For a class assignment in my Marketing and Research class, my friend and I were asked to compose a presentation regarding how to structure a proper written report for marketing research. I figured this is useful information for someone out there, so please feel free to read ahead!
The Importance of Written Research
- One of the most important aspects of a research project is a written report communicating what was done through research and the results of said research
- Failure to effectively and clearly communicate the findings of a particular research project can jeopardize the research entirely
- It is important to communicate the essential findings of a research project. Too much information can make it challenging to comprehend the purpose of the research that was conducted
- When creating a written research report, the following points are crucial to consider regarding communicating research clearly:
- Identify the audience: Different audiences desire different things; therefore, it is important to have a clear understanding of who your audience is to format your report properly.
- Organize materials in a way that is easy to follow: Summarize significant points of your research in your report and explain your findings in detail; tell your reader what will be discussed later in the report.
- Include the 5 W’s (Who, what, when, where and why): Establishing the 5 W’s in your written report ensures your audience will understand the context of the report and its purpose.
- Keep it simple: Avoid discussing information that does not pertain to your research and focus on key findings.
- Be specific: The reader will likely not have as much information of the research conducted as the writer will, therefore the report should explain its key findings clearly and in detail.
- Revise and proofread: Like all writing, double check for grammatical errors or incorrect structure to produce a clear and tight report; this ensures that the report will be as clear as possible for the reader; clarity shows credibility
Main Points from “Tips for Effective Business Writing”, 1995, and Scott Armstrong’s 9 Points for Writing a Written Report (2003)
- Summarize the goal and the outcome of the research in the introduction
- Write the report in a way that it will appeal to your target market
- Identify yourself as a source by explaining who you are and any limitations you would have in doing the research
- Guide the reader by explaining how the report will address the issues (eg. Table of contents, summaries of sections, etc.)
- Make recommendations to the reader by identifying the pros & cons of who/what you are researching
- Make relevant arguments concerning your information so the reader can understand how you got to your conclusion
- Use simple words & phrases, avoid unnecessary words & phrases – the shorter your sentences the better
- Paragraphs should also be short with 1 or 2 ideas per paragraph
- If there are many key points in one section, number them rather than trying to incorporate them into a paragraph
- Present report in a visually appealing way
- Use bolding & highlighting to accentuate key points
- Use clear language and proper grammar
- Format the report so that it is easy to follow and flows well
- Rewriting your final draft will ensure it is composed in a way that remains interesting to your reader throughout
Academic Reports Vs. Business Reports
- Prior to beginning your written report, it is important to determine whether your research report is intended for an academic audience or a business audience
- Academic reports have an academic focus; therefore, they aim to identify that students can conduct research in a systematic fashion. Written academic reports are typically lengthy as they include a detailed discussion of literature, methodology, data analysis and interpretation, implications, references and potential appendices that apply to the research conducted. Academic written reports usually focus on theoretical grounding, methodology and academic implications of research.
- Business reports differ from academic reports because they fall into an incredibly broad category. There are internal business reports within organizations as well as external-based consulting business reports taken on by independent bodies for firms and organizations as clients.
(Polonsky, Michael J., and David S. Waller. Designing and Managing a Research Project: A Business Student’s Guide. SAGE, 2015)
Knowing your Audience
- The way in which a research report is written varies depending on who the target audience is
- Different target audiences may need to be addressed in different ways, therefore it is crucial to know who your audience is prior to beginning the research report
- For example, considering our research is intended to help SAC, we need to ensure that SAC is able to clearly understand the written reports as they will be using our findings to make decisions in the near future. By doing so, we have an idea of the usability of the research findings for SAC
Structure for Our Written Reports
- Include graphs that display the findings of your research
- All relevant questions of your survey must be identified in your written report
- The format of your written report should include:
- Title page: List the title of your research project, the names of group members, who the report is written for and the date it was submitted.
- Introduction: Identify the problem, explain how your group planned on doing the research and what your recommendations are based on
- Background: Include information you think your client needs in order to provide the full picture of your presentation. Points to include in the background are the date(s) your survey was conducted, how many people were surveyed, and where you distributed your survey.
- Questionnaire Design and Methodology: Explain why you used the type of questionnaire you chose and the reason behind your questions
- Key Findings: Explain your results based on the questions you asked in your survey, using graphs to illustrate your results
- Summary: Summarize the process of your research project and any recommendations for improving future research
- Limitations: Explain any problems you encountered in the distribution of your survey
- Copy of Survey: Include a copy of a blank survey
Polonsky, Michael J., and David S. Waller. Designing and Managing a
Research Project: A Business Student’s Guide. SAGE, 2015.