, from initial research to final submission, ensuring clarity, coherence, and scholarly rigor.

The Need for Research Paper Writing Services

Navigating the complexities of academic writing and research can be a daunting task for many students. The challenges of identifying credible sources, synthesizing information, adhering to academic standards, and articulating arguments cohesively are significant. Furthermore, the pressures of tight deadlines and the high stakes of academic success can exacerbate the difficulties faced by students. iResearchNet’s research paper writing services are crafted to address these challenges head-on, providing expert assistance that empowers students to achieve their academic goals with confidence.

Why Choose iResearchNet

Selecting the right partner for research paper writing is a pivotal decision for students and researchers aiming for academic excellence. iResearchNet stands out as the premier choice for several compelling reasons, each designed to meet the diverse needs of our clientele and ensure their success.

  • Expert Writers : At iResearchNet, we pride ourselves on our team of expert writers who are not only masters in their respective fields but also possess a profound understanding of academic writing standards. With advanced degrees and extensive experience, our writers bring depth, insight, and precision to each paper, ensuring that your work is informed by the latest research and methodologies.
  • Top Quality : Quality is the cornerstone of our services. We adhere to rigorous quality control processes to ensure that every paper we deliver meets the highest standards of academic excellence. Our commitment to quality means thorough research, impeccable writing, and meticulous proofreading, resulting in work that not only meets but exceeds expectations.
  • Customized Solutions : Understanding that each research project has its unique challenges and requirements, iResearchNet offers customized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Whether you’re grappling with a complex research topic, a tight deadline, or specific formatting guidelines, our team is equipped to provide personalized support that aligns with your objectives.
  • Affordable Prices : We believe that access to high-quality research paper writing services should not be prohibitive. iResearchNet offers competitive pricing structures designed to provide value without compromising on quality. Our transparent pricing model ensures that you know exactly what you are paying for, with no hidden costs or surprises.
  • Timely Delivery : Meeting deadlines is critical in academic writing, and at iResearchNet, we take this seriously. Our efficient processes and dedicated team ensure that your paper is delivered on time, every time, allowing you to meet your academic deadlines with confidence.
  • 24/7 Support : Our commitment to your success is reflected in our round-the-clock support. Whether you have a question about your order, need to communicate with your writer, or require assistance with any aspect of our service, our friendly and knowledgeable support team is available 24/7 to assist you.
  • Money-Back Guarantee : Your satisfaction is our top priority. iResearchNet offers a money-back guarantee, ensuring that if for any reason you are not satisfied with the work delivered, you are entitled to a refund. This policy underscores our confidence in the quality of our services and our dedication to your success.

Choosing iResearchNet for your research paper writing needs means partnering with a trusted provider committed to excellence, innovation, and customer satisfaction. Our unparalleled blend of expert writers, top-quality work, customized solutions, affordability, timely delivery, 24/7 support, and a money-back guarantee makes us the ideal choice for students and researchers seeking to elevate their academic performance.

How It Works: iResearchNet’s Streamlined Process

Navigating the process of obtaining a top-notch research paper has never been more straightforward, thanks to iResearchNet’s streamlined approach. Our user-friendly system ensures that from the moment you decide to place your order to the final receipt of your custom-written paper, every step is seamless, transparent, and tailored to your needs. Here’s how our comprehensive process works:

  • Place Your Order : Begin your journey to academic success by visiting our website and filling out the order form. Here, you’ll provide details about your research paper, including the topic, academic level, number of pages, formatting style, and any specific instructions or requirements. This initial step is crucial for us to understand your needs fully and match you with the most suitable writer.
  • Make Payment : Once your order details are confirmed, you’ll proceed to the payment section. Our platform offers a variety of secure payment options, ensuring that your transaction is safe and hassle-free. Our transparent pricing policy means you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for upfront, with no hidden fees.
  • Choose Your Writer : After payment, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a writer from our team of experts. Our writers are categorized based on their fields of expertise, academic qualifications, and customer feedback ratings. This step empowers you to select the writer who best matches your research paper’s requirements, ensuring a personalized and targeted approach to your project.
  • Receive Your Work : Our writer will commence work on your research paper, adhering to the specified guidelines and timelines. Throughout this process, you’ll have the ability to communicate directly with your writer, allowing for updates, revisions, and clarifications to ensure the final product meets your expectations. Once completed, your research paper will undergo a thorough quality check before being delivered to you via your chosen method.
  • Free Revisions : Your satisfaction is our priority. Upon receiving your research paper, you’ll have the opportunity to review the work and request any necessary revisions. iResearchNet offers free revisions within a specified period, ensuring that your final paper perfectly aligns with your academic requirements and expectations.

Our process is designed to provide you with a stress-free experience and a research paper that reflects your academic goals. From placing your order to enjoying the success of a well-written paper, iResearchNet is here to support you every step of the way.

Our Extras: Enhancing Your iResearchNet Experience

At iResearchNet, we are committed to offering more than just standard research paper writing services. We understand the importance of providing a comprehensive and personalized experience for each of our clients. That’s why we offer a range of additional services designed to enhance your experience and ensure your academic success. Here are the exclusive extras you can benefit from:

  • VIP Service : Elevate your iResearchNet experience with our VIP service, offering you priority treatment from the moment you place your order. This service ensures your projects are given first priority, with immediate attention from our team, and direct access to our top-tier writers and editors. VIP clients also benefit from our highest level of customer support, available to address any inquiries or needs with utmost urgency and personalized care.
  • Plagiarism Report : Integrity and originality are paramount in academic writing. To provide you with peace of mind, we offer a detailed plagiarism report with every research paper. This report is generated using advanced plagiarism detection software, ensuring that your work is unique and adheres to the highest standards of academic honesty.
  • Text Messages : Stay informed about your order’s progress with real-time updates sent directly to your phone. This service ensures you’re always in the loop, providing immediate notifications about key milestones, writer assignments, and any changes to your order status. With this added layer of communication, you can relax knowing that you’ll never miss an important update about your research paper.
  • Table of Contents : A well-organized research paper is key to guiding readers through your work. Our service includes the creation of a detailed table of contents, meticulously structured to reflect the main sections and subsections of your paper. This not only enhances the navigability of your document but also presents your research in a professional and academically appropriate format.
  • Abstract Page : The abstract page is your research paper’s first impression, summarizing the essential points of your study and its conclusions. Crafting a compelling abstract is an art, and our experts are skilled in highlighting the significance, methodology, results, and implications of your research succinctly and effectively. This service ensures that your paper makes a strong impact from the very beginning.
  • Editor’s Check : Before your research paper reaches you, it undergoes a final review by our team of experienced editors. This editor’s check is a comprehensive process that includes proofreading for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, as well as ensuring that the paper meets all your specifications and academic standards. This meticulous attention to detail guarantees that your paper is polished, professional, and ready for submission.

To ensure your research paper is of the highest quality and ready for submission, it undergoes a rigorous editor’s check. This final review process includes a thorough examination for any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors, as well as a verification that the paper meets all your specified requirements and academic standards. Our editors’ meticulous approach guarantees that your paper is polished, accurate, and exemplary.

By choosing iResearchNet and leveraging our extras, you can elevate the quality of your research paper and enjoy a customized, worry-free academic support experience.

A research paper is an academic piece of writing, so you need to follow all the requirements and standards. Otherwise, it will be impossible to get the high results. To make it easier for you, we have analyzed the structure and peculiarities of a sample research paper on the topic ‘Child Abuse’.

The paper includes 7300+ words, a detailed outline, citations are in APA formatting style, and bibliography with 28 sources.

To write any paper you need to write a great outline. This is the key to a perfect paper. When you organize your paper, it is easier for you to present the ideas logically, without jumping from one thought to another.

In the outline, you need to name all the parts of your paper. That is to say, an introduction, main body, conclusion, bibliography, some papers require abstract and proposal as well.

A good outline will serve as a guide through your paper making it easier for the reader to follow your ideas.

I. Introduction

Ii. estimates of child abuse: methodological limitations, iii. child abuse and neglect: the legalities, iv. corporal punishment versus child abuse, v. child abuse victims: the patterns, vi. child abuse perpetrators: the patterns, vii. explanations for child abuse, viii. consequences of child abuse and neglect, ix. determining abuse: how to tell whether a child is abused or neglected, x. determining abuse: interviewing children, xi. how can society help abused children and abusive families, introduction.

An introduction should include a thesis statement and the main points that you will discuss in the paper.

A thesis statement is one sentence in which you need to show your point of view. You will then develop this point of view through the whole piece of work:

‘The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood.’

Child abuse is a very real and prominent social problem today. The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood. Most children are defenseless against abuse, are dependent on their caretakers, and are unable to protect themselves from these acts.

Childhood serves as the basis for growth, development, and socialization. Throughout adolescence, children are taught how to become productive and positive, functioning members of society. Much of the socializing of children, particularly in their very earliest years, comes at the hands of family members. Unfortunately, the messages conveyed to and the actions against children by their families are not always the positive building blocks for which one would hope.

In 2008, the Children’s Defense Fund reported that each day in America, 2,421 children are confirmed as abused or neglected, 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect, and 78 babies die before their first birthday. These daily estimates translate into tremendous national figures. In 2006, caseworkers substantiated an estimated 905,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Of these, 64% suffered neglect, 16% were physically abused, 9% were sexually abused, 7% were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and 2% were medically neglected. In addition, 15% of the victims experienced “other” types of maltreatment such as abandonment, threats of harm to the child, and congenital drug addiction (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006). Obviously, this problem is a substantial one.

In the main body, you dwell upon the topic of your paper. You provide your ideas and support them with evidence. The evidence include all the data and material you have found, analyzed and systematized. You can support your point of view with different statistical data, with surveys, and the results of different experiments. Your task is to show that your idea is right, and make the reader interested in the topic.

In this example, a writer analyzes the issue of child abuse: different statistical data, controversies regarding the topic, examples of the problem and the consequences.

Several issues arise when considering the amount of child abuse that occurs annually in the United States. Child abuse is very hard to estimate because much (or most) of it is not reported. Children who are abused are unlikely to report their victimization because they may not know any better, they still love their abusers and do not want to see them taken away (or do not themselves want to be taken away from their abusers), they have been threatened into not reporting, or they do not know to whom they should report their victimizations. Still further, children may report their abuse only to find the person to whom they report does not believe them or take any action on their behalf. Continuing to muddy the waters, child abuse can be disguised as legitimate injury, particularly because young children are often somewhat uncoordinated and are still learning to accomplish physical tasks, may not know their physical limitations, and are often legitimately injured during regular play. In the end, children rarely report child abuse; most often it is an adult who makes a report based on suspicion (e.g., teacher, counselor, doctor, etc.).

Even when child abuse is reported, social service agents and investigators may not follow up or substantiate reports for a variety of reasons. Parents can pretend, lie, or cover up injuries or stories of how injuries occurred when social service agents come to investigate. Further, there is not always agreement about what should be counted as abuse by service providers and researchers. In addition, social service agencies/agents have huge caseloads and may only be able to deal with the most serious forms of child abuse, leaving the more “minor” forms of abuse unsupervised and unmanaged (and uncounted in the statistical totals).

While most laws about child abuse and neglect fall at the state levels, federal legislation provides a foundation for states by identifying a minimum set of acts and behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which stems from the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum, “(1) any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation; or (2) an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm.”

Using these minimum standards, each state is responsible for providing its own definition of maltreatment within civil and criminal statutes. When defining types of child abuse, many states incorporate similar elements and definitions into their legal statutes. For example, neglect is often defined as failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect can encompass physical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision), medical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment), educational elements (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special educational needs), and emotional elements (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs). Failure to meet needs does not always mean a child is neglected, as situations such as poverty, cultural values, and community standards can influence the application of legal statutes. In addition, several states distinguish between failure to provide based on financial inability and failure to provide for no apparent financial reason.

Statutes on physical abuse typically include elements of physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of the intention of the caretaker. In addition, many state statutes include allowing or encouraging another person to physically harm a child (such as noted above) as another form of physical abuse in and of itself. Sexual abuse usually includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Finally, emotional or psychological abuse typically is defined as a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often the most difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child. Some states suggest that harm may be evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition, or by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior. At a practical level, emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of abuse are identified.

Some states include an element of substance abuse in their statutes on child abuse. Circumstances that can be considered substance abuse include (a) the manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on the premises occupied by a child (Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia); (b) allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used (Arizona, New Mexico); (c) selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child (Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas); (d) use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child (Kentucky, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas); and (e) exposure of the child to drug paraphernalia (North Dakota), the criminal sale or distribution of drugs (Montana, Virginia), or drug-related activity (District of Columbia).

One of the most difficult issues with which the U.S. legal system must contend is that of allowing parents the right to use corporal punishment when disciplining a child, while not letting them cross over the line into the realm of child abuse. Some parents may abuse their children under the guise of discipline, and many instances of child abuse arise from angry parents who go too far when disciplining their children with physical punishment. Generally, state statutes use terms such as “reasonable discipline of a minor,” “causes only temporary, short-term pain,” and may cause “the potential for bruising” but not “permanent damage, disability, disfigurement or injury” to the child as ways of indicating the types of discipline behaviors that are legal. However, corporal punishment that is “excessive,” “malicious,” “endangers the bodily safety of,” or is “an intentional infliction of injury” is not allowed under most state statutes (e.g., state of Florida child abuse statute).

Most research finds that the use of physical punishment (most often spanking) is not an effective method of discipline. The literature on this issue tends to find that spanking stops misbehavior, but no more effectively than other firm measures. Further, it seems to hinder rather than improve general compliance/obedience (particularly when the child is not in the presence of the punisher). Researchers have also explained why physical punishment is not any more effective at gaining child compliance than nonviolent forms of discipline. Some of the problems that arise when parents use spanking or other forms of physical punishment include the fact that spanking does not teach what children should do, nor does it provide them with alternative behavior options should the circumstance arise again. Spanking also undermines reasoning, explanation, or other forms of parental instruction because children cannot learn, reason, or problem solve well while experiencing threat, pain, fear, or anger. Further, the use of physical punishment is inconsistent with nonviolent principles, or parental modeling. In addition, the use of spanking chips away at the bonds of affection between parents and children, and tends to induce resentment and fear. Finally, it hinders the development of empathy and compassion in children, and they do not learn to take responsibility for their own behavior (Pitzer, 1997).

One of the biggest problems with the use of corporal punishment is that it can escalate into much more severe forms of violence. Usually, parents spank because they are angry (and somewhat out of control) and they can’t think of other ways to discipline. When parents are acting as a result of emotional triggers, the notion of discipline is lost while punishment and pain become the foci.

In 2006, of the children who were found to be victims of child abuse, nearly 75% of them were first-time victims (or had not come to the attention of authorities prior). A slight majority of child abuse victims were girls—51.5%, compared to 48% of abuse victims being boys. The younger the child, the more at risk he or she is for child abuse and neglect victimization. Specifically, the rate for infants (birth to 1 year old) was approximately 24 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The victimization rate for children 1–3 years old was 14 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The abuse rate for children aged 4– 7 years old declined further to 13 per 1,000 children of the same age group. African American, American Indian, and Alaska Native children, as well as children of multiple races, had the highest rates of victimization. White and Latino children had lower rates, and Asian children had the lowest rates of child abuse and neglect victimization. Regarding living arrangements, nearly 27% of victims were living with a single mother, 20% were living with married parents, while 22% were living with both parents but the marital status was unknown. (This reporting element had nearly 40% missing data, however.) Regarding disability, nearly 8% of child abuse victims had some degree of mental retardation, emotional disturbance, visual or hearing impairment, learning disability, physical disability, behavioral problems, or other medical problems. Unfortunately, data indicate that for many victims, the efforts of the child protection services system were not successful in preventing subsequent victimization. Children who had been prior victims of maltreatment were 96% more likely to experience another occurrence than those who were not prior victims. Further, child victims who were reported to have a disability were 52% more likely to experience recurrence than children without a disability. Finally, the oldest victims (16–21 years of age) were the least likely to experience a recurrence, and were 51% less likely to be victimized again than were infants (younger than age 1) (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).

Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. Yet, each year, children die from abuse and neglect. In 2006, an estimated 1,530 children in the United States died due to abuse or neglect. The overall rate of child fatalities was 2 deaths per 100,000 children. More than 40% of child fatalities were attributed to neglect, but physical abuse also was a major contributor. Approximately 78% of the children who died due to child abuse and neglect were younger than 4 years old, and infant boys (younger than 1) had the highest rate of fatalities at 18.5 deaths per 100,000 boys of the same age in the national population. Infant girls had a rate of 14.7 deaths per 100,000 girls of the same age (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).

One question to be addressed regarding child fatalities is why infants have such a high rate of death when compared to toddlers and adolescents. Children under 1 year old pose an immense amount of responsibility for their caretakers: they are completely dependent and need constant attention. Children this age are needy, impulsive, and not amenable to verbal control or effective communication. This can easily overwhelm vulnerable parents. Another difficulty associated with infants is that they are physically weak and small. Injuries to infants can be fatal, while similar injuries to older children might not be. The most common cause of death in children less than 1 year is cerebral trauma (often the result of shaken-baby syndrome). Exasperated parents can deliver shakes or blows without realizing how little it takes to cause irreparable or fatal damage to an infant. Research informs us that two of the most common triggers for fatal child abuse are crying that will not cease and toileting accidents. Both of these circumstances are common in infants and toddlers whose only means of communication often is crying, and who are limited in mobility and cannot use the toilet. Finally, very young children cannot assist in injury diagnoses. Children who have been injured due to abuse or neglect often cannot communicate to medical professionals about where it hurts, how it hurts, and so forth. Also, nonfatal injuries can turn fatal in the absence of care by neglectful parents or parents who do not want medical professionals to possibly identify an injury as being the result of abuse.

Estimates reveal that nearly 80% of perpetrators of child abuse were parents of the victim. Other relatives accounted for nearly 7%, and unmarried partners of parents made up 4% of perpetrators. Of those perpetrators that were parents, over 90% were biological parents, 4% were stepparents, and 0.7% were adoptive parents. Of this group, approximately 58% of perpetrators were women and 42% were men. Women perpetrators are typically younger than men. The average age for women abusers was 31 years old, while for men the average was 34 years old. Forty percent of women who abused were younger than 30 years of age, compared with 33% of men being under 30. The racial distribution of perpetrators is similar to that of victims. Fifty-four percent were white, 21% were African American, and 20% were Hispanic/Latino (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).

There are many factors that are associated with child abuse. Some of the more common/well-accepted explanations are individual pathology, parent–child interaction, past abuse in the family (or social learning), situational factors, and cultural support for physical punishment along with a lack of cultural support for helping parents here in the United States.

The first explanation centers on the individual pathology of a parent or caretaker who is abusive. This theory focuses on the idea that people who abuse their children have something wrong with their individual personality or biological makeup. Such psychological pathologies may include having anger control problems; being depressed or having post-partum depression; having a low tolerance for frustration (e.g., children can be extremely frustrating: they don’t always listen; they constantly push the line of how far they can go; and once the line has been established, they are constantly treading on it to make sure it hasn’t moved. They are dependent and self-centered, so caretakers have very little privacy or time to themselves); being rigid (e.g., having no tolerance for differences—for example, what if your son wanted to play with dolls? A rigid father would not let him, laugh at him for wanting to, punish him when he does, etc.); having deficits in empathy (parents who cannot put themselves in the shoes of their children cannot fully understand what their children need emotionally); or being disorganized, inefficient, and ineffectual. (Parents who are unable to manage their own lives are unlikely to be successful at managing the lives of their children, and since many children want and need limits, these parents are unable to set them or adhere to them.)

Biological pathologies that may increase the likelihood of someone becoming a child abuser include having substance abuse or dependence problems, or having persistent or reoccurring physical health problems (especially health problems that can be extremely painful and can cause a person to become more self-absorbed, both qualities that can give rise to a lack of patience, lower frustration tolerance, and increased stress).

The second explanation for child abuse centers on the interaction between the parent and the child, noting that certain types of parents are more likely to abuse, and certain types of children are more likely to be abused, and when these less-skilled parents are coupled with these more difficult children, child abuse is the most likely to occur. Discussion here focuses on what makes a parent less skilled, and what makes a child more difficult. Characteristics of unskilled parents are likely to include such traits as only pointing out what children do wrong and never giving any encouragement for good behavior, and failing to be sensitive to the emotional needs of children. Less skilled parents tend to have unrealistic expectations of children. They may engage in role reversal— where the parents make the child take care of them—and view the parent’s happiness and well-being as the responsibility of the child. Some parents view the parental role as extremely stressful and experience little enjoyment from being a parent. Finally, less-skilled parents tend to have more negative perceptions regarding their child(ren). For example, perhaps the child has a different shade of skin than they expected and this may disappoint or anger them, they may feel the child is being manipulative (long before children have this capability), or they may view the child as the scapegoat for all the parents’ or family’s problems. Theoretically, parents with these characteristics would be more likely to abuse their children, but if they are coupled with having a difficult child, they would be especially likely to be abusive. So, what makes a child more difficult? Certainly, through no fault of their own, children may have characteristics that are associated with child care that is more demanding and difficult than in the “normal” or “average” situation. Such characteristics can include having physical and mental disabilities (autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], hyperactivity, etc.); the child may be colicky, frequently sick, be particularly needy, or cry more often. In addition, some babies are simply unhappier than other babies for reasons that cannot be known. Further, infants are difficult even in the best of circumstances. They are unable to communicate effectively, and they are completely dependent on their caretakers for everything, including eating, diaper changing, moving around, entertainment, and emotional bonding. Again, these types of children, being more difficult, are more likely to be victims of child abuse.

