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Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

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Research Report

Research Report

Definition:

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:

Introduction

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.

Literature Review

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.

Methodology

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

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.

Technical Report

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.

Progress Report

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.

Feasibility Report

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.

Field Report

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.

Experimental Report

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.

Introduction:

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.

Methodology:

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.

Discussion:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Limitations:

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.

Implications:

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.

References:

  • 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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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons to research writing projects.
  • Outline the steps of the research writing process.

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper . A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Research Writing and the Academic Paper

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

Research Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Writing at Work

Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?

  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Small business owner
  • Information technology professional
  • Freelance magazine writer

A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

As you may recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , to narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis . You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. See Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” for an example of a research schedule.

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?

Key Takeaways

  • People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
  • The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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purpose in writing the research report

Home Market Research

Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them

Research Reports

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

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

What are Research Reports?

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

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

The various sections of a research report are:

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

Learn more: Quantitative Research

Components of Research Reports

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

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

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

Learn more: Quantitative Data

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

Learn more: Qualitative Observation

15 Tips for Writing Research Reports

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

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

Learn more: Quantitative Observation

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

Learn more: Qualitative Data

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

Learn more: Market Research and Analysis

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

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

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

What is a Research Report?

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

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

Features of a Research Report 

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

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

Types of Research Report 

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

Nature of Research

  • Qualitative Research Report

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

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

  • Quantitative Research Report

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

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

Target Audience

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

  • Technical Research Report

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

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

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

  • Popular Research Report

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

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

Importance of a Research Report 

  • Knowledge Transfer: As already stated above, one of the reasons for carrying out research is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and this is made possible with a research report. A research report serves as a means to effectively communicate the findings of a systematic investigation to all and sundry.  
  • Identification of Knowledge Gaps: With a research report, you’d be able to identify knowledge gaps for further inquiry. A research report shows what has been done while hinting at other areas needing systematic investigation. 
  • In market research, a research report would help you understand the market needs and peculiarities at a glance. 
  • A research report allows you to present information in a precise and concise manner. 
  • It is time-efficient and practical because, in a research report, you do not have to spend time detailing the findings of your research work in person. You can easily send out the report via email and have stakeholders look at it. 

Guide to Writing a Research Report

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

Structure and Example of a Research Report

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

  • Table of Contents

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

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

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

  • Introduction

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

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

  • Literature Review

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

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

  • An Account of Investigation

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

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

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

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

  • Conclusions

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

  • References and Appendices

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

Tips for Writing a Research Report

  • Define the Context for the Report

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

  • Define your Audience

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

  • Include Significant Findings

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

  • Include Illustrations

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

  • Choose the Right Title

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

  • Proofread the Report

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

How to Gather Research Data for Your Report  

  • Understand the Problem

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

  • Know what your report seeks to achieve

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

  • Identify your audience

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

  • Create Surveys/Questionnaires

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sign into Formplus

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

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

  • Edit Form Title : Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Research Questionnaire.”
  • Edit Form : Click on the edit icon to edit the form.
  • Add Fields : Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder. 
  • Edit fields
  • Click on “Save”
  • Form Customization: With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily change the outlook of your form and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images, and even change the font according to your needs. 
  • Multiple Sharing Options: Formplus offers various form-sharing options, which enables you to share your questionnaire with respondents easily. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization’s social media pages.  You can also send out your survey form as email invitations to your research subjects too. If you wish, you can share your form’s QR code or embed it on your organization’s website for easy access. 

Conclusion  

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

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

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Research reports

This resource will help you identify the common elements and basic format of a research report.

Research reports generally follow a similar structure and have common elements, each with a particular purpose. Learn more about each of these elements below.

Common elements of reports

Your title should be brief, topic-specific, and informative, clearly indicating the purpose and scope of your study. Include key words in your title so that search engines can easily access your work. For example:  Measurement of water around Station Pier.

An abstract is a concise summary that helps readers to quickly assess the content and direction of your paper. It should be brief, written in a single paragraph and cover: the scope and purpose of your report; an overview of methodology; a summary of the main findings or results; principal conclusions or significance of the findings; and recommendations made.

The information in the abstract must be presented in the same order as it is in your report. The abstract is usually written last when you have developed your arguments and synthesised the results.

The introduction creates the context for your research. It should provide sufficient background to allow the reader to understand and evaluate your study without needing to refer to previous publications. After reading the introduction your reader should understand exactly what your research is about, what you plan to do, why you are undertaking this research and which methods you have used. Introductions generally include:

  • The rationale for the present study. Why are you interested in this topic? Why is this topic worth investigating?
  • Key terms and definitions.
  • An outline of the research questions and hypotheses; the assumptions or propositions that your research will test.

Not all research reports have a separate literature review section. In shorter research reports, the review is usually part of the Introduction.

A literature review is a critical survey of recent relevant research in a particular field. The review should be a selection of carefully organised, focused and relevant literature that develops a narrative ‘story’ about your topic. Your review should answer key questions about the literature:

  • What is the current state of knowledge on the topic?
  • What differences in approaches / methodologies are there?
  • Where are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
  • What further research is needed? The review may identify a gap in the literature which provides a rationale for your study and supports your research questions and methodology.

The review is not just a summary of all you have read. Rather, it must develop an argument or a point of view that supports your chosen methodology and research questions.

The purpose of this section is to detail how you conducted your research so that others can understand and replicate your approach.

You need to briefly describe the subjects (if appropriate), any equipment or materials used and the approach taken. If the research method or method of data analysis is commonly used within your field of study, then simply reference the procedure. If, however, your methods are new or controversial then you need to describe them in more detail and provide a rationale for your approach. The methodology is written in the past tense and should be as concise as possible.

This section is a concise, factual summary of your findings, listed under headings appropriate to your research questions. It’s common to use tables and graphics. Raw data or details about the method of statistical analysis used should be included in the Appendices.

Present your results in a consistent manner. For example, if you present the first group of results as percentages, it will be confusing for the reader and difficult to make comparisons of data if later results are presented as fractions or as decimal values.

In general, you won’t discuss your results here. Any analysis of your results usually occurs in the Discussion section.

Notes on visual data representation:

  • Graphs and tables may be used to reveal trends in your data, but they must be explained and referred to in adjacent accompanying text.
  • Figures and tables do not simply repeat information given in the text: they summarise, amplify or complement it.
  • Graphs are always referred to as ‘Figures’, and both axes must be clearly labelled.
  • Tables must be numbered, and they must be able to stand-alone or make sense without your reader needing to read all of the accompanying text.

The Discussion responds to the hypothesis or research question. This section is where you interpret your results, account for your findings and explain their significance within the context of other research. Consider the adequacy of your sampling techniques, the scope and long-term implications of your study, any problems with data collection or analysis and any assumptions on which your study was based. This is also the place to discuss any disappointing results and address limitations.

Checklist for the discussion

  • To what extent was each hypothesis supported?
  • To what extent are your findings validated or supported by other research?
  • Were there unexpected variables that affected your results?
  • On reflection, was your research method appropriate?
  • Can you account for any differences between your results and other studies?

Conclusions in research reports are generally fairly short and should follow on naturally from points raised in the Discussion. In this section you should discuss the significance of your findings. To what extent and in what ways are your findings useful or conclusive? Is further research required? If so, based on your research experience, what suggestions could you make about improvements to the scope or methodology of future studies?

Also, consider the practical implications of your results and any recommendations you could make. For example, if your research is on reading strategies in the primary school classroom, what are the implications of your results for the classroom teacher? What recommendations could you make for teachers?

A Reference List contains all the resources you have cited in your work, while a Bibliography is a wider list containing all the resources you have consulted (but not necessarily cited) in the preparation of your work. It is important to check which of these is required, and the preferred format, style of references and presentation requirements of your own department.

Appendices (singular ‘Appendix’) provide supporting material to your project. Examples of such materials include:

  • Relevant letters to participants and organisations (e.g. regarding the ethics or conduct of the project).
  • Background reports.
  • Detailed calculations.

Different types of data are presented in separate appendices. Each appendix must be titled, labelled with a number or letter, and referred to in the body of the report.

Appendices are placed at the end of a report, and the contents are generally not included in the word count.

Fi nal ti p

While there are many common elements to research reports, it’s always best to double check the exact requirements for your task. You may find that you don’t need some sections, can combine others or have specific requirements about referencing, formatting or word limits.

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14.1: The Purpose of Research Writing

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  • Amber Kinonen, Jennifer McCann, Todd McCann, & Erica Mead
  • Bay College Library

Introduction

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head; however, if you are like most people,you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

The research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular— and effective—presentation forms is the research paper. A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. You may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. Because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally. For example, a medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

To narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question—a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis. You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal. In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

A topic might be too broad if it cannot be covered in detail in your assignment, if there is too much information (1000s of results), or all you can write is general statements. For example, the research question “What is communication?” is too broad for a four-page assignment. There is no way to adequately sum up all of the information about you will encounter about communication when trying to answer this question.

A topic might be too narrow if it can be discussed in great detail in less than the required size of your essay, or if there is little to no information or relevant results available. For example, the research question ‘What percentage of Ford Escorts were recalled in 2016 due to faulty airbags?” would be too narrow to adequately discuss in a four-page research paper. The question can be simply answered with a percentage, and the date of 2016 might be too current to retrieve enough research.

Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule.

In addition, it may be helpful (and even required by some instructors) to construct an outline that serves as a blueprint for your project. The outline will include your thesis statement, the main ideas that will support your thesis, examples to illustrate those main ideas, and counterarguments. By constructing an outline, you are more likely to stay focused and not repeat key ideas.

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Remember, your working thesis is a work in progress. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism, or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process

key takeaways

  • People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
  • The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

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The Purpose of Research Writing

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  • Learning Objectives
  • Identify reasons to research writing projects.
  • Outline the steps of the research writing process.

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper. A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

  •  Exercise 1
  • Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Research Writing and the Academic Paper

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

Research Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Writing at Work

Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?

  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Small business owner
  • Information technology professional
  • Freelance magazine writer

A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

To narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis. You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

  Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. 

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Tip Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”  

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?

Key Takeaways

People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.

The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

This material comes from Writing for Success, by University of Minnesota, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted. You are free to use, adapt, and/or share this material as long as you properly attribute. Please keep this information on materials you use, adapt, and/or share for attribution purposes. 

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How to Write Effective Research Reports

Frankline kibuacha | dec. 02, 2022 | 3 min. read.

A research report is a document that summarizes and provides an analysis of the findings of a research project. It is an important document that serves as a first-hand account of the research process, data, and findings of a research study, and it is typically considered an objective and accurate source of information.

There are a few questions a research report should answer:

  • What are you researching?
  • What is the goal of your research?
  • What are your methods for researching?
  • What did you find in your research?
  • How does this compare to other findings?
  • And what is the impact of this finding on the world?

A research report is normally organized into three broad sections. First, an introduction provides a brief background on the topic and introduces the reader to your perspective. The second section is the body of the report, which should include the research findings and supporting evidence. Finally, the conclusion, which summarizes your arguments and the implications of your study for future research.

Every year, GeoPoll carries out hundreds of research studies and produces reports on several topics, both for clients and internally commissioned studies. In this article, we highlight some tips for writing great reports from our experience.

Tips for writing excellent research reports

  • Start from the basics – with an outline – It is a good idea to outline the research context and findings before taking the plunge, as it helps with the flow and structure of the research report. Once you have the broader information well documented, filling the gaps with the content and findings becomes more straightforward and sets the tone for the report.
  • Consider the target audience – To guide the report, always keep the target audience in mind and then select a format that is clear, logical and obvious to the audience. A report meant for top decision-makers, for example, could be more concise than one meant for other researchers. Writing for the audience ensures that the research findings help the cause, so consider writing in their language to make it easy to understand at their level.
  • Answer the research questions – Every effective research starts with a clear objective. In writing the report, make sure that the data provided contribute to the goal, which is, in reality, the real purpose for conducting the research in the first place.
  • Be simple and clear – Research reports need not be complicated. Aim to write the report with an accuracy of details and language that is simplest and clearest to the reader. Use clear titles that clearly describe the following section in a way that readers will want to get into.
  • Provide the methodology implemented – Researchers should also include a summary of the methods used to conduct the research, which provides the overall approaches and perspectives of the research process. The methodology details aspects such as the research objectives, the sample used , broken down into demographics such as gender, location, age, and other sample characteristics, data collection modes used, and data analysis methods. Sharing your methodology gives legitimacy to your research.
  • Choose graphs correctly – Research reports often feature graphs to bring out data clearly. To fulfill this purpose, the graphs you use in your report must be clear enough so that the readers understand them themselves. Use clear titles, try and include the original question, and choose the best chart types to represent the data.
  • Remain relevant – Not everything is genuinely essential to a research report, and you should aim at prioritizing only the significant discoveries. The idea of a research report is to present an abridged yet impactful version of your research, and it’s OK to exclude irrelevant information while highlighting only essential data and findings.
  • Grammar and spelling are imperative – Even more important than most writings, research reports need to be written following the best language practices to help to understand the report and not unconsciously water down the seriousness of the information. Read aloud while writing to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Use grammar and spell-checking tools and engage other people to proofread the report to ensure it reads well for the target audience.
  • Choose an impactful title – A good research report title is brief, precise, and provides a clear idea of the underlying research so that readers can grasp the entire focus of your research from the title.
  • Shoot for a strong conclusion – The conclusion in the research reports is primarily important because it summarizes the information and recommendations, and often, some readers skim through to the conclusion. Make a precise summary, highlight the findings that stand out, and provide the implications or courses of action derived from the research findings.

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Uncomplicated Reviews of Educational Research Methods

  • Writing a Research Report

.pdf version of this page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Section 11: Conclusion (A brief closing summary)

Section 12: References (APA format)

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About research rundowns.

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

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

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How to Write a Research Paper

Mastering the Art of Research Paper Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

Undergrads often write research papers each semester, causing stress. Yet, it’s simpler than believing if you know how to write a research paper . Divide the task, get tips, a plan, and tools for an outstanding paper. Simplify research, writing, topic choice, and illustration use!

A research paper is an academic document that involves deep, independent research to offer analysis, interpretation, and argument. Unlike academic essays, research papers are lengthier and more detailed, aiming to evaluate your writing and scholarly research abilities. To write one, you must showcase expertise in your subject, interact with diverse sources, and provide a unique perspective to the discussion. 

Research papers are a foundational element of contemporary science and the most efficient means of disseminating knowledge throughout a broad network. Nonetheless, individuals usually encounter research papers during their education; they are frequently employed in college courses to assess a student’s grasp of a specific field or their aptitude for research. 

Given their significance, research papers adopt a research paper format – a formal, unadorned style that eliminates any subjective influence from the writing. Scientists present their discoveries straightforwardly, accompanied by relevant supporting proof, enabling other researchers to integrate the paper into their investigations.

This guide leads you through every steps to write a research paper , from grasping your task to refining your ultimate draft and will teach you how to write a research paper.

Understanding The Research Paper

A research paper is a meticulously structured document that showcases the outcomes of an inquiry, exploration, or scrutiny undertaken on a specific subject. It embodies a formal piece of academic prose that adds novel information, perspectives, or interpretations to a particular domain of study. Typically authored by scholars, researchers, scientists, or students as part of their academic or professional pursuits, these papers adhere to a well-defined format. This research paper format encompasses an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. 

The introduction provides context and outlines the study’s significance, while the literature review encapsulates existing research and situates the study within the broader academic discourse. The methodology section elucidates the research process, encompassing data collection and analysis techniques. Findings are presented in the results section, often complemented by graphical and statistical representations. Interpretation of findings, implications, and connection to existing knowledge transpire in the discussion section. 

Ultimately, the conclusion encapsulates pivotal discoveries and their wider import.

Research papers wield immense significance in advancing knowledge across diverse disciplines, enabling researchers to disseminate findings, theories, and revelations to a broader audience. Before publication in academic journals or presentations at conferences, these papers undergo a stringent peer review process conducted by domain experts, ensuring their integrity, precision, and worth.

Academic and non-academic research papers diverge across several dimensions. Academic papers are crafted for scholarly circles to expand domain knowledge and theories. They maintain a formal, objective tone and heavily rely on peer-reviewed sources for credibility. In contrast, non-academic papers, employing a more flexible writing style, target a broader audience or specific practical goals. These papers might incorporate persuasive language, anecdotes, and various sources beyond academia. While academic papers rigorously adhere to structured formats and established citation styles, non-academic papers prioritize practicality, adapting their structure and citation methods to suit the intended readership.

The purpose of a research paper revolves around offering fresh insights, knowledge, or interpretations within a specific field. This formal document serves as a conduit for scholars, researchers, scientists, and students to communicate their investigative findings and actively contribute to the ongoing academic discourse.

People in a library

Research Paper Writing Process – How To Write a Good Research Paper

Selecting a suitable research topic .

Your initial task is to thoroughly review the assignment and carefully absorb the writing prompt’s details. Pay particular attention to technical specifications like length, formatting prerequisites (such as single- vs. double-spacing, indentation, etc.), and the required citation style. Also, pay attention to specifics, including an abstract or a cover page.

Once you’ve a clear understanding of the assignment, the subsequent steps to write a research paper are aligned with the conventional writing process. However, remember that research papers have rules, adding some extra considerations to the process.

When given some assignment freedom, the crucial task of choosing a topic rests on you. Despite its apparent simplicity, this choice sets the foundation for your entire research paper, shaping its direction. The primary factor in picking a research paper topic is ensuring it has enough material to support it. Your chosen topic should provide ample data and complexity for a thorough discussion. However, it’s important to avoid overly broad subjects and focus on specific ones that cover all relevant information without gaps. Yet, approach topic selection more slowly; choosing something that genuinely interests you is still valuable. Aim for a topic that meets both criteria—delivering substantial content while maintaining engagement.

Conducting Thorough Research 

Commence by delving into your research early to refine your topic and shape your thesis statement. Swift engagement with available research aids in dispelling misconceptions and unveils optimal paths and strategies to gather more material. Typically, research sources can be located either online or within libraries. When navigating online sources, exercise caution and opt for reputable outlets such as scientific journals or academic papers. Specific search engines, outlined below in the Tools and Resources section, exclusively enable exploring accredited sources and academic databases.

While pursuing information, it’s essential to differentiate between primary and secondary sources. Primary sources entail firsthand accounts, encompassing published articles or autobiographies, while secondary sources, such as critical reviews or secondary biographies, are more distanced. Skimming sources instead of reading each part proves more efficient during the research phase. If a source shows promise, set it aside for more in-depth reading later. Doing so prevents you from investing excessive time in sources that won’t contribute substantively to your work. You should present a literature review detailing your references and submit them for validation in certain instances. 

Organizing And Structuring The Research Paper

According to the research paper format , an outline for a research paper is a catalogue of essential topics, arguments, and evidence you intend to incorporate. These elements are divided into sections with headings, offering a preliminary overview of the paper’s structure before commencing the writing process. Formulating a structural outline can significantly enhance writing efficiency, warranting an investment of time to establish one.

Start by generating a list encompassing crucial categories and subtopics—a preliminary outline. Reflect on the amassed information while gathering supporting evidence, pondering the most effective means of segregation and categorization.

Once a discussion list is compiled, deliberate on the optimal information presentation sequence and identify related subtopics that should be placed adjacent. Consider if any subtopic loses coherence when presented out of order. Adopting a chronological arrangement can be suitable if the information follows a straightforward trajectory.

Given the potential complexity of research papers, consider breaking down the outline into paragraphs. This aids in maintaining organization when dealing with copious information and provides better control over the paper’s progression. Rectifying structural issues during the outline phase is preferable to addressing them after writing.

Remember to incorporate supporting evidence within the outline. Since there’s likely a substantial amount to include, outlining helps prevent overlooking crucial elements.

Writing The Introduction

According to the research paper format , the introduction of a research paper must address three fundamental inquiries: What, why, and how? Upon completing the introduction, the reader should clearly understand the paper’s subject matter, its relevance, and the approach you’ll use to construct your arguments.

What? Offer precise details regarding the paper’s topic, provide context, and elucidate essential terminology or concepts.

Why? This constitutes the most crucial yet challenging aspect of the introduction. Endeavour to furnish concise responses to the subsequent queries: What novel information or insights do you present? Which significant matters does your essay assist in defining or resolving?

How? To provide the reader with a preview of the paper’s forthcoming content, the introduction should incorporate a “guide” outlining the upcoming discussions. This entails briefly outlining the paper’s principal components in chronological sequence.

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Developing The Main Body 

One of the primary challenges that many writers grapple with is effectively organizing the wealth of information they wish to present in their papers. This is precisely why an outline can be an invaluable tool. However, it’s essential to recognize that while an outline provides a roadmap, the writing process allows flexibility in determining the order in which information and arguments are introduced.

Maintaining cohesiveness throughout the paper involves anchoring your writing to the thesis statement and topic sentences. Here’s how to ensure a well-structured paper:

  • Alignment with Thesis Statement: Regularly assess whether your topic sentences correspond with the central thesis statement. This ensures that your arguments remain on track and directly contribute to the overarching message you intend to convey.
  • Consistency and Logical Flow: Review your topic sentences concerning one another. Do they follow a logical order that guides the reader through a coherent narrative? Ensuring a seamless flow from one topic to another helps maintain engagement and comprehension.
  • Supporting Sentence Alignment: Each sentence within a paragraph should align with the topic sentence of that paragraph. This alignment reinforces the central idea, preventing tangential or disjointed discussions.

