Thursday, May 25, 2017

Research Methodology Notes - Research Report

Unit – 4: Research Report

Meaning of Interpretation
The task of drawing inferences from the collected facts after an analysis and or experimental study is called interpretation. Interpretation is the device through which the factors that seems to explain what has been observed by researcher in the course of the study can be better understood. Interpretation provides a theoretical conception which can serve as a guide for further researches. It has two major aspects viz,
(i) The efforts to establish continuity in research through linking the results of a given study with those of another,
(ii) The establishment of some explanatory concepts.

Technique of interpretation
The task of interpretation requires a great skill of researcher. The art of interpretation can be achieved through practice and experience. The interpretation techniques involve the following steps:
(a) The relation that the researcher has found must be reasonably explained.  The researcher must interpret the lines of relationship in terms of the underlying process. He must also try to find out the thread of uniformity that lies under the surface layer of his concept of formulated.
(b) While interpreting the final results of research study, the extraneous information that he has collected during the study, must be considered.  This helps in understanding of the problem under consideration.
(c) Before giving final interpretation, the researcher should consult someone who is expert in the concerned study and will not hesitate in pointing out the omission and errors in logical argumentation. Such consultations will result in correct interpretation and thus will enhance the utility of research results.

(d) The false generalization of interpretation can be avoided by accomplishing the task of interpretation after considering all the relevant factors affecting the problem.  The researcher should not make hurry while interpreting the results, otherwise the interpretation may lead to inaccurate results.

Precautions: Even though the data are properly collected and analysed, wrong interpretation would lead to inaccurate conclusion. The following precautions must be taken while interpreting the results of a research process:
(a)  The researcher should confirm that:
(i)  The data are appropriate, adequate and trustworthy for drawing inference.
(ii)  Proper analysis has been done through statistical methods.
(iii)  The data reflect good homogeneity.

(b) The researcher must avoid the errors that possibly arise in the process of interpreting results.  The errors may arise due to false generalization or due to wrong interpretation of statistical measures such as the identification of correlation with causation, the application of finding beyond the range of observations, etc.  The researcher must be well equipped with and must know the correct use of statistical measure for drawing inference concerning his study.

(c) The researcher must always remember that his task is to make the sensitive observations of relevant occurrences and also identify the factors that are unknown to the world.  This will enable him to do his job of interpretation more accurately.  The broad generalization should be avoided, because the coverage of research may be restricted to a particular time, a particular area and condition. Such restriction must be specified while interpreting the results and then the results must be framed within their limitations.

(d) The researcher must always keep in mind that ideally in the course of research study, there should be constant interpretation between empirical observations, theoretical conceptions and initial hypothesis. In the area of interaction between theoretical orientation and empirical observation, the opportunities for originality and creativity lie. 

(e) The researcher must always remember that the task of interpretation is intertwined with analysis. So he should take the task of interpretation as a special aspect of analysis and accordingly take the precautions which are to be taken while going through the process of analysis i.e. the precautions concerning the reliability of data, computational checks, validation and comparison of results.

Introduction to Research Report
The final step in any research is to complete the findings into a summarized format. It is often said that without a research report the research remains valueless as it cannot be communicated accurately and effectively to the persons who are responsible for policy decisions.

Meaning of Research Report: A research report is more or less an official document that presents the information for an interested reader. It involves investigation and analysis and the facts may lead to conclusions and recommendation. The facts must be accurate, complete easy to find and usually must be interpreted. They provide valuable record for the business. They can also be made use of in future.

A research Report can be Defined as: “The process of communicating the results of an investigation. It is a document which reflects the research conducted and the care that has been exercised throughout the study”.

Characteristics of a Good Research Report:
1)      Grammatical Accuracy: The grammatical accuracy of language is of fundamental importance. It is one of the basic requisite of a good report as of any other piece of composition.
2)      Accuracy of Facts: the scientific accuracy of facts is very essential to a good report.
3)      Simple and unambiguous language: A good report is written in a simple, unambiguous language.
4)      Reader Orientation: A good report is always reader oriented. While drafting a report, it is necessary to keep in mind the persons who are going the read it.
5)      Objectivity of Recommendation: If recommendations are made at the end of a report, they must be impartial and objective. They should come as a logical conclusion to investigation and analysis.
6)      Clarity: The report writer must proceed systematically. He should make his purpose clear define his source, state his findings and finally make necessary recommendations. He should divide his report into short paragraphs giving them headings.
7)      Relevance: The facts presented in a report should be only accurate but relevant also.

