Writing a research report
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Writing a Research Report. If research was not “ written up, ” did it really occur?. Writing a Research Report. Social Scientists conduct research to discover facts, truths, and explanations about the social world. They write research reports to document and store research findings.

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Writing a research report

Writing a Research Report

If research was not “written up,” did it really occur?


Writing a research report1

Writing a Research Report

  • Social Scientists conduct research to discover facts, truths, and explanations about the social world.

  • They write research reports to document and store research findings.

  • The point is to provide useful information to others.

Library research refers to gathering information that others have generated.

Primary research refers to generating information through data collection, analysis, and reporting findings.


Writing a research report2

Writing a Research Report

  • Social Scientists’ articles, papers, or research reports convey:

    • Facts and/or theories others in the research community generated (research reviews)

    • Facts and/or theories the research community generated and one’s own findings generated from a research project (research article or book)

    • Findings generated from a research project without much reference to academic literature (applied research report)


Writing a research report3

Writing a Research Report

  • A social science article, paper, or report generally covers only one important topic of interest and conveys evidence and interpretations of evidence.

  • Research reports are NOT creative writing, opinion pieces, poems, novels, letters, musings, memoirs, or interesting to read.


Writing a research report4

Writing a Research Report

  • Articles, papers, or reports about primary research generally take a structure or form that seems difficult but is intended to help make reading it or using it for research quick and efficient.

  • A research report has seven components:

    • Abstract or Summary

    • Introduction

    • Review of Literature

    • Methods

    • Results

    • Conclusions and Discussion

    • References

  • Note:

    • Qualitative research reports will vary from what is presented here.

    • Applied research reports may vary from what is presented here.


Writing a research report5

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • Abstract or Summary

      The abstract or summary tells the reader very briefly what the main points and findings of the paper are.

    • This allows the reader to decide whether the paper is useful to them.

    • Get into the habit of reading only abstracts while searching for papers that are relevant to your research.

    • Read the body of a paper only when you think it will be useful to you.


Writing a research report6

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • 1. Abstract or Summary—an example


Writing a research report7

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • Introduction

      The introduction tells the reader:

      • what the topic of the paper is

      • why the topic is important—justifies the topic

      • what to expect in the paper

    • Introductions should

      • funnel from the broader topic generally, justifying it, down to the narrow specific topic of the paper

      • Takes the focus to the narrow area that the literature review will cover

    • Introductions are sometimes folded into literature reviews


Writing a research report8

Writing a Research Report

  • 2. Introduction—an example


Writing a research report9

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • Literature Review

      The literature review tells the reader what other researchers have discovered about the paper’s narrow topic or tells the reader about other research that is relevant to the topic.

    • Focused on the narrow topic of the research. Irrelevant information is NOT discussed.

    • Often what students call a “research paper” is merely a review of literature.

    • A literature review should shape the way readers think about a topic—it educates readers about what the community of scholars says about a topic and its surrounding issues.


Writing a research report10

Writing a Research Report

  • Literature Review

  • Along the way it states facts and ideas about the social world and supports those facts and ideas with evidence for where they came from.

  • Literature reviews must be empirically based, making only claims that can be substantiated by other primary research.

  • Parenthetical Citations:

    • Run throughout. They are a systematic way to document from where facts and ideas came, allowing the skeptical reader to look up anything that is questionable.


Writing a research report11

Writing a Research Report

  • Literature Review

  • Parenthetical Citations

    • Substantiate the claims without breaking the flow.

    • Consist of authors’ last names and the year of publication.

    • Each citation directs the reader to the references:

      • Complete information on sources is in references, so there’s no need for all the information to be in the text.

      • Look up last names and dates in alphabetized references list.


Writing a research report12

Writing a Research Report

  • Literature Review

  • Parenthetical Citations have stylistic conventions.

    In text, just pointing out where info came from:

    • blah blah (Author Year) or (Lee 2004).

      In text, where you quoted someone:

    • “Quote quote” (Author Year: Pages) or (Lee 2004: 340).

      In text, more than one source:

    • (Author Year; Author Year) or (Lee 2004; Seymour & Hewitt 1997)

      In text, if you want to use the author’s name in a sentence:

    • Author (Year) says that… or Lee (2004) claims that girls…

      Quoting a person and using their name:

    • Author (Year: Pages) says, “Quote quote…” or Lee (2004: 341) says, “Girls are more likely to…”


Writing a research report13

Writing a Research Report

  • 3. Literature Review—examples of citing


Writing a research report14

Writing a Research Report

  • Literature Review

  • If a claim is necessary, but cannot be substantiated by the community of scholars, the author makes clear that the claim is speculation. The logic of the speculation is detailed.

  • Sources of information are not extensively quoted or “copied and pasted.” Instead, the author puts facts and ideas into his or her own words while pointing out where the information came from.

    Think about how you tell family members about the exciting things you learned in classes…. You make claims in you own words…you don’t quote word for word or cut and paste what you learned.


Writing a research report15

Writing a Research Report

You will most likely

not use theories in your papers.

