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Report writing

What is a report and how does it differ from writing an essay? Reports are concise and have a formal structure. They are often used to communicate the results or findings of a project.

Essays by contrast are often used to show a tutor what you think about a topic. They are discursive and the structure can be left to the discretion of the writer.

Who and what is the report for?

Before you write a report, you need to be clear about who you are writing the report for and why the report has been commissioned.

Keep the audience in mind as you write your report, think about what they need to know. For example, the report could be for:

  • the general public
  • academic staff
  • senior management
  • a customer/client.

Reports are usually assessed on content, structure, layout, language, and referencing. You should consider the focus of your report, for example:

  • Are you reporting on an experiment?
  • Is the purpose to provide background information?
  • Should you be making recommendations for action?

Language of report writing

Reports use clear and concise language, which can differ considerably from essay writing.

They are often broken down in to sections, which each have their own headings and sub-headings. These sections may include bullet points or numbering as well as more structured sentences. Paragraphs are usually shorter in a report than in an essay.

Both essays and reports are examples of academic writing. You are expected to use grammatically correct sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation.

Academic writing is formal so you should avoid using apostrophes and contractions such as “it’s” and "couldn't". Instead, use “it is” and “could not”.

Structure and organisation

Reports are much more structured than essays. They are divided in to sections and sub-sections that are formatted using bullet points or numbering.

Report structures do vary among disciplines, but the most common structures include the following:

The title page needs to be informative and descriptive, concisely stating the topic of the report.

Abstract (or Executive Summary in business reports)

The abstract is a brief summary of the context, methods, findings and conclusions of the report. It is intended to give the reader an overview of the report before they continue reading, so it is a good idea to write this section last.

An executive summary should outline the key problem and objectives, and then cover the main findings and key recommendations.

Table of contents

Readers will use this table of contents to identify which sections are most relevant to them. You must make sure your contents page correctly represents the structure of your report.

Take a look at this sample contents page.

Introduction

In your introduction you should include information about the background to your research, and what its aims and objectives are. You can also refer to the literature in this section; reporting what is already known about your question/topic, and if there are any gaps. Some reports are also expected to include a section called ‘Terms of references’, where you identify who asked for the report, what is covers, and what its limitations are.

Methodology

If your report involved research activity, you should state what that was, for example you may have interviewed clients, organised some focus groups, or done a literature review. The methodology section should provide an accurate description of the material and procedures used so that others could replicate the experiment you conducted.

Results/findings

The results/findings section should be an objective summary of your findings, which can use tables, graphs, or figures to describe the most important results and trends. You do not need to attempt to provide reasons for your results (this will happen in the discussion section).

In the discussion you are expected to critically evaluate your findings. You may need to re-state what your report was aiming to prove and whether this has been achieved. You should also assess the accuracy and significance of your findings, and show how it fits in the context of previous research.

Conclusion/recommendations

Your conclusion should summarise the outcomes of your report and make suggestions for further research or action to be taken. You may also need to include a list of specific recommendations as a result of your study.

The references are a list of any sources you have used in your report. Your report should use the standard referencing style preferred by your school or department eg Harvard, Numeric, OSCOLA etc.

You should use appendices to expand on points referred to in the main body of the report. If you only have one item it is an appendix, if you have more than one they are called appendices. You can use appendices to provide backup information, usually data or statistics, but it is important that the information contained is directly relevant to the content of the report.

Appendices can be given alphabetical or numerical headings, for example Appendix A, or Appendix 1. The order they appear at the back of your report is determined by the order that they are mentioned in the body of your report. You should refer to your appendices within the text of your report, for example ‘see Appendix B for a breakdown of the questionnaire results’. Don’t forget to list the appendices in your contents page.

Presentation and layout

Reports are written in several sections and may also include visual data such as figures and tables. The layout and presentation is therefore very important.

Your tutor or your module handbook will state how the report should be presented in terms of font sizes, margins, text alignment etc.

You will need good IT skills to manipulate graphical data and work with columns and tables. If you need to improve these skills, try the following online resources:

  • Microsoft online training through Linkedin Learning
  • Engage web resource on using tables and figures in reports

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Report writing

  • Features of good reports
  • Types of Report

Introduction

Organising your information, abstract / executive summary, literature review, results / data / findings, reference list / bibliography.

  • Writing up your report

Useful links for report writing

  • Study Advice Helping students to achieve study success with guides, video tutorials, seminars and one-to-one advice sessions.
  • Maths Support A guide to Maths Support resources which may help if you're finding any mathematical or statistical topic difficult during the transition to University study.

how to write a report university example

  • Academic Phrasebank Use this site for examples of linking phrases and ways to refer to sources.
  • Academic writing LibGuide Expert guidance on punctuation, grammar, writing style and proof-reading.
  • Reading and notemaking LibGuide Expert guidance on managing your reading and making effective notes.
  • Guide to citing references Includes guidance on why, when and how to use references correctly in your academic writing.

The structure of a report has a key role to play in communicating information and enabling the reader to find the information they want quickly and easily. Each section of a report has a different role to play and a writing style suited to that role. Therefore, it is important to understand what your audience is expecting in each section of a report and put the appropriate information in the appropriate sections.

The guidance on this page explains the job each section does and the style in which it is written. Note that all reports are different so you must pay close attention to what you are being asked to include in your assignment brief. For instance, your report may need all of these sections, or only some, or you may be asked to combine sections (e.g. introduction and literature review, or results and discussion). The video tutorial on structuring reports below will also be helpful, especially if you are asked to decide on your own structure.

  • Finding a structure for your report (video) Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic.
  • Finding a structure for your report (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.

how to write a report university example

  • When writing an essay, you need to place your information  to make a strong argument
  • When writing a report, you need to place your information  in the appropriate section

Consider the role each item will play in communicating information or ideas to the reader, and place it in the section where it will best perform that role. For instance:

  • Does it provide background to your research? ( Introduction  or  Literature Review )
  • Does it describe the types of activity you used to collect evidence? ( Methods )
  • Does it present factual data? ( Results )
  • Does it place evidence in the context of background? ( Discussion )
  • Does it make recommendations for action? ( Conclusion )

how to write a report university example

  • the purpose of the work
  • methods used for research
  • main conclusions reached
  • any recommendations

The introduction … should explain the rationale for undertaking the work reported on, and the way you decided to do it. Include what you have been asked (or chosen) to do and the reasons for doing it.