Additionally, identify paragraphs that cover similar content. While some overlap might be inevitable, it’s essential to approach shared topics from different angles, offering fresh insights and perspectives. Creating these nuanced differences helps present a well-rounded exploration of the subject matter.

An often-overlooked aspect of effective organization is the art of crafting smooth transitions. Transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and larger sections are the glue that holds your paper together. They guide the reader through the progression of ideas, enhancing clarity and creating a seamless reading experience.

Ultimately, while the struggle to organize information is accurate, employing these strategies not only aids in addressing the challenge but also contributes to the overall quality and impact of your writing.

Crafting A Strong Conclusion 

The purpose of the research paper’s conclusion is to guide your reader out of the realm of the paper’s argument, leaving them with a sense of closure.

Trace the paper’s trajectory, underscoring how all the elements converge to validate your thesis statement. Impart a sense of completion by ensuring the reader comprehends the resolution of the issues introduced in the paper’s introduction.

In addition, you can explore the broader implications of your argument, outline your paper’s contributions to future students studying the subject, and propose questions that your argument raises—ones that might not be addressed in the paper itself. However, it’s important to avoid:

  • Introducing new arguments or crucial information that wasn’t covered earlier.
  • Extending the conclusion unnecessarily.
  • Employing common phrases that signal the decision (e.g., “In conclusion”).

By adhering to these guidelines, your conclusion can serve as a fitting and impactful conclusion to your research paper, leaving a lasting impression on your readers.

Refining The Research Paper

  • Editing And Proofreading 

Eliminate unnecessary verbiage and extraneous content. In tandem with the comprehensive structure of your paper, focus on individual words, ensuring your language is robust. Verify the utilization of active voice rather than passive voice, and confirm that your word selection is precise and tangible.

The passive voice, exemplified by phrases like “I opened the door,” tends to convey hesitation and verbosity. In contrast, the active voice, as in “I opened the door,” imparts strength and brevity.

Each word employed in your paper should serve a distinct purpose. Strive to eschew the inclusion of surplus words solely to occupy space or exhibit sophistication.

For instance, the statement “The author uses pathos to appeal to readers’ emotions” is superior to the alternative “The author utilizes pathos to appeal to the emotional core of those who read the passage.”

Engage in thorough proofreading to rectify spelling, grammatical, and formatting inconsistencies. Once you’ve refined the structure and content of your paper, address any typographical and grammatical inaccuracies. Taking a break from your paper before proofreading can offer a new perspective.

Enhance error detection by reading your essay aloud. This not only aids in identifying mistakes but also assists in evaluating the flow. If you encounter sections that seem awkward during this reading, consider making necessary adjustments to enhance the overall coherence.

  • Formatting And Referencing 

Citations are pivotal in distinguishing research papers from informal nonfiction pieces like personal essays. They serve the dual purpose of substantiating your data and establishing a connection between your research paper and the broader scientific community. Given their significance, citations are subject to precise formatting regulations; however, the challenge lies in the existence of multiple sets of rules.

It’s crucial to consult the assignment’s instructions to determine the required formatting style. Generally, academic research papers adhere to either of two formatting styles for source citations:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • APA (American Psychological Association)

Moreover, aside from MLA and APA styles, occasional demands might call for adherence to CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style), AMA (American Medical Association), and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) formats.

Initially, citations might appear intricate due to their numerous regulations and specific details. However, once you become adept at them, citing sources accurately becomes almost second nature. It’s important to note that each formatting style provides detailed guidelines for citing various sources, including photographs, websites, speeches, and YouTube videos.

Students preparing a research paper

Tips For Writing An Effective Research Paper 

By following these research paper writing tips , you’ll be well-equipped to create a well-structured, well-researched, and impactful research paper:

  • Select a Clear and Manageable Topic: Choose a topic that is specific and focused enough to be thoroughly explored within the scope of your paper.
  • Conduct In-Depth Research: Gather information from reputable sources such as academic journals, books, and credible websites. Take thorough notes to keep track of your sources.
  • Create a Strong Thesis Statement: Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that outlines the main argument or purpose of your paper.
  • Develop a Well-Structured Outline: Organize your ideas into a logical order by creating an outline that outlines the main sections and their supporting points.
  • Compose a Captivating Introduction: Hook the reader with an engaging introduction that provides background information and introduces the thesis statement.
  • Provide Clear and Relevant Evidence: Support your arguments with reliable and relevant evidence, such as statistics, examples, and expert opinions.
  • Maintain Consistent Tone and Style: Keep a consistent tone and writing style throughout the paper, adhering to the formatting guidelines of your chosen citation style.
  • Craft Coherent Paragraphs: Each paragraph should focus on a single idea or point, and transitions should smoothly guide the reader from one idea to the next.
  • Use Active Voice: Write in the active voice to make your writing more direct and engaging.
  • Revise and Edit Thoroughly: Proofread your paper for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and sentence structure. Revise for clarity and coherence.
  • Seek Peer Feedback: Have a peer or instructor review your paper for feedback and suggestions.
  • Cite Sources Properly: Accurately cite all sources using the required citation style (e.g., MLA, APA) to avoid plagiarism and give credit to original authors.
  • Be Concise and Avoid Redundancy: Strive for clarity by eliminating unnecessary words and redundancies.
  • Conclude Effectively: Summarize your main points and restate your thesis in the conclusion. Provide a sense of closure without introducing new ideas.
  • Stay Organized: Keep track of your sources, notes, and drafts to ensure a structured and organized approach to the writing process.
  • Proofread with Fresh Eyes: Take a break before final proofreading to review your paper with a fresh perspective, helping you catch any overlooked errors.
  • Edit for Clarity: Ensure that your ideas are conveyed clearly and that your arguments are easy to follow.
  • Ask for Feedback: Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from peers, instructors, or writing centers to improve your paper further.

In conclusion, we’ve explored the essential steps to write a research paper . From selecting a focused topic to mastering the intricacies of citations, we’ve navigated through the key elements of this process.

It’s vital to recognize that adhering to the research paper writing tips is not merely a suggestion, but a roadmap to success. Each stage contributes to the overall quality and impact of your paper. By meticulously following these steps, you ensure a robust foundation for your research, bolster your arguments, and present your findings with clarity and conviction.

As you embark on your own research paper journey, I urge you to put into practice the techniques and insights shared in this guide. Don’t shy away from investing time in organization, thorough research, and precise writing. Embrace the challenge, for it’s through this process that your ideas take shape and your voice is heard within the academic discourse.

Remember, every exceptional research paper begins with a single step. And with each step you take, your ability to articulate complex ideas and contribute to your field of study grows. So, go ahead – apply these tips, refine your skills, and witness your research papers evolve into compelling narratives that inspire, inform, and captivate.

In the grand tapestry of academia, your research paper becomes a thread of insight, woven into the larger narrative of human knowledge. By embracing the writing process and nurturing your unique perspective, you become an integral part of this ever-expanding tapestry.

Happy writing, and may your research papers shine brightly, leaving a lasting mark on both your readers and the world of scholarship.

Ranvir Dange

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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  • Research Report
  • Post last modified: 11 January 2022
  • Reading time: 25 mins read
  • Post category: Research Methodology

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What is Research Report?

Research reporting is the oral or written presentation of the findings in such detail and form as to be readily understood and assessed by the society, economy or particularly by the researchers.

As earlier said that it is the final stage of the research process and its purpose is to convey to interested persons the whole result of the study. Report writing is common to both academic and managerial situations. In academics, a research report is prepared for comprehensive and application-oriented learning. In businesses or organisations, reports are used for the basis of decision making.

Table of Content

  • 1 What is Research Report?
  • 2 Research Report Definition
  • 3.1 Preliminary Part
  • 3.2 Introduction of the Report
  • 3.3 Review of Literature
  • 3.4 The Research Methodology
  • 3.5 Results
  • 3.6 Concluding Remarks
  • 3.7 Bibliography
  • 4 Significance of Report Writing
  • 5 Qualities of Good Report
  • 6.1 Analysis of the subject matter
  • 6.2 Research outline
  • 6.3 Preparation of rough draft
  • 6.4 Rewriting and polishing
  • 6.5 Writing the final draft
  • 7 Precautions for Writing Research Reports
  • 8.1.1 Technical Report
  • 8.1.2 Popular Report
  • 8.2.1 Written Report
  • 8.2.2 Oral Report

Research Report Definition

According to C. A. Brown , “A report is a communication from someone who has information to someone who wants to use that information.”

According to Goode and Hatt , “The preparation of report is the final stage of research, and it’s purpose is to convey to the interested persons the whole result of the study, in sufficient detail and so arranged as to enable each reader to comprehend the data and to determine for himself the validity of the conclusions.”

It is clear from the above definitions of a research report, it is a brief account of the problem of investigation, the justification of its selection and the procedure of analysis and interpretation. It is only a summary of the entire research proceedings.

In other words, it can be defined as written documents, which presents information in a specialized and concise manner.

Contents of Research Report

Although no hard and fast rules can be laid down, the report must contain the following points.

  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables
  • List of graphs
  • Introduction
  • Background of the research study
  • Statement of the problem
  • Brief outline of the chapters
  • Books review
  • Review of articles published in books, journals, periodicals, etc
  • Review of articles published in leading newspapers
  • Working papers / discusssion paper / study reports
  • Articles on authorised websites
  • A broad conclusion and indications for further research
  • The theoretical framework (variables)
  • Model / hypothesis
  • Instruments for data collection
  • Data collection
  • Pilot study
  • Processing of data
  • Hypothesis / model testing
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Tables and figures
  • Conclusions
  • Shortcomings
  • Suggestions to the problems
  • Direction for further research

Preliminary Part

The preliminary part may have seven major components – cover, title, preface, acknowledgement, table of contents, list of tables, list of graphs. Long reports presented in book form have a cover made up of a card sheet. The cover contains title of the research report, the authority to whom the report is submitted, name of the author, etc.

The preface introduces the report to the readers. It gives a very brief introduction of the report. In the acknowledgements author mention names of persons and organisations that have extended co-operation and helped in the various stages of research. Table of contents is essential. It gives the title and page number of each chapter.

Introduction of the Report

The introduction of the research report should clearly and logically bring out the background of the problem addressed in the research. The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the research project to the readers. A clear statement of the problem with specific questions to be answered is presented in the introduction. It contains a brief outline of the chapters.

Review of Literature

The third section reviews the important literature related to the study. A comprehensive review of the research literature referred to must be made. Previous research studies and the important writings in the area under study should be reviewed. Review of literature is helpful to provide a background for the development of the present study.

The researcher may review concerned books, articles published in edited books, journals and periodicals. Researcher may also take review of articles published in leading newspapers. A researcher should study working papers/discussion papers/study reports. It is essential for a broad conclusion and indications for further research.

The Research Methodology

Research methodology is an integral part of the research. It should clearly indicate the universe and the selection of samples, techniques of data collection, analysis and interpretation, statistical techniques, etc.

Results contain pilot study, processing of data, hypothesis/model testing, data analysis and interpretation, tables and figures, etc. This is the heart of the research report. If a pilot study is planned to be used, it’s purpose should be given in the research methodology.

The collected data and the information should be edited, coded, tabulated and analysed with a view to arriving at a valid and authentic conclusion. Tables and figures are used to clarify the significant relationship. The results obtained through tables, graphs should be critically interpreted.

Concluding Remarks

The concluding remarks should discuss the results obtained in the earlier sections, as well as their usefulness and implications. It contains findings, conclusions, shortcomings, suggestions to the problem and direction for future research. Findings are statements of factual information based upon the data analysis.

Conclusions must clearly explain whether the hypothesis have been established and rejected. This part requires great expertise and preciseness. A report should also refer to the limitations of the applicability of the research inferences. It is essential to suggest the theoretical, practical and policy implications of the research. The suggestions should be supported by scientific and logical arguments. The future direction of research based on the work completed should also be outlined.

Bibliography

The bibliography is an alphabetic list of books, journal articles, reports, etc, published or unpublished, read, referred to, examined by the researcher in preparing the report. The bibliography should follow standard formats for books, journal articles, research reports.

The end of the research report may consist of appendices, listed in respect of all technical data. Appendices are for the purpose of providing detailed data or information that would be too cumbersome within the main body of the research report.

Significance of Report Writing

Report writing is an important communication medium in organisations. The most crucial findings might have come out through a research report. Report is common to academics and managers also. Reports are used for comprehensive and application oriented learning in academics. In organisations, reports are used for the basis of decision making. The importance of report writing can be discussed as under.

Through research reports, a manager or an executive can quickly get an idea of a current scenario which improves his information base for making sound decisions affecting future operations of the company or enterprise. The research report acts as a means of communication of various research findings to the interested parties, organisations and general public.

Good report writing play, a significant role of conveying unknown facts about the phenomenon to the concerned parties. This may provide new insights and new opportunities to the people. Research report plays a key role in making effective decisions in marketing, production, banking, materials, human resource development and government also. Good report writing is used for economic planning and optimum utilisation of resources for the development of a nation.

Report writing facilitates the validation of generalisation. A research report is an end product of research. As earlier said that report writing provides useful information in arriving at rational decisions that may reform the business and society. The findings, conclusions, suggestions and recommendations are useful to academicians, scholars and policymakers. Report writing provides reference material for further research in the same or similar areas of research to the concerned parties.

While preparing a research report, a researcher should take some proper precautions. Report writing should be simple, lucid and systematic. Report writing should be written speedily without interrupting the continuity of thought. The report writing should sustain the interest of readers.

Qualities of Good Report

Report writing is a highly skilled job. It is a process of analysing, understanding and consolidating the findings and projecting a meaningful view of the phenomenon studied. A good report writing is essential for effective communication.

Following are the essential qualities of good report:

  • A research report is essentially a scientific documentation. It should have a suggestive title, headings and sub-headings, paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence.
  • Good research report should include everything that is relevant and exclude everything that is irrelevant. It means that it should contain the facts rather than opinion.
  • The language of the report should be simple and unambiguous. It means that it should be free from biases of the researchers derived from the past experience. Confusion, pretentiousness and pomposity should be carefully guarded against. It means that the language of the report should be simple, employing appropriate words, idioms and expressions.
  • The report must be free from grammatical mistakes. It must be grammatically accurate. Faulty construction of sentences makes the meaning of the narrative obscure and ambiguous.
  • The report has to take into consideration two facts. Firstly, for whom the report is meant and secondly, what is his level of knowledge. The report has to look to the subject matter of the report and the fact as to the level of knowledge of the person for whom it is meant. Because all reports are not meant for research scholars.

Steps in Writing Research Report

Report writing is a time consuming and expensive exercise. Therefore, reports have to be very sharply focused in purpose content and readership. There is no single universally acceptable method of writing a research report.

Following are the general steps in writing a research report:

Analysis of the subject matter

Research outline, preparation of rough draft, rewriting and polishing, writing the final draft.

This is the first and important step in writing a research report. It is concerned with the development of a subject. Subject matter should be written in a clear, logical and concise manner. The style adopted should be open, straightforward and dignified and folk style language should be avoided.

The data, the reliability and validity of the results of the statistical analysis should be in the form of tables, figures and equations. All redundancy in the data or results presented should be eliminated.

The research outline is an organisational framework prepared by the researcher well in advance. It is an aid to logical organisation of material and a reminder of the points to be stressed in the report. In the process of writing, if need be, outline may be revised accordingly.

Time and place of the study, scope and limitations of the study, study design, summary of pilot study, methods of data collection, analysis interpretation, etc., may be included in a research outline.

Having prepared the primary and secondary data, the researcher has to prepare a rough draft. While preparing the rough draft, the researcher should keep the objectives of the research in mind, and focus on one objective at a time. The researcher should make a checklist of the important points that are necessary to be covered in the manuscript. A researcher should use dictionary and relevant reference materials as and when required.

This is an important step in writing a research report. It takes more time than a rough draft. While rewriting and polishing, a researcher should check the report for weakness in logical development or presentation. He should take breaks in between rewriting and polishing since this gives the time to incubate the ideas.

The last and important step is writing the final draft. The language of the report should be simple, employing appropriate words and expressions and should avoid vague expressions such as ‘it seems’ and ‘there may be’ etc.

It should not used personal pronouns, such as I, We, My, Us, etc and should substitute these by such expressions as a researcher, investigator, etc. Before the final drafting of the report, it is advisable that the researcher should prepare a first draft for critical considerations and possible improvements. It will be helpful in writing the final draft. Finally, the report should be logically outlined with the future directions of the research based on the work completed.

Precautions for Writing Research Reports

A research report is a means of conveying the research study to a specific target audience. The following precautions should be taken while preparing a research report:

  • Its hould belong enough to cover the subject and short enough to preserve interest.
  • It should not be dull and complicated.
  • It should be simple, without the usage of abstract terms and technical jargons.
  • It should offer ready availability of findings with the help of charts, tables and graphs, as readers prefer quick knowledge of main findings.
  • The layout of the report should be in accordance with the objectives of the research study.
  • There should be no grammatical errors and writing should adhere to the techniques of report writing in case of quotations, footnotes and documentations.
  • It should be original, intellectual and contribute to the solution of a problem or add knowledge to the concerned field.
  • Appendices should been listed with respect to all the technical data in the report.
  • It should be attractive, neat and clean, whether handwritten or typed.
  • The report writer should refrain from confusing the possessive form of the word ‘it’ is with ‘it’s.’ The accurate possessive form of ‘it is’ is ‘its.’ The use of ‘it’s’ is the contractive form of ‘it is.
  • A report should not have contractions. Examples are ‘didn’t’ or ‘it’s.’ In report writing, it is best to use the non-contractive form. Therefore, the examples would be replaced by ‘did not’ and ‘it is.’ Using ‘Figure’ instead of ‘Fig.’ and ‘Table’ instead of ‘Tab.’ will spare the reader of having to translate the abbreviations, while reading. If abbreviations are used, use them consistently throughout the report. For example, do not switch among ‘versus,’ and ‘vs’.
  • It is advisable to avoid using the word ‘very’ and other such words that try to embellish a description. They do not add any extra meaning and, therefore, should be dropped.
  • Repetition hampers lucidity. Report writers must avoid repeating the same word more than once within a sentence.
  • When you use the word ‘this’ or ‘these’ make sure you indicate to what you are referring. This reduces the ambiguity in your writing and helps to tie sentences together.
  • Do not use the word ‘they’ to refer to a singular person. You can either rewrite the sentence to avoid needing such a reference or use the singular ‘he or she.’

Types of Research Report

Research reports are designed in order to convey and record the information that will be of practical use to the reader. It is organized into distinct units of specific and highly visible information. The kind of audience addressed in the research report decides the type of report.

Research reports can be categorized on the following basis:

Classification on the Basis of Information

Classification on the basis of representation.

Following are the ways through which the results of the research report can be presented on the basis of information contained:

Technical Report

A technical report is written for other researchers. In writing the technical reports, the importance is mainly given to the methods that have been used to collect the information and data, the presumptions that are made and finally, the various presentation techniques that are used to present the findings and data.

Following are main features of a technical report:

  • Summary: It covers a brief analysis of the findings of the research in a very few pages. 
  • Nature: It contains the reasons for which the research is undertaken, the analysis and the data that is required in order to prepare a report. 
  • Methods employed: It contains a description of the methods that were employed in order to collect the data. 
  • Data: It covers a brief analysis of the various sources from which the data has been collected with their features and drawbacks 
  • Analysis of data and presentation of the findings: It contains the various forms through which the data that has been analysed can be presented. 
  • Conclusions: It contains a brief explanation of findings of the research. 
  • Bibliography: It contains a detailed analysis of the various bibliographies that have been used in order to conduct a research. 
  • Technical appendices: It contains the appendices for the technical matters and for questionnaires and mathematical derivations. 
  • Index: The index of the technical report must be provided at the end of the report.

Popular Report

A popular report is formulated when there is a need to draw conclusions of the findings of the research report. One of the main points of consideration that should be kept in mind while formulating a research report is that it must be simple and attractive. It must be written in a very simple manner that is understandable to all. It must also be made attractive by using large prints, various sub-headings and by giving cartoons occasionally.

Following are the main points that must be kept in mind while preparing a popular report:

  • Findings and their implications : While preparing a popular report, main importance is given to the findings of the information and the conclusions that can be drawn out of these findings.
  • Recommendations for action : If there are any deviations in the report then recommendations are made for taking corrective action in order to rectify the errors.
  • Objective of the study : In a popular report, the specific objective for which the research has been undertaken is presented.
  • Methods employed : The report must contain the various methods that has been employed in order to conduct a research.
  • Results : The results of the research findings must be presented in a suitable and appropriate manner by taking the help of charts and diagrams.
  • Technical appendices : The report must contain an in-depth information used to collect the data in the form of appendices.

Following are the ways through which the results of the research report can be presented on the basis of representation:

  • Writtenreport
  • Oral report

Written Report

A written report plays a vital role in every business operation. The manner in which an organization writes business letters and business reports creates an impression of its standard. Therefore, the organization should emphasize on the improvement of the writing skills of the employees in order to maintain effective relations with their customers.