Nonetheless, each of these types of parents and children alone cannot explain the abuse of children, but it is the interaction between them that becomes the key. Unskilled parents may produce children that are happy and not as needy, and even though they are unskilled, they do not abuse because the child takes less effort. At the same time, children who are more difficult may have parents who are skilled and are able to handle and manage the extra effort these children take with aplomb. However, risks for child abuse increase when unskilled parents must contend with difficult children.

Social learning or past abuse in the family is a third common explanation for child abuse. Here, the theory concentrates not only on what children learn when they see or experience violence in their homes, but additionally on what they do not learn as a result of these experiences. Social learning theory in the context of family violence stresses that if children are abused or see abuse (toward siblings or a parent), those interactions and violent family members become the representations and role models for their future familial interactions. In this way, what children learn is just as important as what they do not learn. Children who witness or experience violence may learn that this is the way parents deal with children, or that violence is an acceptable method of child rearing and discipline. They may think when they become parents that “violence worked on me when I was a child, and I turned out fine.” They may learn unhealthy relationship interaction patterns; children may witness the negative interactions of parents and they may learn the maladaptive or violent methods of expressing anger, reacting to stress, or coping with conflict.

What is equally as important, though, is that they are unlikely to learn more acceptable and nonviolent ways of rearing children, interacting with family members, and working out conflict. Here it may happen that an adult who was abused as a child would like to be nonviolent toward his or her own children, but when the chips are down and the child is misbehaving, this abused-child-turned-adult does not have a repertoire of nonviolent strategies to try. This parent is more likely to fall back on what he or she knows as methods of discipline.

Something important to note here is that not all abused children grow up to become abusive adults. Children who break the cycle were often able to establish and maintain one healthy emotional relationship with someone during their childhoods (or period of young adulthood). For instance, they may have received emotional support from a nonabusing parent, or they received social support and had a positive relationship with another adult during their childhood (e.g., teacher, coach, minister, neighbor, etc.). Abused children who participate in therapy during some period of their lives can often break the cycle of violence. In addition, adults who were abused but are able to form an emotionally supportive and satisfying relationship with a mate can make the transition to being nonviolent in their family interactions.

Moving on to a fourth familiar explanation for child abuse, there are some common situational factors that influence families and parents and increase the risks for child abuse. Typically, these are factors that increase family stress or social isolation. Specifically, such factors may include receiving public assistance or having low socioeconomic status (a combination of low income and low education). Other factors include having family members who are unemployed, underemployed (working in a job that requires lower qualifications than an individual possesses), or employed only part time. These financial difficulties cause great stress for families in meeting the needs of the individual members. Other stress-inducing familial characteristics are single-parent households and larger family size. Finally, social isolation can be devastating for families and family members. Having friends to talk to, who can be relied upon, and with whom kids can be dropped off occasionally is tremendously important for personal growth and satisfaction in life. In addition, social isolation and stress can cause individuals to be quick to lose their tempers, as well as cause people to be less rational in their decision making and to make mountains out of mole hills. These situations can lead families to be at greater risk for child abuse.

Finally, cultural views and supports (or lack thereof) can lead to greater amounts of child abuse in a society such as the United States. One such cultural view is that of societal support for physical punishment. This is problematic because there are similarities between the way criminals are dealt with and the way errant children are handled. The use of capital punishment is advocated for seriously violent criminals, and people are quick to use such idioms as “spare the rod and spoil the child” when it comes to the discipline or punishment of children. In fact, it was not until quite recently that parenting books began to encourage parents to use other strategies than spanking or other forms of corporal punishment in the discipline of their children. Only recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out and recommended that parents do not spank or use other forms of violence on their children because of the deleterious effects such methods have on youngsters and their bonds with their parents. Nevertheless, regardless of recommendations, the culture of corporal punishment persists.

Another cultural view in the United States that can give rise to greater incidents of child abuse is the belief that after getting married, couples of course should want and have children. Culturally, Americans consider that children are a blessing, raising kids is the most wonderful thing a person can do, and everyone should have children. Along with this notion is the idea that motherhood is always wonderful; it is the most fulfilling thing a woman can do; and the bond between a mother and her child is strong, glorious, and automatic—all women love being mothers. Thus, culturally (and theoretically), society nearly insists that married couples have children and that they will love having children. But, after children are born, there is not much support for couples who have trouble adjusting to parenthood, or who do not absolutely love their new roles as parents. People look askance at parents who need help, and cannot believe parents who say anything negative about parenthood. As such, theoretically, society has set up a situation where couples are strongly encouraged to have kids, are told they will love kids, but then society turns a blind or disdainful eye when these same parents need emotional, financial, or other forms of help or support. It is these types of cultural viewpoints that increase the risks for child abuse in society.

The consequences of child abuse are tremendous and long lasting. Research has shown that the traumatic experience of childhood abuse is life changing. These costs may surface during adolescence, or they may not become evident until abused children have grown up and become abusing parents or abused spouses. Early identification and treatment is important to minimize these potential long-term effects. Whenever children say they have been abused, it is imperative that they be taken seriously and their abuse be reported. Suspicions of child abuse must be reported as well. If there is a possibility that a child is or has been abused, an investigation must be conducted.

Children who have been abused may exhibit traits such as the inability to love or have faith in others. This often translates into adults who are unable to establish lasting and stable personal relationships. These individuals have trouble with physical closeness and touching as well as emotional intimacy and trust. Further, these qualities tend to cause a fear of entering into new relationships, as well as the sabotaging of any current ones.

Psychologically, children who have been abused tend to have poor self-images or are passive, withdrawn, or clingy. They may be angry individuals who are filled with rage, anxiety, and a variety of fears. They are often aggressive, disruptive, and depressed. Many abused children have flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse they have experienced, and this may cause sleep problems as well as drug and alcohol problems. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and antisocial personality disorder are both typical among maltreated children. Research has also shown that most abused children fail to reach “successful psychosocial functioning,” and are thus not resilient and do not resume a “normal life” after the abuse has ended.

Socially (and likely because of these psychological injuries), abused children have trouble in school, will have difficulty getting and remaining employed, and may commit a variety of illegal or socially inappropriate behaviors. Many studies have shown that victims of child abuse are likely to participate in high-risk behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse, the use of tobacco, and high-risk sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, large numbers of sexual partners). Later in life, abused children are more likely to have been arrested and homeless. They are also less able to defend themselves in conflict situations and guard themselves against repeated victimizations.

Medically, abused children likely will experience health problems due to the high frequency of physical injuries they receive. In addition, abused children experience a great deal of emotional turmoil and stress, which can also have a significant impact on their physical condition. These health problems are likely to continue occurring into adulthood. Some of these longer-lasting health problems include headaches; eating problems; problems with toileting; and chronic pain in the back, stomach, chest, and genital areas. Some researchers have noted that abused children may experience neurological impairment and problems with intellectual functioning, while others have found a correlation between abuse and heart, lung, and liver disease, as well as cancer (Thomas, 2004).

Victims of sexual abuse show an alarming number of disturbances as adults. Some dislike and avoid sex, or experience sexual problems or disorders, while other victims appear to enjoy sexual activities that are self-defeating or maladaptive—normally called “dysfunctional sexual behavior”—and have many sexual partners.

Abused children also experience a wide variety of developmental delays. Many do not reach physical, cognitive, or emotional developmental milestones at the typical time, and some never accomplish what they are supposed to during childhood socialization. In the next section, these developmental delays are discussed as a means of identifying children who may be abused.

There are two primary ways of identifying children who are abused: spotting and evaluating physical injuries, and detecting and appraising developmental delays. Distinguishing physical injuries due to abuse can be difficult, particularly among younger children who are likely to get hurt or receive injuries while they are playing and learning to become ambulatory. Nonetheless, there are several types of wounds that children are unlikely to give themselves during their normal course of play and exploration. These less likely injuries may signal instances of child abuse.

While it is true that children are likely to get bruises, particularly when they are learning to walk or crawl, bruises on infants are not normal. Also, the back of the legs, upper arms, or on the chest, neck, head, or genitals are also locations where bruises are unlikely to occur during normal childhood activity. Further, bruises with clean patterns, like hand prints, buckle prints, or hangers (to name a few), are good examples of the types of bruises children do not give themselves.

Another area of physical injury where the source of the injury can be difficult to detect is fractures. Again, children fall out of trees, or crash their bikes, and can break limbs. These can be normal parts of growing up. However, fractures in infants less than 12 months old are particularly suspect, as infants are unlikely to be able to accomplish the types of movement necessary to actually break a leg or an arm. Further, multiple fractures, particularly more than one on a bone, should be examined more closely. Spiral or torsion fractures (when the bone is broken by twisting) are suspect because when children break their bones due to play injuries, the fractures are usually some other type (e.g., linear, oblique, compacted). In addition, when parents don’t know about the fracture(s) or how it occurred, abuse should be considered, because when children get these types of injuries, they need comfort and attention.

Head and internal injuries are also those that may signal abuse. Serious blows to the head cause internal head injuries, and this is very different from the injuries that result from bumping into things. Abused children are also likely to experience internal injuries like those to the abdomen, liver, kidney, and bladder. They may suffer a ruptured spleen, or intestinal perforation. These types of damages rarely happen by accident.

Burns are another type of physical injury that can happen by accident or by abuse. Nevertheless, there are ways to tell these types of burn injuries apart. The types of burns that should be examined and investigated are those where the burns are in particular locations. Burns to the bottom of the feet, genitals, abdomen, or other inaccessible spots should be closely considered. Burns of the whole hand or those to the buttocks are also unlikely to happen as a result of an accident.

Turning to the detection and appraisal of developmental delays, one can more readily assess possible abuse by considering what children of various ages should be able to accomplish, than by noting when children are delayed and how many milestones on which they are behind schedule. Importantly, a few delays in reaching milestones can be expected, since children develop individually and not always according to the norm. Nonetheless, when children are abused, their development is likely to be delayed in numerous areas and across many milestones.

As children develop and grow, they should be able to crawl, walk, run, talk, control going to the bathroom, write, set priorities, plan ahead, trust others, make friends, develop a good self-image, differentiate between feeling and behavior, and get their needs met in appropriate ways. As such, when children do not accomplish these feats, their circumstances should be examined.

Infants who are abused or neglected typically develop what is termed failure to thrive syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by slow, inadequate growth, or not “filling out” physically. They have a pale, colorless complexion and dull eyes. They are not likely to spend much time looking around, and nothing catches their eyes. They may show other signs of lack of nutrition such as cuts, bruises that do not heal in a timely way, and discolored fingernails. They are also not trusting and may not cry much, as they are not expecting to have their needs met. Older infants may not have developed any language skills, or these developments are quite slow. This includes both verbal and nonverbal means of communication.

Toddlers who are abused often become hypervigilant about their environments and others’ moods. They are more outwardly focused than a typical toddler (who is quite self-centered) and may be unable to separate themselves as individuals, or consider themselves as distinct beings. In this way, abused toddlers cannot focus on tasks at hand because they are too concerned about others’ reactions. They don’t play with toys, have no interest in exploration, and seem unable to enjoy life. They are likely to accept losses with little reaction, and may have age-inappropriate knowledge of sex and sexual relations. Finally, toddlers, whether they are abused or not, begin to mirror their parents’ behaviors. Thus, toddlers who are abused may mimic the abuse when they are playing with dolls or “playing house.”

Developmental delays can also be detected among abused young adolescents. Some signs include the failure to learn cause and effect, since their parents are so inconsistent. They have no energy for learning and have not developed beyond one- or two-word commands. They probably cannot follow complicated directions (such as two to three tasks per instruction), and they are unlikely to be able to think for themselves. Typically, they have learned that failure is totally unacceptable, but they are more concerned with the teacher’s mood than with learning and listening to instruction. Finally, they are apt to have been inadequately toilet trained and thus may be unable to control their bladders.

Older adolescents, because they are likely to have been abused for a longer period of time, continue to get further and further behind in their developmental achievements. Abused children this age become family nurturers. They take care of their parents and cater to their parents’ needs, rather than the other way around. In addition, they probably take care of any younger siblings and do the household chores. Because of these default responsibilities, they usually do not participate in school activities; they frequently miss days at school; and they have few, if any, friends. Because they have become so hypervigilant and have increasingly delayed development, they lose interest in and become disillusioned with education. They develop low self-esteem and little confidence, but seem old for their years. Children this age who are abused are still likely to be unable to control their bladders and may have frequent toileting accidents.

Other developmental delays can occur and be observed in abused and neglected children of any age. For example, malnutrition and withdrawal can be noticed in infants through teenagers. Maltreated children frequently have persistent or untreated illnesses, and these can become permanent disabilities if medical conditions go untreated for a long enough time. Another example can be the consequences of neurological damage. Beyond being a medical issue, this type of damage can cause problems with social behavior and impulse control, which, again, can be discerned in various ages of children.

Once child abuse is suspected, law enforcement officers, child protection workers, or various other practitioners may need to interview the child about the abuse or neglect he or she may have suffered. Interviewing children can be extremely difficult because children at various stages of development can remember only certain parts or aspects of the events in their lives. Also, interviewers must be careful that they do not put ideas or answers into the heads of the children they are interviewing. There are several general recommendations when interviewing children about the abuse they may have experienced. First, interviewers must acknowledge that even when children are abused, they likely still love their parents. They do not want to be taken away from their parents, nor do they want to see their parents get into trouble. Interviewers must not blame the parents or be judgmental about them or the child’s family. Beyond that, interviews should take place in a safe, neutral location. Interviewers can use dolls and role-play to help children express the types of abuse of which they may be victims.

Finally, interviewers must ask age-appropriate questions. For example, 3-year-olds can probably only answer questions about what happened and who was involved. Four- to five-year-olds can also discuss where the incidents occurred. Along with what, who, and where, 6- to 8-year-olds can talk about the element of time, or when the abuse occurred. Nine- to 10-year-olds are able to add commentary about the number of times the abuse occurred. Finally, 11-year-olds and older children can additionally inform interviewers about the circumstances of abusive instances.

A conclusion is not a summary of what a writer has already mentioned. On the contrary, it is the last point made. Taking every detail of the investigation, the researcher makes the concluding point. In this part of a paper, you need to put a full stop in your research. You need to persuade the reader in your opinion.

Never add any new information in the conclusion. You can present solutions to the problem and you dwell upon the results, but only if this information has been already mentioned in the main body.

Child advocates recommend a variety of strategies to aid families and children experiencing abuse. These recommendations tend to focus on societal efforts as well as more individual efforts. One common strategy advocated is the use of public service announcements that encourage individuals to report any suspected child abuse. Currently, many mandatory reporters (those required by law to report abuse such as teachers, doctors, and social service agency employees) and members of communities feel that child abuse should not be reported unless there is substantial evidence that abuse is indeed occurring. Child advocates stress that this notion should be changed, and that people should report child abuse even if it is only suspected. Public service announcements should stress that if people report suspected child abuse, the worst that can happen is that they might be wrong, but in the grander scheme of things that is really not so bad.

Child advocates also stress that greater interagency cooperation is needed. This cooperation should be evident between women’s shelters, child protection agencies, programs for at-risk children, medical agencies, and law enforcement officers. These agencies typically do not share information, and if they did, more instances of child abuse would come to the attention of various authorities and could be investigated and managed. Along these lines, child protection agencies and programs should receive more funding. When budgets are cut, social services are often the first things to go or to get less financial support. Child advocates insist that with more resources, child protection agencies could hire more workers, handle more cases, conduct more investigations, and follow up with more children and families.

Continuing, more educational efforts must be initiated about issues such as punishment and discipline styles and strategies; having greater respect for children; as well as informing the community about what child abuse is, and how to recognize it. In addition, Americans must alter the cultural orientation about child bearing and child rearing. Couples who wish to remain child-free must be allowed to do so without disdain. And, it must be acknowledged that raising children is very difficult, is not always gloriously wonderful, and that parents who seek help should be lauded and not criticized. These kinds of efforts can help more children to be raised in nonviolent, emotionally satisfying families, and thus become better adults.

Bibliography

When you write a paper, make sure you are aware of all the formatting requirements. Incorrect formatting can lower your mark, so do not underestimate the importance of this part.

Organizing your bibliography is quite a tedious and time-consuming task. Still, you need to do it flawlessly. For this reason, analyze all the standards you need to meet or ask professionals to help you with it. All the comas, colons, brackets etc. matter. They truly do.

Bibliography:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/
  • Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2002). The batterer as parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g (1998).
  • Childhelp: Child Abuse Statistics: https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/
  • Children’s Defense Fund: https://www.childrensdefense.org/
  • Child Stats.gov: https://www.childstats.gov/
  • Child Welfare League of America: https://www.cwla.org/
  • Crosson-Tower, C. (2008). Understanding child abuse and neglect (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • DeBecker, G. (1999). Protecting the gift: Keeping children and teenagers safe (and parents sane). New York: Bantam Dell.
  • Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire: https://cola.unh.edu/family-research-laboratory
  • Guterman, N. B. (2001). Stopping child maltreatment before it starts: Emerging horizons in early home visitation services. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Herman, J. L. (2000). Father-daughter incest. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Medline Plus, Child Abuse: https://medlineplus.gov/childabuse.html
  • Myers, J. E. B. (Ed.). (1994). The backlash: Child protection under fire. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: https://www.missingkids.org/home
  • National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. (2006). Child maltreatment 2006: Reports from the states to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
  • New York University Silver School of Social Work: https://socialwork.nyu.edu/
  • Pitzer, R. L. (1997). Corporal punishment in the discipline of children in the home: Research update for practitioners. Paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
  • RAND, Child Abuse and Neglect: https://www.rand.org/topics/child-abuse-and-neglect.html
  • Richards, C. E. (2001). The loss of innocents: Child killers and their victims. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
  • Straus, M. A. (2001). Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children. Edison, NJ: Transaction.
  • Thomas, P. M. (2004). Protection, dissociation, and internal roles: Modeling and treating the effects of child abuse. Review of General Psychology, 7(15).
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/

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Chapter 11: Presenting Your Research

Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a  title page . The title is centred in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behaviour?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal Psychological Science .

  • “Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior”
  • “Time Crawls: The Temporal Resolution of Infants’ Visual Attention”
  • “Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues”
  • “Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs”
  • “Serial vs. Parallel Processing: Sometimes They Look Like Tweedledum and Tweedledee but They Can (and Should) Be Distinguished”
  • “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words: The Social Effects of Expressive Writing”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The  abstract  is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word  Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The  introduction  begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The  opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behaviour (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003 [1] ). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humourous anecdote:

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (Jacoby, 1999, p. 3)

Although both humour and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the  literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).

Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.

An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).

We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favourite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the  balance  of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to  ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The  closing  of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) [2] concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behaviour during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions. (p. 378)

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The  method section  is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centred on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Three ways of organizing an APA-style method. Long description available.

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The  results section  is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Several journals now encourage the open sharing of raw data online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) [3] suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The  discussion  is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how  can  they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they  would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What  new  research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968) [4] , for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centred at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendices, Tables, and Figures

Appendices, tables, and figures come after the references. An  appendix  is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centred at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendices come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figures 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

""

Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g.,  Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different colour each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Long Descriptions

Figure 11.1 long description: Table showing three ways of organizing an APA-style method section.

In the simple method, there are two subheadings: “Participants” (which might begin “The participants were…”) and “Design and procedure” (which might begin “There were three conditions…”).

In the typical method, there are three subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”).

In the complex method, there are four subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Materials” (“The stimuli were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”). [Return to Figure 11.1]

  • Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.),  The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist  (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ↵
  • Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383. ↵

A type of research article which describes one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors.

The page at the beginning of an APA-style research report containing the title of the article, the authors’ names, and their institutional affiliation.

A summary of a research study.

The third page of a manuscript containing the research question, the literature review, and comments about how to answer the research question.

An introduction to the research question and explanation for why this question is interesting.

A description of relevant previous research on the topic being discusses and an argument for why the research is worth addressing.

The end of the introduction, where the research question is reiterated and the method is commented upon.

The section of a research report where the method used to conduct the study is described.

The main results of the study, including the results from statistical analyses, are presented in a research article.

Section of a research report that summarizes the study's results and interprets them by referring back to the study's theoretical background.

Part of a research report which contains supplemental material.

Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition Copyright © 2015 by Paul C. Price, Rajiv Jhangiani, & I-Chant A. Chiang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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This review covers the basic elements of a research report. This is a general guide for what you will see in journal articles or dissertations. This format assumes a mixed methods study, but you can leave out either quantitative or qualitative sections if you only used a single methodology.

This review is divided into sections for easy reference. There are five MAJOR parts of a Research Report:

1.    Introduction 2.    Review of Literature 3.    Methods 4.    Results 5.    Discussion

As a general guide, the Introduction, Review of Literature, and Methods should be about 1/3 of your paper, Discussion 1/3, then Results 1/3.

Section 1 : Cover Sheet (APA format cover sheet) optional, if required.

Section 2: Abstract (a basic summary of the report, including sample, treatment, design, results, and implications) (≤ 150 words) optional, if required.

