How to Use Tenses within Scientific Writing
Written by: Chloe Collier
One’s tense will vary depending on what one is trying to convey within their paper or section of their paper. For example, the tense may change between the methods section and the discussion section.
Abstract --> Past tense
- The abstract is usually in the past tense due to it showing what has already been studied.
Example: “This study was conducted at the Iyarina Field School, and within the indigenous Waorani community within Yasuni National Park region.”
Introduction --> Present tense
- Example: “ Clidemia heterophylla and Piperaceae musteum are both plants with ant domata, meaning that there is an ant mutualism which protects them from a higher level of herbivory.”
Methods --> Past tense
- In the methods section one would use past tense due to what they have done was in the past.
- It has been debated whether one should use active or passive voice. The scientific journal Nature states that one should use active voice as to convey the concepts more directly.
- Example: “In the geographic areas selected for the study, ten random focal plants were selected as points for the study.”
Results --> Past tense
- Example: “We observed that there was no significant statistical difference in herbivory on Piperaceae between the two locations, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador (01° 10’ 11, 13”S and 77° 10’ 01. 47 NW) and Iyarina Field School, Ecuador (01° 02’ 35.2” S and 77° 43’ 02. 45” W), with the one exception being that there was found to be a statistical significance in the number count within a one-meter radius of Piperaceae musteum (Piperaceae).”
Discussion --> Present tense and past tense
- Example: “Symbiotic ant mutualistic relationships within species will defend their host plant since the plant provides them with food. In the case of Melastomataceae, they have swellings at the base of their petioles that house the ants and aid to protect them from herbivores.”
- One would use past tense to summarize one’s results
- Example: “In the future to further this experiment, we would expand this project and expand our sample size in order to have a more solid base for our findings.”
Dissertations & projects: Tenses
- Research questions
- The process of reviewing
- Project management
- Literature-based projects
On this page:
“You will use a range of tenses depending on what you are writing about . ” Elizabeth M Fisher, Richard C Thompson, and Daniel Holtom, Enjoy Writing Your Science Thesis Or Dissertation!
Tenses can be tricky to master. Even well respected journals differ in the guidance they give their authors for their use. However, their are some general conventions about what tenses are used in different parts of the report/dissertation. This page gives some advice on standard practice.
What tenses will you use?
There are exceptions however, most notably in the literature review where you will use a mixture of past , present and present perfect tenses (don't worry, that is explained below), when discussing the implications of your findings when the present tense is appropriate and in the recommendations where you are likely to use the future tense.
The tenses used as standard practice in each of these sections of your report are given and explained below.
In your abstract
You have some leeway with tense use in your abstract and guidance does vary which can sometimes be confusing. We recommend the following:
Describing the current situation and reason for your study
Mostly use the present tense, i.e. "This is the current state of affairs and this is why this study is needed."
Occasionally, you may find the need to use something called the present perfect tense when you are describing things that happened in the past but are still relevant. The present perfect tense uses have/has and then the past participle of the verb i.e. Previous research on this topic has focused on...
Describing the aims of your study
Here you have a choice. It is perfectly acceptable to use either the present or past tense, i.e. "This study aims to..." or "This study aimed to..."
Describing your methodology
Use the past tense to describe what you did, i.e. "A qualitative approach was used." "A survey was undertaken to ...". "The blood sample was analysed by..."
Describing your findings
Use the past tense to describe what you found as it is specific to your study, i.e. "The results showed that...", "The analysis indicated that..."
Suggesting the implications of your study
Use the present tense as even though your study took place in the past, your implications remain relevant in the present, i.e. Results revealed x which indicates that..."
An example abstract with reasoning for the tenses chosen can be found at the bottom of this excellent blog post:
Using the Present Tense and Past Tense When Writing an Abstract
In your methodology
The methodology is one of the easiest sections when it comes to tenses as you are explaining to your reader what you did. This is therefore almost exclusively written in the past tense.
Blood specimens were frozen at -80 o C.
A survey was designed using the Jisc Surveys tool.
Participants were purposefully selected.
The following search strategy was used to search the literature:
Very occasionally you may use the present tense if you are justifying a decision you have taken (as the justification is still valid, not just at the time you made the decision). For example:
Purposeful sampling was used to ensure that a range of views were included. This sampling method maximises efficiency and validity as it identifies information-rich cases and ... (Morse & Niehaus, 2009).
In your discussion/conclusion
This will primarily be written in the present tense as you are generally discussing or making conclusions about the relevance of your findings at the present time. So you may write:
The findings of this research suggest that.../are potentially important because.../could open a new avenue for further research...
There will also be times when you use the past tense , especially when referring to part of your own research or previous published research research - but this is usually followed by something in the present tense to indicate the current relevance or the future tense to indicate possible future directions:
Analysis of the survey results found most respondents were not concerned with the processes, just the outcome. This suggests that managers should focus on...
These findings mirrored those of Cheung (2020), who also found that ESL pupils failed to understand some basic yet fundamental instructions. Addressing this will help ensure...
In your introduction
The introduction generally introduces what is in the rest of your document as is therefore describing the present situation and so uses the present tense :
Chapter 3 describes the research methodology.
Depending on your discipline, your introduction may also review the literature so please also see that section below.
In your literature review
The findings of some literature may only be applicable in the specific circumstances that the research was undertaken and so need grounding to that study. Conversely, the findings of other literature may now be accepted as established knowledge. Also, you may consider the findings of older literature to be still relevant and relatively recent literature be already superseded. The tenses you write in will help to indicate a lot of this to the reader. In other words, you will use a mix of tenses in your review depending on what you are implying.
Findings only applicable in the specific circumstances
Use the past tense . For example:
In an early study, Sharkey et al. (1991) found that isoprene emissions were doubled in leaves on sunnier sides of oak and aspen trees.
Using the past tense indicates that you are not implying that isoprene emissions are always doubled on the sunnier side of the trees, just that is what was found in the Sharkey et al. study.