Writing effective written reports requires a lot of hard work. Therefore, before you begin writing, it is important to know the objective, i.e., the purpose of writing, collection and organization of required data.

Oral Report

At times, oral presentation of the results that are drawn out of research is considered effective, particularly in cases where policy recommendations are to be made. This approach proves beneficial because it provides a medium of interaction between a listener and a speaker. This leads to a better understanding of the findings and their implications.

However, the main drawback of oral presentation is the lack of any permanent records related to the research. Oral presentation of the report is also effective when it is supported with various visual devices, such as slides, wall charts and whiteboards that help in better understanding of the research reports.

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  • MAIC Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma in Supply Chains
  • What is Binomial, Poisson, Normal Distribution?
  • What is Sigma Level?
  • What is DMAIC in Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV in Six Sigma?
  • Six Sigma Project Charter
  • Project Decomposition in Six Sigma
  • Critical to Quality (CTQ) Six Sigma
  • Process Mapping Six Sigma
  • Flowchart and SIPOC
  • Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility
  • Statistical Diagram
  • Lean Techniques for Optimisation Flow
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • What is Process Audits?
  • Six Sigma Implementation at Ford
  • IBM Uses Six Sigma to Drive Behaviour Change
  • Research Methodology
  • What is Research?
  • What is Hypothesis?
  • Sampling Method

Research Methods

  • Data Collection in Research

Methods of Collecting Data

  • Application of Business Research
  • Levels of Measurement
  • What is Sampling?
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • What is Management?
  • Planning in Management
  • Decision Making in Management
  • What is Controlling?
  • What is Coordination?
  • What is Staffing?
  • Organization Structure
  • What is Departmentation?
  • Span of Control
  • What is Authority?
  • Centralization vs Decentralization
  • Organizing in Management
  • Schools of Management Thought
  • Classical Management Approach
  • Is Management an Art or Science?
  • Who is a Manager?

Operations Research

  • What is Operations Research?
  • Operation Research Models
  • Linear Programming
  • Linear Programming Graphic Solution
  • Linear Programming Simplex Method
  • Linear Programming Artificial Variable Technique
  • Duality in Linear Programming
  • Transportation Problem Initial Basic Feasible Solution
  • Transportation Problem Finding Optimal Solution
  • Project Network Analysis with Critical Path Method
  • Project Network Analysis Methods
  • Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
  • Simulation in Operation Research
  • Replacement Models in Operation Research

Operation Management

  • What is Strategy?
  • What is Operations Strategy?
  • Operations Competitive Dimensions
  • Operations Strategy Formulation Process
  • What is Strategic Fit?
  • Strategic Design Process
  • Focused Operations Strategy
  • Corporate Level Strategy
  • Expansion Strategies
  • Stability Strategies
  • Retrenchment Strategies
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Strategic Choice and Strategic Alternatives
  • What is Production Process?
  • What is Process Technology?
  • What is Process Improvement?
  • Strategic Capacity Management
  • Production and Logistics Strategy
  • Taxonomy of Supply Chain Strategies
  • Factors Considered in Supply Chain Planning
  • Operational and Strategic Issues in Global Logistics
  • Logistics Outsourcing Strategy
  • What is Supply Chain Mapping?
  • Supply Chain Process Restructuring
  • Points of Differentiation
  • Re-engineering Improvement in SCM
  • What is Supply Chain Drivers?
  • Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) Model
  • Customer Service and Cost Trade Off
  • Internal and External Performance Measures
  • Linking Supply Chain and Business Performance
  • Netflix’s Niche Focused Strategy
  • Disney and Pixar Merger
  • Process Planning at Mcdonald’s

Service Operations Management

  • What is Service?
  • What is Service Operations Management?
  • What is Service Design?
  • Service Design Process
  • Service Delivery
  • What is Service Quality?
  • Gap Model of Service Quality
  • Juran Trilogy
  • Service Performance Measurement
  • Service Decoupling
  • IT Service Operation
  • Service Operations Management in Different Sector

Procurement Management

  • What is Procurement Management?
  • Procurement Negotiation
  • Types of Requisition
  • RFX in Procurement
  • What is Purchasing Cycle?
  • Vendor Managed Inventory
  • Internal Conflict During Purchasing Operation
  • Spend Analysis in Procurement
  • Sourcing in Procurement
  • Supplier Evaluation and Selection in Procurement
  • Blacklisting of Suppliers in Procurement
  • Total Cost of Ownership in Procurement
  • Incoterms in Procurement
  • Documents Used in International Procurement
  • Transportation and Logistics Strategy
  • What is Capital Equipment?
  • Procurement Process of Capital Equipment
  • Acquisition of Technology in Procurement
  • What is E-Procurement?
  • E-marketplace and Online Catalogues
  • Fixed Price and Cost Reimbursement Contracts
  • Contract Cancellation in Procurement
  • Ethics in Procurement
  • Legal Aspects of Procurement
  • Global Sourcing in Procurement
  • Intermediaries and Countertrade in Procurement

Strategic Management

  • What is Strategic Management?
  • What is Value Chain Analysis?
  • Mission Statement
  • Business Level Strategy
  • What is SWOT Analysis?
  • What is Competitive Advantage?
  • What is Vision?
  • What is Ansoff Matrix?
  • Prahalad and Gary Hammel
  • Strategic Management In Global Environment
  • Competitor Analysis Framework
  • Competitive Rivalry Analysis
  • Competitive Dynamics
  • What is Competitive Rivalry?
  • Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy
  • What is PESTLE Analysis?
  • Fragmentation and Consolidation Of Industries
  • What is Technology Life Cycle?
  • What is Diversification Strategy?
  • What is Corporate Restructuring Strategy?
  • Resources and Capabilities of Organization
  • Role of Leaders In Functional-Level Strategic Management
  • Functional Structure In Functional Level Strategy Formulation
  • Information And Control System
  • What is Strategy Gap Analysis?
  • Issues In Strategy Implementation
  • Matrix Organizational Structure
  • What is Strategic Management Process?

Supply Chain

  • What is Supply Chain Management?
  • Supply Chain Planning and Measuring Strategy Performance
  • What is Warehousing?
  • What is Packaging?
  • What is Inventory Management?
  • What is Material Handling?
  • What is Order Picking?
  • Receiving and Dispatch, Processes
  • What is Warehouse Design?
  • What is Warehousing Costs?

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purpose in writing the research report

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purpose in writing the research report

Research report guide: Definition, types, and tips

Last updated

5 March 2024

Reviewed by

From successful product launches or software releases to planning major business decisions, research reports serve many vital functions. They can summarize evidence and deliver insights and recommendations to save companies time and resources. They can reveal the most value-adding actions a company should take.

However, poorly constructed reports can have the opposite effect! Taking the time to learn established research-reporting rules and approaches will equip you with in-demand skills. You’ll be able to capture and communicate information applicable to numerous situations and industries, adding another string to your resume bow.

  • What are research reports?

A research report is a collection of contextual data, gathered through organized research, that provides new insights into a particular challenge (which, for this article, is business-related). Research reports are a time-tested method for distilling large amounts of data into a narrow band of focus.

Their effectiveness often hinges on whether the report provides:

Strong, well-researched evidence

Comprehensive analysis

Well-considered conclusions and recommendations

Though the topic possibilities are endless, an effective research report keeps a laser-like focus on the specific questions or objectives the researcher believes are key to achieving success. Many research reports begin as research proposals, which usually include the need for a report to capture the findings of the study and recommend a course of action.

A description of the research method used, e.g., qualitative, quantitative, or other

Statistical analysis

Causal (or explanatory) research (i.e., research identifying relationships between two variables)

Inductive research, also known as ‘theory-building’

Deductive research, such as that used to test theories

Action research, where the research is actively used to drive change

  • Importance of a research report

Research reports can unify and direct a company's focus toward the most appropriate strategic action. Of course, spending resources on a report takes up some of the company's human and financial resources. Choosing when a report is called for is a matter of judgment and experience.

Some development models used heavily in the engineering world, such as Waterfall development, are notorious for over-relying on research reports. With Waterfall development, there is a linear progression through each step of a project, and each stage is precisely documented and reported on before moving to the next.

The pace of the business world is faster than the speed at which your authors can produce and disseminate reports. So how do companies strike the right balance between creating and acting on research reports?

The answer lies, again, in the report's defined objectives. By paring down your most pressing interests and those of your stakeholders, your research and reporting skills will be the lenses that keep your company's priorities in constant focus.

Honing your company's primary objectives can save significant amounts of time and align research and reporting efforts with ever-greater precision.

Some examples of well-designed research objectives are:

Proving whether or not a product or service meets customer expectations

Demonstrating the value of a service, product, or business process to your stakeholders and investors

Improving business decision-making when faced with a lack of time or other constraints

Clarifying the relationship between a critical cause and effect for problematic business processes

Prioritizing the development of a backlog of products or product features

Comparing business or production strategies

Evaluating past decisions and predicting future outcomes

  • Features of a research report

Research reports generally require a research design phase, where the report author(s) determine the most important elements the report must contain.

Just as there are various kinds of research, there are many types of reports.

Here are the standard elements of almost any research-reporting format:

Report summary. A broad but comprehensive overview of what readers will learn in the full report. Summaries are usually no more than one or two paragraphs and address all key elements of the report. Think of the key takeaways your primary stakeholders will want to know if they don’t have time to read the full document.

Introduction. Include a brief background of the topic, the type of research, and the research sample. Consider the primary goal of the report, who is most affected, and how far along the company is in meeting its objectives.

Methods. A description of how the researcher carried out data collection, analysis, and final interpretations of the data. Include the reasons for choosing a particular method. The methods section should strike a balance between clearly presenting the approach taken to gather data and discussing how it is designed to achieve the report's objectives.

Data analysis. This section contains interpretations that lead readers through the results relevant to the report's thesis. If there were unexpected results, include here a discussion on why that might be. Charts, calculations, statistics, and other supporting information also belong here (or, if lengthy, as an appendix). This should be the most detailed section of the research report, with references for further study. Present the information in a logical order, whether chronologically or in order of importance to the report's objectives.

Conclusion. This should be written with sound reasoning, often containing useful recommendations. The conclusion must be backed by a continuous thread of logic throughout the report.

  • How to write a research paper

With a clear outline and robust pool of research, a research paper can start to write itself, but what's a good way to start a research report?

Research report examples are often the quickest way to gain inspiration for your report. Look for the types of research reports most relevant to your industry and consider which makes the most sense for your data and goals.

The research report outline will help you organize the elements of your report. One of the most time-tested report outlines is the IMRaD structure:

Introduction

...and Discussion

Pay close attention to the most well-established research reporting format in your industry, and consider your tone and language from your audience's perspective. Learn the key terms inside and out; incorrect jargon could easily harm the perceived authority of your research paper.

Along with a foundation in high-quality research and razor-sharp analysis, the most effective research reports will also demonstrate well-developed:

Internal logic

Narrative flow

Conclusions and recommendations

Readability, striking a balance between simple phrasing and technical insight

How to gather research data for your report

The validity of research data is critical. Because the research phase usually occurs well before the writing phase, you normally have plenty of time to vet your data.

However, research reports could involve ongoing research, where report authors (sometimes the researchers themselves) write portions of the report alongside ongoing research.

One such research-report example would be an R&D department that knows its primary stakeholders are eager to learn about a lengthy work in progress and any potentially important outcomes.

However you choose to manage the research and reporting, your data must meet robust quality standards before you can rely on it. Vet any research with the following questions in mind:

Does it use statistically valid analysis methods?

Do the researchers clearly explain their research, analysis, and sampling methods?

Did the researchers provide any caveats or advice on how to interpret their data?

Have you gathered the data yourself or were you in close contact with those who did?

Is the source biased?

Usually, flawed research methods become more apparent the further you get through a research report.

It's perfectly natural for good research to raise new questions, but the reader should have no uncertainty about what the data represents. There should be no doubt about matters such as:

Whether the sampling or analysis methods were based on sound and consistent logic

What the research samples are and where they came from

The accuracy of any statistical functions or equations

Validation of testing and measuring processes

When does a report require design validation?

A robust design validation process is often a gold standard in highly technical research reports. Design validation ensures the objects of a study are measured accurately, which lends more weight to your report and makes it valuable to more specialized industries.

Product development and engineering projects are the most common research-report examples that typically involve a design validation process. Depending on the scope and complexity of your research, you might face additional steps to validate your data and research procedures.

If you’re including design validation in the report (or report proposal), explain and justify your data-collection processes. Good design validation builds greater trust in a research report and lends more weight to its conclusions.

Choosing the right analysis method

Just as the quality of your report depends on properly validated research, a useful conclusion requires the most contextually relevant analysis method. This means comparing different statistical methods and choosing the one that makes the most sense for your research.

Most broadly, research analysis comes down to quantitative or qualitative methods (respectively: measurable by a number vs subjectively qualified values). There are also mixed research methods, which bridge the need for merging hard data with qualified assessments and still reach a cohesive set of conclusions.

Some of the most common analysis methods in research reports include:

Significance testing (aka hypothesis analysis), which compares test and control groups to determine how likely the data was the result of random chance.

Regression analysis , to establish relationships between variables, control for extraneous variables , and support correlation analysis.

Correlation analysis (aka bivariate testing), a method to identify and determine the strength of linear relationships between variables. It’s effective for detecting patterns from complex data, but care must be exercised to not confuse correlation with causation.

With any analysis method, it's important to justify which method you chose in the report. You should also provide estimates of the statistical accuracy (e.g., the p-value or confidence level of quantifiable data) of any data analysis.

This requires a commitment to the report's primary aim. For instance, this may be achieving a certain level of customer satisfaction by analyzing the cause and effect of changes to how service is delivered. Even better, use statistical analysis to calculate which change is most positively correlated with improved levels of customer satisfaction.

  • Tips for writing research reports

There's endless good advice for writing effective research reports, and it almost all depends on the subjective aims of the people behind the report. Due to the wide variety of research reports, the best tips will be unique to each author's purpose.

Consider the following research report tips in any order, and take note of the ones most relevant to you:

No matter how in depth or detailed your report might be, provide a well-considered, succinct summary. At the very least, give your readers a quick and effective way to get up to speed.

Pare down your target audience (e.g., other researchers, employees, laypersons, etc.), and adjust your voice for their background knowledge and interest levels

For all but the most open-ended research, clarify your objectives, both for yourself and within the report.

Leverage your team members’ talents to fill in any knowledge gaps you might have. Your team is only as good as the sum of its parts.

Justify why your research proposal’s topic will endure long enough to derive value from the finished report.

Consolidate all research and analysis functions onto a single user-friendly platform. There's no reason to settle for less than developer-grade tools suitable for non-developers.

What's the format of a research report?

The research-reporting format is how the report is structured—a framework the authors use to organize their data, conclusions, arguments, and recommendations. The format heavily determines how the report's outline develops, because the format dictates the overall structure and order of information (based on the report's goals and research objectives).

What's the purpose of a research-report outline?

A good report outline gives form and substance to the report's objectives, presenting the results in a readable, engaging way. For any research-report format, the outline should create momentum along a chain of logic that builds up to a conclusion or interpretation.

What's the difference between a research essay and a research report?

There are several key differences between research reports and essays:

Research report:

Ordered into separate sections

More commercial in nature

Often includes infographics

Heavily descriptive

More self-referential

Usually provides recommendations

Research essay

Does not rely on research report formatting

More academically minded

Normally text-only

Less detailed

Omits discussion of methods

Usually non-prescriptive 

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Research Writing and Analysis

  • NVivo Group and Study Sessions
  • SPSS This link opens in a new window
  • Statistical Analysis Group sessions
  • Using Qualtrics
  • Dissertation and Data Analysis Group Sessions
  • Research Process Flow Chart
  • Research Alignment This link opens in a new window
  • Step 1: Seek Out Evidence
  • Step 2: Explain
  • Step 3: The Big Picture
  • Step 4: Own It
  • Step 5: Illustrate
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Literature Review This link opens in a new window
  • Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analyses
  • How to Synthesize and Analyze
  • Synthesis and Analysis Practice
  • Synthesis and Analysis Group Sessions
  • Problem Statement
  • Purpose Statement
  • Quantitative Research Questions
  • Qualitative Research Questions
  • Trustworthiness of Qualitative Data
  • Analysis and Coding Example- Qualitative Data
  • Thematic Data Analysis in Qualitative Design
  • Dissertation to Journal Article This link opens in a new window
  • International Journal of Online Graduate Education (IJOGE) This link opens in a new window
  • Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning (JRIT&L) This link opens in a new window

Jump to DSE Guide

Purpose statement overview.

The purpose statement succinctly explains (on no more than 1 page) the objectives of the research study. These objectives must directly address the problem and help close the stated gap. Expressed as a formula:

purpose in writing the research report

Good purpose statements:

  • Flow from the problem statement and actually address the proposed problem
  • Are concise and clear
  • Answer the question ‘Why are you doing this research?’
  • Match the methodology (similar to research questions)
  • Have a ‘hook’ to get the reader’s attention
  • Set the stage by clearly stating, “The purpose of this (qualitative or quantitative) study is to ...

In PhD studies, the purpose usually involves applying a theory to solve the problem. In other words, the purpose tells the reader what the goal of the study is, and what your study will accomplish, through which theoretical lens. The purpose statement also includes brief information about direction, scope, and where the data will come from.

A problem and gap in combination can lead to different research objectives, and hence, different purpose statements. In the example from above where the problem was severe underrepresentation of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies and the identified gap related to lack of research of male-dominated boards; one purpose might be to explore implicit biases in male-dominated boards through the lens of feminist theory. Another purpose may be to determine how board members rated female and male candidates on scales of competency, professionalism, and experience to predict which candidate will be selected for the CEO position. The first purpose may involve a qualitative ethnographic study in which the researcher observes board meetings and hiring interviews; the second may involve a quantitative regression analysis. The outcomes will be very different, so it’s important that you find out exactly how you want to address a problem and help close a gap!

The purpose of the study must not only align with the problem and address a gap; it must also align with the chosen research method. In fact, the DP/DM template requires you to name the  research method at the very beginning of the purpose statement. The research verb must match the chosen method. In general, quantitative studies involve “closed-ended” research verbs such as determine , measure , correlate , explain , compare , validate , identify , or examine ; whereas qualitative studies involve “open-ended” research verbs such as explore , understand , narrate , articulate [meanings], discover , or develop .

A qualitative purpose statement following the color-coded problem statement (assumed here to be low well-being among financial sector employees) + gap (lack of research on followers of mid-level managers), might start like this:

In response to declining levels of employee well-being, the purpose of the qualitative phenomenology was to explore and understand the lived experiences related to the well-being of the followers of novice mid-level managers in the financial services industry. The levels of follower well-being have been shown to correlate to employee morale, turnover intention, and customer orientation (Eren et al., 2013). A combined framework of Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory and the employee well-being concept informed the research questions and supported the inquiry, analysis, and interpretation of the experiences of followers of novice managers in the financial services industry.

A quantitative purpose statement for the same problem and gap might start like this:

In response to declining levels of employee well-being, the purpose of the quantitative correlational study was to determine which leadership factors predict employee well-being of the followers of novice mid-level managers in the financial services industry. Leadership factors were measured by the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) assessment framework  by Mantlekow (2015), and employee well-being was conceptualized as a compound variable consisting of self-reported turnover-intent and psychological test scores from the Mental Health Survey (MHS) developed by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Both of these purpose statements reflect viable research strategies and both align with the problem and gap so it’s up to the researcher to design a study in a manner that reflects personal preferences and desired study outcomes. Note that the quantitative research purpose incorporates operationalized concepts  or variables ; that reflect the way the researcher intends to measure the key concepts under study; whereas the qualitative purpose statement isn’t about translating the concepts under study as variables but instead aim to explore and understand the core research phenomenon.  

Best Practices for Writing your Purpose Statement

Always keep in mind that the dissertation process is iterative, and your writing, over time, will be refined as clarity is gradually achieved. Most of the time, greater clarity for the purpose statement and other components of the Dissertation is the result of a growing understanding of the literature in the field. As you increasingly master the literature you will also increasingly clarify the purpose of your study.

The purpose statement should flow directly from the problem statement. There should be clear and obvious alignment between the two and that alignment will get tighter and more pronounced as your work progresses.

The purpose statement should specifically address the reason for conducting the study, with emphasis on the word specifically. There should not be any doubt in your readers’ minds as to the purpose of your study. To achieve this level of clarity you will need to also insure there is no doubt in your mind as to the purpose of your study.

Many researchers benefit from stopping your work during the research process when insight strikes you and write about it while it is still fresh in your mind. This can help you clarify all aspects of a dissertation, including clarifying its purpose.

Your Chair and your committee members can help you to clarify your study’s purpose so carefully attend to any feedback they offer.

The purpose statement should reflect the research questions and vice versa. The chain of alignment that began with the research problem description and continues on to the research purpose, research questions, and methodology must be respected at all times during dissertation development. You are to succinctly describe the overarching goal of the study that reflects the research questions. Each research question narrows and focuses the purpose statement. Conversely, the purpose statement encompasses all of the research questions.