- State what the report is about. What is the question you are trying to answer? If it is a brief for a specific reader (e.g. a feasibility report on a construction project for a client), say who they are.

- Describe your starting point and the background to the subject: e.g., what research has already been done (if you have to include a Literature Review, this will only be a brief survey); what are the relevant themes and issues; why are you being asked to investigate it now?

- Explain how you are going to go about responding to the brief. If you are going to test a hypothesis in your research, include this at the end of your introduction. Include a brief outline of your method of enquiry. State the limits of your research and reasons for them, e.g.

how to write a report university example

Introduce your review by explaining how you went about finding your materials, and any clear trends in research that have emerged. Group your texts in themes. Write about each theme as a separate section, giving a critical summary of each piece of work, and showing its relevance to your research. Conclude with how the review has informed your research (things you'll be building on, gaps you'll be filling etc).

  • Literature reviews LibGuide Guide on starting, writing and developing literature reviews.
  • Doing your literature review (video) Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic.
  • Doing your literature review (transcript) Read along while watching the video tutorial.

The methods  should be written in such a way that a reader could replicate the research you have done. State clearly how you carried out your investigation. Explain why you chose this particular method (questionnaires, focus group, experimental procedure etc). Include techniques and any equipment you used. If there were participants in your research, who were they? How many? How were they selected?

Write this section  concisely  but  thoroughly  – Go through what you did step by step, including everything that is relevant. You know what you did, but could a reader follow your description?

how to write a report university example

Label your graphs and tables clearly. Give each figure a title and describe in words what the figure demonstrates. Save your interpretation of the results for the Discussion section.

The discussion ...is probably the longest section. It brings everything together, showing how your findings respond to the brief you explained in your introduction and the previous research you surveyed in your literature review. This is the place to mention if there were any problems (e.g. your results were different from expectations, you couldn't find important data, or you had to change your method or participants) and how they were, or could have been, solved.

  • Writing up your report page More information on how to write your discussion and other sections.

The conclusions ...should be a short section with no new arguments or evidence. This section should give a feeling of closure and completion to your report. Sum up the main points of your research. How do they answer the original brief for the work reported on? This section may also include:

  • Recommendations for action
  • Suggestions for further research

how to write a report university example

If you're unsure about how to cite a particular text, ask at the Study Advice Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for help.

  • Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian

The appendices ...include any additional information that may help the reader but is not essential to the report's main findings. The report should be able to stand alone without the appendices. An appendix can include for instance: interview questions; questionnaires; surveys; raw data; figures; tables; maps; charts; graphs; a glossary of terms used.

  • A separate appendix should be used for each distinct topic or set of data.
  • Order your appendices in the order in which you refer to the content in the text.
  • Start each appendix on a separate page and label sequentially with letters or numbers e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B,…
  • Give each Appendix a meaningful title e.g. Appendix A: Turnover of Tesco PLC 2017-2021.
  • Refer to the relevant appendix where appropriate in the main text e.g. 'See Appendix A for an example questionnaire'.
  • If an appendix contains multiple figures which you will refer to individually then label each one using the Appendix letter and a running number e.g. Table B1, Table B2. Do not continue the numbering of any figures in your text, as your text should be able to stand alone without the appendices.
  • If your appendices draw on information from other sources you should include a citation and add the full details into your list of references (follow the rules for the referencing style you are using).

For more guidance see the following site:

  • Appendices guidance from University of Southern California Detailed guidance on using appendices. Part of the USC's guide to Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper.
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Oxford Brookes University

Report writing

Reports are informative writing that present the results of an experiment or investigation to a specific audience in a structured way. Reports are broken up into sections using headings, and can often include diagrams, pictures, and bullet-point lists. They are used widely in science, social science, and business contexts. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Difference between reports and essays

Essays and reports are both common types of university assignments. Whilst an essay is usually a continuous piece of writing, a report is divided into sections. See this overview for more on the differences between reports and essays:

Features of reports (University of Reading)

Reports have an expected structure with set sections so information is easy to find. Science reports may have methods and results sections, but business reports may only have a discussion and recommendations section. Always check what type of structure is needed for each report assignment as they may change. See this overview of different types of report structures:

Sample report structures (RMIT University)

Finding your own headings

Sometimes you are given the choice of how to name your sub-headings and structure the main body of your report. This is common in business where the structure has to fit the needs of the information and the client. See this short video on how to find meaningful sub-headings:

Finding your own report structure [video] (University of Reading)

Purpose of each section

Each section of a report has a different role to play and contains different types of information. See this brief overview of what goes where and how to number the sections:

What goes into each section (University of Hull)

Writing style

As well as having a different purpose, each report section is written in a different way and they don’t have to be written in order. See these guides on the style and order for writing a report and on the features of scientific writing:

Writing up your report (University of Reading)

Scientific writing (University of Leeds)

Tables and figures

Reports commonly use graphs and tables to show data more effectively. Always ensure any visual information in your report has a purpose and is referred to in the text. See this introductory guide to presenting data:

Using figures and charts (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Further resources

If you’d like to read more about the structure and style of reports, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library:

Writing essays, reports and other assignments reading list

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University of Newcastle

Report Writing: Report writing

  • What's in this guide

Report writing

  • Presentation of reports
  • Steps in writing a report
  • Types of reports / short reports
  • Long reports
  • Science reports
  • Business reports
  • Research Report
  • Additional resources

There are many different types of reports, so before you start to work on a report for university, you should check the requirements for the course and the particular assessment task.

This guide provides a basic outline to report writing.

Generally, a report has the following elements:

1. TITLE PAGE - includes the subject of the report, who the report is for, the author (or authors if it is a group report), and the date of submission.

2. ABSTRACT - this is usually a single paragraph of 100-200 words and is a summary that gives the reader an understanding of the main points in the report. It should be written on a separate page with the centred heading ABSTRACT, and includes the following:

  • why the report has been written (ie what question or problem is it addressing?)
  • how the study was undertaken
  • what the main findings were
  • what is the significance of the findings

3. TABLE OF CONTENTS - indicates how the information in the report has been organised and what topics are covered. It should be set out on a separate page, and include a list of figures and a list of tables used in the report.