Findings that are still relevant or now established knowledge
Mostly use the present tense , unless the study is not recent and the authors are the subject of the sentence (which you should use very sparingly in a literature review) when you may need to use a mixture of the past and present. For example:
A narrowing of what 'graduateness' represents damages students’ abilities to thrive as they move through what will almost certainly be complex career pathways (Holmes, 2001).
Holmes (2001) argued strongly that a narrowing of what 'graduateness' represents damages students’ abilities to thrive as they move through what will almost certainly be complex career pathways
Both of these imply that you think this is still the case (although it is perhaps more strongly implied in the first example). You may also want to use some academic caution too - such as writing 'may damage' rather than the more definite 'damages'.
Presenting your results
As with your methodology, your results section should be written in the past tense . This indicates that you are accepting that the results are specific to your research. Whilst they may have current implications, that part will not be considered until your discussion/conclusions section(s).
Four main themes were identified from the interview data.
There was a significant change in oxygen levels.
Like with the methodology, you will occasionally switch to present tense to write things like "Table 3.4 shows that ..." but generally, stick to the past tense.
In your recommendations
Not everyone will need to include recommendations and some may have them as part of the conclusions chapter. Recommendations are written in a mixture of the present tense and future tense :
It is recommended that ward layout is adapted, where possible, to provide low-sensory bays for patients with autism. These will still be useable by all patients but...
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- Which Verb Tenses Should I Use in a Research Paper? Blog from WordVice
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To construct sentences that reflect your ideas, focus these sentences appropriately. Express one idea per sentence. Use your current topic — that is, what you are writing about — as the grammatical subject of your sentence (see Verbs: Choosing between active and passive voice ). When writing a complex sentence (a sentence that includes several clauses), place the main idea in the main clause rather than a subordinate clause. In particular, focus on the phenomenon at hand, not on the fact that you observed it.
Constructing your sentences logically is a good start, but it may not be enough. To ensure they are readable, make sure your sentences do not tax readers' short-term memory by obliging these readers to remember long pieces of text before knowing what to do with them. In other words, keep together what goes together. Then, work on conciseness: See whether you can replace long phrases with shorter ones or eliminate words without loss of clarity or accuracy.
The following screens cover the drafting process in more detail. Specifically, they discuss how to use verbs effectively and how to take care of your text's mechanics.
Shutterstock. Much of the strength of a clause comes from its verb. Therefore, to express your ideas accurately, choose an appropriate verb and use it well. In particular, use it in the right tense, choose carefully between active and passive voice, and avoid dangling verb forms.
Verbs are for describing actions, states, or occurrences. To give a clause its full strength and keep it short, do not bury the action, state, or occurrence in a noun (typically combined with a weak verb), as in "The catalyst produced a significant increase in conversion rate." Instead write, "The catalyst increased the conversion rate significantly." The examples below show how an action, state, or occurrence can be moved from a noun back to a verb.
Using the right tense
In your scientific paper, use verb tenses (past, present, and future) exactly as you would in ordinary writing. Use the past tense to report what happened in the past: what you did, what someone reported, what happened in an experiment, and so on. Use the present tense to express general truths, such as conclusions (drawn by you or by others) and atemporal facts (including information about what the paper does or covers). Reserve the future tense for perspectives: what you will do in the coming months or years. Typically, most of your sentences will be in the past tense, some will be in the present tense, and very few, if any, will be in the future tense.
Work done We collected blood samples from . . . Groves et al. determined the growth rate of . . . Consequently, astronomers decided to rename . . . Work reported Jankowsky reported a similar growth rate . . . In 2009, Chu published an alternative method to . . . Irarrázaval observed the opposite behavior in . . . Observations The mice in Group A developed , on average, twice as much . . . The number of defects increased sharply . . . The conversion rate was close to 95% . . .
General truths Microbes in the human gut have a profound influence on . . . The Reynolds number provides a measure of . . . Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease . . . Atemporal facts This paper presents the results of . . . Section 3.1 explains the difference between . . . Behbood's 1969 paper provides a framework for . . .
Perspectives In a follow-up experiment, we will study the role of . . . The influence of temperature will be the object of future research . . .
Note the difference in scope between a statement in the past tense and the same statement in the present tense: "The temperature increased linearly over time" refers to a specific experiment, whereas "The temperature increases linearly over time" generalizes the experimental observation, suggesting that the temperature always increases linearly over time in such circumstances.
In complex sentences, you may have to combine two different tenses — for example, "In 1905, Albert Einstein postulated that the speed of light is constant . . . . " In this sentence, postulated refers to something that happened in the past (in 1905) and is therefore in the past tense, whereas is expresses a general truth and is in the present tense.
Choosing between active and passive voice
In English, verbs can express an action in one of two voices. The active voice focuses on the agent: "John measured the temperature." (Here, the agent — John — is the grammatical subject of the sentence.) In contrast, the passive voice focuses on the object that is acted upon: "The temperature was measured by John." (Here, the temperature, not John, is the grammatical subject of the sentence.)
To choose between active and passive voice, consider above all what you are discussing (your topic) and place it in the subject position. For example, should you write "The preprocessor sorts the two arrays" or "The two arrays are sorted by the preprocessor"? If you are discussing the preprocessor, the first sentence is the better option. In contrast, if you are discussing the arrays, the second sentence is better. If you are unsure what you are discussing, consider the surrounding sentences: Are they about the preprocessor or the two arrays?
The desire to be objective in scientific writing has led to an overuse of the passive voice, often accompanied by the exclusion of agents: "The temperature was measured " (with the verb at the end of the sentence). Admittedly, the agent is often irrelevant: No matter who measured the temperature, we would expect its value to be the same. However, a systematic preference for the passive voice is by no means optimal, for at least two reasons.