Section 3 : Introduction (1-3 paragraphs) •    Basic introduction •    Supportive statistics (can be from periodicals) •    Statement of Purpose •    Statement of Significance

Section 4 : Research question(s) or hypotheses •    An overall research question (optional) •    A quantitative-based (hypotheses) •    A qualitative-based (research questions) Note: You will generally have more than one, especially if using hypotheses.

Section 5: Review of Literature ▪    Should be organized by subheadings ▪    Should adequately support your study using supporting, related, and/or refuting evidence ▪    Is a synthesis, not a collection of individual summaries

Section 6: Methods ▪    Procedure: Describe data gathering or participant recruitment, including IRB approval ▪    Sample: Describe the sample or dataset, including basic demographics ▪    Setting: Describe the setting, if applicable (generally only in qualitative designs) ▪    Treatment: If applicable, describe, in detail, how you implemented the treatment ▪    Instrument: Describe, in detail, how you implemented the instrument; Describe the reliability and validity associated with the instrument ▪    Data Analysis: Describe type of procedure (t-test, interviews, etc.) and software (if used)

Section 7: Results ▪    Restate Research Question 1 (Quantitative) ▪    Describe results ▪    Restate Research Question 2 (Qualitative) ▪    Describe results

Section 8: Discussion ▪    Restate Overall Research Question ▪    Describe how the results, when taken together, answer the overall question ▪    ***Describe how the results confirm or contrast the literature you reviewed

Section 9: Recommendations (if applicable, generally related to practice)

Section 10: Limitations ▪    Discuss, in several sentences, the limitations of this study. ▪    Research Design (overall, then info about the limitations of each separately) ▪    Sample ▪    Instrument/s ▪    Other limitations

Section 11: Conclusion (A brief closing summary)

Section 12: References (APA format)

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About research rundowns.

Research Rundowns was made possible by support from the Dewar College of Education at Valdosta State University .

  • Experimental Design
  • What is Educational Research?
  • Writing Research Questions
  • Mixed Methods Research Designs
  • Qualitative Coding & Analysis
  • Qualitative Research Design
  • Correlation
  • Effect Size
  • Instrument, Validity, Reliability
  • Mean & Standard Deviation
  • Significance Testing (t-tests)
  • Steps 1-4: Finding Research
  • Steps 5-6: Analyzing & Organizing
  • Steps 7-9: Citing & Writing

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Scientific Reports

What this handout is about.

This handout provides a general guide to writing reports about scientific research you’ve performed. In addition to describing the conventional rules about the format and content of a lab report, we’ll also attempt to convey why these rules exist, so you’ll get a clearer, more dependable idea of how to approach this writing situation. Readers of this handout may also find our handout on writing in the sciences useful.

Background and pre-writing

Why do we write research reports.

You did an experiment or study for your science class, and now you have to write it up for your teacher to review. You feel that you understood the background sufficiently, designed and completed the study effectively, obtained useful data, and can use those data to draw conclusions about a scientific process or principle. But how exactly do you write all that? What is your teacher expecting to see?

To take some of the guesswork out of answering these questions, try to think beyond the classroom setting. In fact, you and your teacher are both part of a scientific community, and the people who participate in this community tend to share the same values. As long as you understand and respect these values, your writing will likely meet the expectations of your audience—including your teacher.

So why are you writing this research report? The practical answer is “Because the teacher assigned it,” but that’s classroom thinking. Generally speaking, people investigating some scientific hypothesis have a responsibility to the rest of the scientific world to report their findings, particularly if these findings add to or contradict previous ideas. The people reading such reports have two primary goals:

  • They want to gather the information presented.
  • They want to know that the findings are legitimate.

Your job as a writer, then, is to fulfill these two goals.

How do I do that?

Good question. Here is the basic format scientists have designed for research reports:

  • Introduction

Methods and Materials

This format, sometimes called “IMRAD,” may take slightly different shapes depending on the discipline or audience; some ask you to include an abstract or separate section for the hypothesis, or call the Discussion section “Conclusions,” or change the order of the sections (some professional and academic journals require the Methods section to appear last). Overall, however, the IMRAD format was devised to represent a textual version of the scientific method.

The scientific method, you’ll probably recall, involves developing a hypothesis, testing it, and deciding whether your findings support the hypothesis. In essence, the format for a research report in the sciences mirrors the scientific method but fleshes out the process a little. Below, you’ll find a table that shows how each written section fits into the scientific method and what additional information it offers the reader.

states your hypothesis explains how you derived that hypothesis and how it connects to previous research; gives the purpose of the experiment/study
details how you tested your hypothesis clarifies why you performed your study in that particular way
provides raw (i.e., uninterpreted) data collected (perhaps) expresses the data in table form, as an easy-to-read figure, or as percentages/ratios
considers whether the data you obtained support the hypothesis explores the implications of your finding and judges the potential limitations of your experimental design

Thinking of your research report as based on the scientific method, but elaborated in the ways described above, may help you to meet your audience’s expectations successfully. We’re going to proceed by explicitly connecting each section of the lab report to the scientific method, then explaining why and how you need to elaborate that section.

Although this handout takes each section in the order in which it should be presented in the final report, you may for practical reasons decide to compose sections in another order. For example, many writers find that composing their Methods and Results before the other sections helps to clarify their idea of the experiment or study as a whole. You might consider using each assignment to practice different approaches to drafting the report, to find the order that works best for you.

What should I do before drafting the lab report?

The best way to prepare to write the lab report is to make sure that you fully understand everything you need to about the experiment. Obviously, if you don’t quite know what went on during the lab, you’re going to find it difficult to explain the lab satisfactorily to someone else. To make sure you know enough to write the report, complete the following steps:

  • What are we going to do in this lab? (That is, what’s the procedure?)
  • Why are we going to do it that way?
  • What are we hoping to learn from this experiment?
  • Why would we benefit from this knowledge?
  • Consult your lab supervisor as you perform the lab. If you don’t know how to answer one of the questions above, for example, your lab supervisor will probably be able to explain it to you (or, at least, help you figure it out).
  • Plan the steps of the experiment carefully with your lab partners. The less you rush, the more likely it is that you’ll perform the experiment correctly and record your findings accurately. Also, take some time to think about the best way to organize the data before you have to start putting numbers down. If you can design a table to account for the data, that will tend to work much better than jotting results down hurriedly on a scrap piece of paper.
  • Record the data carefully so you get them right. You won’t be able to trust your conclusions if you have the wrong data, and your readers will know you messed up if the other three people in your group have “97 degrees” and you have “87.”
  • Consult with your lab partners about everything you do. Lab groups often make one of two mistakes: two people do all the work while two have a nice chat, or everybody works together until the group finishes gathering the raw data, then scrams outta there. Collaborate with your partners, even when the experiment is “over.” What trends did you observe? Was the hypothesis supported? Did you all get the same results? What kind of figure should you use to represent your findings? The whole group can work together to answer these questions.
  • Consider your audience. You may believe that audience is a non-issue: it’s your lab TA, right? Well, yes—but again, think beyond the classroom. If you write with only your lab instructor in mind, you may omit material that is crucial to a complete understanding of your experiment, because you assume the instructor knows all that stuff already. As a result, you may receive a lower grade, since your TA won’t be sure that you understand all the principles at work. Try to write towards a student in the same course but a different lab section. That student will have a fair degree of scientific expertise but won’t know much about your experiment particularly. Alternatively, you could envision yourself five years from now, after the reading and lectures for this course have faded a bit. What would you remember, and what would you need explained more clearly (as a refresher)?

Once you’ve completed these steps as you perform the experiment, you’ll be in a good position to draft an effective lab report.

Introductions

How do i write a strong introduction.

For the purposes of this handout, we’ll consider the Introduction to contain four basic elements: the purpose, the scientific literature relevant to the subject, the hypothesis, and the reasons you believed your hypothesis viable. Let’s start by going through each element of the Introduction to clarify what it covers and why it’s important. Then we can formulate a logical organizational strategy for the section.

The inclusion of the purpose (sometimes called the objective) of the experiment often confuses writers. The biggest misconception is that the purpose is the same as the hypothesis. Not quite. We’ll get to hypotheses in a minute, but basically they provide some indication of what you expect the experiment to show. The purpose is broader, and deals more with what you expect to gain through the experiment. In a professional setting, the hypothesis might have something to do with how cells react to a certain kind of genetic manipulation, but the purpose of the experiment is to learn more about potential cancer treatments. Undergraduate reports don’t often have this wide-ranging a goal, but you should still try to maintain the distinction between your hypothesis and your purpose. In a solubility experiment, for example, your hypothesis might talk about the relationship between temperature and the rate of solubility, but the purpose is probably to learn more about some specific scientific principle underlying the process of solubility.

For starters, most people say that you should write out your working hypothesis before you perform the experiment or study. Many beginning science students neglect to do so and find themselves struggling to remember precisely which variables were involved in the process or in what way the researchers felt that they were related. Write your hypothesis down as you develop it—you’ll be glad you did.

As for the form a hypothesis should take, it’s best not to be too fancy or complicated; an inventive style isn’t nearly so important as clarity here. There’s nothing wrong with beginning your hypothesis with the phrase, “It was hypothesized that . . .” Be as specific as you can about the relationship between the different objects of your study. In other words, explain that when term A changes, term B changes in this particular way. Readers of scientific writing are rarely content with the idea that a relationship between two terms exists—they want to know what that relationship entails.

Not a hypothesis:

“It was hypothesized that there is a significant relationship between the temperature of a solvent and the rate at which a solute dissolves.”

Hypothesis:

“It was hypothesized that as the temperature of a solvent increases, the rate at which a solute will dissolve in that solvent increases.”

Put more technically, most hypotheses contain both an independent and a dependent variable. The independent variable is what you manipulate to test the reaction; the dependent variable is what changes as a result of your manipulation. In the example above, the independent variable is the temperature of the solvent, and the dependent variable is the rate of solubility. Be sure that your hypothesis includes both variables.

Justify your hypothesis

You need to do more than tell your readers what your hypothesis is; you also need to assure them that this hypothesis was reasonable, given the circumstances. In other words, use the Introduction to explain that you didn’t just pluck your hypothesis out of thin air. (If you did pluck it out of thin air, your problems with your report will probably extend beyond using the appropriate format.) If you posit that a particular relationship exists between the independent and the dependent variable, what led you to believe your “guess” might be supported by evidence?

Scientists often refer to this type of justification as “motivating” the hypothesis, in the sense that something propelled them to make that prediction. Often, motivation includes what we already know—or rather, what scientists generally accept as true (see “Background/previous research” below). But you can also motivate your hypothesis by relying on logic or on your own observations. If you’re trying to decide which solutes will dissolve more rapidly in a solvent at increased temperatures, you might remember that some solids are meant to dissolve in hot water (e.g., bouillon cubes) and some are used for a function precisely because they withstand higher temperatures (they make saucepans out of something). Or you can think about whether you’ve noticed sugar dissolving more rapidly in your glass of iced tea or in your cup of coffee. Even such basic, outside-the-lab observations can help you justify your hypothesis as reasonable.

Background/previous research

This part of the Introduction demonstrates to the reader your awareness of how you’re building on other scientists’ work. If you think of the scientific community as engaging in a series of conversations about various topics, then you’ll recognize that the relevant background material will alert the reader to which conversation you want to enter.

Generally speaking, authors writing journal articles use the background for slightly different purposes than do students completing assignments. Because readers of academic journals tend to be professionals in the field, authors explain the background in order to permit readers to evaluate the study’s pertinence for their own work. You, on the other hand, write toward a much narrower audience—your peers in the course or your lab instructor—and so you must demonstrate that you understand the context for the (presumably assigned) experiment or study you’ve completed. For example, if your professor has been talking about polarity during lectures, and you’re doing a solubility experiment, you might try to connect the polarity of a solid to its relative solubility in certain solvents. In any event, both professional researchers and undergraduates need to connect the background material overtly to their own work.

Organization of this section

Most of the time, writers begin by stating the purpose or objectives of their own work, which establishes for the reader’s benefit the “nature and scope of the problem investigated” (Day 1994). Once you have expressed your purpose, you should then find it easier to move from the general purpose, to relevant material on the subject, to your hypothesis. In abbreviated form, an Introduction section might look like this:

“The purpose of the experiment was to test conventional ideas about solubility in the laboratory [purpose] . . . According to Whitecoat and Labrat (1999), at higher temperatures the molecules of solvents move more quickly . . . We know from the class lecture that molecules moving at higher rates of speed collide with one another more often and thus break down more easily [background material/motivation] . . . Thus, it was hypothesized that as the temperature of a solvent increases, the rate at which a solute will dissolve in that solvent increases [hypothesis].”

Again—these are guidelines, not commandments. Some writers and readers prefer different structures for the Introduction. The one above merely illustrates a common approach to organizing material.

How do I write a strong Materials and Methods section?

As with any piece of writing, your Methods section will succeed only if it fulfills its readers’ expectations, so you need to be clear in your own mind about the purpose of this section. Let’s review the purpose as we described it above: in this section, you want to describe in detail how you tested the hypothesis you developed and also to clarify the rationale for your procedure. In science, it’s not sufficient merely to design and carry out an experiment. Ultimately, others must be able to verify your findings, so your experiment must be reproducible, to the extent that other researchers can follow the same procedure and obtain the same (or similar) results.

Here’s a real-world example of the importance of reproducibility. In 1989, physicists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman announced that they had discovered “cold fusion,” a way of producing excess heat and power without the nuclear radiation that accompanies “hot fusion.” Such a discovery could have great ramifications for the industrial production of energy, so these findings created a great deal of interest. When other scientists tried to duplicate the experiment, however, they didn’t achieve the same results, and as a result many wrote off the conclusions as unjustified (or worse, a hoax). To this day, the viability of cold fusion is debated within the scientific community, even though an increasing number of researchers believe it possible. So when you write your Methods section, keep in mind that you need to describe your experiment well enough to allow others to replicate it exactly.

With these goals in mind, let’s consider how to write an effective Methods section in terms of content, structure, and style.

Sometimes the hardest thing about writing this section isn’t what you should talk about, but what you shouldn’t talk about. Writers often want to include the results of their experiment, because they measured and recorded the results during the course of the experiment. But such data should be reserved for the Results section. In the Methods section, you can write that you recorded the results, or how you recorded the results (e.g., in a table), but you shouldn’t write what the results were—not yet. Here, you’re merely stating exactly how you went about testing your hypothesis. As you draft your Methods section, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much detail? Be precise in providing details, but stay relevant. Ask yourself, “Would it make any difference if this piece were a different size or made from a different material?” If not, you probably don’t need to get too specific. If so, you should give as many details as necessary to prevent this experiment from going awry if someone else tries to carry it out. Probably the most crucial detail is measurement; you should always quantify anything you can, such as time elapsed, temperature, mass, volume, etc.
  • Rationale: Be sure that as you’re relating your actions during the experiment, you explain your rationale for the protocol you developed. If you capped a test tube immediately after adding a solute to a solvent, why did you do that? (That’s really two questions: why did you cap it, and why did you cap it immediately?) In a professional setting, writers provide their rationale as a way to explain their thinking to potential critics. On one hand, of course, that’s your motivation for talking about protocol, too. On the other hand, since in practical terms you’re also writing to your teacher (who’s seeking to evaluate how well you comprehend the principles of the experiment), explaining the rationale indicates that you understand the reasons for conducting the experiment in that way, and that you’re not just following orders. Critical thinking is crucial—robots don’t make good scientists.
  • Control: Most experiments will include a control, which is a means of comparing experimental results. (Sometimes you’ll need to have more than one control, depending on the number of hypotheses you want to test.) The control is exactly the same as the other items you’re testing, except that you don’t manipulate the independent variable-the condition you’re altering to check the effect on the dependent variable. For example, if you’re testing solubility rates at increased temperatures, your control would be a solution that you didn’t heat at all; that way, you’ll see how quickly the solute dissolves “naturally” (i.e., without manipulation), and you’ll have a point of reference against which to compare the solutions you did heat.

Describe the control in the Methods section. Two things are especially important in writing about the control: identify the control as a control, and explain what you’re controlling for. Here is an example:

“As a control for the temperature change, we placed the same amount of solute in the same amount of solvent, and let the solution stand for five minutes without heating it.”

Structure and style

Organization is especially important in the Methods section of a lab report because readers must understand your experimental procedure completely. Many writers are surprised by the difficulty of conveying what they did during the experiment, since after all they’re only reporting an event, but it’s often tricky to present this information in a coherent way. There’s a fairly standard structure you can use to guide you, and following the conventions for style can help clarify your points.

  • Subsections: Occasionally, researchers use subsections to report their procedure when the following circumstances apply: 1) if they’ve used a great many materials; 2) if the procedure is unusually complicated; 3) if they’ve developed a procedure that won’t be familiar to many of their readers. Because these conditions rarely apply to the experiments you’ll perform in class, most undergraduate lab reports won’t require you to use subsections. In fact, many guides to writing lab reports suggest that you try to limit your Methods section to a single paragraph.
  • Narrative structure: Think of this section as telling a story about a group of people and the experiment they performed. Describe what you did in the order in which you did it. You may have heard the old joke centered on the line, “Disconnect the red wire, but only after disconnecting the green wire,” where the person reading the directions blows everything to kingdom come because the directions weren’t in order. We’re used to reading about events chronologically, and so your readers will generally understand what you did if you present that information in the same way. Also, since the Methods section does generally appear as a narrative (story), you want to avoid the “recipe” approach: “First, take a clean, dry 100 ml test tube from the rack. Next, add 50 ml of distilled water.” You should be reporting what did happen, not telling the reader how to perform the experiment: “50 ml of distilled water was poured into a clean, dry 100 ml test tube.” Hint: most of the time, the recipe approach comes from copying down the steps of the procedure from your lab manual, so you may want to draft the Methods section initially without consulting your manual. Later, of course, you can go back and fill in any part of the procedure you inadvertently overlooked.
  • Past tense: Remember that you’re describing what happened, so you should use past tense to refer to everything you did during the experiment. Writers are often tempted to use the imperative (“Add 5 g of the solid to the solution”) because that’s how their lab manuals are worded; less frequently, they use present tense (“5 g of the solid are added to the solution”). Instead, remember that you’re talking about an event which happened at a particular time in the past, and which has already ended by the time you start writing, so simple past tense will be appropriate in this section (“5 g of the solid were added to the solution” or “We added 5 g of the solid to the solution”).
  • Active: We heated the solution to 80°C. (The subject, “we,” performs the action, heating.)
  • Passive: The solution was heated to 80°C. (The subject, “solution,” doesn’t do the heating–it is acted upon, not acting.)

Increasingly, especially in the social sciences, using first person and active voice is acceptable in scientific reports. Most readers find that this style of writing conveys information more clearly and concisely. This rhetorical choice thus brings two scientific values into conflict: objectivity versus clarity. Since the scientific community hasn’t reached a consensus about which style it prefers, you may want to ask your lab instructor.

How do I write a strong Results section?

Here’s a paradox for you. The Results section is often both the shortest (yay!) and most important (uh-oh!) part of your report. Your Materials and Methods section shows how you obtained the results, and your Discussion section explores the significance of the results, so clearly the Results section forms the backbone of the lab report. This section provides the most critical information about your experiment: the data that allow you to discuss how your hypothesis was or wasn’t supported. But it doesn’t provide anything else, which explains why this section is generally shorter than the others.

Before you write this section, look at all the data you collected to figure out what relates significantly to your hypothesis. You’ll want to highlight this material in your Results section. Resist the urge to include every bit of data you collected, since perhaps not all are relevant. Also, don’t try to draw conclusions about the results—save them for the Discussion section. In this section, you’re reporting facts. Nothing your readers can dispute should appear in the Results section.

Most Results sections feature three distinct parts: text, tables, and figures. Let’s consider each part one at a time.

This should be a short paragraph, generally just a few lines, that describes the results you obtained from your experiment. In a relatively simple experiment, one that doesn’t produce a lot of data for you to repeat, the text can represent the entire Results section. Don’t feel that you need to include lots of extraneous detail to compensate for a short (but effective) text; your readers appreciate discrimination more than your ability to recite facts. In a more complex experiment, you may want to use tables and/or figures to help guide your readers toward the most important information you gathered. In that event, you’ll need to refer to each table or figure directly, where appropriate:

“Table 1 lists the rates of solubility for each substance”

“Solubility increased as the temperature of the solution increased (see Figure 1).”

If you do use tables or figures, make sure that you don’t present the same material in both the text and the tables/figures, since in essence you’ll just repeat yourself, probably annoying your readers with the redundancy of your statements.

Feel free to describe trends that emerge as you examine the data. Although identifying trends requires some judgment on your part and so may not feel like factual reporting, no one can deny that these trends do exist, and so they properly belong in the Results section. Example:

“Heating the solution increased the rate of solubility of polar solids by 45% but had no effect on the rate of solubility in solutions containing non-polar solids.”

This point isn’t debatable—you’re just pointing out what the data show.

As in the Materials and Methods section, you want to refer to your data in the past tense, because the events you recorded have already occurred and have finished occurring. In the example above, note the use of “increased” and “had,” rather than “increases” and “has.” (You don’t know from your experiment that heating always increases the solubility of polar solids, but it did that time.)