4. INTRODUCTION - The Introduction has three main components.

  • The Background - describes events leading up to the existing situation or problem, what projects have been done previously, and why the study or project is necessary.
  • The Purpose - defines what the project or study aims to achieve.
  • The Scope - outlines the limitations of the project, in terms of time, scale, cost etc.

5. BODY - basically this answers the questions - Who? Why? Where? When? What? How? - but it will vary depending on the kind of report. The information needs to be presented in a systematic way. Sub headings, dot points, or precise, formal sentences may be used - check the specific requirements for your assessment task.

6. CONCLUSION - a brief summary of the main points in descending order of importance.

7. RECOMMENDATIONS - suggest actions that follow naturally from the conclusions made above.

8. REFERENCES - the list of References is an accurate listing, in the correct Referencing style, of all the sources referred to in the report.

9. APPENDIX/APPENDICES - contains important data, explanations and illustrations not included in the main text of the report.

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How to write a report

This brief, easy-to-follow video takes you through the key elements of writing a professional report and looks at what each of the sections of the report should include. 

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Report writing: overview.

  • Scientific Reports
  • Business Reports

Reports are typical workplace writing. Writing reports as coursework can help you prepare to write better reports in your work life.

Reports are always written for a specific purpose and audience. They can present findings of a research; development of a project; analysis of a situation; proposals or solutions for a problem. They should inlcude referenced data or facts. 

Reports should be structured in headings and sub-headings, and easy to navigate. They should be written in a very clear and concise language.

What makes a good report?

Following the instructions 

You may have been given a report brief that provides you with instructions and guidelines. The report brief may outline the purpose, audience and problem or issue that your report must address, together with any specific requirements for format or structure. Thus, always check the report guidelines before starting your assignment. 

An effective report presents and analyses evidence that is relevant to the specific problem or issue you have been instructed to address. Always think of the audience and purpose of your report. 

All sources used should be acknowledged and referenced throughout. You can accompany your writing with necessary diagrams, graphs or tables of gathered data.

The data and information presented should be analysed. The type of analysis will depend on your subject. For example, business reports may use SWOT or PESTLE analytical frameworks. A lab report may require to analyse and interpret the data originated from an experiment you performed in light of current theories. 

A good report has a clear and accurately organised structure, divided in headings and sub-headings. The paragraphs are the fundamental unit of reports. (See boxes below.)

The language of reports is formal, clear, succinct, and to the point. (See box below.)

Writing style

The language of reports should be:

Formal  – avoid contractions and colloquial expressions.

Direct  – avoid jargon and complicated sentences. Explain any technical terms.

Precise  – avoid vague language e.g. 'almost'  and avoid generalisations e.g. 'many people'

Concise  – avoid repetition and redundant phrases. Examples of redundant phrases:

  • contributing factor = factor
  • general consensus = consensus
  • smooth to the touch = smooth

Strong paragraphs

Paragraphs, and namely strong paragraphs, are an essential device to keep your writing organised and logical. 

A paragraph is a group of sentences that are linked coherently around one central topic/idea.   Paragraphs should be the building blocks of academic writing. Each paragraph should be doing a job, moving the argument forward and guiding your reading through your thought process.

Paragraphs should be 10-12 lines long, but variations are acceptable. Do not write one-sentence long paragraphs; this is journalistic style, not academic.

You need to write so-called strong paragraphs wherein you present a topic, discuss it and conclude it, as afar as reasonably possible.  Strong paragraphs may not always be feasible, especially in introductions and conclusions, but should be the staple of the body of your written work. 

Topic sentence : Introduces the topic and states what your paragraph will be about

Development : Expand on the point you are making: explain, analyse, support with examples and/or evidence.

Concluding sentence : Summarise how your evidence backs up your point. You can also introduce what will come next.

PEEL technique

This is a strategy to write strong paragraphs. In each paragraph you should include the following:

P oint : what do you want to talk about?

E vidence : show me!

E valuation : tell me!

L ink : what's coming next?

Example of a strong paragraph, with PEEL technique:

how to write a report university example

Paragraph bridges

Paragraphs may be linked to each other through "paragraph bridges". One simple way of doing this is by repeating a word or phrase.

Check the tabs of this guide for more information on writing business reports and scientific reports. 

Report Structure

Generally, a report will include some of the following sections: Title Page, Terms of Reference, Summary, Table of Contents, Introduction, Methods, Results, Main body, Conclusion, Recommendations, Appendices, and Bibliography. This structure may vary according to the type of report you are writing, which will be based on your department or subject field requirements. Therefore, it is always best to check your departmental guidelines or module/assignment instructions first.  

You should follow any guidelines specified by your module handbook or assignment brief in case these differ, however usually the title page will include the title of the report, your number, student ID and module details.

Terms of Reference

You may be asked to include this section to give clear, but brief, explanations for the reasons and purpose of the report, which may also include who the intended audience is and how the methods for the report were undertaken.

(Executive) Summary 

It is often best to write this last as it is harder to summarise a piece of work that you have not written yet. An executive summary is a shorter replica of the entire report. Its length should be about 10% of the length of the report, 

Contents (Table of Contents)

Please follow any specific style or formatting requirements specified by the module handbook or assignment brief. The contents page contains a list of the different chapters or headings and sub-headings along with the page number so that each section can be easily located within the report. Keep in mind that whatever numbering system you decide to use for your headings, they need to remain clear and consistent throughout. 

Introduction

This is where you set the scene for your report. The introduction should clearly articulate the purpose and aim (and, possibly, objectives) of the report, along with providing the background context for the report's topic and area of research. A scientific report may have an hypothesis in addition or in stead of aims and objectives. It may also provide any definitions or explanations for the terms used in the report or theoretical underpinnings of the research so that the reader has a clear understanding of what the research is based upon. It may be useful to also indicate any limitations to the scope of the report and identify the parameters of the research. 

The methods section includes any information on the methods, tools and equipment used to get the data and evidence for your report. You should justify your method (that is, explain why your method was chosen), acknowledge possible problems encountered during the research, and present the limitations of your methodology. 

If you are required to have a separate results and discussion section, then the results section should only include a summary of the findings, rather than an analysis of them - leave the critical analysis of the results for the discussion section. Presenting your results may take the form of graphs, tables, or any necessary diagrams of the gathered data. It is best to present your results in a logical order, making them as clear and understandable as possible through concise titles, brief summaries of the findings, and what the diagrams/charts/graphs or tables are showing to the reader. 

