Many students and even experienced researchers investigate their topic for years, accumulate tens if not hundreds of results in the form of graphs, oscillograms, micrographs, photographs, tables, etc., but then are stuck – they can’t seem to start writing. This post conveys some suggestions on how to start.
The heart of a “research report” is the research results – the entire paper revolves around them. Therefore, consider the following first steps:
1. Spread out your results on your desk (or electronic desk top), and review them.
2. Look for the big picture: What is the main story that these results tell? And in particular, what overall question or questions do they answer? Write out these Research Questions, and their answers, each question and its answer on a separate page.
3. Under each question and answer, list the specific results, i.e. the specific graphs, photographs, tables, etc., needed to answer that question.
4. If you have only one Research Question, you have the simplest situation, and will probably have a well-focused paper. If not, identify which of the results are common for more than one Research Question.
a. If the amount of common results appearing on these pages is minimal, consider writing separate papers organized around each of the Research Questions.
b. In contrast, if the amount of common results is substantial, then it will probably be more efficient to write a single paper answering several Research Questions.
In future posts, we will discuss the next steps, specifically what to do with each list of results.
Ray and Edith Boxman