On the Job: From Research Project to Reflective Report

Research Project

When you think of a report, you usually think of objective analysis, but many reports written these days are “reflective.” In other words, the author looks inward and provides information about the topic based on his or her own personal opinion about it. These are sometimes referred to as “self-examinations.” If you’re asked to do one, here’s how you should approach the challenge.

Start by determining the context of the experiment at hand. Since research papers almost always involve some type of experimentation, you need to define the scope and context of what you’re about to write about. State your reaction to the experimental process.

Conduct all necessary research. Every research paper involves research. While you can try to tackle this yourself, many people choose to hire a company like Ivory Research. It cuts down on the time spent in the library and combing through secondary sources. For original research, you will likely want to spend the time doing the experimentation and research yourself.

Do all experimentation. Now for the fun part. Set up your experiment, complete with controls and adjust for any variables.

Write the outline. Before you can begin writing your paper, you need to create an outline. An outline specifies the general structure of your paper. It gives it substance and direction. Basically, it’s a “skeleton” of your paper that you will then fill in with facts and the results of your experimentation.

Write your abstract. Your abstract is a summary of your paper that is placed at the beginning and gives readers an overview of what you’re writing about. Often, the abstract contains information about the experimental process, methods used, what’s being studied, and the results of the experimentation.

Write your introduction. The introduction is the official beginning of your research paper. This is where you describe the concept that you are experimenting on, why this is important, why you chose to do this experiment, and what steps you took to find the results.

Discuss the method of your experiment. You want readers to know the steps you took to get your answer. This will tell others about the quality of your research. So, for example, did you do a double-blind study? Did you include a placebo or some variable? This is what you want to explain here.

Now discuss the results. This is probably one of the more exciting parts of the paper. You get to tell others what you discovered from the research and experimentation that you did.

Write the self-examination. The self-examination is where you discuss your personal thoughts and feelings about the experiment. You might include your original hypothesis that did not make it into the paper, non-material challenges that you faced during the experimentation and research process, and what you believed might happen at the end of the writing process.

Proofread and edit your paper. Always edit your paper for clarity. Don’t use 5 words when 2 will do. This is probably the hardest part of writing, since a lot of what you write will be excluded in the final draft. But, proofreading helps you craft a report that is clear, concise, and informative to the reader.

Jenny Wescott is is an online tutor and dissertation researcher and enjoys writing research reports. She also likes to share what she has discovered with others online.

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