This section is where the data gathered and your results are truly put to work. It is the main body of your report in which you should critically analyse what the results mean in relation to the aims and objectives (and/or, in scientific writing, hypotheses) put forth at the beginning of the report. You should follow a logical order, and can structure this section in sub-headings. 

Conclusion 

The conclusion should not include any new material but instead show a summary of your main arguments and findings. It is a chance to remind the reader of the key points within your report, the significance of the findings and the most central issues or arguments raised from the research. The conclusion may also include recommendations for further research, or how the present research may be carried out more effectively in future.

Recommendations

You can have a separate section on recommendations, presenting the action you recommend be taken, drawing from the conclusion. These actions should be concrete and specific. 

The appendices may include all the supporting evidence and material used for your research, such as interview transcripts, surveys, questionnaires, tables, graphs, or other charts and images that you may not wish to include in the main body of the report, but may be referred to throughout your discussion or results sections.

Bibliography

Similar to your essays, a report still requires a bibliography of all the published resources you have referenced within your report. Check your module handbook for the referencing style you should use as there are different styles depending on your degree. If it is the standard Westminster Harvard Referencing style, then follow these guidelines and remember to be consistent. 

Formatting reports

You can format your document using the outline and table of contents functions in Word

how to write a report university example

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Research Prospect

how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

Writing a report should be concise and to the point. It should also be relevant to the topic. Make sure to check your work with someone and read it aloud. Proofreading is also important because computer programs cannot catch every mistake. You may even want to wait a day before you read it to make sure that it is error-free. Keep in mind that an academic report differs from a business or technical report.

Avoiding the present tense

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When anyone tells you about writing how to write an academic report , you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

The best time to use either tense is determined by the context in which you’re writing. While both are acceptable, you’ll want to ensure that your reader knows when you made your findings. In most cases, the present tense will mean that you’re writing about the time you did the research, while the past tense can be interpreted in different ways.

Introducing your topic

The introduction is the first section of your paper, and it should capture the reader’s interest and make them want to read the rest of your paper. You can do this by opening with a compelling story, question, or example that shows why your topic is important. The hook should also establish the relevance of your paper in the wider context.

The introduction should also have a thesis statement, which should explain your research paper’s topic and point of view. This statement will guide the organization of your essay. A strong thesis statement is specific, clear, and able to be proved.

Stating your thesis statement

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should be able to persuade others while laying out your strong opinions. It should also contain an argument. For example, you could argue that the government should ban 4×4 pickup trucks. Or, you might argue that the amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of it in real life.

A strong thesis statement contradicts a commonly held viewpoint. It is not too complex to explain over the course of the paper. It should also express a single main idea.

Putting together an outline before writing your report

Putting together an outline is a great way to organize your paper. Outline the content that you will cover and how you plan to support your main point. You can use a list format or alpha-numeric format to organize your outline. Regardless of the format, your outline should have a parallel structure and include the same types of words in each section. It is also a good idea to include citations whenever possible.

When you’re writing, outlining will help you get the most out of your writing. It will save you time and effort when writing because you can make full sentences and well-developed essays with an outline.

Avoiding jargon

One of the most important things to remember when writing an academic report is to avoid using jargon. These words are often difficult to understand, and although they are useful shorthand for scientists, they may alienate non-specialist readers. The use of jargon is the most common reason that readers complain about writing, but there are ways to replace these terms with plainer versions.

Jargon is specialized terminology used by a specific group. It can be incredibly difficult to understand if you’re not part of the group. It also tends to make your writing more complicated and shows that you’re trying to show off your knowledge.

How to Write an Academic Report – Examples and Tips

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When writing an academic report, you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

Owen Ingram is a research-based content writer, who works for Cognizantt, a globally recognised professional SEO service and Research Prospect , a Servizio di redazione di saggi e dissertazioni . Mr Owen Ingram holds a PhD degree in English literature. He loves to express his views on a range of issues including education, technology, and more.

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Key features of academic reports

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Written assignments

Explore common components in academic reports you could use in your studies

You may need to submit multiple academic reports during your degree. Here, we explore the general features of academic reports.

You course will probably only need some of these features, and you have other requirements that aren't included here. Report requirements vary across departments so you should check your course handbook or ask your subject tutor or lecturer if you're unsure what you need in your report.

Key parts of an academic report

A report is different to an essay . There is no single right way to structure a report – the structure depends on the purpose. In general, however, academic reports feature some of the sections below.

1. Title page

2. author declaration.

This is a form you need to sign and include with any report or essay written that you submit confirm that the assignment is entirely your own work. You can pick up these forms at your faculty department office.

3. Abstract (or Executive Summary)

An abstract is a short (around 150 words) summary of the whole report. It should be written last. Unlike a conclusion, the abstract needs to include a brief overview of all the stages of the report, not just the results. One purpose of an abstract is to give just enough information to enable a prospective reader to judge whether they need to read the full report.

If you are new to writing abstracts, one approach is to write one or two sentences to represent each of the sections of your report. Have a look at abstracts or executive summaries in reports in the Library or online to get an idea of the style they use.

4. Acknowledgements

This is a separate page acknowledging the support of those people who have contributed to the assignment. An acknowledgements page is normally necessary only in major reports.

5. Table of Contents

This should list clearly all the sections and subsections of your report and the page numbers where each of those sections begins. A common (but not compulsory) way to organise reports is to use hierarchically numbered headings.

For example:

After the Table of Contents comes a separate list of any tables, charts or diagrams that you have included in the report. Tables should be called ‘Table 1 [plus the title]’, ‘Table 2’, so on and so forth. Charts or diagrams should be called ‘Figure 1 [plus the title]’, ‘Figure 2’ and so on. Include in this separate list the page number of each table or chart.

6. Introduction

In the introduction you should describe the purpose (aim) of the report and explain why it is necessary and/or useful. Depending on the purpose of the report, you might break down the overall aim into specific objectives. Additionally, you might define key terms (words) that you use in the report, so that your reader is quite clear what you mean when you use those terms.

The following four sections are normally used only in reports about primary (your own) research, such as an experiment, survey or observation. If your report is based entirely on reading, you will probably replace these four sections with a number of topic headings of your choice.