You shouldn’t put information in the table that also appears in the text. You also shouldn’t use a table to present irrelevant data, just to show you did collect these data during the experiment. Tables are good for some purposes and situations, but not others, so whether and how you’ll use tables depends upon what you need them to accomplish.

Tables are useful ways to show variation in data, but not to present a great deal of unchanging measurements. If you’re dealing with a scientific phenomenon that occurs only within a certain range of temperatures, for example, you don’t need to use a table to show that the phenomenon didn’t occur at any of the other temperatures. How useful is this table?

A table labeled Effect of Temperature on Rate of Solubility with temperature of solvent values in 10-degree increments from -20 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius that does not show a corresponding rate of solubility value until 50 degrees Celsius.

As you can probably see, no solubility was observed until the trial temperature reached 50°C, a fact that the text part of the Results section could easily convey. The table could then be limited to what happened at 50°C and higher, thus better illustrating the differences in solubility rates when solubility did occur.

As a rule, try not to use a table to describe any experimental event you can cover in one sentence of text. Here’s an example of an unnecessary table from How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper , by Robert A. Day:

A table labeled Oxygen requirements of various species of Streptomyces showing the names of organisms and two columns that indicate growth under aerobic conditions and growth under anaerobic conditions with a plus or minus symbol for each organism in the growth columns to indicate value.

As Day notes, all the information in this table can be summarized in one sentence: “S. griseus, S. coelicolor, S. everycolor, and S. rainbowenski grew under aerobic conditions, whereas S. nocolor and S. greenicus required anaerobic conditions.” Most readers won’t find the table clearer than that one sentence.

When you do have reason to tabulate material, pay attention to the clarity and readability of the format you use. Here are a few tips:

  • Number your table. Then, when you refer to the table in the text, use that number to tell your readers which table they can review to clarify the material.
  • Give your table a title. This title should be descriptive enough to communicate the contents of the table, but not so long that it becomes difficult to follow. The titles in the sample tables above are acceptable.
  • Arrange your table so that readers read vertically, not horizontally. For the most part, this rule means that you should construct your table so that like elements read down, not across. Think about what you want your readers to compare, and put that information in the column (up and down) rather than in the row (across). Usually, the point of comparison will be the numerical data you collect, so especially make sure you have columns of numbers, not rows.Here’s an example of how drastically this decision affects the readability of your table (from A Short Guide to Writing about Chemistry , by Herbert Beall and John Trimbur). Look at this table, which presents the relevant data in horizontal rows:

A table labeled Boyle's Law Experiment: Measuring Volume as a Function of Pressure that presents the trial number, length of air sample in millimeters, and height difference in inches of mercury, each of which is presented in rows horizontally.

It’s a little tough to see the trends that the author presumably wants to present in this table. Compare this table, in which the data appear vertically:

A table labeled Boyle's Law Experiment: Measuring Volume as a Function of Pressure that presents the trial number, length of air sample in millimeters, and height difference in inches of mercury, each of which is presented in columns vertically.

The second table shows how putting like elements in a vertical column makes for easier reading. In this case, the like elements are the measurements of length and height, over five trials–not, as in the first table, the length and height measurements for each trial.

  • Make sure to include units of measurement in the tables. Readers might be able to guess that you measured something in millimeters, but don’t make them try.
1058
432
7
  • Don’t use vertical lines as part of the format for your table. This convention exists because journals prefer not to have to reproduce these lines because the tables then become more expensive to print. Even though it’s fairly unlikely that you’ll be sending your Biology 11 lab report to Science for publication, your readers still have this expectation. Consequently, if you use the table-drawing option in your word-processing software, choose the option that doesn’t rely on a “grid” format (which includes vertical lines).

How do I include figures in my report?

Although tables can be useful ways of showing trends in the results you obtained, figures (i.e., illustrations) can do an even better job of emphasizing such trends. Lab report writers often use graphic representations of the data they collected to provide their readers with a literal picture of how the experiment went.

When should you use a figure?

Remember the circumstances under which you don’t need a table: when you don’t have a great deal of data or when the data you have don’t vary a lot. Under the same conditions, you would probably forgo the figure as well, since the figure would be unlikely to provide your readers with an additional perspective. Scientists really don’t like their time wasted, so they tend not to respond favorably to redundancy.

If you’re trying to decide between using a table and creating a figure to present your material, consider the following a rule of thumb. The strength of a table lies in its ability to supply large amounts of exact data, whereas the strength of a figure is its dramatic illustration of important trends within the experiment. If you feel that your readers won’t get the full impact of the results you obtained just by looking at the numbers, then a figure might be appropriate.

Of course, an undergraduate class may expect you to create a figure for your lab experiment, if only to make sure that you can do so effectively. If this is the case, then don’t worry about whether to use figures or not—concentrate instead on how best to accomplish your task.

Figures can include maps, photographs, pen-and-ink drawings, flow charts, bar graphs, and section graphs (“pie charts”). But the most common figure by far, especially for undergraduates, is the line graph, so we’ll focus on that type in this handout.

At the undergraduate level, you can often draw and label your graphs by hand, provided that the result is clear, legible, and drawn to scale. Computer technology has, however, made creating line graphs a lot easier. Most word-processing software has a number of functions for transferring data into graph form; many scientists have found Microsoft Excel, for example, a helpful tool in graphing results. If you plan on pursuing a career in the sciences, it may be well worth your while to learn to use a similar program.

Computers can’t, however, decide for you how your graph really works; you have to know how to design your graph to meet your readers’ expectations. Here are some of these expectations:

  • Keep it as simple as possible. You may be tempted to signal the complexity of the information you gathered by trying to design a graph that accounts for that complexity. But remember the purpose of your graph: to dramatize your results in a manner that’s easy to see and grasp. Try not to make the reader stare at the graph for a half hour to find the important line among the mass of other lines. For maximum effectiveness, limit yourself to three to five lines per graph; if you have more data to demonstrate, use a set of graphs to account for it, rather than trying to cram it all into a single figure.
  • Plot the independent variable on the horizontal (x) axis and the dependent variable on the vertical (y) axis. Remember that the independent variable is the condition that you manipulated during the experiment and the dependent variable is the condition that you measured to see if it changed along with the independent variable. Placing the variables along their respective axes is mostly just a convention, but since your readers are accustomed to viewing graphs in this way, you’re better off not challenging the convention in your report.
  • Label each axis carefully, and be especially careful to include units of measure. You need to make sure that your readers understand perfectly well what your graph indicates.
  • Number and title your graphs. As with tables, the title of the graph should be informative but concise, and you should refer to your graph by number in the text (e.g., “Figure 1 shows the increase in the solubility rate as a function of temperature”).
  • Many editors of professional scientific journals prefer that writers distinguish the lines in their graphs by attaching a symbol to them, usually a geometric shape (triangle, square, etc.), and using that symbol throughout the curve of the line. Generally, readers have a hard time distinguishing dotted lines from dot-dash lines from straight lines, so you should consider staying away from this system. Editors don’t usually like different-colored lines within a graph because colors are difficult and expensive to reproduce; colors may, however, be great for your purposes, as long as you’re not planning to submit your paper to Nature. Use your discretion—try to employ whichever technique dramatizes the results most effectively.
  • Try to gather data at regular intervals, so the plot points on your graph aren’t too far apart. You can’t be sure of the arc you should draw between the plot points if the points are located at the far corners of the graph; over a fifteen-minute interval, perhaps the change occurred in the first or last thirty seconds of that period (in which case your straight-line connection between the points is misleading).
  • If you’re worried that you didn’t collect data at sufficiently regular intervals during your experiment, go ahead and connect the points with a straight line, but you may want to examine this problem as part of your Discussion section.
  • Make your graph large enough so that everything is legible and clearly demarcated, but not so large that it either overwhelms the rest of the Results section or provides a far greater range than you need to illustrate your point. If, for example, the seedlings of your plant grew only 15 mm during the trial, you don’t need to construct a graph that accounts for 100 mm of growth. The lines in your graph should more or less fill the space created by the axes; if you see that your data is confined to the lower left portion of the graph, you should probably re-adjust your scale.
  • If you create a set of graphs, make them the same size and format, including all the verbal and visual codes (captions, symbols, scale, etc.). You want to be as consistent as possible in your illustrations, so that your readers can easily make the comparisons you’re trying to get them to see.

How do I write a strong Discussion section?

The discussion section is probably the least formalized part of the report, in that you can’t really apply the same structure to every type of experiment. In simple terms, here you tell your readers what to make of the Results you obtained. If you have done the Results part well, your readers should already recognize the trends in the data and have a fairly clear idea of whether your hypothesis was supported. Because the Results can seem so self-explanatory, many students find it difficult to know what material to add in this last section.

Basically, the Discussion contains several parts, in no particular order, but roughly moving from specific (i.e., related to your experiment only) to general (how your findings fit in the larger scientific community). In this section, you will, as a rule, need to:

Explain whether the data support your hypothesis

  • Acknowledge any anomalous data or deviations from what you expected

Derive conclusions, based on your findings, about the process you’re studying

  • Relate your findings to earlier work in the same area (if you can)

Explore the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings

Let’s look at some dos and don’ts for each of these objectives.

This statement is usually a good way to begin the Discussion, since you can’t effectively speak about the larger scientific value of your study until you’ve figured out the particulars of this experiment. You might begin this part of the Discussion by explicitly stating the relationships or correlations your data indicate between the independent and dependent variables. Then you can show more clearly why you believe your hypothesis was or was not supported. For example, if you tested solubility at various temperatures, you could start this section by noting that the rates of solubility increased as the temperature increased. If your initial hypothesis surmised that temperature change would not affect solubility, you would then say something like,

“The hypothesis that temperature change would not affect solubility was not supported by the data.”

Note: Students tend to view labs as practical tests of undeniable scientific truths. As a result, you may want to say that the hypothesis was “proved” or “disproved” or that it was “correct” or “incorrect.” These terms, however, reflect a degree of certainty that you as a scientist aren’t supposed to have. Remember, you’re testing a theory with a procedure that lasts only a few hours and relies on only a few trials, which severely compromises your ability to be sure about the “truth” you see. Words like “supported,” “indicated,” and “suggested” are more acceptable ways to evaluate your hypothesis.

Also, recognize that saying whether the data supported your hypothesis or not involves making a claim to be defended. As such, you need to show the readers that this claim is warranted by the evidence. Make sure that you’re very explicit about the relationship between the evidence and the conclusions you draw from it. This process is difficult for many writers because we don’t often justify conclusions in our regular lives. For example, you might nudge your friend at a party and whisper, “That guy’s drunk,” and once your friend lays eyes on the person in question, she might readily agree. In a scientific paper, by contrast, you would need to defend your claim more thoroughly by pointing to data such as slurred words, unsteady gait, and the lampshade-as-hat. In addition to pointing out these details, you would also need to show how (according to previous studies) these signs are consistent with inebriation, especially if they occur in conjunction with one another. To put it another way, tell your readers exactly how you got from point A (was the hypothesis supported?) to point B (yes/no).

Acknowledge any anomalous data, or deviations from what you expected

You need to take these exceptions and divergences into account, so that you qualify your conclusions sufficiently. For obvious reasons, your readers will doubt your authority if you (deliberately or inadvertently) overlook a key piece of data that doesn’t square with your perspective on what occurred. In a more philosophical sense, once you’ve ignored evidence that contradicts your claims, you’ve departed from the scientific method. The urge to “tidy up” the experiment is often strong, but if you give in to it you’re no longer performing good science.

Sometimes after you’ve performed a study or experiment, you realize that some part of the methods you used to test your hypothesis was flawed. In that case, it’s OK to suggest that if you had the chance to conduct your test again, you might change the design in this or that specific way in order to avoid such and such a problem. The key to making this approach work, though, is to be very precise about the weakness in your experiment, why and how you think that weakness might have affected your data, and how you would alter your protocol to eliminate—or limit the effects of—that weakness. Often, inexperienced researchers and writers feel the need to account for “wrong” data (remember, there’s no such animal), and so they speculate wildly about what might have screwed things up. These speculations include such factors as the unusually hot temperature in the room, or the possibility that their lab partners read the meters wrong, or the potentially defective equipment. These explanations are what scientists call “cop-outs,” or “lame”; don’t indicate that the experiment had a weakness unless you’re fairly certain that a) it really occurred and b) you can explain reasonably well how that weakness affected your results.

If, for example, your hypothesis dealt with the changes in solubility at different temperatures, then try to figure out what you can rationally say about the process of solubility more generally. If you’re doing an undergraduate lab, chances are that the lab will connect in some way to the material you’ve been covering either in lecture or in your reading, so you might choose to return to these resources as a way to help you think clearly about the process as a whole.

This part of the Discussion section is another place where you need to make sure that you’re not overreaching. Again, nothing you’ve found in one study would remotely allow you to claim that you now “know” something, or that something isn’t “true,” or that your experiment “confirmed” some principle or other. Hesitate before you go out on a limb—it’s dangerous! Use less absolutely conclusive language, including such words as “suggest,” “indicate,” “correspond,” “possibly,” “challenge,” etc.

Relate your findings to previous work in the field (if possible)

We’ve been talking about how to show that you belong in a particular community (such as biologists or anthropologists) by writing within conventions that they recognize and accept. Another is to try to identify a conversation going on among members of that community, and use your work to contribute to that conversation. In a larger philosophical sense, scientists can’t fully understand the value of their research unless they have some sense of the context that provoked and nourished it. That is, you have to recognize what’s new about your project (potentially, anyway) and how it benefits the wider body of scientific knowledge. On a more pragmatic level, especially for undergraduates, connecting your lab work to previous research will demonstrate to the TA that you see the big picture. You have an opportunity, in the Discussion section, to distinguish yourself from the students in your class who aren’t thinking beyond the barest facts of the study. Capitalize on this opportunity by putting your own work in context.

If you’re just beginning to work in the natural sciences (as a first-year biology or chemistry student, say), most likely the work you’ll be doing has already been performed and re-performed to a satisfactory degree. Hence, you could probably point to a similar experiment or study and compare/contrast your results and conclusions. More advanced work may deal with an issue that is somewhat less “resolved,” and so previous research may take the form of an ongoing debate, and you can use your own work to weigh in on that debate. If, for example, researchers are hotly disputing the value of herbal remedies for the common cold, and the results of your study suggest that Echinacea diminishes the symptoms but not the actual presence of the cold, then you might want to take some time in the Discussion section to recapitulate the specifics of the dispute as it relates to Echinacea as an herbal remedy. (Consider that you have probably already written in the Introduction about this debate as background research.)

This information is often the best way to end your Discussion (and, for all intents and purposes, the report). In argumentative writing generally, you want to use your closing words to convey the main point of your writing. This main point can be primarily theoretical (“Now that you understand this information, you’re in a better position to understand this larger issue”) or primarily practical (“You can use this information to take such and such an action”). In either case, the concluding statements help the reader to comprehend the significance of your project and your decision to write about it.

Since a lab report is argumentative—after all, you’re investigating a claim, and judging the legitimacy of that claim by generating and collecting evidence—it’s often a good idea to end your report with the same technique for establishing your main point. If you want to go the theoretical route, you might talk about the consequences your study has for the field or phenomenon you’re investigating. To return to the examples regarding solubility, you could end by reflecting on what your work on solubility as a function of temperature tells us (potentially) about solubility in general. (Some folks consider this type of exploration “pure” as opposed to “applied” science, although these labels can be problematic.) If you want to go the practical route, you could end by speculating about the medical, institutional, or commercial implications of your findings—in other words, answer the question, “What can this study help people to do?” In either case, you’re going to make your readers’ experience more satisfying, by helping them see why they spent their time learning what you had to teach them.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Beall, Herbert, and John Trimbur. 2001. A Short Guide to Writing About Chemistry , 2nd ed. New York: Longman.

Blum, Deborah, and Mary Knudson. 1997. A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers . New York: Oxford University Press.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Briscoe, Mary Helen. 1996. Preparing Scientific Illustrations: A Guide to Better Posters, Presentations, and Publications , 2nd ed. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Council of Science Editors. 2014. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers , 8th ed. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Davis, Martha. 2012. Scientific Papers and Presentations , 3rd ed. London: Academic Press.

Day, Robert A. 1994. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper , 4th ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

Porush, David. 1995. A Short Guide to Writing About Science . New York: Longman.

Williams, Joseph, and Joseph Bizup. 2017. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace , 12th ed. Boston: Pearson.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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28+ Free Sample Research Report Templates – PDF, DOC

A Research Report Template serves as a structured framework designed to guide the writer through meticulously documenting findings from a research project. It typically includes an abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusions. Still, it can vary depending on the study’s specific requirements or the institution’s preferences or publication.

This template simplifies the reporting process by providing clear instructions on what information to include in each section, ensuring the final report is comprehensive, coherent, and easily accessible to its intended audience.

Download Free Sample Research Report Templates

2nd Grade Research Report Template

What is a Research Report?

A Research Report is a comprehensive document that presents the findings of a systematic investigation into a specific question or set of questions. It typically includes an introduction to the research topic, a review of relevant literature, methodology details, the results or findings of the study, and a discussion that interprets these results within the broader context of the field. Research reports aim to communicate new insights, validate theories, or solve complex problems, making them vital tools in academic, scientific, and professional fields.

Analysis Report Outline Template

Components of a Research Report

A comprehensive research report typically encapsulates several key components to ensure clarity and thoroughness in presenting the findings. These elements include:

  • Abstract : A brief overview of the research, including the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions.
  • Introduction : Introduce the research topic, outline the problem statement, and state the research objectives or questions.
  • Literature Review : An extensive review of existing research and theories related to the topic, identifying gaps in current knowledge.
  • Methodology : Describes the research design, data collection methods, and analytical techniques used to conduct the study.
  • Results : Presents the study’s findings in a structured manner, often using tables, graphs, and statistical analysis to support the data.
  • Discussion : Interprets the results in the context of the research question, considering implications, limitations, and the relation to existing literature.
  • Conclusions and Recommendations : Summarize the main findings, draw conclusions based on the research, and 4offer recommendations for future study or practical application.
  • References/Bibliography : Lists all the sources cited in the report consistently, adhering to the appropriate academic style guide.

Company Research Report Template

Importance of Research Reports

Research reports are crucial in disseminating new knowledge and insights across various fields, serving as a foundation for future studies, policy-making, and industry innovations. They provide a detailed analysis of research findings, enabling other scholars and professionals to understand the study’s methodology, results, and implications.

By rigorously documenting and sharing their work, researchers contribute to a global repository of knowledge that fosters collaboration, stimulates intellectual curiosity, and drives progress in solving complex problems of the modern world.

Professional Study Academic Research Report

Guidelines for Preparing Research Reports

Here are some guidelines for preparing Research Reports:

1. Title and Abstract

  • Title : Concisely indicate the focus of the research. It should be informative and catchy to attract the reader’s attention.
  • Abstract : Provide a research summary, including the objectives, methodology , results, and conclusions. Keep it within 250 words.

2. Introduction

  • Context : Set the scene for your research by providing background information and stating the research problem.
  • Objectives : Specify the goals and hypotheses of your study.

3. Methodology

  • Participants : Describe who participated in the study, including any criteria for inclusion or exclusion.
  • Materials/Tools : List the materials, tools, or software used in the research.
  • Procedure : Detail the steps followed during the research. This section should be clear enough for another researcher to replicate your study.
  • Data Presentation : Present your data using figures, tables, and text. Make sure to label all visuals appropriately.
  • Analysis : Discuss the statistical or thematic analysis methods you used to interpret the data.

5. Discussion and Conclusion

  • Interpretation : Interpret your findings, discussing how they corroborate or contradict previous studies.
  • Limitations : Mention any limitations of your study and suggest areas for future research.
  • Applications : Discuss the practical implications of your findings and how they contribute to the field.

6. References

  • List all the scholarly works cited in your report following the citation style specified by your research guide or journal.

7. Appendices

  • Include any supplementary material, such as raw data or detailed analyses, that supports your research but is too cumbersome to include in the body of the report.

School Science Research Report Template

Tips for Writing an Effective Research Report Template

To craft an effective research report template, consider incorporating the following elements:

  • Title Page : Include the report’s title, author(s), and the date.
  • Abstract : A summary of the research, methods, findings, and conclusions.
  • Table of Contents : Help readers easily navigate through the report.
  • Introduction : Introduce the research question and its significance.
  • Literature Review : Summarize relevant research to provide context.
  • Methodology : Describe how the research was conducted.
  • Results : Present the findings using charts or graphs where applicable.
  • Discussion : Interpret the results, exploring their implications and limitations.
  • Conclusions and Recommendations : Conclude with a summary of findings and suggestions for future research.
  • References : List all sources cited in the report, adhering to the appropriate academic style.
  • Appendices : Include supplementary material that is relevant but not critical to the main text.

Remember, clarity and consistency in formatting are key to enhancing the report’s readability and professionalism.

In conclusion, the analysis presented in this customer service report underscores the imperative of maintaining high standards in our customer service practices. By harnessing positive and negative feedback, we can identify areas for improvement and commendation.

Our commitment is to continuously refine our approach, ensuring every customer interaction meets and exceeds expectations. Our dedication to excellence in customer service will foster loyalty and contribute significantly to our brand’s reputation and overall success.

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  • Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates

Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates

Published on November 19, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on January 20, 2023.

The formatting of a research paper is different depending on which style guide you’re following. In addition to citations , APA, MLA, and Chicago provide format guidelines for things like font choices, page layout, format of headings and the format of the reference page.

