Reporting the Research
Lecture 10
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Organization of this lecture
Reporting the Research:
• Types of Reports
• Components of the Research Report
• Writing the Methods/Procedures and
Findings
• Writing the Conclusions
• Publishing
• Authorship
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• Lectures 5 – 9 have focused mostly on the
research proposal. Little attention is given to
carrying out the research, which is covered in
other courses.
• This final lecture focuses on reporting the
research, after the research plan has been
implemented and the research conducted.
• Reporting entails describing and explaining how
the research results were obtained (ie. the
research process) and explaining the results.
(also review tips on writing in Lecture 5).
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Types of Reports
• There are many different formats for reporting
research; journal articles, technical research
reports, monographs or books, graduate theses
or dissertations.
• Research is also reported orally at professional
meetings, seminars, symposia, and workshops.
• These oral reports, however, are usually based
on previous written reports.
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• Journal articles are the most condensed form of
writing. Journals have severe space limitations and
often all the details of a complex research project
can’t be presented in one article.
• They are the most “prestigious” format for
reporting disciplinary work.
– Involve a peer-review process which evaluates
quality and importance of a paper
– They receive wide distribution to disciplinary and
subject-matter readers
• To reach other audiences, other publications must
be used
• Sometimes, research can be written as journal
articles as well as other formats to reach different
users. Be careful, though, not to violate exclusive
publication rights of journals – get permission!
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• Graduate theses and dissertations tend to be
on the other extreme of length and
completeness
• This is the report of the student’s work to
his/her graduate committee
• These tend to be long and sometimes more
wordy than necessary. But completeness is
considered more important than efficiency in
this writing. (In this respect, they are opposite
to journal articles.)
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Components of a Research Report
• The components of a research report often
include: Title, Acknowledgements, Abstract,
Table of Contents, Introduction, Literature
Review, Conceptual Framework, Methods and
Procedures, Results, Summary and Conclusions
• Note the similarities to the project proposal –
sometimes sections of the proposal can be used
directly in the report.
• The above sections apply mostly to graduate
theses and dissertations, not journal articles
which tend to be much briefer.
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A. Title
– Same advice as for writing Proposal Titles
– Authors, affiliations, keyword and similar
information often on title page
B. Acknowledgements
– Recognize the assistance and support of individuals
and organizations, especially funding
C. Abstract
– A compact summary of the research report,
sometimes called “executive summary”
– Extremely important – it is the only thing most
people will read (in deciding to read your paper)
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D. Table of Contents
– A listing or outline of the organization of the
report. It shows headings, subheadings and
other divisions. Sometimes includes lists of
Tables and Figures (esp. in thesis or dissertation)
– Journal papers usually delete this section
E. Introductions
– Styles for introductions vary, from long and
detailed to short or even absent.
F. Review of Literature
– Serves the same purpose as in the research
proposal
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G. Conceptual Framework
– Likewise, serves the same purpose as in the
proposal. Sometimes used directly from the
proposal, but usually undergoes some refinement.
– May be eliminated if readers are non-economists.
H. Methods and Procedures
– This section explains how the analysis portion of
the research was conducted
– It includes data collection and manipulation, data
sources, analytical procedures, models developed
and used, empirical procedures and techniques,
and analyses conducted
– Also includes problems encountered and how they
were addressed.
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I. Results (Findings)
– Presents and explains the results of the analysis.
– This is the end product of all the analyses from
which objectives were either achieved or not.
– Hypotheses have been tested and the results
reported here.
J. Summary and Conclusions
– This provided the reader with a general
understanding of the research project.
– It most often includes an overview of the entire
study, emphasizing problems, objectives,
methods, procedures and results
– Conclusions represent the researcher’s
interpretations of the results
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K. List of References
– A listing of all references used in every part of
the report. Often very similar to the research
proposal.
L. Appendices
– These can be very useful, but are not always
used.
– They can be used to present material that might
disrupt the flow of thoughts in the report (eg.
too much detail) or include information of
interest to only some readers.