7. Literature review

In this section you describe previous and current thinking and research on the topic. In other words, you report by summarising what others have written about the topic. Because you are reporting others’ work, your literature review will probably contain many in-text citations  to the books and articles you have read. In more scientific research it is common to end the literature review with one or more hypotheses for your own research. In many reports the literature review is incorporated into the introduction and may have a simpler title, such as ‘Background’.

8. Method(s) (or Methodology or Research design)

These three terms – ‘method’, ‘methodology’ and ‘research design’ – actually have slightly different meanings; consult a research methods text for more information. This section, however, is where you tell the reader how you collected the data used in the report (i.e. your methods). You might, for example, describe, step-by-step, an experiment you carried out or describe a situation you observed. This description normally needs to be quite detailed. It is also normally necessary to explain why you collected the data in that way and justify your methods, which may need to be quite detailed.

You might include some in-text references to research methods literature to help explain your choice of methods.

9. Results (or Findings)

This is where you present the results of your research – ‘what you found out’. There should be no discussion or analysis of those results. This section often includes tables or charts.

If you have created one or more hypotheses for your report, you should state in this section whether you can accept or reject them.

10. Discussion of results (or Analysis or Interpretation)

This is often the most important part of a report, because it shows what you think about your results. In the discussion you should comment on your results. This can include:

  • Describing and suggesting reasons for any patterns in the results, possibly including anomalies (results that don’t ‘fit in with’ the rest).
  • Explaining what you found (perhaps with reference to theory).
  • Commenting on how much your findings agree or disagree with the literature.
  • Considering the accuracy and reliability of your results (and how the methods you used might have affected that accuracy).
  • Considering the implications of your results – what they might mean for your practice, for example.
  • Discussing what further research in this area might be useful in future.

11. Conclusions

In the conclusions you summarise the key findings of your report. (Imagine you have to reduce everything you found out down to just five or six sentences.) No new information should be included. It can be helpful to revisit the aim(s) and objectives from your introduction, and perhaps to comment also on how well those aims and objectives have been met.

12. Recommendations

Not all reports include recommendations. But if your report is on a work-related issue or case study, and especially if the issue concerns problem-solving or improving practice, it may well be appropriate to make recommendations. These are suggestions for future action on the issue in the report. Usually, these will be suggestions, arising from your research, which you think will improve a situation.

13. References (or Reference list or Bibliography)

This is a list, written in a very particular style, of the books and articles you read for and used in the report. A bibliography includes all sources you have used whereas a reference list contains only sources you have actually cited in your text.

14. Appendices

Appendices are extra sections at the very back of a report in which supplementary information is stored. This could be tables of data, copies of observation forms or notes, extracts (not photocopies) from large documents (for example, Parliamentary Enquiries) to which you have referred, or any other essential information which you have mentioned in your report and to which you would like your reader to be able to refer. Put each source in a separate Appendix; Appendix A [or 1], Appendix B [or 2], and so on.

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Scientific writing and lab reports

Information on how to structure and format a lab report, also known as a scientific report.

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What is a lab report?

Lab reports, or scientific reports, are the primary vehicle used to disseminate and communicate scientific research methods across science and engineering disciplines.

They are structured and formulaic, to make it as easy as possible for a reader to understand the background, aims, methodology and findings of a particular experiment or technique.

Lab reports usually follow very closely prescribed formats. It's essential that you  pay very careful attention to the specific guidelines issued with your experimental brief.

Typically, a lab report is broken down into discrete sections, separated by subheadings. These will include the following:

  • an abstract, outlining in brief what was done and what was found
  • a point-by-point description of the experimental method followed (a bit like following a recipe)
  • a clear presentation of all of the results observed, some of which may be placed in an appendix to the main report
  • a discussion of those results
  • a brief conclusion and references

Lab reports are written in a neutral and objective tone and are kept as short, concise and to the point as possible.

They are not the place to experiment with elaborate language, which might impact on the clarity of their information.

301 Recommends:

Our Scientific Writing and Lab Report workshop provides a practical guide to communicating your findings with a focus on the scientific lab report as a model. You will learn why it is important to record experiments in this way and gain a detailed understanding of how to structure your reports based on the IMRaD format (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion). This interactive session is packed with top tips and best practice to enhance your report writing skills.

Introduction

Establish the reason or context for doing the experiment. It might help to think of your introduction as a funnel.

Start broad and focus down to the specifics of your research including the aims/objectives and hypothesis for testing.

Provides a descriptive protocol of your experiment so it could be replicated by another researcher.

Your methods section should be written avoiding the first person and using the passive voice where possible (ie a sample was taken...). Reproducibility of methods is the foundation for evidence-based science.

Present your data using tables or graphical representations as appropriate.

Interpret the results and explain their significance.

Reverse the funnel: put the specific results from your experiment back into a wider context, ie

  • what do they mean?
  • what applications do they have?
  • what recommendations can you make?
  • what are the limitations?
  • what gaps remain for further research?

Restate your main findings and key points from the discussion.

Strengthen your arguments with support from existing literature.

Summary of the entire report: Interesting, easy to read, concise. This will usually be the last part of the report that you write.

Title, appendix and acknowledgements

Guidance for Writing Lab Reports by Faculty of Engineering (pdf. 1677 kb)

Lab Reports Writing Template (pdf. 662 kb)

Proofreading Your Work

Writing numbers and presenting data

Consider the best way to present your data clearly. If this is best done using a table or chart, then consider what format makes things clearest.

Make sure all important aspects of the data are included in your chart or table, including units where relevant. Don't include charts just for the sake of it – data display should help the reader understand the data.

Report the results of any statistical tests using the appropriate conventions for your subject.

Data display

Displaying Data in Tables

Displaying Data in Graphs

Hypothesis tests

Writing Numbers in Standard Form

Library resources

Library workshops.

The  Come Together, Write Now  sessions are now open to all students. These virtual sessions for academic reading and writing will help you focus on your work, providing the time and space to come together as a reading and writing community and support each other.

You can  view our upcoming sessions and book a place here .

Online guidance

Reading other publications can help you to become familiar with the structure, tone and language of scientific writing.