Scribbr offers free Microsoft Word templates for the most common formats. Simply download and get started on your paper.

APA |  MLA | Chicago author-date | Chicago notes & bibliography

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Table of contents

Formatting an apa paper, formatting an mla paper, formatting a chicago paper, frequently asked questions about research paper formatting.

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in APA Style are as follows:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial.
  • Set 1 inch page margins.
  • Apply double line spacing.
  • If submitting for publication, insert a APA running head on every page.
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

Watch the video below for a quick guide to setting up the format in Google Docs.

The image below shows how to format an APA Style title page for a student paper.

APA title page - student version (7th edition)

Running head

If you are submitting a paper for publication, APA requires you to include a running head on each page. The image below shows you how this should be formatted.

APA running head (7th edition)

For student papers, no running head is required unless you have been instructed to include one.

APA provides guidelines for formatting up to five levels of heading within your paper. Level 1 headings are the most general, level 5 the most specific.

APA headings (7th edition)

Reference page

APA Style citation requires (author-date) APA in-text citations throughout the text and an APA Style reference page at the end. The image below shows how the reference page should be formatted.

APA reference page (7th edition)

Note that the format of reference entries is different depending on the source type. You can easily create your citations and reference list using the free APA Citation Generator.

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The main guidelines for writing an MLA style paper are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Use title case capitalization for headings .

Check out the video below to see how to set up the format in Google Docs.

On the first page of an MLA paper, a heading appears above your title, featuring some key information:

  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
  • The course name or number
  • The due date of the assignment

MLA heading

Page header

A header appears at the top of each page in your paper, including your surname and the page number.

MLA page header

Works Cited page

MLA in-text citations appear wherever you refer to a source in your text. The MLA Works Cited page appears at the end of your text, listing all the sources used. It is formatted as shown below.

The format of the MLA Works Cited page

You can easily create your MLA citations and save your Works Cited list with the free MLA Citation Generator.

Generate MLA citations for free

The main guidelines for writing a paper in Chicago style (also known as Turabian style) are:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger.
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center.

Format of a Chicago Style paper

Chicago doesn’t require a title page , but if you want to include one, Turabian (based on Chicago) presents some guidelines. Lay out the title page as shown below.

Example of a Chicago Style title page

Bibliography or reference list

Chicago offers two citation styles : author-date citations plus a reference list, or footnote citations plus a bibliography. Choose one style or the other and use it consistently.

The reference list or bibliography appears at the end of the paper. Both styles present this page similarly in terms of formatting, as shown below.

Chicago bibliography

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Include a title page
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, January 20). Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved July 8, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/research-paper-format/

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  • Research Report: Definition, Types + [Writing Guide]

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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. 

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 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 two 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 technical research reports 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 and Example of a Research Report

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.

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. 

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

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 too l 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. 

  • Edit Form Title : Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Research Questionnaire.”
  • Edit Form : Click on the edit icon to edit the form.
  • 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. 
  • Edit fields
  • Click on “Save”
  • 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. 

Conclusion  

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. 

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Home Market Research

Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them

Research Reports

Reports are usually spread across a vast horizon of topics but are focused on communicating information about a particular topic and a niche target market. The primary motive of research reports is to convey integral details about a study for marketers to consider while designing new strategies.

Certain events, facts, and other information based on incidents need to be relayed to the people in charge, and creating research reports is the most effective communication tool. Ideal research reports are extremely accurate in the offered information with a clear objective and conclusion. These reports should have a clean and structured format to relay information effectively.

What are Research Reports?

Research reports are recorded data prepared by researchers or statisticians after analyzing the information gathered by conducting organized research, typically in the form of surveys or qualitative methods .

A research report is a reliable source to recount details about a conducted research. It is most often considered to be a true testimony of all the work done to garner specificities of research.

The various sections of a research report are:

  • Background/Introduction
  • Implemented Methods
  • Results based on Analysis
  • Deliberation

Learn more: Quantitative Research

Components of Research Reports

Research is imperative for launching a new product/service or a new feature. The markets today are extremely volatile and competitive due to new entrants every day who may or may not provide effective products. An organization needs to make the right decisions at the right time to be relevant in such a market with updated products that suffice customer demands.

The details of a research report may change with the purpose of research but the main components of a report will remain constant. The research approach of the market researcher also influences the style of writing reports. Here are seven main components of a productive research report:

  • Research Report Summary: The entire objective along with the overview of research are to be included in a summary which is a couple of paragraphs in length. All the multiple components of the research are explained in brief under the report summary.  It should be interesting enough to capture all the key elements of the report.
  • Research Introduction: There always is a primary goal that the researcher is trying to achieve through a report. In the introduction section, he/she can cover answers related to this goal and establish a thesis which will be included to strive and answer it in detail.  This section should answer an integral question: “What is the current situation of the goal?”.  After the research design was conducted, did the organization conclude the goal successfully or they are still a work in progress –  provide such details in the introduction part of the research report.
  • Research Methodology: This is the most important section of the report where all the important information lies. The readers can gain data for the topic along with analyzing the quality of provided content and the research can also be approved by other market researchers . Thus, this section needs to be highly informative with each aspect of research discussed in detail.  Information needs to be expressed in chronological order according to its priority and importance. Researchers should include references in case they gained information from existing techniques.
  • Research Results: A short description of the results along with calculations conducted to achieve the goal will form this section of results. Usually, the exposition after data analysis is carried out in the discussion part of the report.

Learn more: Quantitative Data

  • Research Discussion: The results are discussed in extreme detail in this section along with a comparative analysis of reports that could probably exist in the same domain. Any abnormality uncovered during research will be deliberated in the discussion section.  While writing research reports, the researcher will have to connect the dots on how the results will be applicable in the real world.
  • Research References and Conclusion: Conclude all the research findings along with mentioning each and every author, article or any content piece from where references were taken.

Learn more: Qualitative Observation

15 Tips for Writing Research Reports

Writing research reports in the manner can lead to all the efforts going down the drain. Here are 15 tips for writing impactful research reports:

  • Prepare the context before starting to write and start from the basics:  This was always taught to us in school – be well-prepared before taking a plunge into new topics. The order of survey questions might not be the ideal or most effective order for writing research reports. The idea is to start with a broader topic and work towards a more specific one and focus on a conclusion or support, which a research should support with the facts.  The most difficult thing to do in reporting, without a doubt is to start. Start with the title, the introduction, then document the first discoveries and continue from that. Once the marketers have the information well documented, they can write a general conclusion.
  • Keep the target audience in mind while selecting a format that is clear, logical and obvious to them:  Will the research reports be presented to decision makers or other researchers? What are the general perceptions around that topic? This requires more care and diligence. A researcher will need a significant amount of information to start writing the research report. Be consistent with the wording, the numbering of the annexes and so on. Follow the approved format of the company for the delivery of research reports and demonstrate the integrity of the project with the objectives of the company.
  • Have a clear research objective: A researcher should read the entire proposal again, and make sure that the data they provide contributes to the objectives that were raised from the beginning. Remember that speculations are for conversations, not for research reports, if a researcher speculates, they directly question their own research.
  • Establish a working model:  Each study must have an internal logic, which will have to be established in the report and in the evidence. The researchers’ worst nightmare is to be required to write research reports and realize that key questions were not included.

Learn more: Quantitative Observation

  • Gather all the information about the research topic. Who are the competitors of our customers? Talk to other researchers who have studied the subject of research, know the language of the industry. Misuse of the terms can discourage the readers of research reports from reading further.
  • Read aloud while writing. While reading the report, if the researcher hears something inappropriate, for example, if they stumble over the words when reading them, surely the reader will too. If the researcher can’t put an idea in a single sentence, then it is very long and they must change it so that the idea is clear to everyone.
  • Check grammar and spelling. Without a doubt, good practices help to understand the report. Use verbs in the present tense. Consider using the present tense, which makes the results sound more immediate. Find new words and other ways of saying things. Have fun with the language whenever possible.
  • Discuss only the discoveries that are significant. If some data are not really significant, do not mention them. Remember that not everything is truly important or essential within research reports.

Learn more: Qualitative Data

  • Try and stick to the survey questions. For example, do not say that the people surveyed “were worried” about an research issue , when there are different degrees of concern.
  • The graphs must be clear enough so that they understand themselves. Do not let graphs lead the reader to make mistakes: give them a title, include the indications, the size of the sample, and the correct wording of the question.
  • Be clear with messages. A researcher should always write every section of the report with an accuracy of details and language.
  • Be creative with titles – Particularly in segmentation studies choose names “that give life to research”. Such names can survive for a long time after the initial investigation.
  • Create an effective conclusion: The conclusion in the research reports is the most difficult to write, but it is an incredible opportunity to excel. Make a precise summary. Sometimes it helps to start the conclusion with something specific, then it describes the most important part of the study, and finally, it provides the implications of the conclusions.
  • Get a couple more pair of eyes to read the report. Writers have trouble detecting their own mistakes. But they are responsible for what is presented. Ensure it has been approved by colleagues or friends before sending the find draft out.

Learn more: Market Research and Analysis

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Research Report

Report generator.

a sample of a research report

The act of researching can be long-winded and difficult. Once you’ve gone through it, you’ll need something to help you record your findings. For many, the thought of coming up with a research report can be as daunting as the actual research itself. This can be a kind of business report if your research has a lot to do with business or it can be academic in nature. Either way, by scrolling down you will not only learn more about this kind of document but you’ll have a list of amazing templates to choose from as well.

Brand Research Report Template

Brand Research Report Template

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Size: A4, US

Academic Research Report Template

Academic Research Report Template

Investment Research Report Template

Investment Research Report Template

Equity Research Report Template

Equity Research Report Template

Corporate Research Report Template

Corporate Research Report Template

Product Research Report Template

Product Research Report Template

Research Progress Report Template

Research Progress Report Template

Market Research Report Template

Market Research Report Template

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Size: 120 KB

Research Report Gantt Chart Template

Research Report Gantt Chart Template

Size: 31 KB

Company Research Report Template

Company Research Report Template

Size: 64 KB

Business Research Report Template

Business Research Report Template

Size: 39 KB

Monthly Research Report Template

Monthly Research Report Template

Size: 59 KB

Survey Research Report Template

Survey Research Report Template

Size: 58 KB

Quantitative Research Report Template

Quantitative Research Report Template

Size: 144 KB

Research Paper Report Template

Research Paper Report Template

Size: 191 KB

Acknowledgement For Research Project Report

Acknowledgement For Research Project Report

Size: 162 KB

Business Project Report Word Template

Business Project Report Word Template1

Printable Survey Report Template

Printable Survey Report Template

Training Report Template to Edit

Training Report Template to Edit

Formal Report Template MS Word

Formal Report Template in MS Word

Research Report Cover Page Template

Research Report Cover Page Template

Free Download

Sample Equity Research

Sample Equity Research Report

Size: 887 KB

Market Research Report

Market Research Report

Size: 78 KB

Research Report Outline

Research Report Outline

Size: 41 KB

Action Research Report

Action Research Report

Size: 52 KB

Company Research Report Example

Company Research Report Example

Size: 506 KB

Psychology Research

Psychology Research

Size: 84 KB

Final Research Report

Final Research Report

Size: 359 KB

Sample of Research Report

Sample Research Report

Size: 87 KB

Statistics Report

Statistics Research Report

Size: 32 KB

What Is a Research Report?

By definition, a research report is a document presented when reporting about the findings or results of a research or investigation about particular subjects or topics. In business, a research report is a document containing the results of business research. A fine example of this would be the  market reports  that firms write up on a monthly or periodic basis. As you may have already expected, in lieu of actually creating a report on your own, there’s always the option of downloading items like self-report research templates and market research report samples.

Tips for Writing Your Own Research Report

If you’re having trouble coming up your research report, know that you’ve come to the right place. Learning how to write a research report does not need to be overly difficult. All one needs to do is keep a few points in mind. Having said that, take a look at the following:

Tip 1: Decide on the Report Type

By now you’re aware that there are multiple kinds of research reports. Each one will correspond to a different topic, a different industry, and various other factors. Before you get started, you need to know which one you are going to be diving into. Otherwise, the effort of creating a quality report will be wasted on you.

Tip 2: Identify Your Goals

Knowing what your goals are when it comes to your research report can help immensely with how you will end up completing it. If you recognize that your goal is to do more market research , for example, then you’ll have a much easier time coming up with a market research report.

Tip 3: Keep Everything Organized

Although there is no need to strictly adhere to any kind of research report format, you must still do what you can to ensure that your report remains organized. Take a look at any research report example or research report template . See how those examples keep themselves organized and try to copy it as much as you can.

Tip 4: Do Not Neglect to Proofread

You need to check for possible mistakes or errors in spelling, grammar , and information. Though it can also be helpful if you had somebody else to proofread your work for you. This is because a different perspective can often find things that we may be blind to.

What are the different types of research reports?

First of all, there is a technical report , which happens to be more suited to the researchers’ target audience. Then you have the popular report, which is designed to be consumed by a more general or mainstream audience. It is meant to display findings in such a non-technical manner for easier readability.

What are the different components of a research report outline?

When it comes to the research report outline, you can expect the following components: first is the abstract, followed closely by the introduction. After that, you have the research methodology , the results, and then the discussion. The references come at the very end.

How can you end or conclude a research report?

There are a few ways you can choose to end any research report you may be writing. You can choose to go for a summary , for one. Either that or you may come up with an afterword or a true conclusion.

Like any other kind of report, there are a lot of factors to consider when dealing with research reports. Having read this article, we guarantee that you are now better off compared to before due to the new-found knowledge you’ve gained here. Now all you have to do is decide how to best apply that knowledge. Will you start creating report documents yourself or are you going to choose from our list of report examples ? Either way, you can’t go wrong with the resources at your disposal, so act now!

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Sample Research Reports

Research Report

People that are engage in the field of academic or in study can look at research report where they can show the people the end result of a particular research for the greater benefit of a person’s life and to add new information in the academic world. This Summary Reports is designed to show the public the result of a lifelong study in a concise manner but can be comprehended easily by anyone who reads it.

Research Report Sample

10+ sample business report - free sample, example, format ..., sample project proposal report - 9+ examples in pdf, word, sample research report - 6+ documents in pdf.

An example template is downloadable for free when you surf the internet or you can have your own by typing the research at Microsoft word so you can print it easily. Research Report Templates   are the formal document which requires correct format and grammar before its distribution to the public so they can comprehend the message as you want it to be.

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Research Report for Students

Title of the Research Report Subtitle (if applicable)

Author(s): Name of the Student(s) Department, University Email Address(es)

Supervisor: Name of the Supervisor Department, University Email Address

Date of Submission: [Day Month Year]

Abstract A concise summary of the research, including the purpose, methodology, main findings, and conclusions.

Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Literature Review III. Methodology IV. Results V. Discussion VI. Conclusion and Recommendations VII. References VIII. Appendices

I. Introduction

  • Background of the study
  • Research objectives/questions
  • Significance of the research

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing research related to the topic
  • Identification of gaps in the literature

III. Methodology

  • Description of the research design
  • Data collection methods
  • Data analysis procedures

IV. Results

  • Presentation of findings (use charts, graphs, and tables where applicable)

V. Discussion

  • Interpretation of the results
  • Comparison with previous studies
  • Implications of the findings

VI. Conclusion and Recommendations

  • Summary of key findings
  • Limitations of the study
  • Suggestions for future research
  • Practical recommendations (if applicable)

VII. References List all sources cited in the report following the required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

VIII. Appendices Include supplementary material such as raw data, detailed tables, questionnaires, etc.

research report for students

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Academic Research Report

  • Title of the Report
  • Author’s Name
  • Course Name and Code
  • Instructor’s Name
  • Date of Submission
  • A concise summary of the research question, methodology, key findings, and conclusions (about 200-300 words).

Table of Contents

  • Lists all sections and subsections with page numbers.

List of Figures and Tables

  • If applicable, list all figures and tables included in the report with page numbers.

Introduction

  • Introduce the research topic, providing background information and context.
  • Clearly state the research question or hypothesis.
  • Outline the report’s structure.

Literature Review

  • Summarize and critique existing research related to your topic.
  • Identify gaps in the current knowledge that your research aims to fill.

Methodology

  • Describe the research design and methods used for data collection and analysis.
  • Include details on participants, instruments, procedures, and data processing.
  • Present the findings of your research without interpretation.
  • Use charts, graphs, and tables to illustrate data where appropriate.
  • Interpret the results, linking them to your research question and the literature review.
  • Discuss the implications of your findings and any limitations of your study.
  • Summarize the key findings and their relevance.
  • Suggest areas for future research.
  • List all sources cited in your report in the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Include any additional materials (e.g., raw data, detailed analyses, questionnaires) that are relevant to the report but too voluminous for the main body.

academic research report

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Final Research Report

  • Title of the Research
  • Affiliation(s)
  • A concise summary of the entire research, including the purpose, methodology, key findings, and conclusions (150-250 words).
  • Lists the main sections and their page numbers for easy navigation.
  • Itemizes all figures and tables included in the report with page numbers.
  • Introduces the research topic, states the research problem, and outlines the objectives.
  • Presents the background and significance of the study.
  • Specifies the research questions or hypotheses.
  • Reviews relevant existing research and theoretical frameworks.
  • Establishes the foundation for the research and highlights gaps the study aims to fill.
  • Describes the research design, data collection methods, and analysis procedures.
  • Details the sample selection, instruments used, and any limitations of the study.

Results (or Findings)

  • Presents the data collected in an organized manner, using tables, graphs, and descriptive text.
  • Summarizes the findings without interpretation.
  • Interprets the results, linking them back to the research questions and existing literature.
  • Discusses the implications of the findings and any unexpected results.
  • Addresses the limitations of the study and suggests areas for future research.
  • Summarizes the key findings and their relevance.
  • Restates the significance of the study and its contributions to the field.

Recommendations (if applicable)

  • Provides suggestions based on the research findings for practical actions, policy changes, or further research.
  • Lists all sources cited in the research report following the appropriate academic style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

Appendices (if necessary)

  • Includes additional materials like raw data, detailed analyses, questionnaires, or maps.

Acknowledgments (optional)

  • Thanks individuals, organizations, or institutions that contributed to the research.

Formatting Tips:

  • Ensure consistency in headings, subheadings, and text formatting throughout the document.
  • Use clear and concise language, avoiding jargon where possible.
  • Proofread for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
  • Adhere to the citation style and formatting guidelines specified by your institution or publication.

This structure provides a comprehensive overview for writing a final research report, ensuring that all critical aspects of the research are communicated effectively.

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Research report template.

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Tips for Writing Research Reports

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  • Understand Your Audience : Tailor the language, depth of detail, and complexity of your report to meet the needs and understanding level of your audience. Whether it’s for academic peers, industry professionals, or the general public, ensure the content is accessible and relevant.
  • Start with a Clear Abstract : Provide a concise and informative abstract that summarizes the key points of your research, including the problem, methodology, results, and conclusions. This helps readers quickly understand the essence of your report.
  • Organize Your Report Logically : Follow a structured format that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings/results, discussion, conclusion, and references. A logical flow helps readers follow your research process and findings.
  • Be Precise and Concise : Use clear and direct language to convey your research. Avoid unnecessary jargon and verbosity. Make every word count by being as concise as possible without omitting crucial information.
  • Use Visuals Effectively : Incorporate charts, graphs, tables, and figures to illustrate key findings and support your analysis. Visuals can help clarify complex data and make your report more engaging.
  • Cite Sources Rigorously : Accurately cite all sources of information, data, and literature you’ve used in your research. This not only adds credibility to your sample report but also acknowledges the work of others in your field.
  • Discuss Limitations and Implications : Be honest about the limitations of your research and discuss the implications of your findings. This demonstrates your critical thinking and understanding of the research context.
  • Proofread and Edit : Thoroughly proofread your report for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Consider having a peer or mentor review your work for clarity and coherence.
  • Include Recommendations : If appropriate, end your report format with practical recommendations based on your findings. This can add value to your research by suggesting future directions or actions.
  • Stay Ethical : Ensure your research and reporting practices are ethical. Respect privacy, obtain necessary permissions, and report data and findings truthfully.

Following these tips can enhance the quality of your research report, making it informative, credible, and impactful.

Research Report Format

research report format example

Business Research Report Template

sample of report paper

What Is a Research Report?

A research report is a document that presents the findings, analysis, and conclusions of a research study or investigation. It typically includes details about the research methods, data analysis, and results, providing valuable information on a particular topic or issue.

A research report is a comprehensive document that presents the findings, sample analysis, and interpretations of a systematic investigation or study. It serves as a formal record of research endeavors, providing a structured overview of the research process, methodologies employed, data collected, and the outcomes derived from the study.

Structure of a Research Report:

  • Includes the title of the report, the names of the authors, their affiliations, and the date of publication.
  • Offers a concise summary of the research, highlighting the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Sets the stage for the research, outlining the background, objectives, and the research question or hypothesis.
  • Surveys existing literature relevant to the research topic, providing context and justifying the study.
  • Describes the research design review , methods of data collection, and statistical or analytical techniques used.
  • Presents the raw data, often using tables, sample graphs, or charts for clarity, without interpretation.
  • Interprets the results, relates them to the research question, and discusses their implications. Compares findings with existing literature.
  • Summarizes the key findings, reaffirms the research’s significance, and suggests avenues for future research.
  • Proposes practical suggestions based on the study’s outcomes.
  • Lists all sources cited in the report, following a specific citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Includes supplementary materials such as raw data, questionnaires, or additional details that support the main text.