For one, sentences written in the passive voice are often less interesting or more difficult to read than those written in the active voice. A verb in the active voice does not require a person as the agent; an inanimate object is often appropriate. For example, the rather uninteresting sentence "The temperature was measured . . . " may be replaced by the more interesting "The measured temperature of 253°C suggests a secondary reaction in . . . ." In the second sentence, the subject is still temperature (so the focus remains the same), but the verb suggests is in the active voice. Similarly, the hard-to-read sentence "In this section, a discussion of the influence of the recirculating-water temperature on the conversion rate of . . . is presented " (long subject, verb at the end) can be turned into "This section discusses the influence of . . . . " The subject is now section , which is what this sentence is really about, yet the focus on the discussion has been maintained through the active-voice verb discusses .
As a second argument against a systematic preference for the passive voice, readers sometimes need people to be mentioned. A sentence such as "The temperature is believed to be the cause for . . . " is ambiguous. Readers will want to know who believes this — the authors of the paper, or the scientific community as a whole? To clarify the sentence, use the active voice and set the appropriate people as the subject, in either the third or the first person, as in the examples below.
Biologists believe the temperature to be . . . Keustermans et al. (1997) believe the temperature to be . . . The authors believe the temperature to be . . . We believe the temperature to be . . .
Avoiding dangling verb forms
A verb form needs a subject, either expressed or implied. When the verb is in a non-finite form, such as an infinitive ( to do ) or a participle ( doing ), its subject is implied to be the subject of the clause, or sometimes the closest noun phrase. In such cases, construct your sentences carefully to avoid suggesting nonsense. Consider the following two examples.
To dissect its brain, the affected fly was mounted on a . . . After aging for 72 hours at 50°C, we observed a shift in . . .
Here, the first sentence implies that the affected fly dissected its own brain, and the second implies that the authors of the paper needed to age for 72 hours at 50°C in order to observe the shift. To restore the intended meaning while keeping the infinitive to dissect or the participle aging , change the subject of each sentence as appropriate:
To dissect its brain, we mounted the affected fly on a . . . After aging for 72 hours at 50°C, the samples exhibited a shift in . . .
Alternatively, you can change or remove the infinitive or participle to restore the intended meaning:
To have its brain dissected , the affected fly was mounted on a . . . After the samples aged for 72 hours at 50°C, we observed a shift in . . .
In communication, every detail counts. Although your focus should be on conveying your message through an appropriate structure at all levels, you should also save some time to attend to the more mechanical aspects of writing in English, such as using abbreviations, writing numbers, capitalizing words, using hyphens when needed, and punctuating your text correctly.
Beware of overusing abbreviations, especially acronyms — such as GNP for gold nanoparticles . Abbreviations help keep a text concise, but they can also render it cryptic. Many acronyms also have several possible extensions ( GNP also stands for gross national product ).
Write acronyms (and only acronyms) in all uppercase ( GNP , not gnp ).
Introduce acronyms systematically the first time they are used in a document. First write the full expression, then provide the acronym in parentheses. In the full expression, and unless the journal to which you submit your paper uses a different convention, capitalize the letters that form the acronym: "we prepared Gold NanoParticles (GNP) by . . . " These capitals help readers quickly recognize what the acronym designates.
- Do not use capitals in the full expression when you are not introducing an acronym: "we prepared gold nanoparticles by… "
- As a more general rule, use first what readers know or can understand best, then put in parentheses what may be new to them. If the acronym is better known than the full expression, as may be the case for techniques such as SEM or projects such as FALCON, consider placing the acronym first: "The FALCON (Fission-Activated Laser Concept) program at…"
- In the rare case that an acronym is commonly known, you might not need to introduce it. One example is DNA in the life sciences. When in doubt, however, introduce the acronym.
In papers, consider the abstract as a stand-alone document. Therefore, if you use an acronym in both the abstract and the corresponding full paper, introduce that acronym twice: the first time you use it in the abstract and the first time you use it in the full paper. However, if you find that you use an acronym only once or twice after introducing it in your abstract, the benefit of it is limited — consider avoiding the acronym and using the full expression each time (unless you think some readers know the acronym better than the full expression).
In general, write single-digit numbers (zero to nine) in words, as in three hours , and multidigit numbers (10 and above) in numerals, as in 24 hours . This rule has many exceptions, but most of them are reasonably intuitive, as shown hereafter.
Use numerals for numbers from zero to nine
- when using them with abbreviated units ( 3 mV );
- in dates and times ( 3 October , 3 pm );
- to identify figures and other items ( Figure 3 );
- for consistency when these numbers are mixed with larger numbers ( series of 3, 7, and 24 experiments ).
Use words for numbers above 10 if these numbers come at the beginning of a sentence or heading ("Two thousand eight was a challenging year for . . . "). As an alternative, rephrase the sentence to avoid this issue altogether ("The year 2008 was challenging for . . . " ) .
Capitals are often overused. In English, use initial capitals
- at beginnings: the start of a sentence, of a heading, etc.;
- for proper nouns, including nouns describing groups (compare physics and the Physics Department );
- for items identified by their number (compare in the next figure and in Figure 2 ), unless the journal to which you submit your paper uses a different convention;
- for specific words: names of days ( Monday ) and months ( April ), adjectives of nationality ( Algerian ), etc.
In contrast, do not use initial capitals for common nouns: Resist the temptation to glorify a concept, technique, or compound with capitals. For example, write finite-element method (not Finite-Element Method ), mass spectrometry (not Mass Spectrometry ), carbon dioxide (not Carbon Dioxide ), and so on, unless you are introducing an acronym (see Mechanics: Using abbreviations ).
Punctuation has many rules in English; here are three that are often a challenge for non-native speakers.
As a rule, insert a comma between the subject of the main clause and whatever comes in front of it, no matter how short, as in "Surprisingly, the temperature did not increase." This comma is not always required, but it often helps and never hurts the meaning of a sentence, so it is good practice.
In series of three or more items, separate items with commas ( red, white, and blue ; yesterday, today, or tomorrow ). Do not use a comma for a series of two items ( black and white ).