Take a look at the Library resources on scientific literature:

Evaluating the Scientific Literature

Finding Scientific Journal Papers

Types of Scientific Paper

Always read the guidance notes

Methods • Use past tense • Write in the third person • Include detailed materials • State the study design • Cite/reference the lab protocol

Results • Organise your data in a logical order • Include tables and graphs • Label clearly and include units • Include figure legends and titles • State statistical tests and p-values • Refer to all tables and figures in the text

Leave it until the last minute

Methods • Copy the lab protocol • Forget to include statistics and calculation methods • Write a set of instructions (cookbook!) • Interpret your results

Results • Include raw data • Present same data in a graph and table • Overcomplicate the results section • Interpret your results • Copy other people’s data or exclude unexpected results

Academic Skills Certificate

The 301 Academic Skills Certificate  gives you an opportunity to gain recognition for developing your skills and reflecting on this experience.

Through this reflection, you will be able to identify changes and improvements to your academic skills that will lead to long-term benefits to your studies.

The 301 Academic Skills Certificate acknowledges your commitment to enhancing your academic and employability skills and personal development.

Related information

The conventions of academic writing

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Research Method

Home » Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Table of Contents

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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How To Write A Lab Report | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on May 20, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment. The main purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method by performing and evaluating a hands-on lab experiment. This type of assignment is usually shorter than a research paper .

Lab reports are commonly used in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This article focuses on how to structure and write a lab report.

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Table of contents

Structuring a lab report, introduction, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about lab reports.

The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but they usually contain the purpose, methods, and findings of a lab experiment .

Each section of a lab report has its own purpose.

  • Title: expresses the topic of your study
  • Abstract : summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
  • Introduction: establishes the context needed to understand the topic
  • Method: describes the materials and procedures used in the experiment
  • Results: reports all descriptive and inferential statistical analyses
  • Discussion: interprets and evaluates results and identifies limitations
  • Conclusion: sums up the main findings of your experiment
  • References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA )
  • Appendices : contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures

Although most lab reports contain these sections, some sections can be omitted or combined with others. For example, some lab reports contain a brief section on research aims instead of an introduction, and a separate conclusion is not always required.

If you’re not sure, it’s best to check your lab report requirements with your instructor.

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Your title provides the first impression of your lab report – effective titles communicate the topic and/or the findings of your study in specific terms.

Create a title that directly conveys the main focus or purpose of your study. It doesn’t need to be creative or thought-provoking, but it should be informative.

  • The effects of varying nitrogen levels on tomato plant height.
  • Testing the universality of the McGurk effect.
  • Comparing the viscosity of common liquids found in kitchens.

An abstract condenses a lab report into a brief overview of about 150–300 words. It should provide readers with a compact version of the research aims, the methods and materials used, the main results, and the final conclusion.

Think of it as a way of giving readers a preview of your full lab report. Write the abstract last, in the past tense, after you’ve drafted all the other sections of your report, so you’ll be able to succinctly summarize each section.

To write a lab report abstract, use these guiding questions:

  • What is the wider context of your study?
  • What research question were you trying to answer?
  • How did you perform the experiment?
  • What did your results show?
  • How did you interpret your results?
  • What is the importance of your findings?

Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for high quality plants. Tomatoes, one of the most consumed fruits worldwide, rely on nitrogen for healthy leaves and stems to grow fruit. This experiment tested whether nitrogen levels affected tomato plant height in a controlled setting. It was expected that higher levels of nitrogen fertilizer would yield taller tomato plants.

Levels of nitrogen fertilizer were varied between three groups of tomato plants. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer, while one experimental group received low levels of nitrogen fertilizer, and a second experimental group received high levels of nitrogen fertilizer. All plants were grown from seeds, and heights were measured 50 days into the experiment.

The effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were tested between groups using an ANOVA. The plants with the highest level of nitrogen fertilizer were the tallest, while the plants with low levels of nitrogen exceeded the control group plants in height. In line with expectations and previous findings, the effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were statistically significant. This study strengthens the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants.

Your lab report introduction should set the scene for your experiment. One way to write your introduction is with a funnel (an inverted triangle) structure:

  • Start with the broad, general research topic
  • Narrow your topic down your specific study focus
  • End with a clear research question

Begin by providing background information on your research topic and explaining why it’s important in a broad real-world or theoretical context. Describe relevant previous research on your topic and note how your study may confirm it or expand it, or fill a gap in the research field.

This lab experiment builds on previous research from Haque, Paul, and Sarker (2011), who demonstrated that tomato plant yield increased at higher levels of nitrogen. However, the present research focuses on plant height as a growth indicator and uses a lab-controlled setting instead.

Next, go into detail on the theoretical basis for your study and describe any directly relevant laws or equations that you’ll be using. State your main research aims and expectations by outlining your hypotheses .

Based on the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants, the primary hypothesis was that the plants with the high levels of nitrogen would grow the tallest. The secondary hypothesis was that plants with low levels of nitrogen would grow taller than plants with no nitrogen.

Your introduction doesn’t need to be long, but you may need to organize it into a few paragraphs or with subheadings such as “Research Context” or “Research Aims.”

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A lab report Method section details the steps you took to gather and analyze data. Give enough detail so that others can follow or evaluate your procedures. Write this section in the past tense. If you need to include any long lists of procedural steps or materials, place them in the Appendices section but refer to them in the text here.

You should describe your experimental design, your subjects, materials, and specific procedures used for data collection and analysis.

Experimental design

Briefly note whether your experiment is a within-subjects  or between-subjects design, and describe how your sample units were assigned to conditions if relevant.

A between-subjects design with three groups of tomato plants was used. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer. The first experimental group received a low level of nitrogen fertilizer, while the second experimental group received a high level of nitrogen fertilizer.

Describe human subjects in terms of demographic characteristics, and animal or plant subjects in terms of genetic background. Note the total number of subjects as well as the number of subjects per condition or per group. You should also state how you recruited subjects for your study.

List the equipment or materials you used to gather data and state the model names for any specialized equipment.

List of materials

35 Tomato seeds

15 plant pots (15 cm tall)

Light lamps (50,000 lux)

Nitrogen fertilizer

Measuring tape

Describe your experimental settings and conditions in detail. You can provide labelled diagrams or images of the exact set-up necessary for experimental equipment. State how extraneous variables were controlled through restriction or by fixing them at a certain level (e.g., keeping the lab at room temperature).

Light levels were fixed throughout the experiment, and the plants were exposed to 12 hours of light a day. Temperature was restricted to between 23 and 25℃. The pH and carbon levels of the soil were also held constant throughout the experiment as these variables could influence plant height. The plants were grown in rooms free of insects or other pests, and they were spaced out adequately.

