PREPARING THE RESEARCH REPORT DRAFT
Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI
You've already done much of the research and planning that are the basis of a research report. Now is the time to put it all together. Start by gathering together the parts you've already completed, including:
Review these as you think about what you already know, what you still need to know, and what you want to write about this project.
A research report is an objective essay reporting on your research findings.
It is NOT an argument to persuade people to protect baby seals or tax cigarettes; it is not a passionate response to the destruction of your favorite rain forest or the fall of your favorite team. It is NOT a plea for or against gun control, capital punishment, or the legalization of marijuana.
The task is to ask a question about your research subject, read relevant, recent articles to get more information about the subject, perhaps interview an expert or two on the subject, and write about the answers to your original question that you have discovered in your reading. This writing should be done in a clear objective manner. Above all, a research report should be useful to other people.
You will ask a question related to your research subject, investigate it, taking careful notes as you read, and then organize your findings into a coherent essay that explains what you have been investigating, what you have found, and what recommendations, if any, you can make.
You may discover that your original question cannot be answered, at least not by you, now, because it would require too much expertise, or you may find that your question cannot be answered because the answer is not known. These are both perfectly valid conclusions to your paper, so long as you show how carefully you have proceeded and document why the question cannot be answered.
For example, there is an article in the Washington Post about whether the war against cancer is being won or lost (Rick Weiss, "How Goes the War on Cancer?" Health February 14, 1995: 12, 16, 18). There is no simple answer to that question, because the data are ambiguous and more work needs to be done. Or to put it another way, the answer is that there is not yet an answer. This is a perfectly valid answer, so long as it is supported by up to date data and analysis.
Please read some of the other students' reports (and my comments on them) before submitting your own draft.
The report should start with an overview and introduction to the topic, the body of the paper should explore the topic question and possible answers, and the conclusion should review the main points covered in the report.
The required length is from four to six pages of text (if you type, figure that a page of double-spaced typing is about 250 words). So, this report should be from about 1,000 to 1,500 words. This does not include extra pages for an outline, index, bibliography, or whatever, nor optional pages you may add as an appendix to include extra information, tables or other visuals.
DOCUMENTATION is the biggest difficulty students have with this project. You MUST use a parenthetic note for each idea or piece of information, showing where you found it. Never go for more than one paragraph before noting the source(s) for the information in that paragraph. The basic idea is: if you didn't know it before you read it, then you must use a note to show where you read (or heard) it.
A complete BIBLIOGRAPHY belongs at the end of the paper. This should include all the print sources and interviews you explored while preparing the report, even if you did not cite all of them in parenthetic notes. The bibliography should be alphabetized by the last name of the author.
Proofread carefully before submitting the draft.
I will lower the draft grade if the draft is carelessly written or full of errors.
The draft should be ready for me to read at least two weeks before the final polished report is due.
The purpose of the draft is to let me see what you are doing before it is too late for you to revise it. This is the time to catch problems, not when I read the final version. As soon as your draft is ready, submit it to the Research Report Forum and I'll respond to it promptly.
No final research report will be graded until I have read and responded to the draft. The draft and my comments on it must be present for me to see, which means that you have no more than thirty days from the time you post the draft to post the final report!
Click here to go to Blackboard, "Tasks 2, 3 and 4."
(c) Thompson: 11/7/1998; updated: 08/21/2006