Identify in the purpose statement the research method as quantitative, qualitative or mixed (i.e., “The purpose of this [qualitative/quantitative/mixed] study is to ...)

Avoid the use of the phrase “research study” since the two words together are redundant.

Follow the initial declaration of purpose with a brief overview of how, with what instruments/data, with whom and where (as applicable) the study will be conducted. Identify variables/constructs and/or phenomenon/concept/idea. Since this section is to be a concise paragraph, emphasis must be placed on the word brief. However, adding these details will give your readers a very clear picture of the purpose of your research.

Developing the purpose section of your dissertation is usually not achieved in a single flash of insight. The process involves a great deal of reading to find out what other scholars have done to address the research topic and problem you have identified. The purpose section of your dissertation could well be the most important paragraph you write during your academic career, and every word should be carefully selected. Think of it as the DNA of your dissertation. Everything else you write should emerge directly and clearly from your purpose statement. In turn, your purpose statement should emerge directly and clearly from your research problem description. It is good practice to print out your problem statement and purpose statement and keep them in front of you as you work on each part of your dissertation in order to insure alignment.

It is helpful to collect several dissertations similar to the one you envision creating. Extract the problem descriptions and purpose statements of other dissertation authors and compare them in order to sharpen your thinking about your own work.  Comparing how other dissertation authors have handled the many challenges you are facing can be an invaluable exercise. Keep in mind that individual universities use their own tailored protocols for presenting key components of the dissertation so your review of these purpose statements should focus on content rather than form.

Once your purpose statement is set it must be consistently presented throughout the dissertation. This may require some recursive editing because the way you articulate your purpose may evolve as you work on various aspects of your dissertation. Whenever you make an adjustment to your purpose statement you should carefully follow up on the editing and conceptual ramifications throughout the entire document.

In establishing your purpose you should NOT advocate for a particular outcome. Research should be done to answer questions not prove a point. As a researcher, you are to inquire with an open mind, and even when you come to the work with clear assumptions, your job is to prove the validity of the conclusions reached. For example, you would not say the purpose of your research project is to demonstrate that there is a relationship between two variables. Such a statement presupposes you know the answer before your research is conducted and promotes or supports (advocates on behalf of) a particular outcome. A more appropriate purpose statement would be to examine or explore the relationship between two variables.

Your purpose statement should not imply that you are going to prove something. You may be surprised to learn that we cannot prove anything in scholarly research for two reasons. First, in quantitative analyses, statistical tests calculate the probability that something is true rather than establishing it as true. Second, in qualitative research, the study can only purport to describe what is occurring from the perspective of the participants. Whether or not the phenomenon they are describing is true in a larger context is not knowable. We cannot observe the phenomenon in all settings and in all circumstances.

Writing your Purpose Statement

It is important to distinguish in your mind the differences between the Problem Statement and Purpose Statement.

The Problem Statement is why I am doing the research

The Purpose Statement is what type of research I am doing to fit or address the problem

The Purpose Statement includes:

  • Method of Study
  • Specific Population

Remember, as you are contemplating what to include in your purpose statement and then when you are writing it, the purpose statement is a concise paragraph that describes the intent of the study, and it should flow directly from the problem statement.  It should specifically address the reason for conducting the study, and reflect the research questions.  Further, it should identify the research method as qualitative, quantitative, or mixed.  Then provide a brief overview of how the study will be conducted, with what instruments/data collection methods, and with whom (subjects) and where (as applicable). Finally, you should identify variables/constructs and/or phenomenon/concept/idea.

Qualitative Purpose Statement

Creswell (2002) suggested for writing purpose statements in qualitative research include using deliberate phrasing to alert the reader to the purpose statement. Verbs that indicate what will take place in the research and the use of non-directional language that do not suggest an outcome are key. A purpose statement should focus on a single idea or concept, with a broad definition of the idea or concept. How the concept was investigated should also be included, as well as participants in the study and locations for the research to give the reader a sense of with whom and where the study took place. 

Creswell (2003) advised the following script for purpose statements in qualitative research:

“The purpose of this qualitative_________________ (strategy of inquiry, such as ethnography, case study, or other type) study is (was? will be?) to ________________ (understand? describe? develop? discover?) the _________________(central phenomenon being studied) for ______________ (the participants, such as the individual, groups, organization) at __________(research site). At this stage in the research, the __________ (central phenomenon being studied) will be generally defined as ___________________ (provide a general definition)” (pg. 90).

Quantitative Purpose Statement

Creswell (2003) offers vast differences between the purpose statements written for qualitative research and those written for quantitative research, particularly with respect to language and the inclusion of variables. The comparison of variables is often a focus of quantitative research, with the variables distinguishable by either the temporal order or how they are measured. As with qualitative research purpose statements, Creswell (2003) recommends the use of deliberate language to alert the reader to the purpose of the study, but quantitative purpose statements also include the theory or conceptual framework guiding the study and the variables that are being studied and how they are related. 

Creswell (2003) suggests the following script for drafting purpose statements in quantitative research:

“The purpose of this _____________________ (experiment? survey?) study is (was? will be?) to test the theory of _________________that _________________ (compares? relates?) the ___________(independent variable) to _________________________(dependent variable), controlling for _______________________ (control variables) for ___________________ (participants) at _________________________ (the research site). The independent variable(s) _____________________ will be generally defined as _______________________ (provide a general definition). The dependent variable(s) will be generally defined as _____________________ (provide a general definition), and the control and intervening variables(s), _________________ (identify the control and intervening variables) will be statistically controlled in this study” (pg. 97).

Sample Purpose Statements

  • The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine how participation in service-learning in an alternative school impacted students academically, civically, and personally.  There is ample evidence demonstrating the failure of schools for students at-risk; however, there is still a need to demonstrate why these students are successful in non-traditional educational programs like the service-learning model used at TDS.  This study was unique in that it examined one alternative school’s approach to service-learning in a setting where students not only serve, but faculty serve as volunteer teachers.  The use of a constructivist approach in service-learning in an alternative school setting was examined in an effort to determine whether service-learning participation contributes positively to academic, personal, and civic gain for students, and to examine student and teacher views regarding the overall outcomes of service-learning.  This study was completed using an ethnographic approach that included observations, content analysis, and interviews with teachers at The David School.
  • The purpose of this quantitative non-experimental cross-sectional linear multiple regression design was to investigate the relationship among early childhood teachers’ self-reported assessment of multicultural awareness as measured by responses from the Teacher Multicultural Attitude Survey (TMAS) and supervisors’ observed assessment of teachers’ multicultural competency skills as measured by the Multicultural Teaching Competency Scale (MTCS) survey. Demographic data such as number of multicultural training hours, years teaching in Dubai, curriculum program at current school, and age were also examined and their relationship to multicultural teaching competency. The study took place in the emirate of Dubai where there were 14,333 expatriate teachers employed in private schools (KHDA, 2013b).
  • The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental study is to examine the degree to which stages of change, gender, acculturation level and trauma types predicts the reluctance of Arab refugees, aged 18 and over, in the Dearborn, MI area, to seek professional help for their mental health needs. This study will utilize four instruments to measure these variables: University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA: DiClemente & Hughes, 1990); Cumulative Trauma Scale (Kira, 2012); Acculturation Rating Scale for Arabic Americans-II Arabic and English (ARSAA-IIA, ARSAA-IIE: Jadalla & Lee, 2013), and a demographic survey. This study will examine 1) the relationship between stages of change, gender, acculturation levels, and trauma types and Arab refugees’ help-seeking behavior, 2) the degree to which any of these variables can predict Arab refugee help-seeking behavior.  Additionally, the outcome of this study could provide researchers and clinicians with a stage-based model, TTM, for measuring Arab refugees’ help-seeking behavior and lay a foundation for how TTM can help target the clinical needs of Arab refugees. Lastly, this attempt to apply the TTM model to Arab refugees’ condition could lay the foundation for future research to investigate the application of TTM to clinical work among refugee populations.
  • The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study is to describe the lived experiences of LLM for 10 EFL learners in rural Guatemala and to utilize that data to determine how it conforms to, or possibly challenges, current theoretical conceptions of LLM. In accordance with Morse’s (1994) suggestion that a phenomenological study should utilize at least six participants, this study utilized semi-structured interviews with 10 EFL learners to explore why and how they have experienced the motivation to learn English throughout their lives. The methodology of horizontalization was used to break the interview protocols into individual units of meaning before analyzing these units to extract the overarching themes (Moustakas, 1994). These themes were then interpreted into a detailed description of LLM as experienced by EFL students in this context. Finally, the resulting description was analyzed to discover how these learners’ lived experiences with LLM conformed with and/or diverged from current theories of LLM.
  • The purpose of this qualitative, embedded, multiple case study was to examine how both parent-child attachment relationships are impacted by the quality of the paternal and maternal caregiver-child interactions that occur throughout a maternal deployment, within the context of dual-military couples. In order to examine this phenomenon, an embedded, multiple case study was conducted, utilizing an attachment systems metatheory perspective. The study included four dual-military couples who experienced a maternal deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) when they had at least one child between 8 weeks-old to 5 years-old.  Each member of the couple participated in an individual, semi-structured interview with the researcher and completed the Parenting Relationship Questionnaire (PRQ). “The PRQ is designed to capture a parent’s perspective on the parent-child relationship” (Pearson, 2012, para. 1) and was used within the proposed study for this purpose. The PRQ was utilized to triangulate the data (Bekhet & Zauszniewski, 2012) as well as to provide some additional information on the parents’ perspective of the quality of the parent-child attachment relationship in regards to communication, discipline, parenting confidence, relationship satisfaction, and time spent together (Pearson, 2012). The researcher utilized the semi-structured interview to collect information regarding the parents' perspectives of the quality of their parental caregiver behaviors during the deployment cycle, the mother's parent-child interactions while deployed, the behavior of the child or children at time of reunification, and the strategies or behaviors the parents believe may have contributed to their child's behavior at the time of reunification. The results of this study may be utilized by the military, and by civilian providers, to develop proactive and preventive measures that both providers and parents can implement, to address any potential adverse effects on the parent-child attachment relationship, identified through the proposed study. The results of this study may also be utilized to further refine and understand the integration of attachment theory and systems theory, in both clinical and research settings, within the field of marriage and family therapy.

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Writing up a Research Report

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The goal of this paper is to examine the effects of Chile’s agrarian reform on the lives of rural peasants. The nature of the topic dictates the use of both a chronological and a comparative analysis of peasant lives at various points during the reform period. . . The Chilean reform example provides evidence that land distribution is an essential component of both the improvement of peasant conditions and the development of a democratic society. More extensive and enduring reforms would likely have allowed Chile the opportunity to further expand these horizons.

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Abstract : Abstract is a brief synopses of article. It provides a brief but comprehensive summary of the article. 

Citing : In the context of academic writing, citing is the act of acknowledging the sources of information you have used when writing your work.

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APA Style is primarily used in the behavioral sciences, which are subjects related to people, such as psychology, education, and nursing. It is also used by students in business, engineering, communications, and other classes. Students use it to write academic essays and research papers in college, and professionals use it to conduct, report, and publish scientific research.

In addition, APA Style provides you with a powerful tool that will hep you avoid deliberate or unintentional plagiarism. Please review the Avoiding Plagiarism Guide created by the APA experts to understand what two common types of plagiarism are and how to avoid them. 

Why is learning citations important? Citations help readers understand where the information used in your paper comes from, enabling them to trace the path of that information. When readers wish to explore a specific point or reference cited in the text, citations make it easier by providing information about your sources in a standardized format.

Besides showing readers where you obtained information, using citations also has a strong ethical purpose. In academic writing, it is important to credit ideas that are not your own. Citations allow you to integrate the ideas of others with your own thoughts in a fair and honest way.

The reference formats for APA Style manuals are as follows:

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Students are encouraged to first learn about APA Style by reading works written in APA Style. A couple of guides created by APA experts from the American Psychological Association can help you with that:

Anatomy of a Journal Article   https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/anatomy-journal-article.pdf

Scholarly journal articles share a common anatomy or structure. Each part of an article serves a specific purpose. The handout of  Anatomy of a Journal Article explains how journal articles are structured and how to become more efficient at reading and understanding them. Understanding the structure of a scholarly article and the purpose of each part helps you grasp a strategy called targeted reading. Targeted reading means to read specific sections of research articles first to determine if the article seems useful for your research topic. This way you will save time, find useful article faster, and choose which articles to read in full.

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Abstracts are short summaries of scientific research articles. The handout of Reading & Understanding Abstracts explains the definition and purpose of abstracts and the benefits of reading them, including analysis of a sample abstract. The skill of reading and understanding abstracts of scholarly articles not only saves time but also helps you conduct better research and write more effectively.

APA Style Writing Principles https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/writing-principles.pdf

The poster created by APA experts shows the three main principles of APA Style: clarity, precision, and inclusion and lists steps on how to achieve them. As a student writer, you always should write your academic paper with clarity, precision, and inclusion. 

Research Article Activity https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/apa-style-research-activity.pdf

Reading research articles is not an easy task for you as a student. The Research Article Activity designed by APA Style experts aims to make it easy to read and understand a scholarly article. This activity worksheet helps you find, cite, analyze, and summarize a research article. Completing this activity breaks down a lengthy research article into easily understandable chunks. This way helps you better understand the study in the article before you write about it. 

The information in this Guide   is courtesy of   the official APA Style website by the American Psychological Association.

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This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:

Published on 8.4.2024 in Vol 26 (2024)

Longitudinal Monitoring of Clinician-Patient Video Visits During the Peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Adoption and Sustained Challenges in an Integrated Health Care Delivery System

Authors of this article:

Author Orcid Image

Original Paper

  • Jessica A Palakshappa 1, 2 , MD, MS   ; 
  • Erica R Hale 1, 2 , MS   ; 
  • Joshua D Brown 1 , PhD   ; 
  • Carol A Kittel 2 , MA   ; 
  • Emily Dressler 2 , PhD   ; 
  • Gary E Rosenthal 1, 2 , MD   ; 
  • Sarah L Cutrona 3, 4 , MD, MPH   ; 
  • Kristie L Foley 2 , MS, PhD   ; 
  • Emily R Haines 2 , PhD   ; 
  • Thomas K Houston II 1, 2 , MD, MPH  

1 Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Winston Salem, NC, United States

2 Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, United States

3 Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA, United States

4 Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Veterans Affairs Bedford Healthcare System, Bedford, MA, United States

Corresponding Author:

Jessica A Palakshappa, MD, MS

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

1 Medical Center Blvd

Winston Salem, NC, 27157

United States

Phone: 1 336 716 8465

Email: [email protected]

Background: Numerous prior opinion papers, administrative electronic health record data studies, and cross-sectional surveys of telehealth during the pandemic have been published, but none have combined assessments of video visit success monitoring with longitudinal assessments of perceived challenges to the rapid adoption of video visits during the pandemic.

Objective: This study aims to quantify (1) the use of video visits (compared with in-person and telephone visits) over time during the pandemic, (2) video visit successful connection rates, and (3) changes in perceived video visit challenges.

Methods: A web-based survey was developed for the dual purpose of monitoring and improving video visit implementation in our health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey included questions regarding rates of in-person, telephone, and video visits for clinician-patient encounters; the rate of successful connection for video visits; and perceived challenges to video visits (eg, software, hardware, bandwidth, and technology literacy). The survey was distributed via email to physicians, advanced practice professionals, and clinicians in May 2020. The survey was repeated in March 2021. Differences between the 2020 and 2021 responses were adjusted for within-respondent correlation across surveys and tested using generalized estimating equations.

Results: A total of 1126 surveys were completed (511 surveys in 2020 and 615 surveys in 2021). In 2020, only 21.7% (73/336) of clinicians reported no difficulty connecting with patients during video visits and 28.6% (93/325) of clinicians reported no difficulty in 2021. The distribution of the percentage of successfully connected video visits (“Over the past two weeks of scheduled visits, what percentage did you successfully connect with patients by video?”) was not significantly different between 2020 and 2021 ( P =.74). Challenges in conducting video visits persisted over time. Poor connectivity was the most common challenge reported by clinicians. This response increased over time, with 30.5% (156/511) selecting it as a challenge in 2020 and 37.1% (228/615) in 2021 ( P =.01). Patients not having access to their electronic health record portals was also a commonly reported challenge (109/511, 21.3% in 2020 and 137/615, 22.3% in 2021, P =.73).

Conclusions: During the pandemic, our health care delivery system rapidly adopted synchronous patient-clinician communication using video visits. As experience with video visits increased, the reported failure rate did not significantly decline, and clinicians continued to report challenges related to general network connectivity and patient access to technology.

Introduction

Interest in telehealth from policy makers, health care providers, patients, and families continues to grow [ 1 ], including newer modalities such as video visits [ 2 ]. Video visits refer to clinician-patient communication that includes real time video and audio assessment of the patient when the clinician is in a different location. Video visits have the potential to improve efficiency for clinicians and to improve access for patients, particularly those who reside in rural areas or with transportation barriers [ 3 ]. The technology to support video visits has existed for decades; however, only a small minority of clinicians used this form of telehealth in their practices [ 4 ] prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are multiple reasons why telehealth adoption was slow despite its potential benefits including changing cost and reimbursement policies, federal and state licensing laws, incompatible electronic health records, and gaps in internet access in certain areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent public health emergency led to fundamental shifts in how health care was delivered in the United States, including the rapid adoption of telehealth services. Before the public health emergency, approximately 13,000 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries received telehealth services in a week and that number increased to nearly 1.7 million beneficiaries by the last week of April 2020 [ 5 ]. While the need to avoid in-person contact fueled the initial rapid rise, regulations and restrictions were temporarily lifted during this time facilitating its use. Clinicians were also paid for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person medical services. Several studies have reported on the rapid uptake of telehealth, including video visits, in this context [ 6 - 8 ]. However, few reports have explored rates of success and failure of video visits over time. The challenges clinicians face in conducting video visits have also not been explored. Understanding these challenges will be important for improving and expanding the reach of telehealth services after the pandemic has ended.

In the context of the rapidly increasing use of telehealth to conduct video visits, and consistent with the sociotechnical model’s [ 9 ] emphasis on monitoring the implementation of health information technology in complex adaptive health care systems, our health care delivery system initiated a series of brief assessments of video visit adoption. The research objective of this report is to summarize the findings of the video visit monitoring including (1) the use of video visits (compared with in-person and telephone visits) over time during the pandemic, (2) video visit successful connection rates, and (3) changes in perceived video visit challenges. With patient and clinician skills and experience with video visits increasing over time, our primary hypothesis was that clinicians’ perceived challenges to completing video visits (eg, software, hardware, bandwidth, and technology literacy) would decline over time.

Study Design

The design was a longitudinal series of 2 cross-sectional assessments (2020 and 2021). In summary, for the dual purpose of monitoring and improving telehealth implementation in our health care delivery system, institutional leaders developed a brief web-based survey regarding the use of video visits and challenges. The survey was initially distributed in 2020. Given the ongoing public health emergency and the need to re-evaluate telehealth use, the survey was repeated in 2021. Institutional leaders encouraged clinicians to complete the survey, communicating encouragement via emails and announcements at in-person faculty and departmental meetings.

Ethical Considerations

As the brief assessments were distributed by the clinical system as part of ongoing quality improvement, the project was approved as an research protocol as exempt from human participants approval by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Institutional Review Board (IRB00077473). The survey did not collect identifying information from the participants.

Survey Development

Published in 2010 by Sittig and Singh [ 9 ], the sociotechnical model of health information technology was the first to fully emphasize the importance of system monitoring in implementation frameworks. Key aspects of monitoring, including measuring how the technology is being used by clinicians and whether implementation outcomes are being achieved, were considered when developing the survey. The survey was developed with a literature search, expert review, and iterative pilot-testing (see Multimedia Appendix 1 ). The final survey included 12 questions related to rates of in-person, telephone, and video for clinician-patient encounters; the rate of successful connection for video visits; and perceived challenges to video visits (eg, software, hardware, bandwidth, and technology literacy).

Study Population

The study population included all outpatient clinicians practicing across the health care delivery system; we excluded clinicians without direct patient care responsibilities. The system includes 5 hospitals and over 350 primary care and specialty clinics that provide care to over 2 million persons annually. The brief assessment was distributed to clinicians in 2020 and 2021 (1937 clinicians and 2843 clinicians, respectively).

Survey Distribution and Data Collection

As we are an integrated health care delivery system, we had access to the contact details of all providers. Our group practice clinical operations executive committee facilitated the survey distribution by requesting that each department chair and clinical service line director send an email to their team of providers to notify them of the survey and encourage completion. Surveys were collected and managed using REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), a secure, web-based app designed to support data capture [ 10 , 11 ]. A unique survey link was distributed via email to each clinician in May 2020 and March 2021. The system sent up to 2 reminder emails if the recipient had not yet completed the survey.