Your experimental procedure should describe the exact steps you took to gather data in chronological order. You’ll need to provide enough information so that someone else can replicate your procedure, but you should also be concise. Place detailed information in the appendices where appropriate.

In a lab experiment, you’ll often closely follow a lab manual to gather data. Some instructors will allow you to simply reference the manual and state whether you changed any steps based on practical considerations. Other instructors may want you to rewrite the lab manual procedures as complete sentences in coherent paragraphs, while noting any changes to the steps that you applied in practice.

If you’re performing extensive data analysis, be sure to state your planned analysis methods as well. This includes the types of tests you’ll perform and any programs or software you’ll use for calculations (if relevant).

First, tomato seeds were sown in wooden flats containing soil about 2 cm below the surface. Each seed was kept 3-5 cm apart. The flats were covered to keep the soil moist until germination. The seedlings were removed and transplanted to pots 8 days later, with a maximum of 2 plants to a pot. Each pot was watered once a day to keep the soil moist.

The nitrogen fertilizer treatment was applied to the plant pots 12 days after transplantation. The control group received no treatment, while the first experimental group received a low concentration, and the second experimental group received a high concentration. There were 5 pots in each group, and each plant pot was labelled to indicate the group the plants belonged to.

50 days after the start of the experiment, plant height was measured for all plants. A measuring tape was used to record the length of the plant from ground level to the top of the tallest leaf.

In your results section, you should report the results of any statistical analysis procedures that you undertook. You should clearly state how the results of statistical tests support or refute your initial hypotheses.

The main results to report include:

  • any descriptive statistics
  • statistical test results
  • the significance of the test results
  • estimates of standard error or confidence intervals

The mean heights of the plants in the control group, low nitrogen group, and high nitrogen groups were 20.3, 25.1, and 29.6 cm respectively. A one-way ANOVA was applied to calculate the effect of nitrogen fertilizer level on plant height. The results demonstrated statistically significant ( p = .03) height differences between groups.

Next, post-hoc tests were performed to assess the primary and secondary hypotheses. In support of the primary hypothesis, the high nitrogen group plants were significantly taller than the low nitrogen group and the control group plants. Similarly, the results supported the secondary hypothesis: the low nitrogen plants were taller than the control group plants.

These results can be reported in the text or in tables and figures. Use text for highlighting a few key results, but present large sets of numbers in tables, or show relationships between variables with graphs.

You should also include sample calculations in the Results section for complex experiments. For each sample calculation, provide a brief description of what it does and use clear symbols. Present your raw data in the Appendices section and refer to it to highlight any outliers or trends.

The Discussion section will help demonstrate your understanding of the experimental process and your critical thinking skills.

In this section, you can:

  • Interpret your results
  • Compare your findings with your expectations
  • Identify any sources of experimental error
  • Explain any unexpected results
  • Suggest possible improvements for further studies

Interpreting your results involves clarifying how your results help you answer your main research question. Report whether your results support your hypotheses.

  • Did you measure what you sought out to measure?
  • Were your analysis procedures appropriate for this type of data?

Compare your findings with other research and explain any key differences in findings.

  • Are your results in line with those from previous studies or your classmates’ results? Why or why not?

An effective Discussion section will also highlight the strengths and limitations of a study.

  • Did you have high internal validity or reliability?
  • How did you establish these aspects of your study?

When describing limitations, use specific examples. For example, if random error contributed substantially to the measurements in your study, state the particular sources of error (e.g., imprecise apparatus) and explain ways to improve them.

The results support the hypothesis that nitrogen levels affect plant height, with increasing levels producing taller plants. These statistically significant results are taken together with previous research to support the importance of nitrogen as a nutrient for tomato plant growth.

However, unlike previous studies, this study focused on plant height as an indicator of plant growth in the present experiment. Importantly, plant height may not always reflect plant health or fruit yield, so measuring other indicators would have strengthened the study findings.

Another limitation of the study is the plant height measurement technique, as the measuring tape was not suitable for plants with extreme curvature. Future studies may focus on measuring plant height in different ways.

The main strengths of this study were the controls for extraneous variables, such as pH and carbon levels of the soil. All other factors that could affect plant height were tightly controlled to isolate the effects of nitrogen levels, resulting in high internal validity for this study.

Your conclusion should be the final section of your lab report. Here, you’ll summarize the findings of your experiment, with a brief overview of the strengths and limitations, and implications of your study for further research.

Some lab reports may omit a Conclusion section because it overlaps with the Discussion section, but you should check with your instructor before doing so.

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A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment . Lab reports are commonly assigned in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method with a hands-on lab experiment. Course instructors will often provide you with an experimental design and procedure. Your task is to write up how you actually performed the experiment and evaluate the outcome.

In contrast, a research paper requires you to independently develop an original argument. It involves more in-depth research and interpretation of sources and data.

A lab report is usually shorter than a research paper.

The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but it usually contains the following:

  • Abstract: summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
  • References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA)
  • Appendices: contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

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6+ Academic Report Examples – PDF

Academic Report Examples

As a way of evaluating a student’s logical capacity, comprehension level and writing skill , some professors require their students to write a document presenting their ideas, thoughts, analyses, etc. about a certain topic. Other than writing an essay , the students can also use a report in order effectively present their objective deductions and findings.

acdemic report

A formal report is another way of presenting facts and analysis you have gathered from your readings about a certain topic. In requires thorough research, readings, rationalizing, analyzing and making a point. It goes beyond that of an essay, it is more than just arguing a position and drawing conclusions, although a report can also do that, it must comprehensively present pertinent facts and information in order for the reader to see the subject in new light.

As you may know, report writing is a very useful skill not only academically but also in your future career. Not only does it hones your writing skills it also improves your analytical and critical thinking skills since it urges you to come up with objective findings based on facts. Therefore, it will surely help you be good at whatever job you wish to pursue in the future; no employer says no to a critically and analytically adept individual. You may also see marketing report examples.