In displayed lists, use the same punctuation as you would in normal text (but consider dropping the and ).
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Mastering the use of tenses in your research paper
Many students and early career researchers find themselves grappling with various aspects of academic writing. One critical aspect is ensuring correct grammar, most importantly the appropriate use of tenses in your research paper. In this article, we explain the basics of using tenses in scientific writing and list best practices for different sections of your academic manuscript. By understanding the role of tenses in your research paper and applying them accurately, you can enhance the clarity and credibility of our research work.
Understanding the basics: Using tenses in research papers
Tenses in scientific writing serve as valuable tools to indicate the time frame in which certain actions or ideas take place. The simple past tense and simple present tense are the most used tenses in research papers. They are supplemented by the present perfect, past perfect, and occasionally the future tense. Consistency and precision are crucial in academic writing, so let’s into the basics of tenses in your research paper and discuss the recommended tenses for each section.
The simple past tense: Literature review, methods
Use this tense in your research paper when talking of or describing specific actions or events that occurred in the past; they should not be linked to the present in the same sentence. The simple past tense is used predominantly in the literature review to talk about existing research on the topic, for example, “Watson and Crick published their landmark paper on the structure of DNA in 1953.” It is also typically used in the methods section to describe the methods used in previous studies; what you did and how you did it. For example, “We selected five samples at random.” This tense in scientific writing can also be used to state facts that were once believed to be true but have since been invalidated, for example, “Bats were thought to be blind.”
The past perfect tense: Methods, conclusion
Best used to describe two related events that occurred at different times in the past, this tense is typically used in the methods section, especially when describing earlier stages of the experimental procedure. For example, “By the time the temperature and humidity reached optimal levels, the plants had already begun to revive,” or “Respondents who had been grouped into different control groups were given a placebo instead of the new formulation.” Use the past perfect tense in your research paper to describe research or experiments that may have already been completed at the time of writing the manuscript and in the conclusion to summarize the research findings.
The simple present tense: Introduction, results, tables and figures
A researcher or academic writer can use simple present tense in the introduction when stating the objectives of the study, to interpret the results, discuss the significance of the findings or to present conclusions. Use the simple present tense in your research papers when referring to results presented in tables and figures in your writing. For example, “Fig.3 shows that…”. The present tense an also be used to talk about the research paper as a whole, for example, “Section 4.1 discusses…”.
This tense in scientific writing is also used to state what is generally true and what is unlikely to change. For example, “The Earth revolves around the sun” or “Human babies generally start speaking when they are 2 years old.” This tense works well in the results section , which indicates what one believes to be true and relevant to the present research. For example, “Robinson maintains that soaking seeds in strong acid helps in breaking seed dormancy.”
The present perfect tense: Introduction, literature review
The present perfect tense in scientific writing is used to talk about a past event that is linked to the present or to talk about trends or events that have occurred recently. One may need to use this tense in the introduction while providing a background to the study. For example, “The demand for more sophisticated 5G devices has increased significantly over the past few years.” Additionally, the present perfect tense is also used frequently in the literature review sections while referring to previous research that is fairly recent. For example, “Recent experiments on the samples collected have revealed high levels of saline.”
The future tense: Discussion, conclusions
Use the future tense in your research paper when describing events that are expected to occur in the future; this is not very common in academic writing. Typically, its use is limited to the discussion section toward the end, when one needs to make recommendations or indicate a future course of action based on the research results. It is usually recommended that parts of the conclusion section be written in the future tense. For example, “These research findings will open up new possibilities for the effective use of Epsom salt in agriculture.”
Understanding and implementing the appropriate use of tenses in different sections of your research paper is essential for effective communication of your ideas. However, remember that the guidelines provided above are not hard and fast rules. That being said, proofread your work carefully and avoid mixing up tenses in a single sentence or paragraph or it could impact readability. By mastering the use of tenses in your research paper, you can ensure clarity, consistency, and accuracy and elevate the quality of your academic writing.
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Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
Why Using the Correct Verb Tense is Important
When writing an academic paper, writers should follow the accepted grammar and style conventions: not only to abide by the institutional and domain standards, but to communicate clearly to readers what was studied, when it took place, and from what perspective you are discussing your research (and that of others) in your paper. One crucial writing element that you must consider when composing your paper is verb tense . Which tense you use will determine the flow and coherency of your paper.
You might have found yourself thinking along these lines: “Everything in this study has already been completed, so shouldn’t I simply write everything in the simple past tense?”
The answer is no–at least not in a strict sense. The verb tense you use for a given sentence or phrase depends on your position as the author to the material you are discussing. As the author, you look at each element mentioned in your text from a distance in terms of your role: as a participant, critic, or messenger, among others. You must also take into account the chronological reasons for choosing between present and past tenses in a given instance.
Knowing which tense to use requires both knowledge of the exact guidelines set out for you in whichever formatting style you are following ( APA , AMA , etc.), as well as some discretion and savvy in choosing the tense that makes the most sense for a given statement in the paper.
While new authors should certainly familiarize themselves with the specific guidelines of the formatting style they are applying, this article will focus on the most common rules of verb tense applied to research papers in journals and at academic institutions, reflecting basic verb usage rules in academic English and encompassing all formatting styles.
Bear in mind that these grammar and verb-tense issues will largely be corrected by any competent proofreading service or research paper editing service , and thus professional revision of all academic documents is recommended before submission to journals or conferences.
Rules for Present, Past, and Perfect Tense Verbs
First, there are three basic verb tenses used in research papers: present (simple present), simple past , and present perfect . We will talk about how research paper sections determine verb tense in a minute, but first, let’s review when each tense should be used in general throughout the paper.
PRESENT TENSE VERBS
The present tense is used to talk about general facts, discuss current meanings and implications, and suggest future applications .
General facts are constant and do not change throughout time (the ultimate evolution of scientific progress notwithstanding). Always use the present when discussing general scientific facts.
