Format of the Research Report, the Thesis or Dissertation and Style of Writing

Format of the Research Report

  • Title
  •  Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Review of Related Literature and Studies
  • Materials and Methods
  •  Results and Discussion
  • Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendations
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices


The title summarizes the main idea or ideas of your study. A good title contains the fewest possible words needed to adequately describe the content and/or purpose of your research paper.

Parameters used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title:

  • The purpose of the research
  • The scope of the research
  • The narrative tone of the paper, typically defined by the type of the research
  • The methods used to study the problem
  • The initial aim of a title is to capture the reader's attention and to highlight the research problem under investigation.


An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes:

  1. The overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated;
  2. The basic design of the study;
  3. Major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and,
  4. A brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.
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Importance of a Good Abstract

The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.

Types of Abstracts

Critical Abstract provides judgment or comment about the study's validity, reliability, or completeness.

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The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary.

Descriptive Abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. It is usually very short, 100 words or less.

Informative Abstract acts as a substitute for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.

Highlight Abstract is written to attract the reader's attention to the study. No pretence is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader's interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.


Leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular topic of inquiry. It establishes the scope, context, and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic, stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a hypothesis or a set of questions, explaining briefly the methodological approach used to examine the research problem, highlighting the potential outcomes your study can reveal, and outlining the remaining structure and organization of the paper.

Goals of a good introduction:

  1. ensure that you summarize prior studies about the topic in a manner that lays a foundation for understanding the research problem;
  2. explain how your study specifically addresses gaps in the literature, insufficient consideration of the topic, or other deficiency in the literature; and,
  3. note the broader theoretical, empirical, and/or policy contributions and implications of your research.

A well-written introduction is important because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The opening paragraphs of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions about the logic of your argument, your writing style, the overall quality of your research, and, ultimately, the validity of your findings and conclusions. A vague, disorganized, or error-filled introduction will create a negative impression, whereas, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will lead your readers to think highly of your analytical skills, your writing style, and your research approach. All introductions should conclude with a brief paragraph that describes the organization of the rest of the paper.

Review of Related Literature anf Studies

A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.

Importance of a Good Literature Review

A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. The analytical features of a literature review might:

  • Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations,
  • Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates,
  • Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or
  • Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied.
  • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important].


The materials and methods gives readers information on where they can access the materials that you used in your research. It also includes information on how you approached your research and why.

Material: The materials you used are an important part of your overall effort to establish a plan of action or answer an important research question. Regardless of the outcome, the items you relied on to come to your conclusion will determine whether or not your project was credible. Credible sources and properly documented materials and sources will lend your dissertation much more weight in the field – and the process should be taken seriously.

Methods: The methods you used to get your information and make an end-argument or establish a solution is also important. Whether your methods are traditional or non-traditional, you must detail them so that they can be considered and possibly even replicated by other researchers and leaders in the field.


The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in light of what was already known about the research problem being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or insights about the problem after you've taken the findings into consideration.

The results section is where you report the findings of your study based upon the methodology you applied to gather information. The results section should state the findings of the research arranged in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation. A section describing results is particularly necessary if your paper includes data generated from your own research.

Importance of a Good Results Section

When formulating the results section, it's important to remember that the results of a study do not prove anything. Findings can only confirm or reject the hypothesis behind your study. However, the act of articulating the results helps you to understand the problem from within, to break it into pieces, and to view the research problem from various perspectives.

Simple tips in preparing the results section

  • State the results in the order of the objectives as stated in the Introduction section
  • Report the relevant statistical info – numerical values, direction of effect, significance of relationship
  • Use non-significant rather than insignificant
  • Indicate abbreviations in parenthesis and use the abbreviation rather than the full term thereafter
  • When statistical analyses are used to compare means, provide all the relevant means and standard deviation in the text or in a table, but not both
  • Present data in different ways – using tables, graphs, other pictorial devices, etc.
  • Sequence tables, figures, etc. properly; tables/figures must be placed in a page immediately after the page where it is referred

The discussion is often considered the most important part of your research paper because this is where you:

  1. Most effectively demonstrates your ability as a researcher to think critically about an issue, to develop creative solutions to problems based upon a logical synthesis of the findings, and to formulate a deeper, more profound understanding of the research problem under investigation,
  2. Present the underlying meaning of your research, note possible implications in other areas of study, and explore possible improvements that can be made in order to further develop the concerns of your research,
  3. Highlight the importance of your study and how it may be able to contribute to and/or help fill existing gaps in the field. If appropriate, the discussion section is also where you state how the findings from your study revealed new gaps in the literature that had not been previously exposed or adequately described, and
  4. Engage the reader in thinking critically about issues based upon an evidence-based interpretation of findings; it is not governed strictly by objective reporting of information.


This is the most important part of a research because it is where the findings and the whole research for that matter are summarized; generalizations in the form of conclusions are made; and the recommendations for the solution of problems discovered in the study are addressed to those concerned.