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Difference Between an Essay and Report

An essay and a report are both effective ways of presenting information and data. However, some professors may prefer one over the other. In order to know the difference between the two, a list of their differences are presented below:

  • Essay are rarely used outside the academic realm.
  • It focuses on analyzing or evaluating theory, past research by other people, and ideas.
  • Rarely presents the findings of a newly conducted research.
  • It only has four significant parts or elements.
  • The flow of writing is continuous and does not have dividing sections.
  • It usually does not include table, charts, and/or diagrams.
  • It should not be used as the method in arriving at conclusions.
  • Is usually not reflective about the process of researching and writing the essay itself.
  • It does not include recommendations.
  • It is argumentative and mostly based on ideas.
  • Only offers conclusions on a question or on presented issues or problems.

You may also see business report examples.

  • Originated from the professional world but is still used academically.
  • Often presents data and findings that the researcher himself has gathered.
  • Uses data gathering methods such as surveys, experiment or case study, or by applying theory.
  • Commonly has at least 12 parts or sections and 14 parts or sections at most.
  • Topics are divided into different sections or headings or sub-headings.
  • It usually contains tables, graphs, charts and diagrams.
  • Includes the method/s the researcher used.
  • It includes recommendations on what actions to make.
  • It is an informative and fact-based document.
  • Follows specific style for each section.
  • It is written with a specific purpose and reader in mind.

You may also like examples of short report .

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Contents of an Academic Report

An effective academic report must have the contents and sections necessary to nit-pick and through explain a subject. Listed below are the contents of an academic report:

  • Author Declaration
  • Abstract or Executive Summary
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Method or Methodology or Research Design
  • Results or Findings
  • Discussion of Results or Analysis or Interpretation
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • References or Bibliography

How to Write an Academic Report

1. title page.

This means what it literally means. The title of the general report should be indicated on this page of the academic report. In some cases, the title page also includes your name as the author and student number, the name of the course and the course code. For example:

Communication Skills Relevant in International Business

John Smith (012345) Business 300

2. Author Declaration

In some universities or colleges, you will need to fill out a form from the department or faculty conforming that the report is in fact your own output. This form is attached to any assigned report or essay for your course.

3. Abstract or Executive Summary

An abstract is a short opening for your entire report. It is a basically a summary of the report as a whole and therefore should only be around 150 words in length. In order to effectively write it, a good techniques is writing it after all the sections, headings and sub-headings have been presented. Here’s a tip: write one or two sentences representing each section of the report in order to have a complete and comprehensive abstract.

4. Acknowledgements

Although acknowledgements are normally necessary in major reports, it can also be included in an academic report. This acknowledges the people who have supported you in your research and has contributed in the completion of the report. However, do not go overboard. This should only be short and direct to the point. You may also like consulting report examples.

6. Table of Contents

This is where the reader goes to look for specific sections or topics found in your report. This contains the actual titles of each section, heading and sub-headings along with their actual page numbers. A good way or organizing your table of contents is to list the contents in according to hierarchy numbers, from first to last. After the list of the contents comes a separate list for the tables, charts, diagrams, etc that is found in your report. You may also check out management report examples.

7. Introduction

The introduction must present the purpose or objective of the report and explain why the report is necessary or how it’s useful. It must immediately let the reader know that the report is useful in the field it is focused on and that it has a positive impact and recommendations on the subject at hand. In addition, you can define key terms you have repeatedly used in the report so that the reader has a clear idea on what you mean when you use the term. You might be interested in recruitment report examples.

Author’s Note : The following sections (8-11) are primarily used in major reports such as research, an experiment, survey or observation. If your report is based on reading, you can replace these sections with topic heading of your own choosing.

8. Literature Review

In this section, describe and report the previous and current thinking and research on the topic. You include a summary on what other have written about the topic you are reporting. This section will mostly consist of in-text citations from the books, articles, reports, etc. you have read about the topic. You may also see report examples in excel .

Simply, it is a review of all the literature you have read in order to form your own thinking about the topic. These literature are your basis for conducting your own report. The literature review should follow the format, MLA or APA format, you professor has required in citing your references.

9. Method or Methodology or Research Design

This section is all about the method or way you have gathered or collected your data. You present and tell your reader/s how were you able the data you have in your report. For example, you can describe the step-by-step process you did when you conducted an experiment or write a detailed description of a situation you have observed. In addition, in this section it is normal that you also have to explain why you collected the data through that method. An normally, the justification should also be quite detailed. You can include some in-text references to research methods references to help explain and justify your choice of method(s). You may also like monthly report examples & samples.

10. Results or Findings

Simply present the results or findings of your report in this section. There is no need for discussions, analysis and explanations of the results. Oftentimes, this section includes a table to comprehensively present the findings. Aside from that, this is also where you state whether you accept or reject the hypothesis or hypotheses you have made in you report. You may also check out sample activity reports .

11. Discussion of Results or Analysis or Interpretation

This is where you present what you think about the results you have formulated in your report. You can also include comment abut your results in this section. Here are other things the discussion section can include:

  • Describing and suggesting reasons for any patterns in the results, possibly including anomalies (results that don’t ‘fit in with’ the rest).
  • Explaining what you found (perhaps with reference to theory). You may also see performance report examples.
  • Commenting on how much your findings agree or disagree with the literature.
  • Considering the accuracy and reliability of your results (and how the methods you used might have affected that accuracy).
  • Considering the implications of your results – what they might mean for your practice, for example. • Discussing what further research in this area might be useful in future. You may also like investigation report samples and examples.

12. Conclusions

In the conclusions, you should summarize the key findings of your report. Remember that all the information that you include in the conclusions should have been presented before and are new information. The conclusions should effectively summarize and present all the major points you have made so far in you report.

13. Recommendations

Recommendations are not necessarily needed in all academic reports, however, work-related and case studies should always present recommendations. These suggestions are for future actions in order to solve or improve issues or problems presented in the report. You may also check out free report examples & samples.

14. References or Bibliography

There should be a list on all the references you have used to cite and to back your claims. It should only contain all the literature you have cited in your report. Depending on the requirement, you can follow either an MLA or APA format for citation.

15. Appendices

Appendices contains all the supplementary information is ‘stored’. This could be table of data, copies of observation forms or notes, extracts from large documents, a transcript of a recording, etc. You might be interested in technical report examples & samples.

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We hope you found our article on creating an academic report to be useful for your academic studies. We also included some examples which you can use as a reference/guide.

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    The topic or subject of the report. The required length and due date. The purpose of the report and its audience. The required structure: sections to be included and those not required. Some lecturers also provide a detailed format particular to the field of study, including information about abstracts, summaries, conclusions, recommendations ...

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