Example: “Insulin and glucagon regulates blood glucose levels.”
Implications are closely related to general facts and thus the same rule is applied.
Example: “An elevated glucose level indicates a lack of glucagon hormones in the pancreas.”
Further research is called for or stressed as important through a phrase in the present tense.
Example: “Further studies about glucagon receptors are needed.”
SIMPLE PAST TENSE VERBS
The simple past is generally used to discuss events that have been c ompleted in the past at some distinct time and/or place . It is most often applied to discrete events such as studies, experiments, or observed phenomena.
Example: “Scientists in Wales discovered a new enzyme in the liver.” Example: “Protocol X was used to analyze the data.”
PRESENT PERFECT TENSE VERBS
The present perfect tense (or simply “perfect tense”) is used in research papers to refer to events or actions that have taken place at some unidentified time in the past or have started but are still ongoing or only recently completed . It often establishes a general background in the Introduction section , adding a backdrop on which you can explain the motivations for and purpose of your study.
Note that it is the least frequently used tense in most research papers and should not be over-employed–focus more on detailed actions by using the simple past.
Example: “Many studies have focused on glucagon as an important regulating hormone.” Example: “Until recently, researchers have analyzed this kind of data using Chi-Square Statistics.” Example: “Efforts have been made to understand more about this process.” (passive)
Appropriate Verb Tenses by Research Paper Section
It bears repeating that the “best” tense to use is the one that is recommended (or demanded) by whichever formatting manual you are using. However, there is a high degree of continuity between the common styles, and the following rules for usage in each section will likely apply to your research paper no matter where it will be published.
Abstract verb tenses
In general, use the simple past for the abstract of your manuscript; for a concise introductory sentence, use the present perfect. To establish a need for your study—–for instance, by explaining the current circumstances of the world or the specific area in which you are working—–you can also use the present tense.
Example of introductory sentence (present perfect): “Recent studies of glucagon and insulin production have led to breakthroughs in medicine.” Example of establishing background/circumstances/purpose (present): “Diabetes accounts for a higher number of deaths in the US than previously calculated.”
For general statements and facts, the paper itself, or analysis of findings, use the present tense.
Example of a statement of fact: “In the US, diabetes is the most common endocrine disease.”
If you are stating a fact or finding from an earlier specified time or place, use the simple past:
Example: “In 2016, diabetes was the most common endocrine disease.” Have a look at our more in-depth instruction to writing an abstract for a research paper or at these do’s and don’ts of abstract writing if you need additional input.
Introduction section verb tenses
Use a mixture of present and past tense in the introduction section .
The present tense is applied when discussing something that is always true; the simple past tense is used for earlier research efforts, either your own or those reported by another group.
Example of earlier research efforts (simple past): “This same research team discovered a similar enzyme in their 2012 study.”
If the time or location of the demonstration is unknown or not important, use the present perfect.
Example: “Prior research has indicated a correlation between X and Y.”
For the concluding statements of your introduction, use the simple past or present perfect.
Example of concluding statement (simple past): “The CalTech glucagon studies were inconclusive.” Example of concluding statement (present perfect): “Prior research in this area has been inconclusive.”
Use the past perfect when you talk about something that happened or was found to be the case in the past, but which has since been revised. Example of revised information (past perfect): “The Dublonsky study had determined that X was Y, but a 2012 study found this to be incorrect.”
Literature review verb tenses
Knowing which tenses to use for a literature review (either as part of a research paper or as a stand-alone article) can be a bit tricky, as your usage depends both on which style manual you are using (APA, AMA, MLA , or others) and on how you are discussing the literature.
The simple past is usually applied when using the researcher’s name as the subject of the sentence and discussing the methods or results of that study itself
Example of describing researcher’s actions: “Pearson (1997) discovered a new enzyme using similar methods.”
Other verbs commonly found in this usage context: investigated, compared, studied, analyzed, investigated, found, confirmed, performed, etc.
When giving your opinion on another researcher’s work or bringing up the results, discussion, and conclusions they make in their work, use the present tense.
Example of discussing another’s work: “Ryuku (2005) concludes that there are no additional enzymes present in the liver, a finding this current study directly refutes.” Other verbs commonly found in this usage context: stresses, advocates, remarks, argues, claims, posits. etc.
Methods section verb tenses
The Methods section fairly clearly delineates between sections written in past and those written in present tense.
Use the simple past tense to talk about what you did. (Note that you will generally find the passive voice used when describing the actions of the researchers. This puts more focus on the actions being completed and less on the agents completing the action. Passive voice has become the general standard for research papers in recent decades, but it is okay to mix passive and active voice in order to make your paper clearer and more readable.)
Example of methods of study: “A glucose molecule was added to the mixture to see how the peptide would respond.” Example of methods of analysis: “The results were analyzed using Bayesian inference.”
Use the present tense to refer to or explain diagrams, figures, tables, and charts.
Example: “Table 5 shows the results of this first isolated test.” Example: “The results of this first isolated test are displayed in Table 5.”
Results section verb tenses
The verb tense rules for the Results section are quite similar to those applied to the Methods section.
Use the past tense to discuss actual results.
Example: “The addition of 0.02 μg of glycogen activated receptor cells.” Example: “Receptor cells were activated by the addition of 0.02 μg of glycogen.”
Use the simple present tense to explain diagrams/figures/tables. Again, sentences may use both the active and passive voice.
Discussion section verb tenses
The Discussion section consists of an analysis of the findings and a kind of translation of the meanings and implications of these findings.
Use the simple past to summarize your own findings.
Example of summarizing own findings: “The experiment yielded a number of results associated with the processing of glucose.”
Use the present tense to interpret and discuss the significance of your findings.
Example: “[This study confirms that] synthetic glucagon is two-thirds as effective at decreasing fatty acid synthesis.”