  • Literature Review

  • THEORIES

  • Academic Researchers explain why social events occur as they do. They use (and test) explanations that have worked before, THEORIES. (Research Circle)

    • Most academic literature reviews have a guiding theory that:

      • Frames (or helps with understanding ) phenomena in the literature.

      • Establishes expectations (or hypotheses) for the research.

      • Justifies speculation when no empirical evidence has yet to justify it.

    • Sometimes the point of a research project is to simply test a theory or theories


Writing a research report16

Writing a Research Report

  • Literature Review

  • Quantitative literature reviews typically end with statements of:

    • Exactly what the focus of research activity will be (what ideas will be tested with data)

    • Research hypotheses

      • Statements of the expected relationship(s) between two (or more) variables

      • For example:

        “Men will have higher income than women.”

        “Older Americans are more likely to oppose abortion for a woman who does not want her baby because she is poor.”


Writing a research report17

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • 3. Review of Literature—examples of complex hypotheses

Hypothesis 1. In a new social context, girls will be more sociable than boys—getting more involved with others (interactional commitments) and forming more emotionally close relationships (affective commitments)—across activity domains.

Hypothesis 2. Given that commitments to new relationships positively determine identity prominence, and identity prominence positively determines behaviors, if girls are more sociable with newer persons, their identities and behaviors will change more across activity domains.

Hypothesis 3. However, girls and boys will experience the same identity processes, meaning that girls and boys with the same sociability in new relationships will have equal identity and behavior changes.


Writing a research report18

Writing a Research Report

  • A research report has seven components:

    • Methods

      The methods section documents the ways that researchers tested their hypotheses to determine whether there was evidence in the data to support the predicted relationship between the variables. Think in terms of: “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?”

      A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN:

      A) Descriptions of Sample

      • Target Population

      • The Ways Data were Collected:

        • Sampling

        • Delivery Methods


Writing a research report19

Writing a Research Report

  • A) Descriptions of Sample (cont.)

    • Response Rates

    • Sample size after various decisions are made

      • Such as:

        • eliminating non-Christians from the sample

        • using only white respondents

    • Limitations of Data (Sample biases, Who is omitted, etc.)

    • Any analyses necessary to bolster claims the data are appropriate

    • Reflection on how well sample reflects the target population


Writing a research report20

Writing a Research Report

  • Methods

    A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN:

    B) Descriptions of Variables

    (Dependent variable is described first)

    • Give the variables intuitive names.

      • Education, not educ

      • Favor Free Speech, not allowspk

    • Word for word description of the questions used to measure the concept (or create the variable)—Caution using psychology and medicine scales

    • The way the researcher coded the variables


Writing a research report21

Writing a Research Report

B) Descriptions of Variables (cont.)

  • Manipulations of the variables

    • For example:

      • recoding income from 23 uneven intervals to five equivalent categories

      • Removing “Green Party” from Political Party variable

    • Reflection on how accurately variables measure the concepts that they are intended to measure


Writing a research report22

Writing a Research Report

  • Methods

  • A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN:

  • C) The techniques that will be used to test your hypotheses or research questions


  • Writing a research report23

    Writing a Research Report

    4. Methods


    Writing a research report24

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • Results

        The results section chronicles the findings of the statistical analyses and assesses whether your expectations (hypotheses) were correct or not.


    Writing a research report25

    Writing a Research Report

    • Results

      The results section includes:

    • Professional tables showing descriptive and inferential statistics

    • Narrative describing most relevant findings in tables

    • The narrative and tables are complementary.

      • The narrative discusses ONLY VERY IMPORTANT findings and refers to where information can be found in the tables as different facts are discussed.

      • The tables contain almost all statistical information so that the author does not have to write a narrative for every detail in the analysis.


    Writing a research report26

    Writing a Research Report

    • Results

      The results narrative includes:

    • Evaluations of the hypotheses. Were the research hypotheses supported?

    • Statements about new discoveries or surprises encountered in the analyses


    Writing a research report27

    Writing a Research Report

    • Results

      Tables:

    • Descriptive statistics tables

    • Tables reporting results of statistics that were used to test the hypotheses

    • They include:

      • Table Number in Title

      • Descriptive Title

      • Other conventions of conveying information in an organized manner.


    Writing a research report28

    Writing a Research Report

    5. Results


    Writing a research report29

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • Conclusions and Discussion

        This section:

      • Summarizes the most salient findings in the results (tell the reader what you found out about your topic).

      • Assesses how one’s findings relate to what the community of scholars already knew about your topic.

      • Discusses the general significance of your findings for your topic in genearal.

      • (moves back out from the specific to the general topic)


    Writing a research report30

    Writing a Research Report

    • Conclusions and Discussion

    • You should discuss the shortcomings of your study and what implications these have for your findings.

    • Discuss things future researchers should investigate about your topic.

    • Leave the reader with the understanding he or she ought to have about the topic you spent so much time exploring.


    Writing a research report31

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • References

        The references are just as important as any other part of your paper.

