How to Write Research & Laboratory Reports: Purpose, Structure & Content

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  • 0:01 What Is a Research Report?
  • 0:49 What Does a Research…
  • 1:38 Research Report Components
  • 2:49 Research Report Structure
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

One of the most common types of technical writing for those who work in scientific fields is the research report. In this lesson, we learn the parts of a research report, as well as why it is written in such a way.

What Is a Research Report?

After months of waiting, your experiment on the rust rates of widgets is finally complete. You've got some pretty exciting information that you can't wait to share, and you're pretty confident that what you've learned will help you design the next generation of widgets that can stand being out in the elements for twice as long. There's just one problem - how do you get the word out about your experiment?

Luckily, there's a technical document that lets you do just that. A research report is a specific document that details the research you did, such as the reason you did it, the procedure you used, the data you collected, and the conclusion you came to. In this lesson, we'll look at the purpose of a research report as well as research report structure and components that will get your work noticed.

What Does a Research Report Do?

Like I said, the main point of a research report is to let other people know what your work accomplished. In this respect, it doesn't matter if it is a report on the rust rate of widgets or the analysis of which sports drink actually rehydrated a soccer team better after a tough game.

However, informing people of the outcome of an experiment or study is not the only purpose of a research report. For people to really trust your work, they have to be able to repeat it. That means there should be sufficient information in your research report to allow people to replicate the results.

Finally, even though it occurs at the beginning of the document, a research report should include the reason for doing your research in the first place. The point of this is to help other scientists and researchers come up with inspiration for their own work.

Research Report Components

A good research report can be divided into three large parts - the purpose, the procedure, and the results. However, each of these in turn is often divided into smaller chunks. For example, the purpose of an experiment often includes a significant amount of text.

First, it will include any background that people should know about the subfield that you are looking at. If you were performing an experiment on the rust rates of widgets, this would be the place to explain the reason for caring about the research. Additionally, the purpose also states a question that the experiment will answer as well as a hypothesis, or educated guess, to see what you expect will happen.

The next part of the report should include the procedure, which holds all the information necessary to duplicate the experiment. In short, this often takes the form of a list of materials necessary as well as the directions used to reach the final result.

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