Conclusions and further work
The conclusion and call for further work to be done are either provided in the last sentence or two of your paper or in a separate (but short) section at the end of the main text (check the target journal’s author instructions to be sure you follow the journal style) and summarize or emphasize the new insights your work offers.
Use the present perfect tense to clarify that your statements still hold true at the time of reading.
Example: “Results from this study have led to a deeper understanding about how different peptides interact in this enzyme.”
Use the present tense to apply findings, state implications, and suggest further research.
Example of wider implications: “This study confirms that endogenous glucagon is even more essential in metabolism than previously thought.”
When discussing further research that is either needed or intended to be carried out, the future or present tense (or subjunctive mood) can also be used, in addition to the present tense passive voice.
Example of call for future research: “Further clinical studies are needed/will be needed/must be carried out/should be carried out to isolate the cause of this reaction.”
Follow these general rules about tenses and your paper will be clearer, more chronologically correct, and generally easier to read—meaning the important implications of your study will be more easily understood. You can always go back and edit verb tenses—the more you practice, and the more papers you read, the easier it will be to identify which tense should be used for which kind of information.
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Home Market Research
Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them
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:
- Implemented Methods
- Results based on Analysis
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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Frequently asked questions
What tense should i write my results in.
Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.
Frequently asked questions: Dissertation
Dissertation word counts vary widely across different fields, institutions, and levels of education:
- An undergraduate dissertation is typically 8,000–15,000 words
- A master’s dissertation is typically 12,000–50,000 words
- A PhD thesis is typically book-length: 70,000–100,000 words
However, none of these are strict guidelines – your word count may be lower or higher than the numbers stated here. Always check the guidelines provided by your university to determine how long your own dissertation should be.
A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.
It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.
Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.
All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
A theoretical framework can sometimes be integrated into a literature review chapter , but it can also be included as its own chapter or section in your dissertation . As a rule of thumb, if your research involves dealing with a lot of complex theories, it’s a good idea to include a separate theoretical framework chapter.
A literature review and a theoretical framework are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work, a literature review critically evaluates existing research relating to your topic. You’ll likely need both in your dissertation .
While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on existing research, a conceptual framework allows you to draw your own conclusions, mapping out the variables you may use in your study and the interplay between them.
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
In most styles, the title page is used purely to provide information and doesn’t include any images. Ask your supervisor if you are allowed to include an image on the title page before doing so. If you do decide to include one, make sure to check whether you need permission from the creator of the image.
Include a note directly beneath the image acknowledging where it comes from, beginning with the word “ Note .” (italicized and followed by a period). Include a citation and copyright attribution . Don’t title, number, or label the image as a figure , since it doesn’t appear in your main text.
Definitional terms often fall into the category of common knowledge , meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be cited. This guidance can apply to your thesis or dissertation glossary as well.
However, if you’d prefer to cite your sources , you can follow guidance for citing dictionary entries in MLA or APA style for your glossary.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, an index is a list of the contents of your work organized by page number.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation should include your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date.
Glossaries are not mandatory, but if you use a lot of technical or field-specific terms, it may improve readability to add one to your thesis or dissertation. Your educational institution may also require them, so be sure to check their specific guidelines.
A glossary or “glossary of terms” is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. Your glossary only needs to include terms that your reader may not be familiar with, and is intended to enhance their understanding of your work.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, dictionaries are more general collections of words.
An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Dr. for Doctor. In contrast, an acronym uses the first letter of each word to create a wholly new word, such as UNESCO (an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
As a rule of thumb, write the explanation in full the first time you use an acronym or abbreviation. You can then proceed with the shortened version. However, if the abbreviation is very common (like PC, USA, or DNA), then you can use the abbreviated version from the get-go.
Be sure to add each abbreviation in your list of abbreviations !
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
A list of abbreviations is a list of all the abbreviations that you used in your thesis or dissertation. It should appear at the beginning of your document, with items in alphabetical order, just after your table of contents .
Your list of tables and figures should go directly after your table of contents in your thesis or dissertation.
Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and aren’t particularly common. They specifically aren’t required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables .
If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organized. Your educational institution may require them, so be sure to check their guidelines.
A list of figures and tables compiles all of the figures and tables that you used in your thesis or dissertation and displays them with the page number where they can be found.
The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction .
You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:
- Your interpretations : what do the results tell us?
- The implications : why do the results matter?
- The limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?
The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.
In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.
The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.
In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:
- The type of analysis used
- Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
- Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported
In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:
- Recurring patterns
- Significant or representative individual responses
- Relevant quotations from the data
Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.
To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:
- Apply heading styles throughout the document.
- In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
- Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.
Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.
All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.
The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .
Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.
The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.
The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis , directly after the title page and before the abstract .
Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.
In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.
Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.
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- Research Report: Definition, Types + [Writing Guide]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 » Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types
Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types
Table of Contents
Research Report is a written document that presents the results of a research project or study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, in a clear and objective manner.
The purpose of a research report is to communicate the findings of the research to the intended audience, which could be other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public.
Components of Research Report
Components of Research Report are as follows:
The introduction sets the stage for the research report and provides a brief overview of the research question or problem being investigated. It should include a clear statement of the purpose of the study and its significance or relevance to the field of research. It may also provide background information or a literature review to help contextualize the research.
The literature review provides a critical analysis and synthesis of the existing research and scholarship relevant to the research question or problem. It should identify the gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the literature and show how the current study addresses these issues. The literature review also establishes the theoretical framework or conceptual model that guides the research.
The methodology section describes the research design, methods, and procedures used to collect and analyze data. It should include information on the sample or participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis techniques. The methodology should be clear and detailed enough to allow other researchers to replicate the study.
The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and objective manner. It should provide a detailed description of the data and statistics used to answer the research question or test the hypothesis. Tables, graphs, and figures may be included to help visualize the data and illustrate the key findings.
The discussion section interprets the results of the study and explains their significance or relevance to the research question or problem. It should also compare the current findings with those of previous studies and identify the implications for future research or practice. The discussion should be based on the results presented in the previous section and should avoid speculation or unfounded conclusions.