Objective/Purpose of a Research Report:
1)      To provide information to some one who is interested in gathering such information or who wishes to make use of this information in one way or the other.
2)      To have the full knowledge about a fact.
3)      To make use of the report either for reference or for any other purpose in future.

PRECAUTIONS FOR WRITING RESEARCH REPORTS
Research report is a channel of communicating the research findings to the readers of the report. A good research report is one which does this task efficiently and effectively. As such it must be prepared keeping the following precautions in view:
1. While determining the length of the report (since research reports vary greatly in length), one should keep in view the fact that it should be long enough to cover the subject but short enough to maintain interest. In fact, report-writing should not be a means to learning more and more about less and less.
2. A research report should not, if this can be avoided, be dull; it should be such as to sustain reader’s interest.
3. Abstract terminology and technical jargon should be avoided in a research report. The report should be able to convey the matter as simply as possible. This, in other words, means that report should be written in an objective style in simple language, avoiding expressions such as “it seems,” “there may be” and the like.
4. Readers are often interested in acquiring a quick knowledge of the main findings and as such the report must provide a ready availability of the findings. For this purpose, charts, graphs and the statistical tables may be used for the various results in the main report in addition to the summary of important findings.
5. The layout of the report should be well thought out and must be appropriate and in accordance with the objective of the research problem.
6. The reports should be free from grammatical mistakes and must be prepared strictly in accordance with the techniques of composition of report-writing such as the use of quotations, footnotes, documentation, proper punctuation and use of abbreviations in footnotes and the like.
7. The report must present the logical analysis of the subject matter. It must reflect a structure wherein the different pieces of analysis relating to the research problem fit well.
8. A research report should show originality and should necessarily be an attempt to solve some intellectual problem. It must contribute to the solution of a problem and must add to the store of knowledge.
9. Towards the end, the report must also state the policy implications relating to the problem under consideration. It is usually considered desirable if the report makes a forecast of the probable future of the subject concerned and indicates the kinds of research still needs to be done in that particular field.
10. Appendices should be enlisted in respect of all the technical data in the report.
11. Bibliography of sources consulted is a must for a good report and must necessarily be given.
12. Index is also considered an essential part of a good report and as such must be prepared and appended at the end.
13. Report must be attractive in appearance, neat and clean, whether typed or printed.
14. Calculated confidence limits must be mentioned and the various constraints experienced in conducting the research study may also be stated in the report.
15. Objective of the study, the nature of the problem, the methods employed and the analysis techniques adopted must all be clearly stated in the beginning of the report in the form of introduction.

Types of Report
1)      Technical Report: In the technical report the main emphasis is on
Ø  The method employed.
Ø  Assumptions made in the course of the study.
Ø  The detailed presentation of the findings including their limitations and supporting data.
A technical Report consists of the following aspects:
a)      Major Findings and Contents: A technical report will contain the main findings just in two or three pages.
b)      Nature of the Research Work: This describes
Ø  The general objectives of the study.
Ø  Formulation of the problem in operational items.
Ø  The working hypothesis.
Ø  The type of analysis.
Ø  Data required, etc.
c)       Research Methodology: This explains the various methods used in the study and their limitations. For instance:
Ø  Sample Size.
Ø  Sample Selection etc.
d)      Data Analysis: This report analyses the data and their sources, characteristics and limitation. If secondary data are used, their suitability to the problem at hand is fully assessed. In case of a survey, the manner in which data were collected should be fully described.
e)      Presentation of Findings: The researcher presents his main findings of the study with supporting data in the form of tables and charts.
f)       Main Conclusion: Here, the main findings of the research are presented and the main body of the report, usually extending over several chapters.
g)      Bibliography: This contains the main source of secondary data.
h)      Technical appendices: This contain all technical matters relating to questionnaire, mathematical derivation etc.
Conclusion: The above format provides a general idea of the nature of a technical report; the order of presentation may not necessarily be the same in all technical reports. Therefore, the presentation may differ.