Statistical Analysis

To take full advantage of the data collected, we first analyzed the results as 2 cross-sectional surveys. In this primary analysis, we included all respondents in each year. We recognize that a subset of clinicians also responded in both years. Thus, as a secondary analysis, we analyzed the data limited to the longitudinal cohort who participated in both years. First, summary statistics are presented as count (frequency) for categorical variables and mean (SD) or median (IQR) for continuous variables as appropriate. Generalized estimating equations were then used to model frequency distributions of in-person, telephone, and video visits, and patient and clinician challenges. These logit models were adjusted for within-respondent correlation across surveys via an exchangeable correlation structure. P values of .05 were considered statistically significant. P values for multiple comparisons in frequency distributions of in-person, telephone, and video visits between physicians, advanced practice professionals (APPs), and other clinicians were adjusted via the Tukey-Kramer method to control for type I errors with a corrected P value <.05 deemed statistically significant [ 12 ]. All statistical analyses were performed with R (version 4.2.1; R Core Team) [ 13 ].

We recognize that a subset of clinicians responded in both years. Thus, as a secondary analysis, we analyzed the data limited to the longitudinal cohort who participated in both surveys. For the secondary analysis, matched pairs analyses were performed as were performed in the entire sample with only those responses from clinicians that completed both surveys.

Surveillance Participation and Participant Characteristics

In 2020, 1937 surveys were sent and 511 responses were received (response rate 26.4%). In 2021, 2843 surveys were sent and 615 responses were received (response rate 21.6%). In both years, over 55% of the respondents were physicians from a wide range of clinical specialties. About half of the clinicians who completed the survey in 2020 also completed it in 2021 ( Table 1 ).

a n=511 responses in 2020 and n=615 responses in 2021.

b n=300 responses in 2020 and n=353 responses in 2021.

Health Care Delivery by In-Person and Telephone

To place the volume of telehealth in context, we first asked about the number of in-person encounters completed over the past 2 weeks ( Table 2 ). The distribution of responses differed between 2020 and 2021 ( P <.001). Modeled probabilities show fewer respondents reported zero (22.2% vs 4.9%) or 1 to 10 (33.5% vs 11.5%) in-person visits in 2021 as compared with 2020. The volume of in-person visits increased over time ( Table 2 ). Further, the majority of respondents (399/509, 78.4%) reported at least 1 telephone visit in 2020 and 65.7% (369/562) in 2021 although the distribution of responses differed from 2020 to 2021 ( P <.001).

a Differences in frequency distributions between 2020 and 2021 tested via generalized estimating equation modeling; P value adjusted using Tukey-Kramer method to control for type I errors.

Health Care Delivery by Video Visits

Many health care providers were engaged in virtual care, with 65.9% (336/510) health care providers reporting video visit encounters in 2020 and 57.6% (325/564) health care providers reporting video visit encounters in 2021 ( Table 2 ) although the distribution of responses again changed from 2020 to 2021 ( P <.001). Compared with 2020, fewer 2021 respondents reported 11-25 (18.6% vs 6.7%), 26-50 (5.9% vs 2.8%), or over 50 (2.4% vs 2%) visits.

Secondary analyses were robust to missing data and showed that the results (distributions of in-person, phone, and video visits) did not change when limiting the data to only respondents who participated in both surveys.

Comparing Health Care Delivery by Physicians, APPs, and Others

We also compared health care delivery modality by type of clinician (physicians, APPs, or others). Patterns of health care delivery reported in the overall sample were similar in the physician, APP, and other subgroups. There were no significant differences between physicians and APPs in the number of patient encounters that were completed as in-person, telephone visits, or video visits in 2020 or 2021.

Perceived Challenges to Patient-Clinician Connection Using Video Visits

The use of video visits came with challenges. In 2020, only 21.7% (73/336) of clinicians reported no difficulty connecting with patients during video visits and 28.6% (93/325) of clinicians reported no difficulty in 2021 ( Figure 1 ). The distribution of the percentage of successfully connected video visits (“Over the past two weeks of scheduled visits, what percentage did you successfully connect with patients by video?”) was not significantly different between 2020 and 2021 ( P =.74, Figure 1 ). There was also no significant difference between physicians and APPs in the rate of successful video connection with patients in either year.

Clinicians were asked about the challenges in successfully completing video visits (see Table 3 ). The most commonly reported challenge was poor connectivity. This response increased over time with 30.5% (156/511) selecting it as a challenge in 2020 and 37.1% (228/615) selecting it as a challenge in 2021 ( P =.01). Patients not having access to their electronic health record portals was also a commonly reported challenge (109/511, 21.3% in 2020 and 137/615, 22.3% in 2021; P =.73).

purpose in writing the research report

a P value adjusted using the Tukey-Kramer method to control for type I errors.

b For some clinical video visits, a prerequisite was that patients needed to have registered with the patient portal.

Principal Findings

Although telehealth technology was available in our health care delivery system prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it saw only limited use for providing synchronous care to patients prior to the pandemic. Inconsistent reimbursement for services, restrictions on the physical location of patients and clinicians during telehealth, and rules about types of visits that were acceptable for telehealth services all contributed to its limited use [ 14 , 15 ]. With the pandemic, and consistent with other reports, our health care delivery system rapidly expanded the provision of clinical care by way of video visits. Later in the pandemic, in-person visits did increase, but the use of video visits remained well above prepandemic levels.

Overall, there has been a shift toward a more positive sentiment about telehealth and telemedicine since the start of the pandemic. A scoping review by Doraiswamy et al [ 16 ] reported 543 telehealth-related papers (mostly opinions, commentaries, and perspectives; 61%) published across 331 different journals from January to June 2020. Most of these new reports had a “celebratory” or favorable sentiment about the use of telehealth. The scope of the increase in telehealth during the public health emergency likely contributed to this sentiment though concerns about patient and clinician connection, the lack of physical examinations, and cost-effectiveness were still noted by some. Although our providers reported benefits for clinical video telehealth beyond audio-only calls for patient-provider visits, failure to connect using clinical video visits was common.

While reports have documented challenges with clinical video telehealth [ 17 ], few have monitored these challenges over time. During the pandemic, as our health care delivery system’s experience with video visits grew, clinicians did not report a meaningful reduction in connection failure rate. The most frequently reported challenges were general network connectivity and those related to the digital divide (eg, patient lack of internet access, needed software, or internet-connected cameras). Gaps in access to technology and the internet for telehealth may impact some patient groups more than others. For example, older age, rural residence, dual Medicare and Medicaid enrollment, and non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic race or ethnicity have been shown to be associated with a lower probability of technology ownership, access to the internet, and use of the internet for communication in cancer survivors [ 18 ]. Further, over 10% of clinicians also reported that they experienced software or hardware challenges (eg, limited availability of internet cameras at a clinical location). Expanding telehealth will require ongoing investments in technology for clinicians. New workflows to support successful connection during video visits and follow-up processes may also be needed.

Our video visit monitoring results were shared with clinical operations leadership. In response to the sustained challenges noted, we initiated a new video visit program to provide patient support prior to scheduled video visits. Our technology navigators are a specially trained, centralized team and are directed to reach out to vulnerable patients and families to facilitate video visit access. A new electronic health record dashboard identified patients with (1) a scheduled video visit and (2) 1 or more risk factors (eg, lack of a prior successful video visit and lack of patient portal access). We further prioritized patients older than 65 years and those living in rural areas. Technology navigators reached out by telephone to contact these at-risk patients to assess their technology access (eg, internet, software, webcam, or smartphone), technology literacy and perceived competence, and availability of at-home support from family and friends. The technology navigators then troubleshoot any challenges noted by the patients and offer to conduct a “practice” video visit. Evaluation of this program is ongoing. In 2022-2023, the navigators contacted 1266 patients at high risk for video visit failure. Among those contacted, 515 requested and were provided assistance. With previsit support from the navigators, the patient-provider scheduled video visit completion rate was 84% as compared with a 60% completion rate among those patients who did not receive support.

Limitations of our video visit surveillance analysis include that the data were collected across 1 health care delivery system with an integrated electronic health care record system. The perceptions and challenges may be different in a smaller health care system and in those with different health care record systems. The survey measured only clinician-reported telehealth use and success rates which may be limited by recall. As with all surveys, our results may be biased as only about one-quarter of the sample responded. It is possible that respondents experienced more challenges conducting video visits than those who did not respond. Further, not all clinicians longitudinally completed both the 2020 and 2021 surveys—due both to response rates and providers leaving and entering the health care system. Thus, changes over time may represent differences in the underlying sample. For example, new clinicians may have been more or less familiar with conducting video visits.

Conclusions

Recent reviews have noted the need for more evidence related to telehealth’s implementation, effectiveness, and health equity in telehealth access [ 16 , 19 , 20 ]. Although internet and smartphone access has increased over the last decade (with older adults being one of the fastest-growing subgroups of new adoption), our longitudinal video visit surveillance reveals that the digital divide is still a significant barrier to video visit access.

Although Healthy People 2030 (a set of national objectives to improve health and well-being) includes developmental and research objectives related to patient portals and increasing the use of telehealth to improve access to health services [ 21 ], some social determinants of health taxonomies do not include technology access. If telehealth is increasingly an important component of health care access, then technology access (eg, internet, smartphone, patient portal, and connected hardware, such as internet-connected video) should be considered a social determinant of health [ 22 ]. A comprehensive solution to overcoming the digital divide has not yet been achieved. However, some partial solutions include directly providing technology to patients, providing detailed instructions, and support services (eg, our technology navigator program), and engaging trusted caregivers (family and friends) who may be able to assist patients [ 23 - 27 ].

Acknowledgments

The project was supported through the National Cancer Institute Cancer Moonshot initiative—iDAPT: Implementation and Informatics–Developing Adaptable Processes and Technologies for Cancer Control (P50 CA244693); the Wake Forest Clinical and Translational Science Award (5UL1TR001420); and also a career development award to JAP (1K23AG073529).

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

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Abbreviations

Edited by G Eysenbach, T Leung; submitted 26.10.23; peer-reviewed by K Moulaei; comments to author 19.12.23; revised version received 24.01.24; accepted 09.03.24; published 08.04.24.

©Jessica A Palakshappa, Erica R Hale, Joshua D Brown, Carol A Kittel, Emily Dressler, Gary E Rosenthal, Sarah L Cutrona, Kristie L Foley, Emily R Haines, Thomas K Houston II. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 08.04.2024.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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  • Published: 26 March 2024

Predicting and improving complex beer flavor through machine learning

  • Michiel Schreurs   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-9449-5619 1 , 2 , 3   na1 ,
  • Supinya Piampongsant 1 , 2 , 3   na1 ,
  • Miguel Roncoroni   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7461-1427 1 , 2 , 3   na1 ,
  • Lloyd Cool   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-9936-3124 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,
  • Beatriz Herrera-Malaver   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-5096-9974 1 , 2 , 3 ,
  • Christophe Vanderaa   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7443-5427 4 ,
  • Florian A. Theßeling 1 , 2 , 3 ,
  • Łukasz Kreft   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7620-4657 5 ,
  • Alexander Botzki   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6691-4233 5 ,
  • Philippe Malcorps 6 ,
  • Luk Daenen 6 ,
  • Tom Wenseleers   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1434-861X 4 &
  • Kevin J. Verstrepen   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3077-6219 1 , 2 , 3  

Nature Communications volume  15 , Article number:  2368 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Chemical engineering
  • Gas chromatography
  • Machine learning
  • Metabolomics
  • Taste receptors

The perception and appreciation of food flavor depends on many interacting chemical compounds and external factors, and therefore proves challenging to understand and predict. Here, we combine extensive chemical and sensory analyses of 250 different beers to train machine learning models that allow predicting flavor and consumer appreciation. For each beer, we measure over 200 chemical properties, perform quantitative descriptive sensory analysis with a trained tasting panel and map data from over 180,000 consumer reviews to train 10 different machine learning models. The best-performing algorithm, Gradient Boosting, yields models that significantly outperform predictions based on conventional statistics and accurately predict complex food features and consumer appreciation from chemical profiles. Model dissection allows identifying specific and unexpected compounds as drivers of beer flavor and appreciation. Adding these compounds results in variants of commercial alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers with improved consumer appreciation. Together, our study reveals how big data and machine learning uncover complex links between food chemistry, flavor and consumer perception, and lays the foundation to develop novel, tailored foods with superior flavors.

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Introduction

Predicting and understanding food perception and appreciation is one of the major challenges in food science. Accurate modeling of food flavor and appreciation could yield important opportunities for both producers and consumers, including quality control, product fingerprinting, counterfeit detection, spoilage detection, and the development of new products and product combinations (food pairing) 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 . Accurate models for flavor and consumer appreciation would contribute greatly to our scientific understanding of how humans perceive and appreciate flavor. Moreover, accurate predictive models would also facilitate and standardize existing food assessment methods and could supplement or replace assessments by trained and consumer tasting panels, which are variable, expensive and time-consuming 7 , 8 , 9 . Lastly, apart from providing objective, quantitative, accurate and contextual information that can help producers, models can also guide consumers in understanding their personal preferences 10 .

Despite the myriad of applications, predicting food flavor and appreciation from its chemical properties remains a largely elusive goal in sensory science, especially for complex food and beverages 11 , 12 . A key obstacle is the immense number of flavor-active chemicals underlying food flavor. Flavor compounds can vary widely in chemical structure and concentration, making them technically challenging and labor-intensive to quantify, even in the face of innovations in metabolomics, such as non-targeted metabolic fingerprinting 13 , 14 . Moreover, sensory analysis is perhaps even more complicated. Flavor perception is highly complex, resulting from hundreds of different molecules interacting at the physiochemical and sensorial level. Sensory perception is often non-linear, characterized by complex and concentration-dependent synergistic and antagonistic effects 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 that are further convoluted by the genetics, environment, culture and psychology of consumers 22 , 23 , 24 . Perceived flavor is therefore difficult to measure, with problems of sensitivity, accuracy, and reproducibility that can only be resolved by gathering sufficiently large datasets 25 . Trained tasting panels are considered the prime source of quality sensory data, but require meticulous training, are low throughput and high cost. Public databases containing consumer reviews of food products could provide a valuable alternative, especially for studying appreciation scores, which do not require formal training 25 . Public databases offer the advantage of amassing large amounts of data, increasing the statistical power to identify potential drivers of appreciation. However, public datasets suffer from biases, including a bias in the volunteers that contribute to the database, as well as confounding factors such as price, cult status and psychological conformity towards previous ratings of the product.

Classical multivariate statistics and machine learning methods have been used to predict flavor of specific compounds by, for example, linking structural properties of a compound to its potential biological activities or linking concentrations of specific compounds to sensory profiles 1 , 26 . Importantly, most previous studies focused on predicting organoleptic properties of single compounds (often based on their chemical structure) 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , thus ignoring the fact that these compounds are present in a complex matrix in food or beverages and excluding complex interactions between compounds. Moreover, the classical statistics commonly used in sensory science 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 require a large sample size and sufficient variance amongst predictors to create accurate models. They are not fit for studying an extensive set of hundreds of interacting flavor compounds, since they are sensitive to outliers, have a high tendency to overfit and are less suited for non-linear and discontinuous relationships 40 .

In this study, we combine extensive chemical analyses and sensory data of a set of different commercial beers with machine learning approaches to develop models that predict taste, smell, mouthfeel and appreciation from compound concentrations. Beer is particularly suited to model the relationship between chemistry, flavor and appreciation. First, beer is a complex product, consisting of thousands of flavor compounds that partake in complex sensory interactions 41 , 42 , 43 . This chemical diversity arises from the raw materials (malt, yeast, hops, water and spices) and biochemical conversions during the brewing process (kilning, mashing, boiling, fermentation, maturation and aging) 44 , 45 . Second, the advent of the internet saw beer consumers embrace online review platforms, such as RateBeer (ZX Ventures, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV) and BeerAdvocate (Next Glass, inc.). In this way, the beer community provides massive data sets of beer flavor and appreciation scores, creating extraordinarily large sensory databases to complement the analyses of our professional sensory panel. Specifically, we characterize over 200 chemical properties of 250 commercial beers, spread across 22 beer styles, and link these to the descriptive sensory profiling data of a 16-person in-house trained tasting panel and data acquired from over 180,000 public consumer reviews. These unique and extensive datasets enable us to train a suite of machine learning models to predict flavor and appreciation from a beer’s chemical profile. Dissection of the best-performing models allows us to pinpoint specific compounds as potential drivers of beer flavor and appreciation. Follow-up experiments confirm the importance of these compounds and ultimately allow us to significantly improve the flavor and appreciation of selected commercial beers. Together, our study represents a significant step towards understanding complex flavors and reinforces the value of machine learning to develop and refine complex foods. In this way, it represents a stepping stone for further computer-aided food engineering applications 46 .

To generate a comprehensive dataset on beer flavor, we selected 250 commercial Belgian beers across 22 different beer styles (Supplementary Fig.  S1 ). Beers with ≤ 4.2% alcohol by volume (ABV) were classified as non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic. Blonds and Tripels constitute a significant portion of the dataset (12.4% and 11.2%, respectively) reflecting their presence on the Belgian beer market and the heterogeneity of beers within these styles. By contrast, lager beers are less diverse and dominated by a handful of brands. Rare styles such as Brut or Faro make up only a small fraction of the dataset (2% and 1%, respectively) because fewer of these beers are produced and because they are dominated by distinct characteristics in terms of flavor and chemical composition.

Extensive analysis identifies relationships between chemical compounds in beer

For each beer, we measured 226 different chemical properties, including common brewing parameters such as alcohol content, iso-alpha acids, pH, sugar concentration 47 , and over 200 flavor compounds (Methods, Supplementary Table  S1 ). A large portion (37.2%) are terpenoids arising from hopping, responsible for herbal and fruity flavors 16 , 48 . A second major category are yeast metabolites, such as esters and alcohols, that result in fruity and solvent notes 48 , 49 , 50 . Other measured compounds are primarily derived from malt, or other microbes such as non- Saccharomyces yeasts and bacteria (‘wild flora’). Compounds that arise from spices or staling are labeled under ‘Others’. Five attributes (caloric value, total acids and total ester, hop aroma and sulfur compounds) are calculated from multiple individually measured compounds.

As a first step in identifying relationships between chemical properties, we determined correlations between the concentrations of the compounds (Fig.  1 , upper panel, Supplementary Data  1 and 2 , and Supplementary Fig.  S2 . For the sake of clarity, only a subset of the measured compounds is shown in Fig.  1 ). Compounds of the same origin typically show a positive correlation, while absence of correlation hints at parameters varying independently. For example, the hop aroma compounds citronellol, and alpha-terpineol show moderate correlations with each other (Spearman’s rho=0.39 and 0.57), but not with the bittering hop component iso-alpha acids (Spearman’s rho=0.16 and −0.07). This illustrates how brewers can independently modify hop aroma and bitterness by selecting hop varieties and dosage time. If hops are added early in the boiling phase, chemical conversions increase bitterness while aromas evaporate, conversely, late addition of hops preserves aroma but limits bitterness 51 . Similarly, hop-derived iso-alpha acids show a strong anti-correlation with lactic acid and acetic acid, likely reflecting growth inhibition of lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria, or the consequent use of fewer hops in sour beer styles, such as West Flanders ales and Fruit beers, that rely on these bacteria for their distinct flavors 52 . Finally, yeast-derived esters (ethyl acetate, ethyl decanoate, ethyl hexanoate, ethyl octanoate) and alcohols (ethanol, isoamyl alcohol, isobutanol, and glycerol), correlate with Spearman coefficients above 0.5, suggesting that these secondary metabolites are correlated with the yeast genetic background and/or fermentation parameters and may be difficult to influence individually, although the choice of yeast strain may offer some control 53 .

figure 1

Spearman rank correlations are shown. Descriptors are grouped according to their origin (malt (blue), hops (green), yeast (red), wild flora (yellow), Others (black)), and sensory aspect (aroma, taste, palate, and overall appreciation). Please note that for the chemical compounds, for the sake of clarity, only a subset of the total number of measured compounds is shown, with an emphasis on the key compounds for each source. For more details, see the main text and Methods section. Chemical data can be found in Supplementary Data  1 , correlations between all chemical compounds are depicted in Supplementary Fig.  S2 and correlation values can be found in Supplementary Data  2 . See Supplementary Data  4 for sensory panel assessments and Supplementary Data  5 for correlation values between all sensory descriptors.

Interestingly, different beer styles show distinct patterns for some flavor compounds (Supplementary Fig.  S3 ). These observations agree with expectations for key beer styles, and serve as a control for our measurements. For instance, Stouts generally show high values for color (darker), while hoppy beers contain elevated levels of iso-alpha acids, compounds associated with bitter hop taste. Acetic and lactic acid are not prevalent in most beers, with notable exceptions such as Kriek, Lambic, Faro, West Flanders ales and Flanders Old Brown, which use acid-producing bacteria ( Lactobacillus and Pediococcus ) or unconventional yeast ( Brettanomyces ) 54 , 55 . Glycerol, ethanol and esters show similar distributions across all beer styles, reflecting their common origin as products of yeast metabolism during fermentation 45 , 53 . Finally, low/no-alcohol beers contain low concentrations of glycerol and esters. This is in line with the production process for most of the low/no-alcohol beers in our dataset, which are produced through limiting fermentation or by stripping away alcohol via evaporation or dialysis, with both methods having the unintended side-effect of reducing the amount of flavor compounds in the final beer 56 , 57 .

Besides expected associations, our data also reveals less trivial associations between beer styles and specific parameters. For example, geraniol and citronellol, two monoterpenoids responsible for citrus, floral and rose flavors and characteristic of Citra hops, are found in relatively high amounts in Christmas, Saison, and Brett/co-fermented beers, where they may originate from terpenoid-rich spices such as coriander seeds instead of hops 58 .

