Wayne Losano
  作者 威勒·劳沙勒

  A surprising amount of one’s time as a student and professional is spent reporting the results of one’s research projects for presentation to teachers, managers, and clients. Indeed, without basic research skills and the ability to present research results clearly and completely, an individual will encounter many obstacles in school and on the job. The need for some research-writing ability is felt nearly equally by college students in all fields, engineering and science as well as business and the humanities. Graduate study often makes great demands on the student’s research-writing skills, and most professions continue the demand; education, advertising and marketing, economics and accounting, science and engineering, psychology, anthropology, the arts, and agriculture may all require regular reporting of research data.


  The standard research report, regardless of the field or the intended reader, contains four major sections. These sections may be broken down into a variety of subsections, and they may be arranged in a variety of ways, but they regularly make up the core of the report.


  Problem Section. The first required section of a research report is the statement of the problem with which the research project is concerned. This section requires a precise statement of the underlying question which the researcher has set out to answer. In this same section there should be an explanation of the significance--social, economic, medical, psychological, educational, etc.--of the question; in other words, why the investigation was worth conducting. Thus, if we set out, for example, to answer the question" what is the effect of regular consumption of fast foods on the health of the American teenager?" we must explain that the question is thought to have significant relevance to the health of this segment of the population and might lead to some sort of regulations on such foods.


  A frequent subsection of this problem section is a review of past research on the topic being investigated. This would consist of summaries of the contributions of previous researchers to the question under consideration with some assessment of the value of these contributions. This subsection has rhetorical usefulness in that it enhances the credibility of the researcher by indication that the data presented is based on a thorough knowledge of what has been done in the field and, possibly, grows out of some investigative tradition.


  Procedures Section. The second major section of the research report details, with as much data as possible, exactly how the study was carried out. This section includes description of any necessary equipment, how the subjects were selected if subjects were used, what statistical technique was used to evaluate the significance of the findings, how many observations were made and when, etc. An investigation of the relative effectiveness of various swim-strokes would have to detail the number of swimmers, the weather conditions at the time of the tests, and any other factors that contributed to the overall experiment. The goal of the procedures section is to allow the reader to duplicate the experiment if such were desired to confirm, or refute, your findings.