Your summary may include the following:

  1.  Objectives of the study;
  2. Statement of the problem;
  3. Respondents;
  4. Sampling procedures;
  5. Method/s of research employed;
  6. Statistical treatment applied or hypotheses tested, if there is any; (7) Results

You may use the following guide questions to check that you have not missed anything in writing the summary:

  • What is the objective of the study?
  • Who/what is the focus of the study?
  • Where and when was the investigation conducted?;
  • What method of research was used?
  • How were the research data gathered?
  • How were the respondents chosen?
  • What statistical tools were applied to treat the gathered data? ; and
  • Based on the data presented and analysed, what findings can you summarize?
  • Finally, organize the summary of the results of your study according to the way the questions are sequenced in the statement of the problem.


Once you have written the summary, draw out a conclusion from each finding or result. It can be done per question or you may arrange the questions per topic or sub-topic, if there is any. But if your research is quantitative in nature, answer directly the research question and tell if the hypothesis is rejected or not rejected based on the findings.

As to grammar, make sure that you use the present tense of the verb because it consists of general statement of the theory or the principle newly derived from the present study. So, don't be confused because in your summary, you use past tense while in conclusion, you use present tense.


The recommendations must contain practical suggestions that will improve the situation or solve the problem investigated in the study.
1. It must be logical, specific, attainable and relevant.
2. It should be addressed to persons, organizations, or agencies directly concerned with the issues or to those who can immediately implement the recommended solutions.
3. Present another topic which is very relevant to the present study that can be further investigated by future researchers. But never recommend anything that is not part of your study or not being mentioned in your findings.

Bibliography is a list of citations related to a particular topic or theme that include a brief descriptive and/or evaluative summary. It can be arranged chronologically by date of publication or alphabetically by author, with citations to print and/or digital materials, such as, books, newspaper articles, journal articles, dissertations, government documents, pamphlets, web sites, etc., and multimedia sources like films and audio recordings.

Importance of a Good Bibliography

  1. Encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within the broader field of study, and their relation to your own research, assumptions, and ideas;
  2. Provides evidence that you have read and understood your sources;
  3. Establishes validity for the research you have done and of you as a researcher;
  4. Gives you an opportunity to consider and include key digital, multimedia, or archival materials among your review of the literature;
  5. Situates your study and underlying research problem in a continuing professional conversation;
  6. Provides an opportunity for others to determine whether a source will be helpful for their research; and,
  7. Could help researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of scholarly investigations that have been conducted in a particular area of study.

Types of Bibliographies

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) format is typically used by those writing in the liberal arts or humanities community. It focuses on the author of the cited source material, in order to help the reader place him or her in the appropriate historical and philosophical context.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) format, is used more often in the social sciences and is useful for citing from journals and other such publications. Its focus is more on the research presented in the source and when it was released, rather than the individuals who conducted it.


An appendix contains supplementary material that is not an essential part of the text itself but which may be helpful in providing a more comprehensive understanding of the research problem and/or an information which is too heavy to be included in the body of the paper. A separate appendix should be used for each distinct topic or set of data and always have a title descriptive of its contents.

Appendices may include some of the following, all of which should be referred to or summarized in the text of your paper:

  • Supporting evidence [e.g. raw data]
  • Contributory facts or specialized data [raw data appear in the appendix, but with summarized data appearing in the body of the text].
  • Sample calculations
  • Technical figures, graphs, tables, statistics
  • Detailed description of research instruments
  • Maps, charts, photographs, drawings
  • Letters, emails, and other copies of correspondence
  • Questionnaire/survey instruments, with the results appearing in the text
  • Complete transcripts of interviews
  • Complete field notes from observations
  • Specification or data sheets


A thesis or dissertation is a document submitted in support of application for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. The term graduate thesis is sometimes used to refer to both master's thesis and doctoral dissertations.

Major Differences between Dissertation and Thesis

  • You need to collect information in order to prepare and complete a thesis. On the other hand, you need to research all by yourself in the case of the dissertation.
  • A thesis is short and takes less time to complete. On the other hand, a dissertation is long and takes more time to complete.
  • In the dissertation, you must have a decent knowledge of new discoveries in order to infer your conclusion. But in a thesis, you need to include a hypothesis based on your research work.
  • In a thesis, you get a scholarship while the case is indifferent in the case of the dissertation.
  • In case of a thesis, you must focus on the primary argument in order to prove his standpoint. While on the other hand, in dissertation you need to focus on his background work.
  • In the case of a dissertation, you need to novel findings to existing literature. In contrast to the dissertation, you have to utilize your research work to prove your viewpoint.
  • A dissertation is more like an academic book, and a thesis is same as an academic research paper.
  • A dissertation consists of theory and arguments based on original research. On the other hand, data collected in a thesis is based on hypothetical analysis of contents.
Updated: May 19, 2021
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Format of the Research Report, the Thesis or Dissertation and Style of Writing. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Format of the Research Report, the Thesis or Dissertation and Style of Writing essay
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