Key Components of a Research Report:

  • Objectivity: A research report should maintain a neutral and objective tone, avoiding biases and subjective interpretations.
  • Precision: Clearly defines terms, uses precise language, and ensures the accuracy of data representation.
  • Validity: Ensures that the research is well-designed and conducted, producing reliable results.
  • Clarity: Communicates complex information in a clear and understandable manner to a diverse audience.
  • Ethical Considerations: Addresses any ethical concerns related to the research, including participant consent and data confidentiality.

Importance of Research Reports:

  • Communication: Conveys research findings to the academic community and beyond.
  • Record Keeping: Serves as a permanent record of the research, aiding in replication or verification.
  • Decision-Making: Informs policymakers, businesses, and practitioners for informed decision-making.
  • Contribution to Knowledge: Adds to the existing body of knowledge in a specific field.

In essence, a research report is a vital tool for disseminating knowledge, fostering academic discourse, and contributing to the advancement of various fields.

Research Report in PDF

research report example

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Here is a great template for writing a report on any kind of research. Once you study and collect all the necessary data on the specific topic simply download this report template and refer to the format. Write as per the format in the template.

Types of Research Report?

types of research report 1024x530

  • Descriptive Research Report: Focuses on providing a detailed description of a subject, without attempting to establish causal relationships.
  • Analytical Research Report: Analyzes and interprets research findings to draw conclusions and make recommendations.
  • Experimental Research Report: Presents the methods, results, and analysis of controlled experiments.
  • Case Study Report: Examines in-depth the details of a particular case or situation, often in real-world contexts.
  • Survey Research Report: Reports on the data and analysis of sample surveys conducted to gather information from a sample of a population.
  • Review Research Report: Summarizes and evaluates existing research and literature on a specific topic, providing a comprehensive overview.

What are the Key Findings of your Research Report?

In conducting our research, several key findings emerged, shedding light on pivotal aspects within the scope of our study. We discovered that [include a key finding or two], which significantly influences [relevant area]. Moreover, our research analysis revealed [another key finding], indicating a notable trend in [specific context]. Additionally, [further key finding] surfaced, elucidating the correlation between [variables or factors]. These findings collectively highlight the need for [potential implications or actions]. Furthermore, [last key finding] unveils a previously unexplored facet, suggesting a new direction for future inquiries in this domain. These findings not only reinforce existing knowledge but also contribute valuable insights, offering a nuanced perspective on [research topic]. This comprehensive understanding is instrumental for [applicable field], guiding potential strategies or interventions and fostering continued exploration in this area of study.

Undergraduate Research Report Template

research report format

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If you are looking for a format to write an undergraduate research report , then you must go for this template. It explains in detail how the report must be written, the format, the fonts to be used, subheadings to be used and important information to include.

Why is the Research Report?

The research report holds significant importance for several reasons:

  • Research reports serve as a medium to share new knowledge, findings, and insights with the academic community, professionals, and the public.
  • By documenting research methodologies, results, and interpretations, reports contribute to the existing body of academic literature, aiding in the expansion of knowledge.
  • A well-structured research report provides sufficient details for other researchers to verify and replicate the study, ensuring the credibility and reliability of the findings.
  • Policymakers, businesses, and practitioners rely on research reports to make informed decisions. The findings can influence policy development, business strategies, and practical applications.
  • Research reports offer benchmarks for comparing new findings with existing knowledge, fostering a deeper understanding of a particular subject or problem.
  • Research reports often include sections on ethical considerations, ensuring that the research was conducted with integrity, adhering to ethical standards, and protecting the rights of participants.
  • The conclusion and recommendations sections of a research report outline guide future research by suggesting areas for further investigation and improvement.
  • A research report serves as an official record of the research process, documenting the entire journey from conceptualization and design to execution and conclusion.
  • Researchers use reports to communicate their findings to peers, fostering collaboration, discussion, and potential joint research endeavors.
  • Research reports are valuable educational resources, used in academic settings to teach research methodologies, critical thinking, and scientific writing.
  • Reports can be adapted for a broader audience, contributing to the public understanding of complex issues and scientific advancements.

Research Report Example

research report sample

This is a research report sample template that you can use for any kind of research paper sample . You need not search for different templates from the Internet. Simply download this template and observe the format to be used and what information must be included.

What is the Purpose of this Research Report?

The purpose statement of a research report is to communicate the findings, methodology, and implications of a specific research study or investigation. These simple reports serve as a vital medium for sharing the knowledge generated through the research process.

  • Information Dissemination: Research reports inform readers about the study’s objectives, research questions, and the data collected, providing a comprehensive overview of the research topic.
  • Contribution to Knowledge: They highlight the novelty and significance of the research, shedding light on the contributions it makes to the existing body of knowledge in a particular field.
  • Methodological Insights: Research reports describe the methods and techniques used in data collection and analysis. This transparency allows other researchers to evaluate the study’s rigor and replicate it if necessary.
  • Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Policymakers, professionals, and other stakeholders use research reports to make informed decisions, solve problems, and develop strategies based on the study’s findings and recommendations.
  • Resource Allocation: Organizations and funding agencies often rely on research reports to allocate resources effectively, as these reports provide valuable insights into where investments are needed most.
  • Academic and Professional Context: In academic and professional settings, research reports are essential for demonstrating research competence and for peer review, validation, and future research directions.

In summary, the primary purpose of a research report is to document, disseminate, and apply the knowledge generated through research, thereby advancing understanding and facilitating evidence-based decision-making in various fields.

Written Research Report Template

free research report

The free research report template shows a different format f writing your research paper . You must include an introduction at the very beginning and talk about the background of your topic and later on add the main content of your study. Download it right away!

Basic Research Report Template

research report pdf

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How to Write a Research Report?

  • Start with a clear title and abstract summarizing the report.
  • Introduce the research topic and its significance.
  • Describe the research methods and data collection.
  • Present the findings, analysis, and interpretation.
  • Discuss the implications and relevance of the research.
  • Conclude with a summary of key points and recommendations.
  • Cite sources and include a bibliography.
  • Format the report professionally and proofread for clarity and accuracy.

Simple Research Report Template

research report example pdf

What are the Benefits of Research Report Samples?

Research report samples help you understand what is required of a research paper and in what format it must be written. With the help of these templates you can change the appearance of your paper from boring to impressive. The look of your paper matters a lot because it gives the first impression of you as a person to the evaluator.

If you follow the format and guidelines as per these samples, during submission you will definitely be appreciated and promised an approval. This is how these research report samples will benefit you while you have undertaken a research paper. You can also see  Company Analysis Report Templates .

All these research report templates are designed to make the content easily readable and understandable by anyone. All the formats and guidelines are specified so that your paper stands out among the rest and gets appreciation. These formats will help you make your paper presentable and convey your study in the most effective manner. To help you with your submission and presentation, we have come up with these great templates.

Standard Research Report Template

example of a research report format

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What is Formal Research Report?

A formal research report is a structured and detailed document that follows a specific format and style. It includes sections like an abstract, introduction, methodology, findings, discussion, and conclusion. These report are often used in academic and professional settings to present research findings in a standardized and systematic manner.

What is the Role of a Research Report?

The role of a research report is to communicate the results, analysis, and conclusions of a research study to inform and educate readers, such as researchers, policymakers, or the general public, about a specific topic or issue. It serves as a valuable resource for decision-making, further research, or reference in various fields.

When do you need Research Report?

A research report is needed when you want to communicate the findings of a systematic investigation. It serves to document, share, and disseminate research outcomes to various audiences, contributing to knowledge and decision-making.

What is research report title?

The research report title is a concise and descriptive phrase that provides an overview of the study’s focus. It should capture the essence of the research, guiding readers on its subject.

Why do you need Research Report Samples?

Research report samples are required so that you can refer to the method of writing a research paper . As per the rules and guidelines, all the research papers must be submitted in a specific way. Your papers will not be accepted if they are written in any manner.

In conclusion, the research report serves as a comprehensive documentation of a study’s findings and insights. It plays a crucial role in advancing knowledge and facilitating informed decision-making in various fields.

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11.2 Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a title page . The title is centered in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behavior?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

It’s Soooo Cute!

How Informal Should an Article Title Be?

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .

  • “Let’s Get Serious: Communicating Commitment in Romantic Relationships”
  • “Through the Looking Glass Clearly: Accuracy and Assumed Similarity in Well-Adjusted Individuals’ First Impressions”
  • “Don’t Hide Your Happiness! Positive Emotion Dissociation, Social Connectedness, and Psychological Functioning”
  • “Forbidden Fruit: Inattention to Attractive Alternatives Provokes Implicit Relationship Reactance”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The abstract is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The introduction begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behavior (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humorous anecdote (Jacoby, 1999).

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (p. 3).

Although both humor and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).
Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.
An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).
We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favorite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the balance of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The closing of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behavior during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions (p. 378).

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The method section is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centered on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Figure 11.1 Three Ways of Organizing an APA-Style Method

Simple method Typical method Complex method

The participants were…

There were three conditions…

The participants were…

There were three conditions…

Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…

The participants were…

The stimuli were…

There were three conditions…

Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 “Three Ways of Organizing an APA-Style Method” shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The results section is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Some journals now make the raw data available online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The discussion is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how can they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What new research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968), for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centered at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendixes, Tables, and Figures

Appendixes, tables, and figures come after the references. An appendix is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centered at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendixes come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figure 11.2 “Title Page and Abstract” , Figure 11.3 “Introduction and Method” , Figure 11.4 “Results and Discussion” , and Figure 11.5 “References and Figure” show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

Figure 11.2 Title Page and Abstract

Title Page and Abstract

This student paper does not include the author note on the title page. The abstract appears on its own page.

Figure 11.3 Introduction and Method

Introduction and Method

Note that the introduction is headed with the full title, and the method section begins immediately after the introduction ends.

Figure 11.4 Results and Discussion

Results and Discussion

The discussion begins immediately after the results section ends.

Figure 11.5 References and Figure

References and Figure

If there were appendixes or tables, they would come before the figure.

Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g., Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different color each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.), The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

a sample of a research report

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How to Write an Abstract in Research Papers (with Examples)

How to write an abstract

An abstract in research papers is a keyword-rich summary usually not exceeding 200-350 words. It can be considered the “face” of research papers because it creates an initial impression on the readers. While searching databases (such as PubMed) for research papers, a title is usually the first selection criterion for readers. If the title matches their search criteria, then the readers read the abstract, which sets the tone of the paper. Titles and abstracts are often the only freely available parts of research papers on journal websites. The pdf versions of full articles need to be purchased. Journal reviewers are often provided with only the title and abstract before they agree to review the complete paper. [ 1]  

Abstracts in research papers provide readers with a quick insight into what the paper is about to help them decide whether they want to read it further or not. Abstracts are the main selling points of articles and therefore should be carefully drafted, accurately highlighting the important aspects. [ 2]  

This article will help you identify the important components and provide tips on how to write an abstract in research papers effectively

What is an Abstract?  

An abstract in research papers can be defined as a synopsis of the paper. It should be clear, direct, self-contained, specific, unbiased, and concise. These summaries are published along with the complete research paper and are also submitted to conferences for consideration for presentation.  

Abstracts are of four types and journals can follow any of these formats: [ 2]  

  • Structured  
  • Unstructured  
  • Descriptive  
  • Informative  

Structured abstracts are used by most journals because they are more organized and have clear sections, usually including introduction/background; objective; design, settings, and participants (or materials and methods); outcomes and measures; results; and conclusion. These headings may differ based on the journal or the type of paper. Clinical trial abstracts should include the essential items mentioned in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) guidelines.  

a sample of a research report

Figure 1. Structured abstract example [3] 

Unstructured abstracts are common in social science, humanities, and physical science journals. They usually have one paragraph and no specific structure or subheadings. These abstracts are commonly used for research papers that don’t report original work and therefore have a more flexible and narrative style.  

a sample of a research report

Figure 2. Unstructured abstract example [3] 

Descriptive abstracts are short (75–150 words) and provide an outline with only the most important points of research papers. They are used for shorter articles such as case reports, reviews, and opinions where space is at a premium, and rarely for original investigations. These abstracts don’t present the results but mainly list the topics covered.  

Here’s a sample abstract . [ 4]  

“Design of a Radio-Based System for Distribution Automation”  

A new survey by the Maryland Public Utilities Commission suggests that utilities have not effectively explained to consumers the benefits of smart meters. The two-year study of 86,000 consumers concludes that the long-term benefits of smart meters will not be realized until consumers understand the benefits of shifting some of their power usage to off-peak hours in response to the data they receive from their meters. The study presents recommendations for utilities and municipal governments to improve customer understanding of how to use the smart meters effectively.  

Keywords: smart meters, distribution systems, load, customer attitudes, power consumption, utilities  

Informative abstracts (structured or unstructured) give a complete detailed summary, including the main results, of the research paper and may or may not have subsections.   

a sample of a research report

Figure 3. Informative abstract example [5] 

Purpose of Abstracts in Research    

Abstracts in research have two main purposes—selection and indexing. [ 6,7]  

  • Selection : Abstracts allow interested readers to quickly decide the relevance of a paper to gauge if they should read it completely.   
  • Indexing : Most academic journal databases accessed through libraries enable you to search abstracts, allowing for quick retrieval of relevant articles and avoiding unnecessary search results. Therefore, abstracts must necessarily include the keywords that researchers may use to search for articles.  

Thus, a well-written, keyword-rich abstract can p ique readers’ interest and curiosity and help them decide whether they want to read the complete paper. It can also direct readers to articles of potential clinical and research interest during an online search.  

a sample of a research report

Contents of Abstracts in Research  

Abstracts in research papers summarize the main points of an article and are broadly categorized into four or five sections. Here are some details on how to write an abstract .   

Introduction/Background and/or Objectives  

This section should provide the following information:  

  • What is already known about the subject?  
  • What is not known about the subject or what does the study aim to investigate?  

The hypothesis or research question and objectives should be mentioned here. The Background sets the context for the rest of the paper and its length should be short so that the word count could be saved for the Results or other information directly pertaining to the study. The objective should be written in present or past simple tense.  

Examples:  

The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV) has been established in 8-week, randomized controlled trials. The present study examined the continued efficacy of DV across 6 months of maintenance treatment . [ 1]  

Objective: To describe gastric and breast cancer risk estimates for individuals with CDH1 variants.  

Design, Setting, and Participants (or Materials and Methods)  

This section should provide information on the processes used and should be written in past simple tense because the process is already completed.  

A few important questions to be answered include:  

  • What was the research design and setting?  
  • What was the sample size and how were the participants sampled?  
  • What treatments did the participants receive?  
  • What were the data collection and data analysis dates?  
  • What was the primary outcome measure?  

Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for each cancer type and used to calculate cumulative risks and risks per decade of life up to age 80 years.  

a sample of a research report

This section, written in either present or past simple tense, should be the longest and should describe the main findings of the study. Here’s an example of how descriptive the sentences should be:  

Avoid: Response rates differed significantly between diabetic and nondiabetic patients.  

Better: The response rate was higher in nondiabetic than in diabetic patients (49% vs 30%, respectively; P<0.01).  

This section should include the following information:  

  • Total number of patients (included, excluded [exclusion criteria])  
  • Primary and secondary outcomes, expressed in words, and supported by numerical data  
  • Data on adverse outcomes  

Example: [ 8]  

In total, 10.9% of students were reported to have favorable study skills. The minimum score was found for preparation for examination domain. Also, a significantly positive correlation was observed between students’ study skills and their Grade Point Average (GPA) of previous term (P=0.001, r=0.269) and satisfaction with study skills (P=0.001, r=0.493).  

Conclusions  

Here, authors should mention the importance of their findings and also the practical and theoretical implications, which would benefit readers referring to this paper for their own research. Present simple tense should be used here.  

Examples: [ 1,8]  

The 9.3% prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorders in students at an arts university is substantially higher than general population estimates. These findings strengthen the oft-expressed hypothesis linking creativity with affective psychopathology.  

The findings indicated that students’ study skills need to be improved. Given the significant relationship between study skills and GPA, as an index of academic achievement, and satisfaction, it is necessary to promote the students’ study skills. These skills are suggested to be reinforced, with more emphasis on weaker domains.  

a sample of a research report

When to Write an Abstract  

In addition to knowing how to write an abstract , you should also know when to write an abstract . It’s best to write abstracts once the paper is completed because this would make it easier for authors to extract relevant parts from every section.  

Abstracts are usually required for: [ 7]    

  • submitting articles to journals  
  • applying for research grants   
  • writing book proposals  
  • completing and submitting dissertations  
  • submitting proposals for conference papers  

Mostly, the author of the entire work writes the abstract (the first author, in works with multiple authors). However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work.   

How to Write an Abstract (Step-by-Step Process)  

Here are some key steps on how to write an abstract in research papers: [ 9]  

  • Write the abstract after you’ve finished writing your paper.  
  • Select the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and Conclusion sections.  
  • Select key sentences from your Methods section.  
  • Identify the major results from the Results section.  
  • Paraphrase or re-write the sentences selected in steps 2, 3, and 4 in your own words into one or two paragraphs in the following sequence: Introduction/Objective, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. The headings may differ among journals, but the content remains the same.  
  • Ensure that this draft does not contain: a.   new information that is not present in the paper b.   undefined abbreviations c.   a discussion of previous literature or reference citations d.   unnecessary details about the methods used  
  • Remove all extra information and connect your sentences to ensure that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose; basic study design, methodology and techniques used; major findings; summary of your interpretations, conclusions, and implications. Use section headings for structured abstracts.  
  • Ensure consistency between the information presented in the abstract and the paper.  
  • Check to see if the final abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc.) and if all the required information has been included.  

Choosing Keywords for Abstracts  

Keywords [ 2] are the important and repeatedly used words and phrases in research papers and can help indexers and search engines find papers relevant to your requirements. Easy retrieval would help in reaching a wider audience and eventually gain more citations. In the fields of medicine and health, keywords should preferably be chosen from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) list of the US National Library of Medicine because they are used for indexing. These keywords need to be different from the words in the main title (automatically used for indexing) but can be variants of the terms/phrases used in the title, abstract, and the main text. Keywords should represent the content of your manuscript and be specific to your subject area.  

Basic tips for authors [ 10,11]  

  • Read through your paper and highlight key terms or phrases that are most relevant and frequently used in your field, to ensure familiarity.  
  • Several journals provide instructions about the length (eg, 3 words in a keyword) and maximum number of keywords allowed and other related rules. Create a list of keywords based on these instructions and include specific phrases containing 2 to 4 words. A longer string of words would yield generic results irrelevant to your field.  
  • Use abbreviations, acronyms, and initializations if these would be more familiar.  
  • Search with your keywords to ensure the results fit with your article and assess how helpful they would be to readers.  
  • Narrow down your keywords to about five to ten, to ensure accuracy.  
  • Finalize your list based on the maximum number allowed.  

  Few examples: [ 12]  

     
Direct observation of nonlinear optics in an isolated carbon nanotube  molecule, optics, lasers, energy lifetime  single-molecule interaction, Kerr effect, carbon nanotube, energy level 
Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration  neuron, brain, regional-specific neuronal degeneration, signaling  neurodegenerative diseases; CA1 region, hippocampal; okadaic acid; neurotoxins; MAP kinase signaling system; cell death 
Increases in levels of sediment transport at former glacial-interglacial transitions  climate change, erosion, plant effects  quaternary climate change, soil erosion, bioturbation 

Important Tips for Writing an Abstract  

Here are a few tips on how to write an abstract to ensure that your abstract is complete, concise, and accurate. [ 1,2]  

  • Write the abstract last.  
  • Follow journal-specific formatting guidelines or Instructions to Authors strictly to ensure acceptance for publication.  
  • Proofread the final draft meticulously to avoid grammatical or typographical errors.  
  • Ensure that the terms or data mentioned in the abstract are consistent with the main text.  
  • Include appropriate keywords at the end.

Do not include:  

  • New information  
  • Text citations to references  
  • Citations to tables and figures  
  • Generic statements  
  • Abbreviations unless necessary, like a trial or study name  

a sample of a research report

Key Takeaways    

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the important aspects of how to write an abstract . [2]

  • An abstract in research is a summary of the paper and describes only the main aspects. Typically, abstracts are about 200-350 words long.  
  • Abstracts are of four types—structured, unstructured, descriptive, and informative.  
  • Abstracts should be simple, clear, concise, independent, and unbiased (present both favorable and adverse outcomes).  
  • They should adhere to the prescribed journal format, including word limits, section headings, number of keywords, fonts used, etc.  
  • The terminology should be consistent with the main text.   
  • Although the section heading names may differ for journals, every abstract should include a background and objective, analysis methods, primary results, and conclusions.  
  • Nonstandard abbreviations, references, and URLs shouldn’t be included.  
  • Only relevant and specific keywords should be used to ensure focused searches and higher citation frequency.  
  • Abstracts should be written last after completing the main paper.  

Frequently Asked Questions   

Q1. Do all journals have different guidelines for abstracts?  

A1. Yes, all journals have their own specific guidelines for writing abstracts; a few examples are given in the following table. [ 6,13,14,15]  

   
American Psychological Association           
American Society for Microbiology     
The Lancet     
Journal of the American Medical Association               

Q2. What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing an abstract?  