        They

      • are the link to the library, the repository of empirical evidence gathered from primary research. (they make it easy to find sources of facts and ideas)

        • permit your reader to assess the worthiness of the claims made in your paper.


    Writing a research report32

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • References

        Should be hanging indented, alphabetical on author’s last name (by increasing year within same author) with information in order determined by type of source:

        Article

        Last Name, first name. Year. “Article title.”Journal Name Volume(number): 1st Page- Last Page.

        Lee, James Daniel. 2005. “Do Girls Change More than Boys? Gender Differences and Similarities in the Impact of New Relationships on Identities and Behaviors.”Self and Identity 4:131-47.

        Chapter

        Last Name, first name. Year. “Chapter Name.” Pages in the book in Book Name, edited by first name last name. City of Publisher: Publisher.

        Book:

        Last name, first name. Year. Book Name. City of Publisher: Publisher.


    Writing a research report33

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • References

        Should be hanging indented, alphabetical on author’s last name (by increasing year within same author) with information in order determined by type of source:

        GSS:

        Davis, James Allan and Smith, Tom W. General social surveys, 1972-2008 [machine-readable data file] /Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden; Sponsored by National Science Foundation. --NORC ed.-- Chicago: National Opinion Research Center [producer]; Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut [distributor], 2007.

        A website:

        Last Name (if available), first name. Year (if available). “Article or web page title.”Journal or Report Name Volume (if available). http://address. Date accessed.


    Writing a research report34

    Writing a Research Report

    • A research report has seven components:

      • 7. References—an example


    Writing a research report35

    Writing a Research Report

    Some General Points

    • Make accurate sociological claims in your paper. Stake out positions—a kind of, “I think I have the answer to this issue,” position.

    • Cite facts to support your sociological claims.

    • If you can, use theories to support your sociological claims.

    • Every declaration or “fact claim” must be cited or overtly posed as speculation.


    Writing a research report36

    Writing a Research Report

    Some General Points

    • Anticipate your reader’s questions as you write:

      • help the reader understand why your topic is important

      • demonstrate to the reader that you adequately investigated your topic

      • help them anticipate what you’ll say next—everything you say should seem reasonable to say

    • While writing, keep thinking “The point is to (1) establish hypotheses (2) describe how to test the hypotheses (3) give results of tests, and (4) discuss what the reader should believe about the world.”


    Writing a research report37

    Writing a Research Report

    Some General Points

    • There is no right answer in a research paper—Just approximate representations of the truth that are closer or further away from that truth.

      • The truth is:

        • From “Community of Scholars”:

          What they said about your topic in the journals, books, and other publications

        • From you:

          What your methods and analyses revealed about the topic.


    Writing a research report38

    Writing a Research Report

    Finally…Avoiding Plagiarism

    • What is it?

      • All knowledge in your head has either been copied from some place or originally discovered by you.

      • Most knowledge was copied.

      • This is true in most settings. General knowledge is copied. Most teachers’ lectures are copied knowledge.

      • Humans are naturally copiers, but this is not what we would typically call “plagiarism.”


    Writing a research report39

    Writing a Research Report

    • The Elements of Style endorses imitation as a way for a writer to achieve his own style:

      • The use of language begins with imitation . . . The imitative life continues long after the writer is on his own in the language, for it is almost impossible to avoid imitating what one admires. Never imitate consciously, but do not worry about being an imitator; take pains instead to admire what is good. Then when you write in a way that comes naturally, you will echo the halloos that bear repeating.

        Copied from: http://www.answers.com/topic/writing-style-1


    Writing a research report40

    Writing a Research Report

    Finally…Avoiding Plagiarism

    • What is it?

      • Among other things, plagiarism refers to taking others’ work and representing it as if it were your own.

      • In academics this is bad because with plagiarism:

        • One cannot assess students’ development accurately

        • The person who makes his or her livelihood by scholarly pursuit is being robbed of credit

        • It masks the lineage of ideas and facts.

          “Plagiarism is to academics as Enron-accounting is to

          corporate America.”


    Writing a research report41

    Writing a Research Report

    Finally…Avoiding Plagiarism

    Lineage of Ideas:

    • Original sources of research are all the proof we have for some facts. Without the “paper trail” of academic thought:

      • People could pass incorrect ideas off as facts

      • We would have to keep “re-proving” things.

      • The contexts that generated facts and ideas get lost.

      • Research becomes highly inefficient as it becomes incredibly difficult to find “full information” on a topic.


    Writing a research report42

    Writing a Research Report

    Finally…Avoiding Plagiarism

    • To avoid plagiarism:

      • Document every source for information that is not “general knowledge”—this includes facts and ideas.

      • Cite every time a fact or idea is used unless it is clear that one citation is referring to a group of facts or ideas.

      • If you quote material, put quotation marks around the quoted stuff and include a page number within the citation.

      • It is alright to paraphrase material, but you still have to cite from where the paraphrased material came.

      • When in doubt, cite the source.

        Improper citing is grounds for failure on the course paper.


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