A research study is followed by a research report to present what was learned. A research study write-up is made up of similar key sections. Here is a brief outline.
Writing up a research study after the research proposal is accepted and the research process is complete, may involve different formats depending on the purpose of the study. For example, it may be for an internal review, a report for a funding organization or committee, a paper for an academic journal, a dissertation for a university or a thesis.
The general structure of a research study usually follows a similar pattern and includes an abstract, introduction, methods, results, and the discussion or conclusion.
An abstract is a brief outline that can stand alone as a summary of the research. It is important for the abstract to be well written because it is the first part of a research study that is read. It should state the purpose of the study, describe the study design, the subjects, and the variables measured. The results should be presented by briefly describing the key findings and a valid conclusion. Abstracts are usually only 200 to 400 words long.
This section provides the background knowledge to the study, what is already known about the topic and what the study was conducted to find out. This section varies in length depending on the research and whether the study is written for a publication or a dissertation or thesis.
This outlines how the research was carried out and must have enough detail for another researcher to be able to repeat the same study. This includes where and in what setting the research was conducted, the subjected studied, study design, research methods and technology used, the rationale for the subjects chosen and the study size, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data.
The description of the study should include what kind it was, for example a cross-sectional study, cohort, randomized controlled trial or case control. Again this section can vary in length depending on the type of study and report.
The results section is meant to be precise and includes a description of what was studied and the quantity in the research. Reasons for errors in the data or missing data are included. The main results for a research study can be clearly presented through graphs and charts of the statistical analysis as well as a brief, unbiased write-up. The results section simply reports the findings but doesn’t give the researchers comments or interpretations.
This concludes the research and centers on the researchers’ interpretation of and comments on the findings of the study in the context of previous studies and current knowledge. The discussion talks about what was learned in the study and includes whether missing data or limitations in research affected the study and the accuracy of measurements. The researchers may also suggest follow up or further analysis on the study and new data.
No research study can be carried out perfectly or without limitations, however in a good study the research report will show that it was a well-designed and conducted study and the results far outweigh any errors or restrictions.