Tasting panel assessments reveal sensorial relationships in beer

To assess the sensory profile of each beer, a trained tasting panel evaluated each of the 250 beers for 50 sensory attributes, including different hop, malt and yeast flavors, off-flavors and spices. Panelists used a tasting sheet (Supplementary Data  3 ) to score the different attributes. Panel consistency was evaluated by repeating 12 samples across different sessions and performing ANOVA. In 95% of cases no significant difference was found across sessions ( p  > 0.05), indicating good panel consistency (Supplementary Table  S2 ).

Aroma and taste perception reported by the trained panel are often linked (Fig.  1 , bottom left panel and Supplementary Data  4 and 5 ), with high correlations between hops aroma and taste (Spearman’s rho=0.83). Bitter taste was found to correlate with hop aroma and taste in general (Spearman’s rho=0.80 and 0.69), and particularly with “grassy” noble hops (Spearman’s rho=0.75). Barnyard flavor, most often associated with sour beers, is identified together with stale hops (Spearman’s rho=0.97) that are used in these beers. Lactic and acetic acid, which often co-occur, are correlated (Spearman’s rho=0.66). Interestingly, sweetness and bitterness are anti-correlated (Spearman’s rho = −0.48), confirming the hypothesis that they mask each other 59 , 60 . Beer body is highly correlated with alcohol (Spearman’s rho = 0.79), and overall appreciation is found to correlate with multiple aspects that describe beer mouthfeel (alcohol, carbonation; Spearman’s rho= 0.32, 0.39), as well as with hop and ester aroma intensity (Spearman’s rho=0.39 and 0.35).

Similar to the chemical analyses, sensorial analyses confirmed typical features of specific beer styles (Supplementary Fig.  S4 ). For example, sour beers (Faro, Flanders Old Brown, Fruit beer, Kriek, Lambic, West Flanders ale) were rated acidic, with flavors of both acetic and lactic acid. Hoppy beers were found to be bitter and showed hop-associated aromas like citrus and tropical fruit. Malt taste is most detected among scotch, stout/porters, and strong ales, while low/no-alcohol beers, which often have a reputation for being ‘worty’ (reminiscent of unfermented, sweet malt extract) appear in the middle. Unsurprisingly, hop aromas are most strongly detected among hoppy beers. Like its chemical counterpart (Supplementary Fig.  S3 ), acidity shows a right-skewed distribution, with the most acidic beers being Krieks, Lambics, and West Flanders ales.

Tasting panel assessments of specific flavors correlate with chemical composition

We find that the concentrations of several chemical compounds strongly correlate with specific aroma or taste, as evaluated by the tasting panel (Fig.  2 , Supplementary Fig.  S5 , Supplementary Data  6 ). In some cases, these correlations confirm expectations and serve as a useful control for data quality. For example, iso-alpha acids, the bittering compounds in hops, strongly correlate with bitterness (Spearman’s rho=0.68), while ethanol and glycerol correlate with tasters’ perceptions of alcohol and body, the mouthfeel sensation of fullness (Spearman’s rho=0.82/0.62 and 0.72/0.57 respectively) and darker color from roasted malts is a good indication of malt perception (Spearman’s rho=0.54).

figure 2

Heatmap colors indicate Spearman’s Rho. Axes are organized according to sensory categories (aroma, taste, mouthfeel, overall), chemical categories and chemical sources in beer (malt (blue), hops (green), yeast (red), wild flora (yellow), Others (black)). See Supplementary Data  6 for all correlation values.

Interestingly, for some relationships between chemical compounds and perceived flavor, correlations are weaker than expected. For example, the rose-smelling phenethyl acetate only weakly correlates with floral aroma. This hints at more complex relationships and interactions between compounds and suggests a need for a more complex model than simple correlations. Lastly, we uncovered unexpected correlations. For instance, the esters ethyl decanoate and ethyl octanoate appear to correlate slightly with hop perception and bitterness, possibly due to their fruity flavor. Iron is anti-correlated with hop aromas and bitterness, most likely because it is also anti-correlated with iso-alpha acids. This could be a sign of metal chelation of hop acids 61 , given that our analyses measure unbound hop acids and total iron content, or could result from the higher iron content in dark and Fruit beers, which typically have less hoppy and bitter flavors 62 .

Public consumer reviews complement expert panel data

To complement and expand the sensory data of our trained tasting panel, we collected 180,000 reviews of our 250 beers from the online consumer review platform RateBeer. This provided numerical scores for beer appearance, aroma, taste, palate, overall quality as well as the average overall score.

Public datasets are known to suffer from biases, such as price, cult status and psychological conformity towards previous ratings of a product. For example, prices correlate with appreciation scores for these online consumer reviews (rho=0.49, Supplementary Fig.  S6 ), but not for our trained tasting panel (rho=0.19). This suggests that prices affect consumer appreciation, which has been reported in wine 63 , while blind tastings are unaffected. Moreover, we observe that some beer styles, like lagers and non-alcoholic beers, generally receive lower scores, reflecting that online reviewers are mostly beer aficionados with a preference for specialty beers over lager beers. In general, we find a modest correlation between our trained panel’s overall appreciation score and the online consumer appreciation scores (Fig.  3 , rho=0.29). Apart from the aforementioned biases in the online datasets, serving temperature, sample freshness and surroundings, which are all tightly controlled during the tasting panel sessions, can vary tremendously across online consumers and can further contribute to (among others, appreciation) differences between the two categories of tasters. Importantly, in contrast to the overall appreciation scores, for many sensory aspects the results from the professional panel correlated well with results obtained from RateBeer reviews. Correlations were highest for features that are relatively easy to recognize even for untrained tasters, like bitterness, sweetness, alcohol and malt aroma (Fig.  3 and below).

figure 3

RateBeer text mining results can be found in Supplementary Data  7 . Rho values shown are Spearman correlation values, with asterisks indicating significant correlations ( p  < 0.05, two-sided). All p values were smaller than 0.001, except for Esters aroma (0.0553), Esters taste (0.3275), Esters aroma—banana (0.0019), Coriander (0.0508) and Diacetyl (0.0134).

Besides collecting consumer appreciation from these online reviews, we developed automated text analysis tools to gather additional data from review texts (Supplementary Data  7 ). Processing review texts on the RateBeer database yielded comparable results to the scores given by the trained panel for many common sensory aspects, including acidity, bitterness, sweetness, alcohol, malt, and hop tastes (Fig.  3 ). This is in line with what would be expected, since these attributes require less training for accurate assessment and are less influenced by environmental factors such as temperature, serving glass and odors in the environment. Consumer reviews also correlate well with our trained panel for 4-vinyl guaiacol, a compound associated with a very characteristic aroma. By contrast, correlations for more specific aromas like ester, coriander or diacetyl are underrepresented in the online reviews, underscoring the importance of using a trained tasting panel and standardized tasting sheets with explicit factors to be scored for evaluating specific aspects of a beer. Taken together, our results suggest that public reviews are trustworthy for some, but not all, flavor features and can complement or substitute taste panel data for these sensory aspects.

Models can predict beer sensory profiles from chemical data

The rich datasets of chemical analyses, tasting panel assessments and public reviews gathered in the first part of this study provided us with a unique opportunity to develop predictive models that link chemical data to sensorial features. Given the complexity of beer flavor, basic statistical tools such as correlations or linear regression may not always be the most suitable for making accurate predictions. Instead, we applied different machine learning models that can model both simple linear and complex interactive relationships. Specifically, we constructed a set of regression models to predict (a) trained panel scores for beer flavor and quality and (b) public reviews’ appreciation scores from beer chemical profiles. We trained and tested 10 different models (Methods), 3 linear regression-based models (simple linear regression with first-order interactions (LR), lasso regression with first-order interactions (Lasso), partial least squares regressor (PLSR)), 5 decision tree models (AdaBoost regressor (ABR), extra trees (ET), gradient boosting regressor (GBR), random forest (RF) and XGBoost regressor (XGBR)), 1 support vector regression (SVR), and 1 artificial neural network (ANN) model.

To compare the performance of our machine learning models, the dataset was randomly split into a training and test set, stratified by beer style. After a model was trained on data in the training set, its performance was evaluated on its ability to predict the test dataset obtained from multi-output models (based on the coefficient of determination, see Methods). Additionally, individual-attribute models were ranked per descriptor and the average rank was calculated, as proposed by Korneva et al. 64 . Importantly, both ways of evaluating the models’ performance agreed in general. Performance of the different models varied (Table  1 ). It should be noted that all models perform better at predicting RateBeer results than results from our trained tasting panel. One reason could be that sensory data is inherently variable, and this variability is averaged out with the large number of public reviews from RateBeer. Additionally, all tree-based models perform better at predicting taste than aroma. Linear models (LR) performed particularly poorly, with negative R 2 values, due to severe overfitting (training set R 2  = 1). Overfitting is a common issue in linear models with many parameters and limited samples, especially with interaction terms further amplifying the number of parameters. L1 regularization (Lasso) successfully overcomes this overfitting, out-competing multiple tree-based models on the RateBeer dataset. Similarly, the dimensionality reduction of PLSR avoids overfitting and improves performance, to some extent. Still, tree-based models (ABR, ET, GBR, RF and XGBR) show the best performance, out-competing the linear models (LR, Lasso, PLSR) commonly used in sensory science 65 .

GBR models showed the best overall performance in predicting sensory responses from chemical information, with R 2 values up to 0.75 depending on the predicted sensory feature (Supplementary Table  S4 ). The GBR models predict consumer appreciation (RateBeer) better than our trained panel’s appreciation (R 2 value of 0.67 compared to R 2 value of 0.09) (Supplementary Table  S3 and Supplementary Table  S4 ). ANN models showed intermediate performance, likely because neural networks typically perform best with larger datasets 66 . The SVR shows intermediate performance, mostly due to the weak predictions of specific attributes that lower the overall performance (Supplementary Table  S4 ).

Model dissection identifies specific, unexpected compounds as drivers of consumer appreciation

Next, we leveraged our models to infer important contributors to sensory perception and consumer appreciation. Consumer preference is a crucial sensory aspects, because a product that shows low consumer appreciation scores often does not succeed commercially 25 . Additionally, the requirement for a large number of representative evaluators makes consumer trials one of the more costly and time-consuming aspects of product development. Hence, a model for predicting chemical drivers of overall appreciation would be a welcome addition to the available toolbox for food development and optimization.

Since GBR models on our RateBeer dataset showed the best overall performance, we focused on these models. Specifically, we used two approaches to identify important contributors. First, rankings of the most important predictors for each sensorial trait in the GBR models were obtained based on impurity-based feature importance (mean decrease in impurity). High-ranked parameters were hypothesized to be either the true causal chemical properties underlying the trait, to correlate with the actual causal properties, or to take part in sensory interactions affecting the trait 67 (Fig.  4A ). In a second approach, we used SHAP 68 to determine which parameters contributed most to the model for making predictions of consumer appreciation (Fig.  4B ). SHAP calculates parameter contributions to model predictions on a per-sample basis, which can be aggregated into an importance score.

figure 4

A The impurity-based feature importance (mean deviance in impurity, MDI) calculated from the Gradient Boosting Regression (GBR) model predicting RateBeer appreciation scores. The top 15 highest ranked chemical properties are shown. B SHAP summary plot for the top 15 parameters contributing to our GBR model. Each point on the graph represents a sample from our dataset. The color represents the concentration of that parameter, with bluer colors representing low values and redder colors representing higher values. Greater absolute values on the horizontal axis indicate a higher impact of the parameter on the prediction of the model. C Spearman correlations between the 15 most important chemical properties and consumer overall appreciation. Numbers indicate the Spearman Rho correlation coefficient, and the rank of this correlation compared to all other correlations. The top 15 important compounds were determined using SHAP (panel B).

Both approaches identified ethyl acetate as the most predictive parameter for beer appreciation (Fig.  4 ). Ethyl acetate is the most abundant ester in beer with a typical ‘fruity’, ‘solvent’ and ‘alcoholic’ flavor, but is often considered less important than other esters like isoamyl acetate. The second most important parameter identified by SHAP is ethanol, the most abundant beer compound after water. Apart from directly contributing to beer flavor and mouthfeel, ethanol drastically influences the physical properties of beer, dictating how easily volatile compounds escape the beer matrix to contribute to beer aroma 69 . Importantly, it should also be noted that the importance of ethanol for appreciation is likely inflated by the very low appreciation scores of non-alcoholic beers (Supplementary Fig.  S4 ). Despite not often being considered a driver of beer appreciation, protein level also ranks highly in both approaches, possibly due to its effect on mouthfeel and body 70 . Lactic acid, which contributes to the tart taste of sour beers, is the fourth most important parameter identified by SHAP, possibly due to the generally high appreciation of sour beers in our dataset.

Interestingly, some of the most important predictive parameters for our model are not well-established as beer flavors or are even commonly regarded as being negative for beer quality. For example, our models identify methanethiol and ethyl phenyl acetate, an ester commonly linked to beer staling 71 , as a key factor contributing to beer appreciation. Although there is no doubt that high concentrations of these compounds are considered unpleasant, the positive effects of modest concentrations are not yet known 72 , 73 .

To compare our approach to conventional statistics, we evaluated how well the 15 most important SHAP-derived parameters correlate with consumer appreciation (Fig.  4C ). Interestingly, only 6 of the properties derived by SHAP rank amongst the top 15 most correlated parameters. For some chemical compounds, the correlations are so low that they would have likely been considered unimportant. For example, lactic acid, the fourth most important parameter, shows a bimodal distribution for appreciation, with sour beers forming a separate cluster, that is missed entirely by the Spearman correlation. Additionally, the correlation plots reveal outliers, emphasizing the need for robust analysis tools. Together, this highlights the need for alternative models, like the Gradient Boosting model, that better grasp the complexity of (beer) flavor.

Finally, to observe the relationships between these chemical properties and their predicted targets, partial dependence plots were constructed for the six most important predictors of consumer appreciation 74 , 75 , 76 (Supplementary Fig.  S7 ). One-way partial dependence plots show how a change in concentration affects the predicted appreciation. These plots reveal an important limitation of our models: appreciation predictions remain constant at ever-increasing concentrations. This implies that once a threshold concentration is reached, further increasing the concentration does not affect appreciation. This is false, as it is well-documented that certain compounds become unpleasant at high concentrations, including ethyl acetate (‘nail polish’) 77 and methanethiol (‘sulfury’ and ‘rotten cabbage’) 78 . The inability of our models to grasp that flavor compounds have optimal levels, above which they become negative, is a consequence of working with commercial beer brands where (off-)flavors are rarely too high to negatively impact the product. The two-way partial dependence plots show how changing the concentration of two compounds influences predicted appreciation, visualizing their interactions (Supplementary Fig.  S7 ). In our case, the top 5 parameters are dominated by additive or synergistic interactions, with high concentrations for both compounds resulting in the highest predicted appreciation.

To assess the robustness of our best-performing models and model predictions, we performed 100 iterations of the GBR, RF and ET models. In general, all iterations of the models yielded similar performance (Supplementary Fig.  S8 ). Moreover, the main predictors (including the top predictors ethanol and ethyl acetate) remained virtually the same, especially for GBR and RF. For the iterations of the ET model, we did observe more variation in the top predictors, which is likely a consequence of the model’s inherent random architecture in combination with co-correlations between certain predictors. However, even in this case, several of the top predictors (ethanol and ethyl acetate) remain unchanged, although their rank in importance changes (Supplementary Fig.  S8 ).

Next, we investigated if a combination of RateBeer and trained panel data into one consolidated dataset would lead to stronger models, under the hypothesis that such a model would suffer less from bias in the datasets. A GBR model was trained to predict appreciation on the combined dataset. This model underperformed compared to the RateBeer model, both in the native case and when including a dataset identifier (R 2  = 0.67, 0.26 and 0.42 respectively). For the latter, the dataset identifier is the most important feature (Supplementary Fig.  S9 ), while most of the feature importance remains unchanged, with ethyl acetate and ethanol ranking highest, like in the original model trained only on RateBeer data. It seems that the large variation in the panel dataset introduces noise, weakening the models’ performances and reliability. In addition, it seems reasonable to assume that both datasets are fundamentally different, with the panel dataset obtained by blind tastings by a trained professional panel.

Lastly, we evaluated whether beer style identifiers would further enhance the model’s performance. A GBR model was trained with parameters that explicitly encoded the styles of the samples. This did not improve model performance (R2 = 0.66 with style information vs R2 = 0.67). The most important chemical features are consistent with the model trained without style information (eg. ethanol and ethyl acetate), and with the exception of the most preferred (strong ale) and least preferred (low/no-alcohol) styles, none of the styles were among the most important features (Supplementary Fig.  S9 , Supplementary Table  S5 and S6 ). This is likely due to a combination of style-specific chemical signatures, such as iso-alpha acids and lactic acid, that implicitly convey style information to the original models, as well as the low number of samples belonging to some styles, making it difficult for the model to learn style-specific patterns. Moreover, beer styles are not rigorously defined, with some styles overlapping in features and some beers being misattributed to a specific style, all of which leads to more noise in models that use style parameters.

Model validation

To test if our predictive models give insight into beer appreciation, we set up experiments aimed at improving existing commercial beers. We specifically selected overall appreciation as the trait to be examined because of its complexity and commercial relevance. Beer flavor comprises a complex bouquet rather than single aromas and tastes 53 . Hence, adding a single compound to the extent that a difference is noticeable may lead to an unbalanced, artificial flavor. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of combinations of compounds. Because Blond beers represent the most extensive style in our dataset, we selected a beer from this style as the starting material for these experiments (Beer 64 in Supplementary Data  1 ).

In the first set of experiments, we adjusted the concentrations of compounds that made up the most important predictors of overall appreciation (ethyl acetate, ethanol, lactic acid, ethyl phenyl acetate) together with correlated compounds (ethyl hexanoate, isoamyl acetate, glycerol), bringing them up to 95 th percentile ethanol-normalized concentrations (Methods) within the Blond group (‘Spiked’ concentration in Fig.  5A ). Compared to controls, the spiked beers were found to have significantly improved overall appreciation among trained panelists, with panelist noting increased intensity of ester flavors, sweetness, alcohol, and body fullness (Fig.  5B ). To disentangle the contribution of ethanol to these results, a second experiment was performed without the addition of ethanol. This resulted in a similar outcome, including increased perception of alcohol and overall appreciation.

figure 5

Adding the top chemical compounds, identified as best predictors of appreciation by our model, into poorly appreciated beers results in increased appreciation from our trained panel. Results of sensory tests between base beers and those spiked with compounds identified as the best predictors by the model. A Blond and Non/Low-alcohol (0.0% ABV) base beers were brought up to 95th-percentile ethanol-normalized concentrations within each style. B For each sensory attribute, tasters indicated the more intense sample and selected the sample they preferred. The numbers above the bars correspond to the p values that indicate significant changes in perceived flavor (two-sided binomial test: alpha 0.05, n  = 20 or 13).

In a last experiment, we tested whether using the model’s predictions can boost the appreciation of a non-alcoholic beer (beer 223 in Supplementary Data  1 ). Again, the addition of a mixture of predicted compounds (omitting ethanol, in this case) resulted in a significant increase in appreciation, body, ester flavor and sweetness.

Predicting flavor and consumer appreciation from chemical composition is one of the ultimate goals of sensory science. A reliable, systematic and unbiased way to link chemical profiles to flavor and food appreciation would be a significant asset to the food and beverage industry. Such tools would substantially aid in quality control and recipe development, offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative to pilot studies and consumer trials and would ultimately allow food manufacturers to produce superior, tailor-made products that better meet the demands of specific consumer groups more efficiently.

A limited set of studies have previously tried, to varying degrees of success, to predict beer flavor and beer popularity based on (a limited set of) chemical compounds and flavors 79 , 80 . Current sensitive, high-throughput technologies allow measuring an unprecedented number of chemical compounds and properties in a large set of samples, yielding a dataset that can train models that help close the gaps between chemistry and flavor, even for a complex natural product like beer. To our knowledge, no previous research gathered data at this scale (250 samples, 226 chemical parameters, 50 sensory attributes and 5 consumer scores) to disentangle and validate the chemical aspects driving beer preference using various machine-learning techniques. We find that modern machine learning models outperform conventional statistical tools, such as correlations and linear models, and can successfully predict flavor appreciation from chemical composition. This could be attributed to the natural incorporation of interactions and non-linear or discontinuous effects in machine learning models, which are not easily grasped by the linear model architecture. While linear models and partial least squares regression represent the most widespread statistical approaches in sensory science, in part because they allow interpretation 65 , 81 , 82 , modern machine learning methods allow for building better predictive models while preserving the possibility to dissect and exploit the underlying patterns. Of the 10 different models we trained, tree-based models, such as our best performing GBR, showed the best overall performance in predicting sensory responses from chemical information, outcompeting artificial neural networks. This agrees with previous reports for models trained on tabular data 83 . Our results are in line with the findings of Colantonio et al. who also identified the gradient boosting architecture as performing best at predicting appreciation and flavor (of tomatoes and blueberries, in their specific study) 26 . Importantly, besides our larger experimental scale, we were able to directly confirm our models’ predictions in vivo.

