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How to Evaluate a Research Report with Precision: Bridging the Gap


Table of Contents

Why do you need a research report?

According to questionpro, “Research reports are recorded data prepared by researchers or statisticians after analysing the information gathered by conducting organized research, typically in the form of surveys or qualitative methods.” 

But the real question is, why is it important? Here are some of the reasons how a research report will help you:

  • With research reports, it is easy to figure out the finding of your entire research. 
  • It is a systematic way of investigating any gaps which need to be dealt with. 
  • A report can highlight the important findings, suggestions and any errors in your research. 
  • It represents your entire research and serves as an objective or a summary and a source of report. 
  • It provides first-hand original information regarding your research.
  • A research report helps to contribute to the existing knowledge by standing as an effective way of communicating the conclusions and findings. 
  • While providing information about the research, it also hints towards the other fields where systematic research is needed.
  • It helps you understand the market and its needs and trends. 
  • It is a systematic representation of your research hence it makes it easy to search through the topics that you need to refer to. 
  • It saves time as you don’t have to go through every minute detail to get the essence of the report. 
  • It is easily portable and can be sent through emails to your stakeholders.

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How to evaluate a research report?

In this part, we will look into how to evaluate the research papers, the issues that might occur and a couple of other components too. Because just making a report and not being able to make the best knowledge out of it just won’t do right? 

  • Introductory chapter: Building the Rationale

When we start reading anything, the first thing we pay most attention to is the introduction chapter. The same goes for a research report, where the introductory chapter helps understand the researcher, his social and psychological views, his education and his reason behind the undertaking of this particular research. 

The key is to pay attention to the language of the report. And by that we mean the WAY it is written. As we know, research is conducted when a researcher decides to test a hypothesis. He is expecting a true or false result. But it may be the case that the researcher is influencing the research with their preferences or decisions. This causes a bias in the research and is generally detectable through the report’s language. 

Biases can be easy to figure out through paying attention to the efforts that researchers have put in gathering information from the resources and how diverse they are. Diversity will make sure that the researcher is not just referring to the sources that support his views, but they shed light on the topic from all the possible angles. 

Another thing to check in this chapter is the justification of the study and its relevance. A researcher has to study a wide range of information to make assumptions and test the theory. It is crucial to know how the researcher has related the topic to that vast area of information. How he has brought down the complexities of the topic to the form that is helping his research topic. 

Last comes the test of quality. Once you have verified the non-biases of the researcher, credibility of the resources and relevancy of the information, this will automatically paint a picture of the research’s quality for you. If the chapter satisfies the key requirements – relevance, importance, timeliness, researchable and researcher’s competency; then the introductory chapter has served its purpose well. 

  • Review of Literature

This section, depending on the researcher’s choice, can be included in the introductory chapter to build the rationale or can have a separate chapter just to elaborate it further. 

The first major areas that the researcher should elaborate on in this chapter are the findings. When it comes to that, there are three sub-areas to specifically look into:

  • Gaps – gaps in the research occurs when a broad area of the research is mapped out and see what pre-existing researches are conducted, this will create gaps in the study. In this gap area, variables are likely to influence the study in a wrong way and some of them may even be unstudied. 
  • Overlaps – overlap occurs when several studies are conducted in the same way, resulting in the frequent use of the variables that are not much different from each other. The literature review will help us identify these variables. 
  • Contradictions – it is possible that when one study is conducted in different circumstances, the results are different as well. In this case, a researcher must conclude whether the research is conclusive or not. 

The second area that this chapter brings to light is the methodology of the research. According to these guidelines, the research should be able to provide the measures of – sampling technique and size, research design, variables used, scaling techniques, research instruments used, data collection and quantitative or qualitative measures used for data analysis. 

Another indication of well structure literature is its scope. What is the scope of the review regarding time and how the literature was constructed and retrieved? Whether the significant data is missing or not. This will define the quality of the literature involved. 

  • Objectives and Hypothesis

In this section, the objectives are nothing but the questions that the researcher has raised concerning the problem for which he is searching a solution for. As these objectives are the heart of the research, they are likely to cover the following attributes:

  • The objectives should have a clarity of expression and direction to where the research is going to go and why it is being conducted in the first place. 
  • The objectives should be measurable when it comes to qualitative data. It should be easy to code and highlight the information so that it is easy to access. 
  • The objectives are the lines inside of which the research is conducted. Hence they should be comprehensive enough to cover all the aspects of the research and nothing should be outside the defined limits. 
  • The objectives should be judicious with regards to stating the objectives. “Recommending future results” which is mentioned commonly in the objectives is not very much feasible.  

The hypothesis is the reason behind the entire result, and they can be proved either true or false. Researchers construct their hypothesis based on the previous conclusions, studies, existing literature, etc. to evaluate the hypothesis, it is important to evaluate the following 4 factors:

  • Whether the hypothesis was null or directional, and in either of the case, the researcher has proved their point correctly. 
  • The hypothesis can be tested or not. 
  • The hypothesis is stated clearly and are implicating some relationship between the variables. 
  • When there are multiple variables, whether the relationship of independent variables to that of dependent variables is stated or not. 
  • Choice of Research Design

After the objectives and hypothesis is laid down correctly, the more important part is which research method or design to use. There are a lot of research designs that researchers use, depending on the requirements of the study. It is equally important to implement the perfect research design that will cover all the aspects of the research and answer all the questions that were put forth for the hypothesis. 