The conclusion summarizes the key findings of the study and restates the main argument or thesis presented in the introduction. It should also provide a brief overview of the contributions of the study to the field of research and the implications for practice or policy.
The references section lists all the sources cited in the research report, following a specific citation style, such as APA or MLA.
The appendices section includes any additional material, such as data tables, figures, or instruments used in the study, that could not be included in the main text due to space limitations.
Types of Research Report
Types of Research Report are as follows:
Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree, although it can also be written by researchers or scholars in other fields.
Research paper is a type of research report. A research paper is a document that presents the results of a research study or investigation. Research papers can be written in a variety of fields, including science, social science, humanities, and business. They typically follow a standard format that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections.
A technical report is a detailed report that provides information about a specific technical or scientific problem or project. Technical reports are often used in engineering, science, and other technical fields to document research and development work.
A progress report provides an update on the progress of a research project or program over a specific period of time. Progress reports are typically used to communicate the status of a project to stakeholders, funders, or project managers.
A feasibility report assesses the feasibility of a proposed project or plan, providing an analysis of the potential risks, benefits, and costs associated with the project. Feasibility reports are often used in business, engineering, and other fields to determine the viability of a project before it is undertaken.
A field report documents observations and findings from fieldwork, which is research conducted in the natural environment or setting. Field reports are often used in anthropology, ecology, and other social and natural sciences.
An experimental report documents the results of a scientific experiment, including the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Experimental reports are often used in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to communicate the results of laboratory experiments.
Case Study Report
A case study report provides an in-depth analysis of a specific case or situation, often used in psychology, social work, and other fields to document and understand complex cases or phenomena.
Literature Review Report
A literature review report synthesizes and summarizes existing research on a specific topic, providing an overview of the current state of knowledge on the subject. Literature review reports are often used in social sciences, education, and other fields to identify gaps in the literature and guide future research.
Research Report Example
Following is a Research Report Example sample for Students:
Title: The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance among High School Students
This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students. The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The findings indicate that there is a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students. The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers, as they highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities.
Social media has become an integral part of the lives of high school students. With the widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, students can connect with friends, share photos and videos, and engage in discussions on a range of topics. While social media offers many benefits, concerns have been raised about its impact on academic performance. Many studies have found a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance among high school students (Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Paul, Baker, & Cochran, 2012).
Given the growing importance of social media in the lives of high school students, it is important to investigate its impact on academic performance. This study aims to address this gap by examining the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students.
The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The questionnaire was developed based on previous studies and was designed to measure the frequency and duration of social media use, as well as academic performance.
The participants were selected using a convenience sampling technique, and the survey questionnaire was distributed in the classroom during regular school hours. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.
The findings indicate that the majority of high school students use social media platforms on a daily basis, with Facebook being the most popular platform. The results also show a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students.
The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. The negative correlation between social media use and academic performance suggests that strategies should be put in place to help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. For example, educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students.
In conclusion, this study provides evidence of the negative impact of social media on academic performance among high school students. The findings highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. Further research is needed to explore the specific mechanisms by which social media use affects academic performance and to develop effective strategies for addressing this issue.
One limitation of this study is the use of convenience sampling, which limits the generalizability of the findings to other populations. Future studies should use random sampling techniques to increase the representativeness of the sample. Another limitation is the use of self-reported measures, which may be subject to social desirability bias. Future studies could use objective measures of social media use and academic performance, such as tracking software and school records.
The findings of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. Educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. For example, teachers could use social media platforms to share relevant educational resources and facilitate online discussions. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. They could also engage in open communication with their children to understand their social media use and its impact on their academic performance. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students. For example, schools could implement social media policies that restrict access during class time and encourage responsible use.
- Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245.
- Paul, J. A., Baker, H. M., & Cochran, J. D. (2012). Effect of online social networking on student academic performance. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 8(1), 1-19.
- Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.
- Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.
Note*: Above mention, Example is just a sample for the students’ guide. Do not directly copy and paste as your College or University assignment. Kindly do some research and Write your own.
Applications of Research Report
Research reports have many applications, including:
- Communicating research findings: The primary application of a research report is to communicate the results of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public. The report serves as a way to share new knowledge, insights, and discoveries with others in the field.
- Informing policy and practice : Research reports can inform policy and practice by providing evidence-based recommendations for decision-makers. For example, a research report on the effectiveness of a new drug could inform regulatory agencies in their decision-making process.
- Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research in a particular area. Other researchers may use the findings and methodology of a report to develop new research questions or to build on existing research.
- Evaluating programs and interventions : Research reports can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions in achieving their intended outcomes. For example, a research report on a new educational program could provide evidence of its impact on student performance.
- Demonstrating impact : Research reports can be used to demonstrate the impact of research funding or to evaluate the success of research projects. By presenting the findings and outcomes of a study, research reports can show the value of research to funders and stakeholders.
- Enhancing professional development : Research reports can be used to enhance professional development by providing a source of information and learning for researchers and practitioners in a particular field. For example, a research report on a new teaching methodology could provide insights and ideas for educators to incorporate into their own practice.
How to write Research Report
Here are some steps you can follow to write a research report:
- Identify the research question: The first step in writing a research report is to identify your research question. This will help you focus your research and organize your findings.
- Conduct research : Once you have identified your research question, you will need to conduct research to gather relevant data and information. This can involve conducting experiments, reviewing literature, or analyzing data.
- Organize your findings: Once you have gathered all of your data, you will need to organize your findings in a way that is clear and understandable. This can involve creating tables, graphs, or charts to illustrate your results.
- Write the report: Once you have organized your findings, you can begin writing the report. Start with an introduction that provides background information and explains the purpose of your research. Next, provide a detailed description of your research methods and findings. Finally, summarize your results and draw conclusions based on your findings.
- Proofread and edit: After you have written your report, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and make sure that your report is well-organized and easy to read.