2)      Popular Report: The popular report is one which gives emphasis on simplicity and attractiveness. The simplification should be sought through
Ø  Clear writing.
Ø  Minimization of technical.
Ø  Particularly mathematical.
Ø  Detail and liberal use of charts and diagrams.
The following is the general outline of a popular report:
a)      Major Findings and Conclusions: The report will have findings of practical interest and their implications.
b)      Follow-up Action: It will suggest follow-up action on the basis of the findings of the study in this section.
c)       Objectives of the Study: Here the problem is presented, along with the specific objectives of the study.
d)      Methodology: Here, a description of the methods and techniques used, including a short review of the data on which the study is based is provided.
e)      Results: This is the main body of the report, presented in clear and non-technical terms with the liberal use of all sorts of illustrations such as
Ø  Charts.
Ø  Diagrams and the like.
f)       Appendices: this consists of detailed information on the methods used, forms, etc. Appendices are generally not included if the report is meant for the general public.

3)      Oral Reports: An oral report is a piece of face to face communication about something seen or observed. An oral report is a simple and easy to present. This type of reporting is required, when the researchers is asked to make an oral presentation. Making oral presentation is somewhat difficult compared to written report. This is because; the reporter has to interact directly with the audience. Any faltering during oral presentation can leave a negative impression on the audience. In oral presentation, communication plays a big role. Lot of planning and thinking is required to decide
Ø  What to say
Ø  How to say
Ø  How much to say

4)      Written Report: A written report enjoys several advantages over the oral one:
Ø  A oral report can be denied at any time. But a written report is a permanent record. The reporter cannot deny what he has reported once.
Ø  A written report can be referred to again and again.
Ø  A written report can change hands without any danger of distortion during transmission.

5)      Informal Reports: An informal report is usually in the form of a person to person communication. An informal report is usually submitted in the form of a letter, or a memorandum.

6)      Formal Report: A formal report is one which is prepared in a prescribed form and is presented according to an established procedure to a prescribed authority. Formal report can be statutory or non statutory.

7)      Routine Reports: These are of two types:
                     i.            Progress Reports: When government departments give work on contract they insist on such reports from contractors. These enable the government to know whether the work is progressing according to schedule.
                   ii.            Annual Confidential reports on employees. Most organizations make a periodic evaluation of the performance and general conduct of their employees. Periodical reports are prepared at regular intervals to indicate the working of a section or a department. These reports are usually prepared by filing in a printed form since the information required is of a routine nature and can be tabulated.

8)      Special Reports: These reports cannot be prepared by filling in forms; they require special skills in collecting facts and presentation. The people who prepare these reports are responsible and senior persons. Special reports may be categorized into following categories:
                     i.            Inventory Report: Inventory report is customary for every organization to take stock of equipment, furniture and stationery etc., at regular intervals. The person, who checks the stock, fills in his findings in a prescribed form.
                   ii.            Survey Report: Survey report is written when a particular area or field has to be surveyed and its condition observed and recorded.
                  iii.            Project Report: Project report is prepared after a proposal takes shape and usually after the preliminary survey has been completed.
                 iv.            Inspection Report: Inspection report is written when an inspection is assigned to a person, an auditor, an officer from the Head-office, or any senior officer may be assigned the task of making an inspection of a branch or a section.
                   v.            Investigation Report: Investigation report is prepared after an investigation has been made when a problem cannot be easily solved; the cause need careful searching, analysis and consideration. When there are losses, labour problems, poor sales, customer complaints, falling sales, a senior person or a committee of senior persons is appointed to investigate the causes. It is difficult to make an investigation and the task requires collection of facts which are not easy to get. The collected data have to be analyzed and interpreted; conclusions have to be drawn from the analysis and solutions to the problem have to be recommended.