Our study confirms that flavor compound concentration does not always correlate with perception, suggesting complex interactions that are often missed by more conventional statistics and simple models. Specifically, we find that tree-based algorithms may perform best in developing models that link complex food chemistry with aroma. Furthermore, we show that massive datasets of untrained consumer reviews provide a valuable source of data, that can complement or even replace trained tasting panels, especially for appreciation and basic flavors, such as sweetness and bitterness. This holds despite biases that are known to occur in such datasets, such as price or conformity bias. Moreover, GBR models predict taste better than aroma. This is likely because taste (e.g. bitterness) often directly relates to the corresponding chemical measurements (e.g., iso-alpha acids), whereas such a link is less clear for aromas, which often result from the interplay between multiple volatile compounds. We also find that our models are best at predicting acidity and alcohol, likely because there is a direct relation between the measured chemical compounds (acids and ethanol) and the corresponding perceived sensorial attribute (acidity and alcohol), and because even untrained consumers are generally able to recognize these flavors and aromas.

The predictions of our final models, trained on review data, hold even for blind tastings with small groups of trained tasters, as demonstrated by our ability to validate specific compounds as drivers of beer flavor and appreciation. Since adding a single compound to the extent of a noticeable difference may result in an unbalanced flavor profile, we specifically tested our identified key drivers as a combination of compounds. While this approach does not allow us to validate if a particular single compound would affect flavor and/or appreciation, our experiments do show that this combination of compounds increases consumer appreciation.

It is important to stress that, while it represents an important step forward, our approach still has several major limitations. A key weakness of the GBR model architecture is that amongst co-correlating variables, the largest main effect is consistently preferred for model building. As a result, co-correlating variables often have artificially low importance scores, both for impurity and SHAP-based methods, like we observed in the comparison to the more randomized Extra Trees models. This implies that chemicals identified as key drivers of a specific sensory feature by GBR might not be the true causative compounds, but rather co-correlate with the actual causative chemical. For example, the high importance of ethyl acetate could be (partially) attributed to the total ester content, ethanol or ethyl hexanoate (rho=0.77, rho=0.72 and rho=0.68), while ethyl phenylacetate could hide the importance of prenyl isobutyrate and ethyl benzoate (rho=0.77 and rho=0.76). Expanding our GBR model to include beer style as a parameter did not yield additional power or insight. This is likely due to style-specific chemical signatures, such as iso-alpha acids and lactic acid, that implicitly convey style information to the original model, as well as the smaller sample size per style, limiting the power to uncover style-specific patterns. This can be partly attributed to the curse of dimensionality, where the high number of parameters results in the models mainly incorporating single parameter effects, rather than complex interactions such as style-dependent effects 67 . A larger number of samples may overcome some of these limitations and offer more insight into style-specific effects. On the other hand, beer style is not a rigid scientific classification, and beers within one style often differ a lot, which further complicates the analysis of style as a model factor.

Our study is limited to beers from Belgian breweries. Although these beers cover a large portion of the beer styles available globally, some beer styles and consumer patterns may be missing, while other features might be overrepresented. For example, many Belgian ales exhibit yeast-driven flavor profiles, which is reflected in the chemical drivers of appreciation discovered by this study. In future work, expanding the scope to include diverse markets and beer styles could lead to the identification of even more drivers of appreciation and better models for special niche products that were not present in our beer set.

In addition to inherent limitations of GBR models, there are also some limitations associated with studying food aroma. Even if our chemical analyses measured most of the known aroma compounds, the total number of flavor compounds in complex foods like beer is still larger than the subset we were able to measure in this study. For example, hop-derived thiols, that influence flavor at very low concentrations, are notoriously difficult to measure in a high-throughput experiment. Moreover, consumer perception remains subjective and prone to biases that are difficult to avoid. It is also important to stress that the models are still immature and that more extensive datasets will be crucial for developing more complete models in the future. Besides more samples and parameters, our dataset does not include any demographic information about the tasters. Including such data could lead to better models that grasp external factors like age and culture. Another limitation is that our set of beers consists of high-quality end-products and lacks beers that are unfit for sale, which limits the current model in accurately predicting products that are appreciated very badly. Finally, while models could be readily applied in quality control, their use in sensory science and product development is restrained by their inability to discern causal relationships. Given that the models cannot distinguish compounds that genuinely drive consumer perception from those that merely correlate, validation experiments are essential to identify true causative compounds.

Despite the inherent limitations, dissection of our models enabled us to pinpoint specific molecules as potential drivers of beer aroma and consumer appreciation, including compounds that were unexpected and would not have been identified using standard approaches. Important drivers of beer appreciation uncovered by our models include protein levels, ethyl acetate, ethyl phenyl acetate and lactic acid. Currently, many brewers already use lactic acid to acidify their brewing water and ensure optimal pH for enzymatic activity during the mashing process. Our results suggest that adding lactic acid can also improve beer appreciation, although its individual effect remains to be tested. Interestingly, ethanol appears to be unnecessary to improve beer appreciation, both for blond beer and alcohol-free beer. Given the growing consumer interest in alcohol-free beer, with a predicted annual market growth of >7% 84 , it is relevant for brewers to know what compounds can further increase consumer appreciation of these beers. Hence, our model may readily provide avenues to further improve the flavor and consumer appreciation of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers, which is generally considered one of the key challenges for future beer production.

Whereas we see a direct implementation of our results for the development of superior alcohol-free beverages and other food products, our study can also serve as a stepping stone for the development of novel alcohol-containing beverages. We want to echo the growing body of scientific evidence for the negative effects of alcohol consumption, both on the individual level by the mutagenic, teratogenic and carcinogenic effects of ethanol 85 , 86 , as well as the burden on society caused by alcohol abuse and addiction. We encourage the use of our results for the production of healthier, tastier products, including novel and improved beverages with lower alcohol contents. Furthermore, we strongly discourage the use of these technologies to improve the appreciation or addictive properties of harmful substances.

The present work demonstrates that despite some important remaining hurdles, combining the latest developments in chemical analyses, sensory analysis and modern machine learning methods offers exciting avenues for food chemistry and engineering. Soon, these tools may provide solutions in quality control and recipe development, as well as new approaches to sensory science and flavor research.

Beer selection

250 commercial Belgian beers were selected to cover the broad diversity of beer styles and corresponding diversity in chemical composition and aroma. See Supplementary Fig.  S1 .

Chemical dataset

Sample preparation.

Beers within their expiration date were purchased from commercial retailers. Samples were prepared in biological duplicates at room temperature, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Bottle pressure was measured with a manual pressure device (Steinfurth Mess-Systeme GmbH) and used to calculate CO 2 concentration. The beer was poured through two filter papers (Macherey-Nagel, 500713032 MN 713 ¼) to remove carbon dioxide and prevent spontaneous foaming. Samples were then prepared for measurements by targeted Headspace-Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detector/Flame Photometric Detector (HS-GC-FID/FPD), Headspace-Solid Phase Microextraction-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS), colorimetric analysis, enzymatic analysis, Near-Infrared (NIR) analysis, as described in the sections below. The mean values of biological duplicates are reported for each compound.

HS-GC-FID/FPD

HS-GC-FID/FPD (Shimadzu GC 2010 Plus) was used to measure higher alcohols, acetaldehyde, esters, 4-vinyl guaicol, and sulfur compounds. Each measurement comprised 5 ml of sample pipetted into a 20 ml glass vial containing 1.75 g NaCl (VWR, 27810.295). 100 µl of 2-heptanol (Sigma-Aldrich, H3003) (internal standard) solution in ethanol (Fisher Chemical, E/0650DF/C17) was added for a final concentration of 2.44 mg/L. Samples were flushed with nitrogen for 10 s, sealed with a silicone septum, stored at −80 °C and analyzed in batches of 20.

The GC was equipped with a DB-WAXetr column (length, 30 m; internal diameter, 0.32 mm; layer thickness, 0.50 µm; Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA) to the FID and an HP-5 column (length, 30 m; internal diameter, 0.25 mm; layer thickness, 0.25 µm; Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA) to the FPD. N 2 was used as the carrier gas. Samples were incubated for 20 min at 70 °C in the headspace autosampler (Flow rate, 35 cm/s; Injection volume, 1000 µL; Injection mode, split; Combi PAL autosampler, CTC analytics, Switzerland). The injector, FID and FPD temperatures were kept at 250 °C. The GC oven temperature was first held at 50 °C for 5 min and then allowed to rise to 80 °C at a rate of 5 °C/min, followed by a second ramp of 4 °C/min until 200 °C kept for 3 min and a final ramp of (4 °C/min) until 230 °C for 1 min. Results were analyzed with the GCSolution software version 2.4 (Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan). The GC was calibrated with a 5% EtOH solution (VWR International) containing the volatiles under study (Supplementary Table  S7 ).

HS-SPME-GC-MS

HS-SPME-GC-MS (Shimadzu GCMS-QP-2010 Ultra) was used to measure additional volatile compounds, mainly comprising terpenoids and esters. Samples were analyzed by HS-SPME using a triphase DVB/Carboxen/PDMS 50/30 μm SPME fiber (Supelco Co., Bellefonte, PA, USA) followed by gas chromatography (Thermo Fisher Scientific Trace 1300 series, USA) coupled to a mass spectrometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific ISQ series MS) equipped with a TriPlus RSH autosampler. 5 ml of degassed beer sample was placed in 20 ml vials containing 1.75 g NaCl (VWR, 27810.295). 5 µl internal standard mix was added, containing 2-heptanol (1 g/L) (Sigma-Aldrich, H3003), 4-fluorobenzaldehyde (1 g/L) (Sigma-Aldrich, 128376), 2,3-hexanedione (1 g/L) (Sigma-Aldrich, 144169) and guaiacol (1 g/L) (Sigma-Aldrich, W253200) in ethanol (Fisher Chemical, E/0650DF/C17). Each sample was incubated at 60 °C in the autosampler oven with constant agitation. After 5 min equilibration, the SPME fiber was exposed to the sample headspace for 30 min. The compounds trapped on the fiber were thermally desorbed in the injection port of the chromatograph by heating the fiber for 15 min at 270 °C.

The GC-MS was equipped with a low polarity RXi-5Sil MS column (length, 20 m; internal diameter, 0.18 mm; layer thickness, 0.18 µm; Restek, Bellefonte, PA, USA). Injection was performed in splitless mode at 320 °C, a split flow of 9 ml/min, a purge flow of 5 ml/min and an open valve time of 3 min. To obtain a pulsed injection, a programmed gas flow was used whereby the helium gas flow was set at 2.7 mL/min for 0.1 min, followed by a decrease in flow of 20 ml/min to the normal 0.9 mL/min. The temperature was first held at 30 °C for 3 min and then allowed to rise to 80 °C at a rate of 7 °C/min, followed by a second ramp of 2 °C/min till 125 °C and a final ramp of 8 °C/min with a final temperature of 270 °C.

Mass acquisition range was 33 to 550 amu at a scan rate of 5 scans/s. Electron impact ionization energy was 70 eV. The interface and ion source were kept at 275 °C and 250 °C, respectively. A mix of linear n-alkanes (from C7 to C40, Supelco Co.) was injected into the GC-MS under identical conditions to serve as external retention index markers. Identification and quantification of the compounds were performed using an in-house developed R script as described in Goelen et al. and Reher et al. 87 , 88 (for package information, see Supplementary Table  S8 ). Briefly, chromatograms were analyzed using AMDIS (v2.71) 89 to separate overlapping peaks and obtain pure compound spectra. The NIST MS Search software (v2.0 g) in combination with the NIST2017, FFNSC3 and Adams4 libraries were used to manually identify the empirical spectra, taking into account the expected retention time. After background subtraction and correcting for retention time shifts between samples run on different days based on alkane ladders, compound elution profiles were extracted and integrated using a file with 284 target compounds of interest, which were either recovered in our identified AMDIS list of spectra or were known to occur in beer. Compound elution profiles were estimated for every peak in every chromatogram over a time-restricted window using weighted non-negative least square analysis after which peak areas were integrated 87 , 88 . Batch effect correction was performed by normalizing against the most stable internal standard compound, 4-fluorobenzaldehyde. Out of all 284 target compounds that were analyzed, 167 were visually judged to have reliable elution profiles and were used for final analysis.

Discrete photometric and enzymatic analysis

Discrete photometric and enzymatic analysis (Thermo Scientific TM Gallery TM Plus Beermaster Discrete Analyzer) was used to measure acetic acid, ammonia, beta-glucan, iso-alpha acids, color, sugars, glycerol, iron, pH, protein, and sulfite. 2 ml of sample volume was used for the analyses. Information regarding the reagents and standard solutions used for analyses and calibrations is included in Supplementary Table  S7 and Supplementary Table  S9 .

NIR analyses

NIR analysis (Anton Paar Alcolyzer Beer ME System) was used to measure ethanol. Measurements comprised 50 ml of sample, and a 10% EtOH solution was used for calibration.

Correlation calculations

Pairwise Spearman Rank correlations were calculated between all chemical properties.

Sensory dataset

Trained panel.

Our trained tasting panel consisted of volunteers who gave prior verbal informed consent. All compounds used for the validation experiment were of food-grade quality. The tasting sessions were approved by the Social and Societal Ethics Committee of the KU Leuven (G-2022-5677-R2(MAR)). All online reviewers agreed to the Terms and Conditions of the RateBeer website.

Sensory analysis was performed according to the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) Sensory Analysis Methods 90 . 30 volunteers were screened through a series of triangle tests. The sixteen most sensitive and consistent tasters were retained as taste panel members. The resulting panel was diverse in age [22–42, mean: 29], sex [56% male] and nationality [7 different countries]. The panel developed a consensus vocabulary to describe beer aroma, taste and mouthfeel. Panelists were trained to identify and score 50 different attributes, using a 7-point scale to rate attributes’ intensity. The scoring sheet is included as Supplementary Data  3 . Sensory assessments took place between 10–12 a.m. The beers were served in black-colored glasses. Per session, between 5 and 12 beers of the same style were tasted at 12 °C to 16 °C. Two reference beers were added to each set and indicated as ‘Reference 1 & 2’, allowing panel members to calibrate their ratings. Not all panelists were present at every tasting. Scores were scaled by standard deviation and mean-centered per taster. Values are represented as z-scores and clustered by Euclidean distance. Pairwise Spearman correlations were calculated between taste and aroma sensory attributes. Panel consistency was evaluated by repeating samples on different sessions and performing ANOVA to identify differences, using the ‘stats’ package (v4.2.2) in R (for package information, see Supplementary Table  S8 ).

Online reviews from a public database

The ‘scrapy’ package in Python (v3.6) (for package information, see Supplementary Table  S8 ). was used to collect 232,288 online reviews (mean=922, min=6, max=5343) from RateBeer, an online beer review database. Each review entry comprised 5 numerical scores (appearance, aroma, taste, palate and overall quality) and an optional review text. The total number of reviews per reviewer was collected separately. Numerical scores were scaled and centered per rater, and mean scores were calculated per beer.

For the review texts, the language was estimated using the packages ‘langdetect’ and ‘langid’ in Python. Reviews that were classified as English by both packages were kept. Reviewers with fewer than 100 entries overall were discarded. 181,025 reviews from >6000 reviewers from >40 countries remained. Text processing was done using the ‘nltk’ package in Python. Texts were corrected for slang and misspellings; proper nouns and rare words that are relevant to the beer context were specified and kept as-is (‘Chimay’,’Lambic’, etc.). A dictionary of semantically similar sensorial terms, for example ‘floral’ and ‘flower’, was created and collapsed together into one term. Words were stemmed and lemmatized to avoid identifying words such as ‘acid’ and ‘acidity’ as separate terms. Numbers and punctuation were removed.

Sentences from up to 50 randomly chosen reviews per beer were manually categorized according to the aspect of beer they describe (appearance, aroma, taste, palate, overall quality—not to be confused with the 5 numerical scores described above) or flagged as irrelevant if they contained no useful information. If a beer contained fewer than 50 reviews, all reviews were manually classified. This labeled data set was used to train a model that classified the rest of the sentences for all beers 91 . Sentences describing taste and aroma were extracted, and term frequency–inverse document frequency (TFIDF) was implemented to calculate enrichment scores for sensorial words per beer.

The sex of the tasting subject was not considered when building our sensory database. Instead, results from different panelists were averaged, both for our trained panel (56% male, 44% female) and the RateBeer reviews (70% male, 30% female for RateBeer as a whole).

Beer price collection and processing

Beer prices were collected from the following stores: Colruyt, Delhaize, Total Wine, BeerHawk, The Belgian Beer Shop, The Belgian Shop, and Beer of Belgium. Where applicable, prices were converted to Euros and normalized per liter. Spearman correlations were calculated between these prices and mean overall appreciation scores from RateBeer and the taste panel, respectively.

Pairwise Spearman Rank correlations were calculated between all sensory properties.

Machine learning models

Predictive modeling of sensory profiles from chemical data.

Regression models were constructed to predict (a) trained panel scores for beer flavors and quality from beer chemical profiles and (b) public reviews’ appreciation scores from beer chemical profiles. Z-scores were used to represent sensory attributes in both data sets. Chemical properties with log-normal distributions (Shapiro-Wilk test, p  <  0.05 ) were log-transformed. Missing chemical measurements (0.1% of all data) were replaced with mean values per attribute. Observations from 250 beers were randomly separated into a training set (70%, 175 beers) and a test set (30%, 75 beers), stratified per beer style. Chemical measurements (p = 231) were normalized based on the training set average and standard deviation. In total, three linear regression-based models: linear regression with first-order interaction terms (LR), lasso regression with first-order interaction terms (Lasso) and partial least squares regression (PLSR); five decision tree models, Adaboost regressor (ABR), Extra Trees (ET), Gradient Boosting regressor (GBR), Random Forest (RF) and XGBoost regressor (XGBR); one support vector machine model (SVR) and one artificial neural network model (ANN) were trained. The models were implemented using the ‘scikit-learn’ package (v1.2.2) and ‘xgboost’ package (v1.7.3) in Python (v3.9.16). Models were trained, and hyperparameters optimized, using five-fold cross-validated grid search with the coefficient of determination (R 2 ) as the evaluation metric. The ANN (scikit-learn’s MLPRegressor) was optimized using Bayesian Tree-Structured Parzen Estimator optimization with the ‘Optuna’ Python package (v3.2.0). Individual models were trained per attribute, and a multi-output model was trained on all attributes simultaneously.

Model dissection

GBR was found to outperform other methods, resulting in models with the highest average R 2 values in both trained panel and public review data sets. Impurity-based rankings of the most important predictors for each predicted sensorial trait were obtained using the ‘scikit-learn’ package. To observe the relationships between these chemical properties and their predicted targets, partial dependence plots (PDP) were constructed for the six most important predictors of consumer appreciation 74 , 75 .

The ‘SHAP’ package in Python (v0.41.0) was implemented to provide an alternative ranking of predictor importance and to visualize the predictors’ effects as a function of their concentration 68 .

Validation of causal chemical properties

To validate the effects of the most important model features on predicted sensory attributes, beers were spiked with the chemical compounds identified by the models and descriptive sensory analyses were carried out according to the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) protocol 90 .

Compound spiking was done 30 min before tasting. Compounds were spiked into fresh beer bottles, that were immediately resealed and inverted three times. Fresh bottles of beer were opened for the same duration, resealed, and inverted thrice, to serve as controls. Pairs of spiked samples and controls were served simultaneously, chilled and in dark glasses as outlined in the Trained panel section above. Tasters were instructed to select the glass with the higher flavor intensity for each attribute (directional difference test 92 ) and to select the glass they prefer.

The final concentration after spiking was equal to the within-style average, after normalizing by ethanol concentration. This was done to ensure balanced flavor profiles in the final spiked beer. The same methods were applied to improve a non-alcoholic beer. Compounds were the following: ethyl acetate (Merck KGaA, W241415), ethyl hexanoate (Merck KGaA, W243906), isoamyl acetate (Merck KGaA, W205508), phenethyl acetate (Merck KGaA, W285706), ethanol (96%, Colruyt), glycerol (Merck KGaA, W252506), lactic acid (Merck KGaA, 261106).

Significant differences in preference or perceived intensity were determined by performing the two-sided binomial test on each attribute.

Reporting summary

Further information on research design is available in the  Nature Portfolio Reporting Summary linked to this article.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this work are available in the Supplementary Data files and have been deposited to Zenodo under accession code 10653704 93 . The RateBeer scores data are under restricted access, they are not publicly available as they are property of RateBeer (ZX Ventures, USA). Access can be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of RateBeer (ZX Ventures, USA).  Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The code for training the machine learning models, analyzing the models, and generating the figures has been deposited to Zenodo under accession code 10653704 93 .

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Acknowledgements

We thank all lab members for their discussions and thank all tasting panel members for their contributions. Special thanks go out to Dr. Karin Voordeckers for her tremendous help in proofreading and improving the manuscript. M.S. was supported by a Baillet-Latour fellowship, L.C. acknowledges financial support from KU Leuven (C16/17/006), F.A.T. was supported by a PhD fellowship from FWO (1S08821N). Research in the lab of K.J.V. is supported by KU Leuven, FWO, VIB, VLAIO and the Brewing Science Serves Health Fund. Research in the lab of T.W. is supported by FWO (G.0A51.15) and KU Leuven (C16/17/006).