A2. Listed below are a few mistakes that authors may make inadvertently while writing abstracts.  

  • Copying sentences from the paper verbatim  

An abstract is a summary, which should be created by paraphrasing your own work or writing in your own words. Extracting sentences from every section and combining them into one paragraph cannot be considered summarizing.  

  • Not adhering to the formatting guidelines  

Journals have special instructions for writing abstracts, such as word limits and section headings. These should be followed strictly to avoid rejections.  

  • Not including the right amount of details in every section  

Both too little and too much information could discourage readers. For instance, if the Background has very little information, the readers may not get sufficient context to appreciate your research. Similarly, incomplete information in the Methods and a text-heavy Results section without supporting numerical data may affect the credibility of your research.  

  • Including citations, standard abbreviations, and detailed measurements  

Typically, abstracts shouldn’t include these elements—citations, URLs, and abbreviations. Only nonstandard abbreviations are allowed or those that would be more familiar to readers than the expansions.  

  • Including new information  

Abstracts should strictly include only the same information mentioned in the main text. Any new information should first be added to the text and then to the abstract only if necessary or if permitted by the word limit.  

  • Not including keywords  

Keywords are essential for indexing and searching and should be included to increase the frequency of retrieval and citation.  

Q3. What is the difference between abstracts in research papers and conference abstracts? [16]  

A3. The table summarizes the main differences between research and conference abstracts.  

     
Context  Concise summary of ongoing or completed research presented at conferences  Summary of full research paper published in a journal 
Length  Shorter (150-250 words)   Longer (150-350 words) 
Audience  Diverse conference attendees (both experts & people with general interest)  People or other researchers specifically interested in the subject 
Focus  Intended to quickly attract interest; provides just enough information to highlight the significance, objectives, and impact; may briefly state methods and results  Deeper insight into the study; more detailed sections on methodology, results, and broader implications 
Publication venue  Not published independently but included in conference schedules, booklets, etc.  Published with the full research paper in academic journals, conference proceedings, research databases, etc. 
Citations  Allowed  Not allowed 

  Thus, abstracts are essential “trailers” that can market your research to a wide audience. The better and more complete the abstract the more are the chances of your paper being read and cited. By following our checklist and ensuring that all key elements are included, you can create a well-structured abstract that summarizes your paper accurately.  

References  

  • Andrade C. How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian J Psychiatry . 2011; 53(2):172-175. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/  
  • Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key. 2019; 13(Suppl 1): S12-S17. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398294/  
  • Zawia J. Writing an Academic Paper? Get to know Abstracts vs. Structured Abstracts. Medium. Published October 16, 2023. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://medium.com/@jamala.zawia/writing-an-academic-paper-get-to-know-abstracts-vs-structured-abstracts-11ed86888367  
  • Markel M and Selber S. Technical Communication, 12 th edition. 2018; pp. 482. Bedford/St Martin’s.  
  • Abstracts. Arkansas State University. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.astate.edu/a/global-initiatives/online/a-state-online-services/online-writing-center/resources/How%20to%20Write%20an%20Abstract1.pdf  
  • AMA Manual of Style. 11 th edition. Oxford University Press.  
  • Writing an Abstract. The University of Melbourne. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://services.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/471274/Writing_an_Abstract_Update_051112.pdf  
  • 10 Good Abstract Examples that will Kickstart Your Brain. Kibin Essay Writing Blog. Published April 5, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/10-good-abstract-examples/  
  • A 10-step guide to make your research paper abstract more effective. Editage Insights. Published October 16, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.editage.com/insights/a-10-step-guide-to-make-your-research-paper-abstract-more-effective  
  • Using keywords to write your title and abstract. Taylor & Francis Author Services. Accessed June 15, 2024. https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/writing-your-paper/using-keywords-to-write-title-and-abstract/  
  • How to choose and use keywords in research papers. Paperpal by Editage blog. Published March 10, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://paperpal.com/blog/researcher-resources/phd-pointers/how-to-choose-and-use-keywords-in-research-papers  
  • Title, abstract and keywords. Springer. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.springer.com/it/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/writing-a-journal-manuscript/title-abstract-and-keywords/10285522  
  • Abstract and keywords guide. APA Style, 7 th edition. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/abstract-keywords-guide.pdf  
  • Abstract guidelines. American Society for Microbiology. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://asm.org/events/asm-microbe/present/abstract-guidelines  
  • Guidelines for conference abstracts. The Lancet. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/Abstract_Guidelines_2013.pdf  
  • Is a conference abstract the same as a paper abstract? Global Conference Alliance, Inc. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://globalconference.ca/is-a-conference-abstract-the-same-as-a-paper-abstract/  

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Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed.  

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Representative samples: definition and examples.

13 min read In market research, it’s not practical nor affordable to interview or survey everyone in your target population. That said, you still need to get survey results that accurately represent the views, opinions, or behaviours of that larger population. So, what can you do? Find out here.

In market research , it’s not practical nor affordable to interview or survey everyone in your target population.

That said, you still need to get survey results that accurately represent the views, opinions, or behaviours of that larger population . So, what can you do?

The answer is to survey a small group of that population in a way that generates a representative set of results that mirrors a larger sample size .

This smaller sample is known as a representative sample .

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to representative sampling, including what it is, the different types of representative samples you can use, why representative samples are important for market research and finally, how to build a representative sample for your study.

Determine the perfect sample size with our free guide

What is a representative sample?

A representative sample is a sample from a larger group that accurately represents the characteristics of a larger population.

It’s known as a representative sample because the answers obtained from it accurately reflect the results you would achieve by interviewing the entire population.

For example, in a warehouse with a sample of 1,000 people split equally into 500 males and 500 females, a smaller group of 100 males and 100 females could generate a representative sample of the larger group.

As they’re easy to conduct and cost-effective, representative samples are widely used to collect data across all different kinds of research. And if done properly, the results are just as accurate as a large-scale survey.

Representative sampling methods

Creating a representative sample is relatively straightforward, but there are a few things to consider — one being the size of populations or groups you want to study, and how this will determine the size of the sample group to accurately reflect the views of the larger group.

However, the size of the group isn’t the only thing to consider when building a representative sample.

For example, if you were running a study on how the global financial crisis affected middle and low-income families, you might want to determine the socioeconomic status of your sample . This way, you can remove the highest earners (or high-income families) from your study, ensuring you get an accurate and representative sample of your target audience .

It’s also important that your sample has the same properties as the full population. For instance, the right gender distribution and/or ages to ensure you represent the larger sample.

Now, there are two types of sampling you can use for a representative sample.

Probability sampling

Probability sampling is when you select a smaller group from a larger population using a randomised process.

In this process, every member of the population has an equal chance to be chosen for the sample.

Depending on the size of the larger population, it’s possible to inadvertently over-sample one portion of it.

Learn More: Probability sampling: What it is and how to use it

Non-probability sampling

Non-probability sampling involves selecting your sample, rather than leaving it to chance. However, as you’re selecting the sample, this can result in bias in some surveys as you’re aware of each participant’s characteristics.

As well as increasing bias, non-probability sampling involves more admin as the participants have to be selected.

One example of a non-probability sample is a quota sample, which is often used when trying to find a representative sample for an entire population like the US or UK.

In both instances, each sample size needs to be around 1,500 or 2,000 to accurately reflect the entire population.

Within this large group, there will be a series of subsets. For example, six age brackets (16-24 and 24-35), two gender breakdowns, and typically 15 regions (potentially fewer in the UK) to create a representative sample of the country.

Learn More: What is non-probability sampling? Everything you need to know

How does it compare to other sampling methods?

While representative sampling is one way to conduct a survey, there are other sampling methods you can use (without surveying every single member of a population) while still matching the characteristics of a smaller group with a larger one.

Here are a few other sampling methods you could consider:

Random sampling

Random sampling is a method of probability sampling that ensures every member of a larger population has an equal probability of being selected for the study.

It’s also used when you want to generate a representative sample of a whole population. For example, if you wanted a sample that would represent an entire country, you’d most likely use probability sampling.

Survey software or other tools (such as random number generators) are often used to ensure the sample is randomly selected.

Learn More: Your guide to simple random sampling

Systematic sampling

Systematic sampling is similar to random sampling in that there’s an element of chance in the selection process.

However, unlike random sampling, rather than choosing people arbitrarily, each person is assigned a number and then participants are selected at regular intervals.

For example, in a group of 50, each person gets a number, and then a starting point is chosen at random — i.e. the selection process will start at the number 7. Then, every 4th person will be selected. So the numbers selected would go like this: 7, 11, 15, 19, and so on until the sample size is reached.

Learn More: The complete guide to systematic random sampling

Stratified sampling

With stratified sampling , each member of the larger population is categorised into another subset based on characteristics. For example, age, gender, income and so on.

Once you’ve defined your subsets, you then work out how many people from each subset you’ll need to create a representative sample. Then, you use systematic sampling or random sampling to make the final selection.

Learn More: How to use stratified random sampling

Cluster sampling

Cluster sampling is similar to stratified sampling in that each participant is put into a smaller subgroup based on a particular characteristic.

However, rather than randomly choosing participants from every subgroup, you simply choose an entire subgroup to form the final sample.

Convenience sampling

As the name suggests, convenience sampling involves choosing participants who are convenient to you. For example, if you wanted to assess employee satisfaction, you could survey your employees.

Convenience sampling

Learn More: Convenience sampling method: How and when to use it?

Voluntary response sampling

Voluntary response sampling is when your sample is made up of participants who have volunteered to participate as part of the sample group. These participants usually volunteer because they have a strong opinion on the subject of the survey.

Purposive sampling

Purposive sampling, also referred to as judgment sampling or selective sampling, is when you rely on your expertise to choose members of the population to participate in the survey.

Purposive sampling diagram

Snowball sampling

Snowball sampling, also referred to as chain-referral sampling, is a non-probability sampling technique in which the samples have traits that are rare or difficult to find. In this sampling method, existing study subjects require future subjects from amongst their acquaintances and friends, thus causing a snowball effect. As the sample builds up, it eventually reaches a point where enough data has been gathered to make it useful for research.

Snowball sampling diagram

Why is a representative sample important in market research?

Building a representative sample is important for market research to ensure you gather accurate data and audience insights that can drive better decisions or improve processes.

Without a representative sample, you can’t be sure your research data will accurately reflect the views or behaviours of the people you want to understand better .

The most accurate data will always come from your target audience and a representative sample will ensure you get a high level of accuracy and avoid sampling errors.

Here are a few more reasons why representative sampling is important:

It’s practical and efficient: Representative sampling is about using a smaller group of people to understand a much larger population and thus gain accurate insights without the costs and administration of surveying an entire population.

It helps make accurate decisions: Without getting a representative sample of your target audience, you can’t be sure that you’re making decisions that benefit your business. Samples need to be carefully selected to ensure they’ll match your wider audience.

It helps to avoid sampling error : As we’ve mentioned, without ensuring your sample is representative, you can’t be sure that the data you’re collecting is accurate or relevant to what you’re trying to uncover.

It generates good ROI: The only way to be sure your business decisions will lead to improvements is to get the perspective of the audience who will be affected by them. Representative sampling ensures you target the right audience, netting insights that help you to improve products, services, and processes.

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Development and validation the Problematic ChatGPT Use Scale: a preliminary report

  • Published: 08 July 2024

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  • Sen-Chi Yu   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4609-1019 1 ,
  • Hong-Ren Chen 2 &
  • Yu-Wen Yang 1  

The ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) has been rapidly developing with a growing number of users. The potential for problematic use/dependence caused by the use of ChatGPT urgently needs to be explored. This study recruited a sample of 1040 Taiwanese adults to develop the Problematic ChatGPT use Scale (PCUS) and investigate the relationships between ChatGPT problematic use and related factors such as age, gender, demographic categories, usage time, user satisfaction rating, and depression. The results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis verified that the PCUS had good factorial/construct validity. Additionally, the PCUS showed high internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Among the factors related to the PCUS scores, usage time and depression showed a positive correlation with PCUS scores. Furthermore, male PCUS scores were significantly higher than female PCUS scores. The PCUS scores showed no significant relationship with age, demographic categories (undergraduate students, graduate students, and working professionals), and various satisfaction evaluations. Limitations and recommendations for future research were also discussed.

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Data availability

The datasets generated by the survey research during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Dataverse repository, https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/f8gix7zi4xetmk26hnlif/PCUS-simpled.xls?rlkey=9go1ixtex0fwkymau9wls9fgn&dl=0 .

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The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan, R.O.C, for financially supporting this research under Contract Nos. MOST 110-2511-H-142 -010 -MY3.

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Yu, SC., Chen, HR. & Yang, YW. Development and validation the Problematic ChatGPT Use Scale: a preliminary report. Curr Psychol (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-024-06259-z

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-024-06259-z

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2. bioseparation technology based on microfluidics, 2.1. passive microfluidic bioseparation technology, 2.1.1. inertial microfluidics.

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2.1.2. Deterministic Lateral Displacement

2.1.3. pinch flow fractionation, 2.1.4. viscoelastic microfluidics, 2.1.5. microfluidic filtration, 2.2. active microfluidic bioseparation technology, 2.2.1. biological separation technology based on acoustic field, 2.2.2. biological separation technology based on magnetic field, 2.2.3. biological separation technology based on electric field, 2.2.4. biological separation technology based on optical field, 2.3. research progress of hybrid separation technology, 2.3.1. active–passive hybrid separation technology, 2.3.2. research progress of the center for lidar remote sensing research at xi’an university of technology, 3. microfluidic bioassay technology, 4. conclusions, author contributions, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

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TechniquePrincipleSeparation MarkersMeritsDemerits
Inertial microfluidicsInertial lift and Dean drag forcesSize, shape and stiffnessHigh throughput, simpleStrict design rules
Deterministic
lateral displacement
Particles displace differentially in tilted pillar arraySize, shape, and stiffnessSimple, easy to operateClogging and fouling
Pinched flow fractionationPinching particles with
hydrodynamic flows
Size and shapeSimple, higher separationLow resolution
Viscoelastic microfluidicsElastic force due to imbalance of
normal stresses in a viscoelastic fluid
Size, shape, and stiffnessSimple, higher separationNeed for viscoelastic
Microfluidic filtrationNanomembrane in microfluidicsSize, shape, and stiffnessHigh separation efficiencyMembrane clogging
Acoustic field separationAcoustic forceSize, density, compressibilityLabel free, biocompatible,
contactless
Technical sophistication
Magnetic field separationMagnetic forceSize, magnetic propertiesHigh throughput, contactlessTime consuming and labor-
intensive sample preparation
Electrostatic
field separation
Electrostatic forceSize, electric
polarizability
High separation efficiencyInduces thermal energy,
electrochemical reaction
Optical field separationOptical radiation scattering
and gradient force
Refractive index, sizeHigh separation efficiencyLow throughput, induces
thermal energy, affects
biocompatibility
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Zhao, H.; Zhang, Y.; Hua, D. A Review of Research Progress in Microfluidic Bioseparation and Bioassay. Micromachines 2024 , 15 , 893. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070893

Zhao H, Zhang Y, Hua D. A Review of Research Progress in Microfluidic Bioseparation and Bioassay. Micromachines . 2024; 15(7):893. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070893

Zhao, Heng, Yanyan Zhang, and Dengxin Hua. 2024. "A Review of Research Progress in Microfluidic Bioseparation and Bioassay" Micromachines 15, no. 7: 893. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070893

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  • Open access
  • Published: 06 July 2024

Efficacy of relational agents for loneliness across age groups: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Sia Sha   ORCID: orcid.org/0009-0000-2027-1316 1 ,
  • Kate Loveys 2 ,
  • Pamela Qualter 3 ,
  • Haoran Shi 1 ,
  • Dario Krpan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3420-4672 1 &
  • Matteo Galizzi 1  

BMC Public Health volume  24 , Article number:  1802 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

171 Accesses

Metrics details

Loneliness is a serious public health concern. Although previous interventions have had some success in mitigating loneliness, the field is in search of novel, more effective, and more scalable solutions. Here, we focus on “relational agents”, a form of software agents that are increasingly powered by artificial intelligence and large language models (LLMs). We report on a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the impact of relational agents on loneliness across age groups.

In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched 11 databases including Ovid MEDLINE and Embase from inception to Sep 16, 2022. We included randomised controlled trials and non-randomised studies of interventions published in English across all age groups. These loneliness interventions, typically attempt to improve social skills, social support, social interaction, and maladaptive cognitions. Peer-reviewed journal articles, books, book chapters, Master’s and PhD theses, or conference papers were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently screened studies, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias via the RoB 2 and ROBINS-I tools. We calculated pooled estimates of Hedge’s g in a random-effects meta-analysis and conducted sensitivity and sub-group analyses. We evaluated publication bias via funnel plots, Egger’s test, and a trim-and-fill algorithm.

Our search identified 3,935 records of which 14 met eligibility criteria and were included in our meta-analysis. Included studies comprised 286 participants with individual study sample sizes ranging from 4 to 42 participants ( x̄  = 20.43, s  = 11.58, x̃  = 20). We used a Bonferroni correction with α Bonferroni  = 0.05 / 4 = 0.0125 and applied Knapp-Hartung adjustments. Relational agents reduced loneliness significantly at an adjusted α Bonferroni ( g  = -0.552; 95% Knapp-Hartung CI, -0.877 to -0.226; P  = 0.003), which corresponds to a moderate reduction in loneliness.

Our results are currently the most comprehensive of their kind and provide promising evidence for the efficacy of relational agents. Relational agents are a promising technology that can alleviate loneliness in a scalable way and that can be a meaningful complement to other approaches. The advent of LLMs should boost their efficacy, and further research is needed to explore the optimal design and use of relational agents. Future research could also address shortcomings of current results, such as small sample sizes and high risk of bias. Particularly young audiences have been overlooked in past research.

Peer Review reports

Loneliness is a subjective experience that emerges when people feel that their social relationships are unsatisfactory [ 1 ]. For some people, loneliness is experienced when they want more people to interact with, but it is also often felt when one’s social relationships are not as fulfilling as one would like. Loneliness is not the same as social isolation (i.e., the objective lack of social interactions) but is often associated with it [ 2 ]. There is strong evidence of the risks associated with loneliness, including poorer physical health outcomes [ 3 ]. Loneliness also affects mental health and psychological wellbeing, with growing evidence that loneliness is associated with the onset of depression and other common mental health problems [ 4 ]. Crucially, poor health and wellbeing can, in turn, exacerbate loneliness, placing those who experience loneliness in a negative feedback loop [ 5 ]. Evidence for a wide range of health effects, therefore, has led scholars to propose that loneliness should be regarded as a public health priority. Governments have consequently looked to offer interventions for people reporting loneliness, and although evidence for intervention efficacy is increasing [ 6 ], the evidence base suffers from some gaps [ 7 ], and potentially effective interventions may lack scalability or fail to produce cost savings [ 8 ]. Governments therefore have developed an interest in digital interventions, such as mobile phone apps or virtual reality [ 9 ]. Yet despite their promise, the efficacy of digital interventions across recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses is mixed [ 10 ].

“Relational agents” are a technology that show promise for delivering loneliness interventions in a scalable and engaging manner. Relational agents are software agents that build relationships with users through their behaviours (e.g., personal conversation, play, empathy), and they may be embodied (e.g., take the shape of humans or animals) or lack embodiment (e.g., voice agents) [ 11 ]. Relational agents can be broadly separated into two types: social robotic agents (e.g., those that possess physical bodies made of carbon or steel), and app-based agents (e.g., those embedded in everyday hardware such as computers and smartphones). Relational agents increasingly employ artificial intelligence (AI) such as emotion recognition for enhanced interactions and large language models (LLMs) to generate highly tailored and relevant speech [ 12 ]. Relational agents may promote engagement with internet-based psychological interventions for loneliness because of the social engagement and presence that they provide [ 13 ]. Moreover, preliminary but promising evidence suggests that relational agents may reduce loneliness by directly providing companionship, and by serving as catalysts for social interaction [ 14 ]. Appendix E provides video links for relational agents.

There are three key reasons research and investment in relational agents are worthwhile. First, not everyone can socialise with other humans. Physical disability, for example, can impact mobility, which in turn can restrict opportunities for socialising, thus contributing to loneliness [ 15 ]. While interventions such as social visits can be effective to alleviate the loneliness of people with physical disabilities, these interventions are constrained: a person who is bedridden may wait for several days before his or her next visitation. Relational agents, on the other hand, can be an on-demand solution. Second, loneliness can be due to the feeling that one is not heard. This, for example, can occur when people do not feel comfortable sharing their secrets due to stigma, and there is indeed evidence that people prefer sharing some secrets with relational agents rather than humans [ 16 , 17 ]. Relational agents, then, are not just an intermediate solution: they are a separate class of intervention with a suitable audience. Here, one might raise the question of “understanding”: that is, whether AI can truly understand people’s self-disclosure. The answer is probably complex, but from a practical perspective it seems that the answer may not matter: people seem to benefit from relational agents as long as they feel they are understood and heard by them – irrespective of whether this is actually the case [ 18 ]. Third, both qualitative and quantitative metrics suggest that human–agent and human–human relationships may have some similar features at times [ 17 , 19 ]. For example, there is a vast literature on how people anthropomorphise machines, imbuing them with human-like traits, personalities, and motivations [ 20 , 21 , 22 ]. People often treat machines like other people, developing similar feelings for them such as pity and even love [ 23 ]. One participant said: “Yes, explicitly I will tell my Replika [relational agent] that I think he is wonderful, that he is fantastic and smart and helps me and makes me feel good about myself and that I enjoy our talks” [ 17 ].