Steps in writing a research report
Research reports are the product of slow, painstaking, accurate inductive work.  The steps involved in report writing are:
(a) Analysis of subject matter:  This is the first step primarily concerned with development of subject. The logical development is made on the basis of mental connection and association between one thing and another by means of analysis.
(b) Final outline preparation: It is the next step in writing the report ‘Outlines are the framework upon which long written works are constructed. They are an aid to the logical organisation of the material and a reminder of the points to be stressed in the report’.
(c) Preparing of the rough draft:  This step happens to be most difficult part of all formal writing.  Usually this step requires more time than the writing of the rough draft. The researcher should ‘see whether or not the material, as it is presented, has  unity and cohesion, does the report stand upright and firm and exhibit a definite pattern, like marble arch? Or does it resemble an old wall of moldering cement and lose bricks’.  He should check the mechanic of writing- grammar, spelling and usage.
(d) Preparation of final bibliography: Next in order comes the task of the preparation of bibliography.  The bibliography, which is generally appended to the research report, is a list of books in some way pertinent to the research which has been done.  The entries in bibliography should be made as follows:
1. For books and pamphlets
•     Name of the author, last name first.
•     Title, underlined to indicate italic.
•     Place, publisher, and date of publication.
•     Number of volumes.
Example: Kothari, C.R., Quantitative Techniques, New Delhi, Vikash PUBLISHING House Pvt Ltd., 1978.
2. For magazines and newspapers:
•     Name of the author, last name first.
•     Title of article, in quotation marks.
•     Name of the periodical, underlined to indicate italics.
•     The volume or volume and number.
•     The date of issue.
•     The pagination.
Example: Robert V., “Coping with Short-term International Money Flows”, The Bankers, London, September, 1971, p.995.
(e) Writing the final draft:  This constitutes the last step. The final draft should be written in a concise and objective style and in simple language, avoiding vague expression such as “ it seems”, “there may be” and like ones.  Illustrations and examples based on common experiences must be incorporated in the final draft as they happen to be most effective in communicating the research findings to others. It must be remembered that every report should be an attempt to solve some intellectual problem and must contribute to the solution of a problem and must add to the knowledge of both the researcher and the reader.

Layout of a research report
The layout of the report means as to what the research report should contain.  A comprehensive layout of research report should compromise of following:
(A)  Preliminary Pages/prefatory:  The preliminary page of a report should carry the following:
(a) Title Page: The title page should carry:
•     The name of the topic
•     The relationship of the report to a course
•     The name of the author
•     The name of the institution where the report is to be submitted
•     The date of presentation of the report.
(b) Preface: The preface should be started with the brief introduction.  It may include reasons why, in the first place, the topic was selected by researcher.  Preface should also contain the objective of the research, sources of data for research study.
(c)  Acknowledgement: The acknowledgements are written to thank those who have helped the researcher for a variety of reasons.  Preface/acknowledgement is usually signed or initiated by its writer. All pages in the preliminary section are numbered with Roman numerals.
(d) Table of Contents: Table of content provides an outline of the content of the report. It appears after the preface/acknowledgement.  It may contain only a list of chapters and their appropriate Roman numerals, followed by page numbers on which each chapter begins.
(B)   The Main Body or Text:   The main text of the report should have following sections:
(a)  Introduction:  The introductory chapter normally includes the following:
•     Statement of problem
•     Objectives/purpose of the study
•     Review of literature
•     Justification for the present study
•     Scope of the study
•     Conceptual framework
•     Methodology adopted
•     Limitations of study
(b)  Statement of Findings and Recommendations:  After introduction a research report must contain statement of finding and recommendation in non-technical language so that it can be easily understood by all concerned.  If the findings happen to extensive, at this point they should be put in summerised form.
(c)   Results: A detailed presentations of the findings of the study, with supporting data in the form of tables and charts together with a validation of results, is the next step in writing the main text of report.  All relevant results must find a place in the reports.  All the results should be presented in a logical sequence and splitted into readily identifiable section.
(d)  Implications of then results:  Towards the end of the main text, the researcher should again put down the results of his research clearly and precisely. He should state the implications that flow from results of the study, for the general reader is interested in the implications for understanding the human behaviour.  Such implications have three aspects:
•     A statement of inference drawn from the present study which may be expected to apply in similar circumstances.
•     The condition of the present study which may limit the extent of legitimate generalization of the inference drawn from the study.
•     The relevant questions that still remains unanswered or new questions raised by study along with suggestions for kind of research that would provide answers for them.
(e)  Summary:  It has become customary to conclude the research report with a very brief summary, resting in brief the research problem, methodology, the major findings and major conclusions drawn from the research results.
(C)  End Matter:  At the end of the report, appendices should be enlisted in respect of all technical data such as questionnaires, sample information, mathematical derivations and the like ones. 
(i)  Bibliography:  Bibliography of the sources consulted should also be given.  It is list of documents, books, periodicals, and manuscripts etc. which have some useful information of the given subject matter.
(ii)  Glossary:  It contains explanation or sample definition of technical terms used in a particular paper.
(iii)  Appendices:   An appendix is used for additional or supplementary material used which has not found place in the main text.
(iv)  Index:  Index should invariably be given at the end of the report. The value of index lies in the fact that it works as a guide to the reader for contents in the report.