Author information

These authors contributed equally: Michiel Schreurs, Supinya Piampongsant, Miguel Roncoroni.

Authors and Affiliations

VIB—KU Leuven Center for Microbiology, Gaston Geenslaan 1, B-3001, Leuven, Belgium

Michiel Schreurs, Supinya Piampongsant, Miguel Roncoroni, Lloyd Cool, Beatriz Herrera-Malaver, Florian A. Theßeling & Kevin J. Verstrepen

CMPG Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics, KU Leuven, Gaston Geenslaan 1, B-3001, Leuven, Belgium

Leuven Institute for Beer Research (LIBR), Gaston Geenslaan 1, B-3001, Leuven, Belgium

Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium

Lloyd Cool, Christophe Vanderaa & Tom Wenseleers

VIB Bioinformatics Core, VIB, Rijvisschestraat 120, B-9052, Ghent, Belgium

Łukasz Kreft & Alexander Botzki

AB InBev SA/NV, Brouwerijplein 1, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium

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S.P., M.S. and K.J.V. conceived the experiments. S.P., M.S. and K.J.V. designed the experiments. S.P., M.S., M.R., B.H. and F.A.T. performed the experiments. S.P., M.S., L.C., C.V., L.K., A.B., P.M., L.D., T.W. and K.J.V. contributed analysis ideas. S.P., M.S., L.C., C.V., T.W. and K.J.V. analyzed the data. All authors contributed to writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kevin J. Verstrepen .

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Schreurs, M., Piampongsant, S., Roncoroni, M. et al. Predicting and improving complex beer flavor through machine learning. Nat Commun 15 , 2368 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-46346-0

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-46346-0

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FAQs on Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Administration – April 2024

What are the nih guidelines.

The  NIH Guidelines  detail safety practices and containment procedures for basic and clinical research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, including the creation and use of organisms and viruses containing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.

When must institutions follow the NIH Guidelines?

An institution must follow the  NIH Guidelines  if it receives any funding from the NIH for research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. Even if only one research project involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at an institution benefits from NIH support, all such projects conducted at or sponsored by that institution must comply with the  NIH Guidelines . Also, adherence to the  NIH Guidelines  may be a condition of support from other federal agencies, or even private funders of research.

Finally, regardless of NIH funding, institutions may be subject to local ordinances, federal or state regulations, or agency guidelines that require compliance with the  NIH Guidelines .

Why must institutions comply with the NIH Guidelines?

Compliance with the  NIH Guidelines  is important because it promotes the safe conduct of research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. Also, compliance with the  NIH Guidelines  is mandatory as a condition of receiving NIH funding for such research. Institutions that fail to comply with the  NIH Guidelines  risk:

  • non-compliant NIH projects;
  • NIH funding for other research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at the institution;
  • having to obtain prior NIH approval for any research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.

Many institutions that do not receive any NIH funding for research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules nonetheless choose voluntarily to comply. These institutions recognize that following the  NIH Guidelines  promotes the safe and responsible practice of this research and gives the public confidence that the institution is attending to important safety matters.

Are there reporting requirements if an institution or investigator is found to be out of compliance with the NIH Guidelines?

First and foremost, an institution should attempt to rectify the problem by conforming to the requirements of the  NIH Guidelines . In addition, when an occurrence of non-compliance with the  NIH Guidelines is identified, a complete report of the incident must be forwarded within 30 days, along with any recommended actions to NIH OSP. OSP staff will respond with comments on the incident and on the institutional response. In general, OSP will evaluate the adequacy of that response and make recommendations on any additional measures that should be taken.

How do the NIH Guidelines apply to the containment or release of plants and animals containing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (e.g. have been genetically modified or have had recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules administered to them)?

The NIH Guidelines require physical and biological containment for experiments involving the use of transgenic plants and animals, including insects, and also specifically address research involving gene drive modified organisms (GDMOs). As with other research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, the appropriate level of containment is graded according to the potential risks of the experiment. Experiments involving GDMOs are required to be conducted at a minimum of Biosafety Level 2 (BL2) containment, though more stringent containment may be necessary depending on the risk assessment findings.  For GDMOs, these considerations include the potential for unintended release and environmental impact.

The NIH Guidelines do not permit experiments involving the deliberate release of transgenic animals and plants (or animals or plants that have had recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules administered to them) into the environment unless, as provided in Section I-A-1, another Federal agency has jurisdiction over the experiment and approves the proposed release. As part of overseeing adherence to the NIH Guidelines , IBCs should ensure that institutional policies and procedures prohibit the release of such animals and plants into the environment when not otherwise federally authorized. Further, institutions should ensure that investigators are educated about proper containment and disposal, as well as other aspects of the NIH Guidelines .

Are there any experiments with recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules that are exempt from the NIH Guidelines?

Section III-F of the  NIH Guidelines  describes experiments that are exempt from the requirements. Details on certain other experiments that may be exempt, as well as exceptions to the exemptions, may be found in Appendix C of the  NIH Guidelines.

What is an IBC?

Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) were established under the  NIH Guidelines  to provide local review and oversight of nearly all forms of research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. Over time, many institutions have chosen to assign their IBCs the responsibility of reviewing a variety of experimentation that involves biological materials (e.g., infectious agents) and other potentially hazardous agents (e.g., carcinogens). This additional responsibility is assigned entirely at the discretion of the institution.

What are the responsibilities of institutions with regard to IBCs?

Each institution is responsible for ensuring that all research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules conducted at or sponsored by that institution is conducted in compliance with the  NIH Guidelines . Indeed, the  NIH Guidelines  place much of the authority, responsibility, and accountability for the safe conduct of the research at the local level. More specifically, each institution conducting or sponsoring research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules that is covered by the  NIH Guidelines  is responsible for:

  • Establishing an IBC;
  • Ensuring that the IBC has adequate expertise and training (using  ad hoc  consultants as necessary);
  • Providing appropriate training for the IBC chair and members, biological safety officer (BSO), principal investigators (PI), and laboratory staff;
  • Filing an annual report with the NIH OSP that includes (1) a roster of IBC members clearly indicating the chair, contact person and, as applicable, the BSO, plant expert, animal expert, and human gene transfer expert or  ad hoc  consultant; and (2)biographical sketches of all IBC members, including community members;
  • Establishing procedures that the IBC shall follow in its initial and continuing review and approval of applications, proposals, and activities; and making available to the public, upon request, all IBC meeting minutes and any documents submitted to or received from funding agencies that those agencies must make available to the public.

What are the general responsibilities of IBCs? What matters should they consider in their review of research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules?

On behalf of the institution, IBCs review research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules for compliance with the  NIH Guidelines . This entails examination of a number of matters, including:

  • Appendix B – Table 1: Basis for the Classification of Biohazardous Agents by Risk Group
  • Appendix G – Physical Containment Appendix I – Biological Containment
  • Appendix K – Physical Containment for Large Scale Uses of Organisms Containing Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules
  • Appendix L – Physical and Biological Containment for Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecule Research Involving Plants
  • Appendix M – Physical and Biological Containment for Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecule Research Involving Animals
  • Facilities;
  • Institutional procedures and practices; and
  • Training and expertise of personnel

IBCs should also:

  • Notify the PI of IBC review and approval.
  • Set containment levels and modify containment levels for ongoing experiments as warranted;
  • Implement contingency plans for handling accidental spills and personnel contamination resulting from research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules; and
  • Report to OSP and institutional officials within any substantial problems or violations of the  NIH Guidelines or significant research related accidents or illnesses.

What is the role of the IBC in the review and approval of human gene transfer research?

For research subject to Section III-C of the  NIH Guidelines  (recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research involving research participants), the IBC must assess biosafety issues related to the research (e.g., administration, shedding).

Research may not be initiated until IBC approval at the clinical trial site, and all other applicable institutional and regulatory authorization(s) and approvals have been obtained.

IBC oversight may conclude after the last participant is administered the final dose of product. However, IBCs may choose to establish other end points for oversight, based on their biosafety assessment of the proposed research.

Additional information on IBC review of human gene transfer research is available in the “ Points to Consider for IBCs Reviewing Human Gene Transfer Protocols ” FAQ.

The NIH Guidelines state that research subject to section III-E requires IBC notice simultaneous with initiation. Does this work require subsequent IBC review and approval?

Work covered under section III-E of the  NIH Guidelines  requires a registration document to be submitted to the IBC at the time the research is initiated.

Review and approval prior to initiation of the experiments is not required. Review and approval of the registration by the IBC is still required, but this review and approval does not need to take place before the experiment is initiated. This is in contrast to experiments which are covered under Sections III-A through III-D of the  NIH Guidelines , where no work may commence until the IBC approval is given.

Only experiments that are exempt from the  NIH Guidelines  (Section III-F) can be conducted without the approval of the IBC. All experiments that are not exempt from the  NIH Guidelines  must be reviewed and approved by the IBC.

How many members are required on an IBC?

An IBC must consist of at least five members. There is no limit on the maximum number of members. Details on committee membership requirements may be found in Section IV-B-2-a of the  NIH Guidelines .

When selecting members for an IBC, what qualifications or experience should be considered in potential candidates?

Collectively, the membership of an IBC should include:

  • Experience and expertise in recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research and biosafety and physical containment
  • Institutional commitments and policies;
  • Applicable laws;
  • Standards of professional conduct and practice;
  • Community attitudes; and
  • Environmental considerations
  • The capability to assess the safety of research involving recombinant and synthetic nucleic acid molecules, and identify potential risks to public health and safety

What special expertise or perspectives are either required or recommended for the IBC?

Every committee is required to have two members not affiliated with the institution who represent the interest of the surrounding community with respect to health and protection of the environment. These may be officials of state or local public health or environmental protection agencies, members of other local governmental bodies, or persons active in medical, occupational health, or environmental concerns in the community. For further guidance on non-affiliated membership, see below.

Depending on the kind of research conducted at your institution, you may also be required to have:

  • BSO: If an institution is conducting any high containment research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (BL 3 or 4), research on a large scale (above 10 liters), or conducts any research involving gene drive modified organisms, there must be a BSO on the IBC.
  • Plant Expert: If the institution is conducting research subject to Appendix L there must be a plant expert on the IBC. This person should have expertise in plant, plant pathogen, or pest containment principals. Appendix L describes research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule-containing plants, plant-associated microorganisms, or plant-associated small animals (e.g. arthropods), whose size, quantity, or growth requirements prevent the use of standard laboratory containment conditions as described in Appendix G of the NIH Guidelines
  • Animal Expert: If the institution is conducting research subject to Appendix M there must be an animal expert on the IBC. This person should have expertise in animal containment principals. Appendix M describes research involving whole animals in which the animal’s genome has been altered by the stable introduction of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules are introduced into the germ-line (transgenic animals), or viable recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule-modified microorganisms are being tested, and research animals’ sizes or growth requirements prevent the use of the physical containment procedures and practices listed in Appendix G of the NIH Guidelines .
  • Expertise in human gene transfer: If the institution participates in or sponsors recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research involving human participants, the institution must ensure that the IBC has adequate expertise and training (using ad hoc consultants as deemed necessary).
  • Expertise in gene drive modified organisms: If the institution participates in or sponsors recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research involving gene drive modified organisms, the institution must ensure that the IBC has adequate expertise and training (using ad hoc consultants as deemed necessary).

It is also recommended that IBCs include:

  • Experts in biosafety and containment,
  • Persons knowledgeable in institutional policies and applicable laws,
  • Individuals reflecting community attitudes,

At least one representative member from the laboratory staff.

What kinds of individuals are appropriate as “non-affiliated members” of the IBC?

Section IV-B-2-a-(1) of the  NIH Guidelines  states that at least two members of the IBC shall not be affiliated with the institution. These individuals are supposed to represent the interests of the surrounding community with respect to the environment and public health. The  NIH Guidelines  suggest several possibilities for non-affiliated members including officials of state or local public health or environmental protection agencies, members of other local governmental bodies, or persons active in medical, occupational health, or environmental concerns in the community. Other possibilities are teachers from local schools, real estate agents, members of local churches, charitable organizations or local support groups. These are people who are often willing to volunteer their time and who generally have a broad perspective on the communities in which they live.

The  NIH Guidelines  state that unaffiliated members of the IBC should have no relationship with the institution other than their service on the IBC. The determination of whether an individual is unaffiliated is not always a straightforward matter, and good judgment is key.

If the individual under consideration works for an entity that has a business relationship with the institution, he or she would not be a suitable choice to serve on the IBC in an “unaffiliated” capacity. However, affiliation is not created by financial relationships alone. For example, visiting professors have an affiliation with the institution where they teach even if their salary comes from a source outside the institution.

How do institutions register a new IBC with NIH OSP?

NIH encourages entities wishing to register a new IBC to utilize the Web-based Institutional Biosafety Committee Registration Management System (IBC-RMS).

IBC-RMS can be accessed at:  http://ibc-rms.od.nih.gov

What subsequent reports must be made to NIH OSP about the IBC?

The institution must file an annual report that includes:

  • An updated committee roster indicating the role of each committee member (e.g., chairperson, contact person, non-institutional members, special experts as relevant, etc.), and
  • Biosketches for each new member on the committee

Institutions can file annual reports electronically utilizing IBC-RMS.

In addition to utilizing IBC-RMS to submit an annual report, the system can be used to notify NIH of membership changes that may occur on the IBC throughout the course of the year.

What is the deadline for an IBC’s annual report?

Institutions must report at least annually on their IBC’s membership. The deadline for an annual update is one year after the approval date of the last report submission. If there is a change in the membership of the committee prior to the subsequent annual submission due date, the IBC is required to update the registration at the time of the change. To determine when the next IBC annual report is due, institutions may view their registration information on IBC-RMS or contact NIH OSP directly to obtain this information.

Entities that register their IBC’s via IBC-RMS will be sent email reminders 15 days prior to their IBC registration due date and a subsequent “past due” notification the day it becomes past due (if the entity has not yet filed their report).

If an institution does not receive NIH support for research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules; can it voluntarily register its IBC?

There are a number of reasons why entities not subject to the  NIH Guidelines  choose nonetheless to comply voluntarily. First, it demonstrates the entity adheres to high standards of safety in conducting recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid research. Second, adherence to the  NIH Guidelines  has been adopted as a requirement by other Federal agencies, so even if an institution does receive NIH funding, it may still be expected to adhere to the  NIH Guidelines  if it receives funding from certain other agencies. Finally, if the institution adheres to the  NIH Guidelines  voluntarily, it will be poised to be compliant with this key requirement should it ever seek NIH funding for research subject to the  NIH Guidelines .

It is important to note that, under voluntary compliance, NIH expects full adherence to all pertinent requirements. If an institution were to adhere only to certain elements of the  NIH Guidelines , the NIH would not be in a position to say that the entity was compliant with the  NIH Guidelines .

As part of full compliance, NIH would expect the entity to release its IBC minutes to the public upon request. The entity may redact information that is private or proprietary; however, redaction should be done judiciously and consistently. Some examples of information that may be redacted include trade secret information, the home telephone numbers or home addresses of IBC members, and specific information whose disclosure would directly compromise institutional or national security.

Can an IBC registration be deactivated?

Entities that utilize the  IBC-RMS  may request to deactivate their IBC registration online.

Entities who choose not to utilize IBC-RMS, must request deactivation of their IBC in writing to NIH OSP. Deactivation requests may be emailed to  [email protected]

For further information about the requirements of the  NIH Guidelines , please email:  [email protected].

Grant and Report Writing Consultant

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an international, not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization that develops and delivers new treatments for neglected diseases affecting millions of the world’s poorest people. 

Together with more than 200 public research and industry allies worldwide, we use the power of partnership, innovation, open science, and advocacy to find solutions to a great injustice: the lack of medicines for life-threatening diseases that disproportionately impact poor and marginalized people. Driven by collaboration, not competition, and by patients’ needs, not profits, we promote equitable access, foster inclusive and sustainable solutions, and advocate for a more effective global biomedical R&D system that meets the needs of neglected patients. 

13 new treatments for people with sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, HIV, hepatitis C, and malaria that have saved millions of lives. We aim to deliver a total of 25 new treatments by 2028– addressing R&D gaps for neglected tropical diseases and viral infections, including new pandemic-prone diseases (such as COVID-19) and climate-sensitive diseases (such as dengue) with a focus on the needs of patients in low- and middle-income countries. 

The External Affairs Department drives DNDi’s visibility, influence, and financial sustainability. Its teams (Policy Advocacy, Communications, and External Relations] ensure that DNDi is visible and respected in influential circles, supported by committed stakeholders, and successful in securing the resources needed to deliver on its mission, while being effective in driving policy change as it advocates for neglected patients. 

The External Affairs’ Donors (External) Relations team develops and implements DNDi’s global fundraising strategy to secure funding from a mix of public and private donors and new financing mechanisms, worldwide. 

Purpose of the position

The overall purpose of this assignment is to have additional writing capacity for the External Relations team. The incumbent would be available to support the team with report writing, concept notes and proposals to donors, on a project basis.    

This person will liaise with the External Relations team and scientific R&D teams, as needed, to help gather and develop information to form donor narrative reports. The person will draft, develop and edit narrative reports, including qualitative and quantitative data, to the donor with inputs from the team.   

Contribution

In order to develop new income opportunities and capabilities, the External Relations team is adding functionality in reporting back to donors, to support donor relations activities. We are recruiting to expand our pool of writing consultants for  help to deliver on increasing reporting requirements to donors by collating materials from sources within DNDi and writing reports and  grant proposals for our donors.   

The consultant will be home-based and will work, initially, on an ad-hoc basis and the start would be from May onwards.   

Tasks and responsibilities

  • Based on a project-by-project basis, and with input from the DNDi External Relations team, the consultant will support with the writing of donor reports and/or donor proposals for grants, as required.   
  • Setting and driving timelines to enable the timely delivery of reports.   
  • Writing text for donor documents based on accompanying data from available information, Excel spreadsheets, bullet points, or interviews with DNDi staff.   
  • Proofreading and editing of text provided by DNDi staff.   
  • Population of donor templates with text and information as required.   
  • Organizing information and data inputs, behind reports or grants, within transparent, traceable, and user-friendly systems.   

Additional/specific/projects responsibilities

  • Development of public and private donor proposals

Reporting line

  • The Grant and Report writing consultant will report to a Senior External Relations Manager  
  • Including contributions from the Director of External Relations, where appropriate.   

Interactions

  • Close working relationship with relevant members of the Fundraising team, in the External Relations department.  
  • Working with members of the DNDi Research & Development teams, including with finance and legal as required.   
  • Working with DNDi partners where needed.       

Job requirements

Skills and attributes.

  • Ability to simplify difficult concepts and complex achievements with simplified, but clear language.   
  • Ability to capture multi-year data and information succinctly via the use of charts, tables, graphs, and accompanying language.   
  • Excellent communication skills, including fluent written and spoken English and/or French, and the ability to synthesize large amounts of information into relevant, coherent, and polished donor reports.    
  • Ability to work proactively and autonomously.    
  • Ability to work well within a multicultural and virtual team, and collaboratively to identify relevant information for donor reporting.     
  • Integrity in handling highly sensitive information appropriately and maintaining confidentiality with donor information.     
  • Intellectual curiosity and the ability to rapidly develop an understanding of DNDi’s work as it pertains to R&D, global health and neglected populations    
  • Ability to think both analytically and conceptually, interpreting diverse information.    
  • Well organized and structured.  
  • Ability to interact with external stakeholders.  
  • Ability solve non-routine problems on a case by case/project basis.  
  • At least three to five years related experience and a proven track record in writing fundraising documents, such as proposals or reports in an NGO context.    
  • Experience or academic background in at least one of the following areas would be highly regarded: public health, science, fundraising/philanthropy, international development, marketing, and communications or journalism.    
  • Knowledge of specific donor templates (e.g. EDCTP, WB) and reporting requirements would be an advantage.

Technical skills

  • Comprehensive knowledge of Microsoft Office tools (Outlook, Excel, Access, Word, PowerPoint, Teams), including the ability to develop and maintain complex Excel spreadsheets including data from multiple sources with clear and effective presentation and translate data formats.  
  • Advanced university degree, or graduate degree with equivalent additional years of relevant work experience.  

Other requirements

  • Fluency in English, with excellent writing and editing skills essential. Fluency in French and/or German, with very good writing and editing skills, a strong advantage.    
  • Passion for DNDi’s mission (intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn about scientifically complex concepts, understanding of R&D and drug development, disease, medical field & global health, product development partnership model, as well as for the philanthropic & not-for-profit section).    
  • Very good knowledge of Microsoft Suite.  
  • Please submit your application using the online form 
  • Deadline for application: accepting applications until 30 April 2024 
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted    
  • Cover letter (max 1 page) followed by a writing sample (of up to 3 pages max) as one PDF document. Please state your availability within the cover letter.   
  • CV (max 2 pages). Please ensure you provide a list of previous clients that you have worked with.  
  • Application submission for this position may close early if we have enough suitable applicants 

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