– eg. Mathematical proofs or derivations , some
statistical estimations or tests
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Writing the Methods/Procedures
and Findings
• Writing these sections in a research report can
have some important differences from the
proposal
• First, the Methods are largely written for other
economists. Others may be interested – but will
tend to leave judgments of the validity of
methods and procedures to the economists.
• The effectiveness of this sections depends on
organization and thoroughness. The
procedures need to be described in a logical
sequence.
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Methods / Procedures …cont.
• Explain the data used, their source, and any
manipulations or adjustments of the data.
• Explain and justify your analytical assumptions.
Also explain models you may have used and be
explicit about assumptions made.
• Describe problems you may have encountered
and how they were resolved.
• Also, note unsuccessful approaches, techniques
and procedures – this may help others to avoid
problems or mistakes.
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Methods / Procedures …cont.
• Be sure readers know how calculations were
made and estimates derived.
• Define all variables, including units of
measurement. (These details are easily
overlooked, but are important.)
• Use graphs or other visual aids where
appropriate to increase understanding by the
reader.
– eg. A diagram of a multisector model may help to
make linkages and equations used in the model
more clear
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Results (Findings)
• This presents and explains the results of the
study.
• Validity of hypotheses are discussed, along with
various test of validity used.
• Don’t just present empirical estimates – these
must be analyzed, interpreted and possibly
tested to make findings complete.
• The empirical results are often only the
beginning of the most meaningful part of the
research – economic understanding, expertise
and insight are needed to fully interpret the
meaning and implications of the estimates.
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Results (Findings) … cont.
• Tables and figures are often effectively used to
present findings.
• They help to organize and emphasize
information in the findings.
• A recommended approach to writing this
section is to construct the tables and figures
that form the core of the findings first – then
write the narrative which describes and
explains the tables and figures.
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Writing the Conclusions
• Sometime people confuse Conclusions and
Results (Findings).
• Findings address and test hypotheses, while
Conclusions are concerned with implications or
tests of hypotheses. Conclusions address
questions of “so what”?
• Conclusions extrapolate beyond the findings –
examining and interpreting the implications of
the study.
• Conclusions allow judgment of the researcher
about implications of the study. This judgment
must be supported by logic, but is subjective.
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“Conclusions are a final inductive phase of the
research, which are a matter of judgment … generally
it is wiser to understate rather than to overstate.”
• You may offer insights about the implications of
your study and findings of other studies.
• Policy implications of your study may be
considered – even if these were not among the
objectives of the study.
• Conclusions may specify what the study implies
as well as what it does not imply.
• Researchers may see a need to avoid improper
use of the research results.
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Publishing
• Written research reports communicate
knowledge within the research and scientific
community. Publications are the primary
means of disseminating research knowledge.
• Once published, research results become public
knowledge – however, original ideas must
always be recognized.
• In addition to journal publications, other outlets
include, technical bulletins or reports,
proceedings papers, symposia, and workshop
papers.
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• Among the common reasons that proposed
refereed publications fail to be accepted are:
1. Inadequate identification of a research problem
2. Inappropriate or unclear methods and procedures
3. Inappropriate material for the proposed
publication
4. Failure to communicate what is important and
original
5. Poor organization.
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Authorship
• This can be a sensitive matter which deserves
careful consideration.
• Credit in research paper is recognized in three
ways;
1. Citations or references
2. Authorship
3. Acknowledgement
• Authorship is the most prestigious type of
credit, and all persons “directly” involved in the
research and making “substantive”
contributions should be included as authors.
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• Interdisciplinary research may result in special
difficulties in recognizing contribution and
authorship
– Laboratory and field sciences, place special
emphasis on the generation of data (sometimes as
the end product of research)
– Economists are likely to view such data as “inputs”
to their research, which only requires
acknowledgement.
– Conversely, laboratory and field scientists may
assume that activities (such as determining
economic implications) are not part of “research”
and thus don’t deserve inclusion in authorship.
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• Order of authorship can be a difficult issue.
First author is generally assumed to have had
the greatest involvement in the research.
• The inclusion of administrators or advisors as
authors, even if they had little to do with the
research, can be a contentious issue.
• It is best to discuss authorship up front and
openly among all involved in the research.
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Reporting the Research - University of Hawaii at Manoa