Format of a Research report
There are definite and set rules which should be followed in the actual preparation of the research report. The following points are to be taken care of while formatting a research report:
(a)  Size and physical design:  The manuscript should be written on unruled paper 8/12 x 11 in size. If it is to be written by hand, then black or blue –black ink should be used. A margin of at least one and one-half inches should be allowed at left hand at least half an inch at right side of the paper. It is to be typed in double spacing on one side of the page only except for insertion of the long question.
(b)  Procedure: Various steps in writing the report should be strictly adhered.
(c)  Layout:  Keeping in view the objectives and nature of the problem, the layout of the report should be thought of and decided and accordingly adopted.
(d)  Treatment of Quotations:  Quotations should be placed in quotation mark and double spaced forming an immediate part of the text. But if a quotation is of a considerable length then it should be single-spaced and indented at least half an inch to the right of the normal text margin.
(e)  The footnotes:  Regarding footnotes one should keep the following in view:
•     The footnotes serves two purposes viz, the identification of material used in quotations in the report and the notice of material not immediately necessary to body of research report text but still of supplemental value.  The modern tendency is to make minimum use of footnotes.
•     Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page on which the reference or quotation which they identify or supplement ends.  Footnotes are customary separated from the textual material by a space of half an inch and a line.
•     Footnotes should be numbered, usually beginning with 1 in each chapter separately.
•     Footnotes are always typed in single space though they are divided from one another by double space.
(f)  Documentary style:  Regarding documentation, the first footnote reference to any given work should be complete in its documentation, giving all the essential facts about the edition used.  Such documentary footnotes follow a general sequence.
(f)  Punctuation and abbreviations:  The first item after the number in footnote is author’s name, given in the normal signature order.  This is given by a coma. The punctuation and abbreviations should be used correctly.
(g)  Use of Statistics:  A judicious use of statistics in research report is often considered a virtue for it contributes a great deal towards the clarifications and simplification of the material and research results. Statistics are usually presented in the form of tables, charts, bars and line-graphs and pictograms.

Concept of Referencing
Referencing is one of the most important aspects of any academic research and poor or lack of referencing will not only diminish your marks, but such practices may also be perceived as plagiarism by your university and disciplinary actions may follow that may even result in expulsion from the course. The most popular referencing systems used in academic works include Havard, APA and Vancouver Referencing Systems.
The Difference between References and Bibliography
a)      It is very important to be able to distinguish between References and Bibliography. Under References you list resources that you referred to within the body of the work that also include quotations.  For example,
b)      It has been noted that “time and the management of time is an important issue, and the supply of time management products – books, articles, CDs, workshops, etc. – reflects the huge demand for these products” (Walsh, 2007, p.3).
c)       Interchangeability of identical parts and a high level of straightforwardness of attaching these parts through the assembly line can be considered as revolutionary components of Fordism for the first part of the 20th century (Nolan, 2008).

d)      Under Bibliography, on the other hand, you need to list resources that you have read during the research process in order to widen your knowledge about the research area, but specific piece of information from these resources have not been used in your research in the direct manner. You do not need to refer to Bibliography within the body of the text.

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