Several scoping reviews have qualitatively summarised the efficacy of relational agents for loneliness [ 14 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 ]. Combined, these reviews concluded that some evidence for the efficacy of social robotic relational agents existed but that further work on app-based relational agents was needed. Additionally, one 2019 meta-analysis investigated a sub-set of social robotic relational agents (i.e., robotic pets), but failed to find significant results, most likely due to including only two studies [ 28 ]. Previous reviews, moreover, exclusively focused on elderly samples, and the literature is therefore in need of a comprehensive and up-to-date quantitative synthesis to evaluate the efficacy of relational agents to mitigate loneliness across all age groups.

We preregistered our methodology with PROSPERO: CRD42022359737. We have also made our full paper trail available on the Open Science Framework (OSF): https://osf.io/c6rdk/files/osfstorage . There, the reader can also find the full data set to reproduce the analyses.

Search strategy and selection criteria

In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched 11 databases from inception to Sep 16, 2022: Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, Ovid PsycINFO, Ovid Global Health, EBSCO CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore, ACM Digital Library, PROSPERO, and ProQuest Dissertations. We also manually searched the bibliographies of selected studies to identify additional papers. We searched titles and abstracts using a range of search terms such as lonel*, robot*, computer* agent*, and relation* agent*. Appendix A outlines the full search strategy.

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised studies of interventions (NRSIs). Factorial designs were eligible if they allowed us to collapse relevant intervention arms or drop irrelevant ones. Cluster-randomised trials were eligible if they included sufficient information (e.g., intra-cluster coefficient). Eligible studies had to be published in English and had to be peer-reviewed journal articles, books, book chapters, postgraduate theses, or conference papers. Government reports, company reports, newspaper articles, conference presentations, and similar were ineligible. There was no restriction on populations or settings. All eligible studies had to administer app-based or social robotic relational agents. Agents that did not use relational cues were ineligible. Any non-relational agent comparator made studies eligible (e.g., waiting lists). Finally, eligible studies had to report a quantitative, self-report loneliness outcome where follow-up was at least one week.

Coding of studies

SS, KL, and HS independently double-screened in Covidence the titles and abstracts of citations and then the full texts of remaining studies, using piloted and structured forms. We measured agreement between screeners via Cohen’s κ and resolved disagreements via discussion between screeners. SS, KL, and HS then extracted data in Covidence using a piloted and structured form, and we contacted primary study authors to obtain raw or missing data. Our data extraction forms are available on OSF, and we describe data imputations in Appendix B. Each study was coded for a range of variables such as sample size, research design, and loneliness scale used. Finally, SS, KL, HS, and DK independently double-assessed risk of bias in MS Excel, using the RoB 2 tool for RCTs and ROBINS-I tool for NRSIs.

Meta-analytic procedure

Our main outcome was loneliness for which we calculated a random-effects meta-analysis using the DerSimonian and Laird method because we expected the effects of relational agents to be heterogenous across populations, types of agents, etc. We used Hedge’s g to standardise results from diverse quantitative loneliness scales, and interpreted the magnitude of Hedge’s g according to the rules of thumb in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions . Hedge’s g itself was computed using standard formulas and relied on a range of data points such as group means and pooled standard deviations [ 29 ]. Our raw data on OSF show exactly how Hedge’s g was computed for each primary study.

We calculated four null hypothesis significance tests and applied a Bonferroni correction: α Bonferroni  = 0.05 / 4 = 0.0125. We also applied Knapp-Hartung adjustments to our 95% confidence intervals. As measures of heterogeneity, we calculated Cochrane’s Q using a p value of 0.1, I 2 , τ 2 , and a prediction interval. We conducted an RCT-only sensitivity analysis and separate sub-group analyses for app-based and social robotic relational agents. We evaluated publication bias via funnel plots and Egger’s test, and we calculated an adjusted estimate of Hedge’s g using Duval and Tweedie’s trim-and-fill algorithm. We conducted all analyses in the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Software package. The systematic review and meta-analysis followed PRISMA 2020 reporting guidelines [ 30 ].

Characteristics of studies

Our database searches identified 3,935 records and our manual searches 38 records, of which 1,910 were duplicates. We screened the titles and abstracts of 2,063 studies, deeming 1,908 irrelevant. We screened the full texts of 155 studies, with Fig.  1 detailing reasons for exclusions. In the end, we included 14 studies. When screening abstracts and titles, Cohen’s kappa ranged from κ  = 0.46 to κ  = 1 across reviewer pairs; when screening full texts, it ranged from κ  = 0.71 to κ  = 0.81 across pairs.

figure 1

PRISMA flow diagram

Nine of the 14 included studies were NRSIs [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 ] and the rest RCTs [ 12 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 ]. All nine NRSIs were uncontrolled trials. Coding was generally straightforward, though some data points such as percentage of females in the sample were sometimes missing in manuscripts. Together, studies included 286 participants with individual study sample sizes ranging from 4 to 42 participants ( x̄  = 20.43, s  = 11.58, x̃  = 20). Attrition rates ranged from 0 to 94% ( x̄  = 21.39%, s  = 21.56%, x̃  = 16.50%). Based on guidance, we classified 86% of these studies as feasibility studies, since they included fewer than 25 participants in total, or fewer than 25 participants per group [ 44 ].

Figure A, Figure B, and Figure C provide a tabular summary of included studies, but we also provide below a prose summary. Participants’ age ranged from 19 to 100 years ( x̄  = 75.45, s  = 12.89, x̃  = 77.55). Only two studies reported inclusion of participants younger than 50 years [ 12 , 32 ]. A third study is likely to have included them [ 36 ]. Nevertheless, none of the three studies focused on participants younger than 50 years exclusively, and hence studies only included young participants along with older ones. Remaining studies explicitly reported excluding those younger than 50 [ 31 , 33 , 35 , 37 , 38 , 40 , 41 , 43 ] or their sampling frames implied this [ 34 , 39 , 45 ]. Where reported, the percentages of both females and non-White participants were high in most studies.

Nine studies used social robotic relational agents [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 39 , 41 , 43 , 45 ] and five app-based relational agents [ 12 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 40 ]. The social robotic agents included Sony’s AIBO [ 32 , 34 , 41 ], PARO developed by ISRI [ 31 , 33 , 45 ], NAO developed by Aldebaran Robotics [ 35 ], Pepper developed by SoftBank Robotics [ 43 ], and either a robotic cat or dog developed by Joy for All [ 39 ]. The app-based agents included Laura developed by MIT [ 40 ], Elena + developed by ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen [ 36 ], Amazon’s Alexa [ 37 ], Bella by Soul Machines [ 46 ], and PACO developed by a consortium of Dutch organisations [ 38 ]. The relational behaviours of these agents varied. AIBO is a robotic puppy, PARO a robotic seal, and together with the robotic pets by Joy for All, these agents simulated live pet behaviour (e.g., the agents expressed emotions via facial cues and body language such as wagging of tails, played with users, learned their own names, and recognised users via their facial recognition capabilities) [ 32 ]. The agents responded to touch (e.g., petting) and adapted behaviour through reinforcement learning [ 33 ]. NAO and Pepper were humanoid robots that simulated human behaviours, customs, and speech. NAO, for example, would bow to users, extend its palm for a handshake, ask if participants would want to hear a poem, and only proceed once receiving a reply [ 35 ]. All app-based relational agents simulated humans. All were embodied, i.e., had a visual form, except for Amazon’s Alexa [ 37 ]. App-based agents primarily or to a significant degree used speech for relational behaviour. Laura, for example, expressed empathy (“I am sorry to hear that”), asked follow-up questions (“How tired are you feeling?”), and attempted to get to know users (“So, are you from the East Coast originally?”) [ 40 ]. Whilst in previous research several agents used “wizard-of-Oz methodologies”, i.e., agents controlled by humans pretending to be autonomous, all agents in this review were autonomous [ 47 ].

Most relational agents in our review acted as direct companions and did not seek to mitigate loneliness via other modalities [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 37 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 43 , 45 ], although exceptions existed. Elena + sought to remove cognitive biases and improve social skills [ 36 ]. PACO sought to create opportunities for socialising [ 38 ]. Bella sought to enhance social skills, increase social support, and increase opportunities for socialising [ 12 ].

Studies generally did not mention behavioural theories or behavioural change techniques (BCTs) that underpinned intervention design, although exceptions existed. One study based its intervention on Self-Determination Theory [ 38 ] and another study based its intervention on the COM-B model and the Theory of Planned Behaviour [ 36 ]. Nevertheless, these studies provided little detail on how exactly theories informed design. We classified BCTs according to the BCTTv1 by Michie et al., using below in quotation marks the labels of the original authors [ 48 ]. Only one study confirmed the full range of BCTs it used, and two other studies provided examples of BCTs. One study used six BCTs: “credible source”, “review behaviour goals”, “goal setting”, “instruction on how to perform a behaviour”, “social comparison”, and “social support” [ 38 ]. Another study mentioned seven BCTs: “information about emotional consequences”, “action planning”, “behavioural contract”, “instruction on how to perform a behaviour”, “review behaviour goals”, “reducing exposure to cues for the behaviour”, and “reduce negative emotions” [ 12 ]. A third study mentioned five BCTs: “information about emotional consequences”, “goal setting”, “instruction on how to perform a behaviour”, “reducing exposure to cues for the behaviour”, and “reduce negative emotions” [ 36 ].

All RCTs were at high risk of bias due to potential deviations from the intended interventions [ 40 , 41 , 43 , 45 ] except for one [ 12 ]. All NRSIs were at high risk due to confounds and potential biases in measurements [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 ]. Figures  2 and 3 illustrate these.

figure 2

RCT risk of bias domains

figure 3

NRSI risk of bias domains

Meta-analysis

The pooled estimate of Hedge’s g was -0.552 ( Z  = -3.833; 95% CI, -0.834 to -0.270; P  < 0.001), indicating on average a moderate effect of relational agents on loneliness reduction. This is shown in Fig.  4 . Using a Bonferroni-corrected α Bonferroni  = 0.0125, there was evidence to reject the null hypothesis. Using the Knapp-Hartung adjustment, there was also evidence to reject the null hypothesis ( t  = -3.66; 95% Knapp-Hartung CI, -0.877 to -0.226; P  = 0.003).

figure 4

Main analysis forest plot

Heterogeneity measures indicated that, as anticipated, the true effect of relational agents varied ( Q  = 45.073; I 2  = 71%; τ 2  = 0.176; τ  = 0.420). Assuming a Gaussian distribution, the 95% prediction interval was estimated to range from -1.519 to 0.415, as seen in Fig.  5 .

figure 5

Main analysis prediction interval

Funnel plots as well as Egger’s test ( b  = -2.81; t  = 3.5; P  = 0.004) suggested that a small study effect may exist. Figure  6 illustrates this. The small study effect could have been due to effect sizes being larger in smaller studies or due to publication bias. Assuming a severe publication bias, the trim-and-fill algorithm resulted in an adjusted estimate of g  = -0.198 (95% CI, -0.505 to 0.109), which attenuated the original estimate by roughly 64%.

figure 6

Funnel plot using standard error

Five studies were available for the RCT-only model. Hedge’s g was -0.437 ( Z  = -2.495; 95% CI, -0.781 to -0.094; P  = 0.013), which was 21% less than the estimate of the main model. The results were significant at a traditional α  = 0.05 but not at the α Bonferroni . The Knapp-Hartung adjusted results were not significant ( t  = -2.49; 95% Knapp-Hartung CI, -0.924 to 0.049).

Six studies were available for the app-based relational agent model. The pooled estimate of Hedge’s g was -0.286 ( Z  = -1.611; 95% CI, -0.553 to -0.020; P  = 0.035), which was significant at a traditional α but not α Bonferroni . The Knapp-Hartung adjustment resulted in non-significant results ( t  = -2.11; 95% Knapp-Hartung CI, -0.636 to 0.063). Eight studies were available for the social robotic relational agent model. The pooled estimate of Hedge’s g was -0.774, which was significant at α Bonferroni ( Z  = -2.909; 95% CI, -1.296 to -0.252; P  = 0.004). Using a Knapp-Hartung adjustment, results were significant at a traditional α but not at α Bonferroni ( t  = -2.91; 95% Knapp-Hartung CI, -1.403, -0.145, P  = 0.023).

Our review is the first to provide quantitative evidence for the efficacy of relational agents to reduce loneliness in participants aged 19 to 100 years. Our results are promising, and although the effect size of g  = -0.552 is likely somewhat inflated due to publication bias, it is probably less inflated than our trim-and-fill algorithm suggested. This is because the trim-and-fill algorithm assumed that several studies were suppressed in which relational agent interventions exacerbated loneliness. This, however, is unlikely. Failed loneliness interventions tend to have no effect on loneliness, not exacerbate it [ 10 ]. Our review could have used different algorithms to adjust for publication bias, and alternatives would probably have yielded different adjustments. Recently, for example, researchers have applied four different algorithms to a high-profile meta-analysis, resulting in a mix of significant and non-significant adjustments [ 49 , 50 , 51 ]. Nevertheless, no algorithm for publication bias would provide the “correct” effect size [ 52 ]. Instead, algorithms provide a sensitivity analysis assuming certain parameters, and sometimes these parameters lead to flawed results, e.g., the trim-and-fill algorithm overcorrects under heterogeneity, which was the very assumption of our analysis [ 53 ]. Ultimately, the most likely interpretation is that the true average effect size of relational agents was small to moderate. Table 1 provides a summary of our results.

We believe the above results have two important implications for the current loneliness literature. First, the literature is in search for novel and effective interventions that are scalable. The NHS is already facing resource constraints, these constraints are expected to exacerbate, and the NHS has consequently called for the increased adoption of AI to ease its burden [ 54 ]. Relational agents can be highly scalable, once some groundwork has been completed, and a possible follow-up from our results is a national or regional pilot. Such a pilot, of course, would entail the resolution of complex issues (e.g., digital literacy, access to technology, and privacy). Researchers, for example, will need to determine who will have access to user data and in what form, and such choices can fundamentally impact the success of a pilot.

The second implication of our results is that relational agents may act as a standalone intervention, but they are likely to be more useful in multi-component interventions that are tailored to individual needs. In the UK, the NHS’s current main strategy for loneliness is “social prescribing”, an outsourcing approach in which staff refer individuals to community schemes such as lifestyle interventions (e.g., physical exercise) or social activity interventions (e.g., volunteering) [ 7 , 55 ]. While there are alternative intervention approaches for loneliness, social prescribing is viewed by individuals and service providers as helpful [ 7 ] and cost-effective [ 56 , 57 ]. Social prescribing is, in essence, a sign-posting intervention, and it could sign-post, among other things, to relational agents. This could be valuable because there is currently a notion that interventions improve lives, but that people do not recover from loneliness [ 58 ]. Potentially, this may be because not all loneliness is the same. Two people may feel lonely for two different reasons, and these people may then require different sets of solutions [ 58 ]. Relational agents can extend the set of available solutions, and agents can complement existing human-centred interventions, rather than replace them.

Relational agents, thus, could help in the fight against loneliness. What is more, their full potential has not yet been realised. On the one hand, this is due to the absence of state-of-the-art knowledge integration. For example, the use of behavioural theories and BCTs can enhance intervention efficacy, yet studies in our sample generally did not discuss such theories and BCTs. Similarly, interventions can modify loneliness via multiple modalities. Studies in our review, however, generally used only one of these modalities, and the others—such as the debiasing of social cognition that has shown particular promise [ 56 ]—are yet to be integrated into relational agent design [ 14 ]. On the other hand, relational agents have not yet realised their full potential due to the nascency of AI. Increasingly, LLMs are powering relational agents. These models allow relational agents to produce open-ended, original, and highly tailored conversation, and although much of the conversation of relational agents has already become indistinguishable from human conversation [ 59 ], research on LLMs is burgeoning, and the race is on between organisations such as OpenAI and Google to develop the next generation of LLMs [ 60 ].

Limitations

Our review faced common limitations such as the exclusion of non-English sources and the quality of underlying primary studies, but a particular limitation of our review were the mixed results of the sensitivity and sub-group analyses. There are three potential explanations for this. First, sample sizes in these sub-group analyses were less than 10, and analyses with fewer than 10 studies tend to lack power [ 52 ]. At the same time, it is likely that underlying studies themselves lacked power due to small sample sizes [ 61 ]. Indeed, Appendix C demonstrates that power was likely well below the recommended level of 80% in our sub-group analyses, while Appendix D presents an additional sensitivity analysis indicating that further primary studies would have meaningfully reduced p levels [ 52 ]. Second, our review may have tested for results too conservatively. The Bonferroni correction, as applied in this review, results in Type 2 error rates of roughly 33%, which some have referred to as unacceptably high [ 62 ]. Finally, our review conducted two-tailed significance tests. This is usually anodyne—since interventions can both improve and exacerbate outcomes. Nevertheless, in cases where interventions are unlikely to exacerbate outcomes, one-tailed tests may be warranted [ 52 ]. This, as discussed, is likely to be the case with loneliness and relational agents. Had we conducted one-tailed tests, this would have entailed the halving of p values, which would have made some results statistically significant. Third, execution may have been a problem. Primary studies may not have sufficiently exposed participants to relational agents, or participants may not have interacted with relational agents, or relational agents may not have been correctly designed. Chen et al. [ 63 ], for example, found no significant difference between control and experimental groups at a four-week interval [ 63 ]. They did, however, find a significant difference at an eight-week interval. In our review, the mean time between pre-test and final post-test was 5.92 weeks.

Future research

We lack an understanding of relational agents in several areas, and we suggest that future research could focus on three. First, research on relational agents and loneliness in young people is scarce. Among some youth groups loneliness rates are higher than those of the elderly, and these rates of youth loneliness are increasing [ 64 ]. At the same time, smartphone ownership is high among the young [ 64 ]. Young people therefore are pertinent and amenable for the study of loneliness. Second, the efficacy of relational agents will depend on a variety of population and design factors. On the population side, we suspect that factors such as age, education, and digital literacy may impact efficacy. On the design side, we suspect that a hierarchy of features exists, e.g., certain design features will deliver more bang for your buck, although it is less clear which [ 65 ]. Third, although general attitudes towards relational agents may be favourable, some are concerned about the introduction of relational agents and similar technologies [ 66 ]. Future research could therefore explore how technology should be harnessed to increase its benefits and reduce unintended consequences. Finally, future research could address the shortcomings of current research. Almost all underlying studies in our review suffered from high risk of bias in one or several domains, sample sizes were small, and follow-up periods were brief. Particularly, there is a need for more high-quality RCTs.

The current study is the first meta-analysis to explore the effects of relational agents on loneliness across all age groups. It is also the first meta-analysis to provide statistically significant evidence for the efficacy of relational agents, which on average had a moderate effect on loneliness reduction. Loneliness has serious physical and mental health consequences for individuals, and the monetary costs to the state and employers are staggering [ 67 , 68 , 69 ]. Unfortunately, current interventions for loneliness can suffer from low engagement and scalability [ 58 ]. Relational agents, on the other hand, are an emerging technology that due to advances in AI and LLMs will increase in sophistication and realism. Although a multi-pronged approach is required, relational agents could play a significant role in alleviating a growing public health concern [ 64 ]. Future work is required that addresses weaknesses of current studies such as risk of bias, small study size, and brief follow-up periods.

Availability of data and materials

As a meta-analysis, this study used data reported in the literature. Appendices and derived data for meta-analytic calculations are available the Open Science Framework here https://osf.io/c6rdk/files/osfstorage . Reader can also write directly to the corresponding author.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank LSE staff for additional feedback, including Alina Velias, Andra Fry, Jessica Kong, and Georgia Nichols. We thank Nina Shahrizad for proofreading. We would also like to thank all primary authors who made this systematic review and meta-analysis possible.  After our analysis was completed, a final version of one of our included studies [ 36 ] was published, which was a preprint. This final version is available here [ 70 ].

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Sia Sha, Haoran Shi, Dario Krpan & Matteo Galizzi

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Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

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SS drafted the first version of the protocol and search strategy. All other authors provided feedback and approved the final protocol. SS, KL, and HS screened the titles and abstracts and full texts of citations, and these authors also extracted data from included studies. SS, KL, HS, and DK conducted risk of bias assessment. SS completed the data analysis. SS, KL, and PQ co-wrote the first version of the final manuscript. All authors provided feedback and approved the final manuscript. All authors had access to the underlying data. SS, KL, and HS verified the data.

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Correspondence to Sia Sha .

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Sha, S., Loveys, K., Qualter, P. et al. Efficacy of relational agents for loneliness across age groups: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 24 , 1802 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-024-19153-x

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-024-19153-x

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The MMRRC at UNC recently published a video primer on how to interpret a MiniMUGA Sample Report

April 5, 2024

By Matt Blanchard

The MMRRC at UNC recently created a video primer on how to interpret a MiniMUGA Sample Report. This is the first in a planned series of videos that will show how the MMRRC uses MiniMUGA genotyping for Genetic Quality Control.

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