The efficient way to check the accuracy and suitableness of the design is to test it against the objective. If the hypothesis is evaluated concerning relationships, implementing a survey method to check that relationships will be valid. Whereas if the hypothesis is about the effects of treatment over a population, then experimental design will be helpful. There are factors like, treatment, sample size, nature of the study, that influences the researcher to choose the right research design for the study. 

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  • Choice of Variables

Variables are the fundamental unit of the research. Everything you do with researching, testing experimenting, is being done on the variables. These three types of variables – independent, dependent and intervening variables. Further, depending on the nature of the study, they have sub-types. 

The first variable to check is the dependent variable. It is the one that is getting changed based on how the researcher controls the experiment. The second variable is independent variables. It will be the one influencing the dependent variable. This variable should be chosen carefully and with a lot of considerations. The third is the intervening variable. These are the variables that are generally missed in the study but intervene in the research externally. While conducting the research, it is important to keep track of any such variables that affect the results too. 

It is the researcher’s responsibility to choose the measurable variables, and if not then state their measures too.

  • Research Instrumentation

Now that we have variables, we need research instruments to measure them. Various research instruments are used such as questionnaires, interviews, tests, etc. to evaluate the research report it is important to choose an instrument to measure the variables. 

Researchers can select a wrong measure instrument and end up gaining incorrect or fewer data. To avoid this, here are some points to keep in mind while evaluating research instruments:

  • The chosen instrument can easily measure the variables or not. 
  • Whether the chosen instrument is being reused from the existing study or the researcher created the instrument on his own. 
  • Whether the chosen instrument is the best fit for the study and is feasible. 
  • They can also be measured based on the language and the method of recording responses. 
  • Sample

When we say research, we automatically picture studying a sample. It can be people, natural elements or any entity. And when we cannot study the entire population, we select a sample group that best represents the entire population. There are two components to evaluate samples in a study:

Choosing a sample size that suits your research is important and more difficult than it seems. For example, when the research needs to do a detailed interview, the sample size should be small but effective. Whereas while conducting a survey, the sample size can be large which will give more accurate results. In any of those cases, if your sample size is more, it is a waste of research resources and if the sample size is less, it can compromise the results. Various tools in the market calculate the sample size depending on the population amount. 

The second part of the section is sampling techniques. A researcher may use random sampling to make the groups equally treatable, but if the study prohibits randomization, he may have to conduct a study to assign participants in their suitable groups and then treat them as per the study. In any case, the researcher needs to state the reasons and considerations behind the technique which he chose to create samples. 

  • Data Collection and Analysis

As we go deep inside the research components, we get to the building block of the entire research – Data. No matter what research design you use or how you sample your subjects, it all comes down to the quality of your data. It is generally defined by the way your samples responds to your questions and how much unique they are. 

When the research instrument is sent to the responders, you no longer have control over how they will respond. And mostly it is mechanic. Meaning, the data cannot be relied upon. In such cases, your research can be diluted with the data that is not supposed to be there in the first place. So it is important to check the data for its credibility. 

Data analysis can be qualitative or quantitative. Both being the largely used methods of data analysis, the quantitative method is preferred as it gives statistical results. The size of the sample can be maximum and the questions don’t take much longer to understand and respond to. In qualitative data analysis, the responses are rather descriptive and vast. The research has to take into consideration various things like the language, nature of the respondent, their background, etc. and then conclude things from them and use them in the research. 

  • Findings and Implications

After evaluating the previous steps, it is now time for the final results. The value of the research lies in this bit of the report. The findings are descriptive. The researcher makes use of tables and graphs wherever necessary. The evaluator should note if tables and graphs are used in the appropriate places or not. 

Implications are equally important. Just stating the results aren’t necessary. What those results say about the study and how they conclude the research will serve the purpose of the entire research. In this section, the evaluator gets to examine the analytical skill of the researcher and see how the study has proceeded. 

  • Summary and Conclusions

This is a short glimpse of the research and the evaluator gets an idea about how the research is being conducted, what methodologies are used, documentation of the hypothesis and objectives and the final findings. 

  • References

Referencing requires skill and knowledge, and most of the students mistake it. A keen evaluator goes directly into the references. As said earlier, the resources that are used in the research play important role in validating the study itself. The evaluator looks for the sources of the information and how legitimate they are. The order that the references are listed also matters a lot. 

  • Annexures

The last crucial bit is the annexures. It involves the materials used for the research purpose such as instruments, sampling frame, etc. annexures are also ordered properly. They help the evaluator understand the material used in the research. They need to be fully documented as well.

  • General Indicators

These are the things we need to pay attention to regarding the language, typing error, presentation and layout, etc. the language should be correct with the proper use of syntax and no grammatical errors whatsoever. Formatting of the report should be consistent throughout including the printing, font, margins, line spacing and the final binding of the pages. 

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Those were the parts of a proper well-framed research report. Each of the sections has its own set of guidelines and the researcher has to adhere to them and present a perfect report. Conducting research is a long and slow but detailed process and summarizing it in a book under these frames is a tough yet creative task.

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