Report Writing involves many steps but in this blog areas which are very important in every report will be explained. Report Writing normally contains headings such as Introduction, details about secondary Research and/or Primary Research, Analysis based on any of the two research types i.e. qualitative and quantitative followed by recommendation and Conclusion.
The introduction of the report provides an overview of the purpose of conducting any research and also its objectives.
This is followed by Methodology i.e. secondary research, primary research, or a mix of both. Simultaneously, research can be quantitative or qualitative. Secondary research can be quantified using simple statistical operations. Whereas Primary research is based upon qualitative attributes seeking opinions, views, and ideas from respondents. Each has its own way of interpretation.
In this blog, you can find details on how to prepare a very comprehensive report with a step by step guide on Quantitative and Qualitative Research Report Writing as followed by Ace Research.
- Make Headings/Sections
If the data has to come from secondary sources make sure you make proper heading and sections for each category of secondary data. Secondary research contains data that is obtained from online available information such as, previous reports, scientific journals, online articles or organizational databases.
- Search Relevant and Up to date Data
Secondary data should not be more than two years old, except in those cases where data is not available older data not more than 5 years can be cited/ used for reference. Too old data may net help in generalizability and cannot be used to infer outcomes.
- Proper Referencing is important
Always maintain the record of sources from where you acquired the secondary information. Use authentic sources and double check the validity of data across different data sources if available. It is recommended to use APA format for referencing.
- Compile Data in Excel
In quantitative research you compile all data in excel, either it is online or paper based. Remember when designing a questionnaire you will have to maintain logic against each question and answer. The proper scale should be adopted for quantification of responses, otherwise if systematically not designed, after gathering all the data you might struggle as to how to arrange the data for extracting meaningful information or cross analysis.
Data cleaning comes after when you have exported and compiled data in Excel. When you get the data it might have human errors although in the training phase emphasis is placed to ensure minimum errors in data.
To clear the errors you must have to check all the responses against any spelling/grammatical mistakes, numerical errors, wrong responses, blank responses etc.
- Adjust Blank Responses
Blank’s data/incomplete data have to be assessed critically. If you have lots of blanks in any question you can either discard them if the information provided is not very meaningful. Similarly, in case of a few blanks questions you can depict the trend of responses by responding and it can be filled accordingly. Remember, this holds true only if trends can help you in filling those blanks otherwise state N/A.
- Make Individual Excel sheets
For each question in the questionnaire you can create separate sheets as it helps to make analysis easier. This will be done after you have completely cleaned the data.
- Maintain Separate Files for Complex Questions
In case some questions are complex or have multiple layers of response you may analyze them separately. This is helpful because if you made too many sheets in a single file, analysis can become very difficult.
- Use a pivot table in Excel
A pivot table is best for quick analysis. If you have questions in which you have to analyze the trend between two variables uses a simple pivot table. You can use a variety of charts to analyze your question. For this you must have Excel 2013 or latest.
- Make Graphs
Graphs are really helpful in analyzing the situation and if you have made graphs it is suggested to use 3d bars with percentages so you can reflect the assessment in a precise and clear manner.
- Highlight Information in Graphs
For clarity, you can highlight important information in the Graphs. For instance, the highest bar in the histogram can be highlighted.
- Copy Graphs in Ms. Word
Once you have run all the operations in excel, now it’s time to embed the workings in the report. For this, you will copy all the graphs into word files with proper labels and headings.
- Comments on Each Graph
For each graph, you can put comments to explain your analysis.
Follow the same steps as described in Quantitative analysis.
- Transcripts (IDIs / FGDs)
Make headings and sections for transcript, this will serve as an outline for transcribing recorded interviews.
Once the interview is conducted you must draft a document in which sections should be maintained for each of the discussion areas and after this, each response from respondents i.e. either a single respondent in case of IDI or group of respondents in FGD should be carefully written adhering to the sequence of discussion.
- Highlighting Main points
Make a table that consists of very brief and relevant response against each question by respondent. Once you have transcribed all the recordings now you can assess them for the individual’s response. For IDI’s it is easier as there is only one respondent but for FGD as there are many respondents you can make a grid and record each respondents response against questions asked. Remember in this stage you are highlighting important points only.
- Extract findings and recommendations
While extracting important points from a transcripts highlight relevant findings and recommendations, maintain heading for both at the end of report
As you have prepared a transcript for the whole session and also highlighted each individual’s response in case of FGD now you can extract all relevant findings and recommendations from all discussions for Report Writing.
Final Report Glimpse
- Make the content outline
- Enter data (Follow the Aforementioned sequence)
- After Analysis is performed and Final Draft Prepared, review thoroughly for spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes or/and any contradictory statements.
- Revisit Deliverables of the report and match with the content of the report before submission to the client.