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What should be included when writing up a research project?

Let us carefully examine the different parts included in any research write-up.

It is important to understand the sections present as this will help you in your analysis and inform you of the research undertaken.

The following are usually included in a research report:

Informative title: the composition should directly reflect the primary aim/objectives of the subject and the depth of the research. It should also elaborate on the basic techniques applied. Some examples include:

Chen, Y-F. (2017) ‘Post-Disaster Reconstruction Strategies: A Case Study in Taiwan’. Climate Hazard Crises in Asian Societies and Environments. Sternberg, T. (ed.) Oxon: Routledge, 11-33 23

Butchers, J., Williamson, S., Booker, J., Tran, A. L. H., Gautam, B., Bikram, K. (2018) ‘A Study of Micro-Hydropower Plants in Nepal: Sustainability from Technical, Economic and Social Perspectives’, ‘International Conference on Developments in Renewable Energy Technology’. held 29-31 March 2018 at Kathmandu University. Nepal: Kathmandu University

Abstract: An abstract should be self-sufficient, convincing and concise. The format of an abstract usually depends on the discipline. However, in social sciences, abstracts include the scope, purpose, results and contents of a study.

In other words, this includes the reason for writing the research paper at the particular time, what problem was investigated or addressed, what problem the research attempted to solve, the specific model or approaches that were used in the study (methodology), a summary of the results of the investigation and the implication of the findings which in essence is the addition to the existing body of knowledge.

As you can see, this can be a challenging amount of content to fit into a limited number of words.

Introduction: this is the initial section of any academic report and introduces the topic as well as identifying the knowledge gap that will be addressed.

A practical definition of literature reviews, as defined by Gash, is a:

‘… systematic and thorough search of all types of published literature in order to identify as many items as possible that are relevant to a particular topic.’

(Gash 1999: 1)

When carrying out your own research you will be expected to conduct a literature search around the topic area in a similar manner, and so as you collate research, you will find introductory sections a useful resource for identifying further resources to help clarify your topic.

Methods: this section of a report deals with the techniques and instruments used for collecting and analysing the research evidence. It is an extremely important section to understand when studying the validity of any conclusions. When carrying out your own literary review, this is also a useful resource to help develop a research plan of your own.

Results, analysis and discussion: any research report will contain sections describing the results obtained alongside the analysis of these. This should be understood in close consultation with the methods section to assess the suitability of the methods used. There will also be a discussion section where the findings of the research are compared in relation to the wider context. Analysis of these three sections will allow you to assess the validity of any claims made, and to understand how the research builds or challenges the field in general.

Reference/bibliography: all the literature used in the research should be presented in a structured manner using a structure specified by the publisher.

At Coventry, we use a system known as the Coventry University Harvard system for both the in-text citation and the reference list.

Your task

You have probably encountered other types of presentation style for research. This may well include books, magazine articles, newspaper content or even podcasts and videos.

How do these different formats differ from traditional academic literature, and do you think they should be used during any research process?


Gash, S. (1989). Effective Literature Searching for Students. Gower Publishing Company, Limited.

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This article is from the free online course:

Researching Risk, Disasters and Emergencies

Coventry University