- Include a reference list: Be sure to include a list of references that you used in your research. This will give credit to your sources and allow readers to further explore the topic if they choose.
- Format your report: Finally, format your report according to the guidelines provided by your instructor or organization. This may include formatting requirements for headings, margins, fonts, and spacing.
Purpose of Research Report
The purpose of a research report is to communicate the results of a research study to a specific audience, such as peers in the same field, stakeholders, or the general public. The report provides a detailed description of the research methods, findings, and conclusions.
Some common purposes of a research report include:
- Sharing knowledge: A research report allows researchers to share their findings and knowledge with others in their field. This helps to advance the field and improve the understanding of a particular topic.
- Identifying trends: A research report can identify trends and patterns in data, which can help guide future research and inform decision-making.
- Addressing problems: A research report can provide insights into problems or issues and suggest solutions or recommendations for addressing them.
- Evaluating programs or interventions : A research report can evaluate the effectiveness of programs or interventions, which can inform decision-making about whether to continue, modify, or discontinue them.
- Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies.
When to Write Research Report
A research report should be written after completing the research study. This includes collecting data, analyzing the results, and drawing conclusions based on the findings. Once the research is complete, the report should be written in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.
In academic settings, research reports are often required as part of coursework or as part of a thesis or dissertation. In this case, the report should be written according to the guidelines provided by the instructor or institution.
In other settings, such as in industry or government, research reports may be required to inform decision-making or to comply with regulatory requirements. In these cases, the report should be written as soon as possible after the research is completed in order to inform decision-making in a timely manner.
Overall, the timing of when to write a research report depends on the purpose of the research, the expectations of the audience, and any regulatory requirements that need to be met. However, it is important to complete the report in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.
Characteristics of Research Report
There are several characteristics of a research report that distinguish it from other types of writing. These characteristics include:
- Objective: A research report should be written in an objective and unbiased manner. It should present the facts and findings of the research study without any personal opinions or biases.
- Systematic: A research report should be written in a systematic manner. It should follow a clear and logical structure, and the information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
- Detailed: A research report should be detailed and comprehensive. It should provide a thorough description of the research methods, results, and conclusions.
- Accurate : A research report should be accurate and based on sound research methods. The findings and conclusions should be supported by data and evidence.
- Organized: A research report should be well-organized. It should include headings and subheadings to help the reader navigate the report and understand the main points.
- Clear and concise: A research report should be written in clear and concise language. The information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand, and unnecessary jargon should be avoided.
- Citations and references: A research report should include citations and references to support the findings and conclusions. This helps to give credit to other researchers and to provide readers with the opportunity to further explore the topic.
Advantages of Research Report
Research reports have several advantages, including:
- Communicating research findings: Research reports allow researchers to communicate their findings to a wider audience, including other researchers, stakeholders, and the general public. This helps to disseminate knowledge and advance the understanding of a particular topic.
- Providing evidence for decision-making : Research reports can provide evidence to inform decision-making, such as in the case of policy-making, program planning, or product development. The findings and conclusions can help guide decisions and improve outcomes.
- Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research on a particular topic. Other researchers can build on the findings and conclusions of the report, which can lead to further discoveries and advancements in the field.
- Demonstrating expertise: Research reports can demonstrate the expertise of the researchers and their ability to conduct rigorous and high-quality research. This can be important for securing funding, promotions, and other professional opportunities.
- Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies. Producing a high-quality research report can help ensure compliance with these requirements.
Limitations of Research Report
Despite their advantages, research reports also have some limitations, including:
- Time-consuming: Conducting research and writing a report can be a time-consuming process, particularly for large-scale studies. This can limit the frequency and speed of producing research reports.
- Expensive: Conducting research and producing a report can be expensive, particularly for studies that require specialized equipment, personnel, or data. This can limit the scope and feasibility of some research studies.
- Limited generalizability: Research studies often focus on a specific population or context, which can limit the generalizability of the findings to other populations or contexts.
- Potential bias : Researchers may have biases or conflicts of interest that can influence the findings and conclusions of the research study. Additionally, participants may also have biases or may not be representative of the larger population, which can limit the validity and reliability of the findings.
- Accessibility: Research reports may be written in technical or academic language, which can limit their accessibility to a wider audience. Additionally, some research may be behind paywalls or require specialized access, which can limit the ability of others to read and use the findings.
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Writing Sentences In The Present Tense Enhances Their Persuasive Impact: Study
A new study from the university of toronto finds that writing or speaking in the present tense can make you sound more persuasive..
Online content written in the present tense is considerably more persuasive.
Recent research unveils that, although people commonly narrate events in the past tense, conveying the information in the present tense enhances the speaker's or writer's certainty, thereby increasing persuasiveness.
A University of Toronto study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology asserts that any message specially the online reviews articulated in the present tense holds greater persuasive power compared to other forms.
According to a release, the researchers believe that the present tense can make messages more persuasive because it grounds them in the present moment and makes them feel more real and immediate.
"The more vivid something is, the more real and true it seems," says Sam Maglio, co-author of the study and professor of marketing and psychology at U of T Scarborough. "The past and the future aren't as vivid as the present. In the present tense, you as the reader take a journey with the speaker and you become immersed.
"We are experiencing it together."
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Maglio, along with David Fang, a U of T alumnus, examined millions of Amazon reviews to determine the impact of verb tense on helpfulness ratings. They found that reviews written in the present tense received significantly more upvotes than those written in the past or future tense. This trend persisted even when considering other factors such as pictures, review length, and star ratings. Additionally, when hundreds of participants were asked to rate reviews, they consistently favored those written in the present tense.
"Reviews are maximally helpful when they are right here and they're right now because the closer the reader can come to seeing it, touching it, making it palpable, the more they believe it and the more they trust it," says Maglio, who is cross-appointed to the Rotman School of Management. "It's hard to be immersive and vivid and visceral from a world away."
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