Objectives

The research report has two equally important objectives. The first is to communicate the findings and their significance to decision makers. This has implications for the layout, style of writing, content and analysis of the data. The second is to gain acceptance of the findings. This has implications for the manner in which the report is presented. A short report is more likely to be read and assimilated than a long one. The key elements in a research report are listed below, although variations may be required for specific reports. A concise communication of the nature and outcome of the research programme is contained in Sections 1-5. Sections 6-10 provide the detailed evidence from which conclusions and recommendations are derived.

The research report

1. Title page

Lists the title, client, research organization and date.

2. Executive summary

A concise summary of the report in no more than one page.

3. List of contents

Gives a detailed numbered guide to report sections, followed by a list of graphs and statistical tables.

4. Preface

Outline of the agreed research brief, followed by a statement of objectives, scope and methods of research undertaken.

5. Summary of conclusions/recommendations

Summary of main findings, sometimes accompanied by some creative interpretation in the form of recommendations.

6. Previous related research

It is sometimes useful to show how previous knowledge may have had a bearing on the research undertaken.

7. Research method

Procedures used to collect information. Where, how and from whom, and techniques used in analysis. The characteristics and size of samples should be recorded.

8. Research findings

The main body of the report commenting on the findings in detail. Emphasis should be on ease of understanding and logical presentation for the reader.

9. Conclusions and recommendations

Even though the findings may speak for themselves, it is helpful to bring them together in a conclusion related to the terms of reference stated in the Preface.

10. Appendices

Any detailed or technical matter that is essential to a full understanding of the _research report, e.g. a copy of the questionnaire._

Whether the findings of a research report are read, noted and acted upon should properly be a concern of the individual commissioning the research.

If the findings are of such significance that the power to implement any recommendations lies outside that individual's area of authority, then it is a useful device to call a meeting of appropriate personnel to receive and consider the main findings of a research study. This ensures that the findings can be effectively communicated, and that they will be considered and action decided upon as part of the agenda of the meeting.

If report findings are not noted and acted upon, then the whole research procedure represents an area of wasted resources for the organization and the position of research expenditure within the organization must be questioned.

10.6 Summary

Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data are subjective and impressionistic. They are usually carried out by the individual who conducted the fieldwork, and the report contains direct quotes from respondents. Analysis of quantitative data involves the process of data preparation, data processing, computer and statistical analysis, and interpretation. Each of these is discussed and statistical procedures for analysis are described. The chapter concludes with a brief section on reporting research findings.

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