Writing a research report is like writing an expository composition. The first part of the report is usually the introduction. The next paragraphs, which state and develop the limited topic, are the body. The conclusion is usually a sentence or two that leaves the reader with something interesting to think about. When you plan a research report, keep your readers in mind by asking questions like these:
• How can I interest my readers in my topic?
• What information do I need to give my readers?
• How can I make my report clear to readers?
If your topic is an interesting one and if you are giving; your readers new information, you should be able to interest them in your report. To do this, pay special attention to your first few sentences. For example, in the first paragraph from the sample holography paper, the writer uses details that would make most readers want to continue reading:
In the first Star Wars movie the little robot R2-D2 contains a taped message from Princess Leia. When he plays the tape, a small, three-dimensional image of tried princess is projected. The image, moving and talking the real princess, asks for help to save her planet from destruction.
The second paragraph of the model report states the limited topic and begins its development. The writer gives an example of holograms, tells who invented them, and defines two important terms that readers might not understand. Paragraph three adds to the development by defining a third term laser light, and telling how laser light pictures are different from ones produced by regular light. The next paragraph lists practical uses of holograms, and the final paragraph tells about some of their possible future uses.
As well as organizing and developing the paper, the writer also helps readers understand the topic by using transition words and by repeating important words and phrases throughout the report. In the first paragraph, the writer uses the projection of Princess Leia as an example of what a hologram looks like. The second sentence of the second paragraph is Thanks to the engineer Dr. Dennis Gabor and other scientists, photographs today can look as real as Princess Leia’s image. The Princess Leia in this paragraph refers to the Princess Leia of the first paragraph and helps readers see how the two paragraphs are related.
Writing a Bibliography
You should include a bibliography at the end of your report. A bibliography is a list, in standard form, of the sources you used to write the report.
A bibliography entry for a book consists of three pieces of information: the author, the title, and the publication data. These items appear in a particular order. Study the following example to see the order and punctuation for a standard book entry. Also notice that the second line is indented. Peters, Oscar A. Food for Thought. New York: Random House, 1976.
Magazine Article Entries
A bibliography entry for a magazine requires five pieces information: the name of the author of the article (when given), the name of the article, the name of the magazine, the date of the magazine, and the page numbers that the article appear on. Study the following example of a magazine entry to see the proper form.
Arthur, L. Michael. “Software Options.” The Color Computer Magazine, September 1984, pp. 60-65.
Encyclopedia Article Entries
An encyclopedia entry in a bibliography usually includes just three items: the title of the article, the title of the encyclopedia, and the date of the particular edition used. Here is an example: “Space.” The New Columbia Encyclopedia. 1975 ed.