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What is a ‘Research Report

A research report is a document prepared by an analyst or strategist who is a part of the investment research team in a stock brokerage or investment bank. A research report may focus on a specific stock or industry sector, a currency, commodity or fixed-income instrument, or even on a geographic region or country. Research reports generally, but not always, have “actionable” recommendations (i.e. investment ideas that investors can act upon.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Research Report’

Research reports are produced by a variety of sources, ranging from market research firms to in-house departments at large organizations. However, in the investment industry, the term usually refers to “sell side” research, or investment research produced by brokerage houses. Such research is disseminated to the institutional and retail clients of the brokerage that produces it. Research produced by the “buy side,” which includes pension funds, mutual funds and portfolio managers, is usually for internal use only and is not distributed to external parties.

This review covers the basic elements of a research report. This is a general guide for what you will see in journal articles or dissertations. This format assumes a mixed methods study, but you can leave out either quantitative or qualitative sections if you only used a single methodology.

This review is divided into sections for easy reference. There are five MAJOR parts of a Research Report:

1.    Introduction
2.    Review of Literature
3.    Methods
4.    Results
5.    Discussion

As a general guide, the Introduction, Review of Literature, and Methods should be about 1/3 of your paper, Discussion 1/3, then Results 1/3.

Section 1: Cover Sheet (APA format cover sheet) optional, if required.

Section 2: Abstract (a basic summary of the report, including sample, treatment, design, results, and implications) (≤ 150 words) optional, if required.

Section 3: Introduction (1-3 paragraphs)
•    Basic introduction
•    Supportive statistics (can be from periodicals)
•    Statement of Purpose
•    Statement of Significance

Section 4: Research question(s) or hypotheses
•    An overall research question (optional)
•    A quantitative-based (hypotheses)
•    A qualitative-based (research questions)
Note: You will generally have more than one, especially if using hypotheses.

Section 5: Review of Literature
▪    Should be organized by subheadings
▪    Should adequately support your study using supporting, related, and/or refuting evidence
▪    Is a synthesis, not a collection of individual summaries

Section 6: Methods
▪    Procedure: Describe data gathering or participant recruitment, including IRB approval
▪    Sample: Describe the sample or dataset, including basic demographics
▪    Setting: Describe the setting, if applicable (generally only in qualitative designs)
▪    Treatment: If applicable, describe, in detail, how you implemented the treatment
▪    Instrument: Describe, in detail, how you implemented the instrument; Describe the reliability and validity associated with the instrument
▪    Data Analysis: Describe type of procedure (t-test, interviews, etc.) and software (if used)

Section 7: Results
▪    Restate Research Question 1 (Quantitative)
▪    Describe results
▪    Restate Research Question 2 (Qualitative)
▪    Describe results

Section 8: Discussion
▪    Restate Overall Research Question
▪    Describe how the results, when taken together, answer the overall question
▪    ***Describe how the results confirm or contrast the literature you reviewed

Section 9: Recommendations (if applicable, generally related to practice)

Section 10: Limitations
▪    Discuss, in several sentences, the limitations of this study.
▪    Research Design (overall, then info about the limitations of each separately)
▪    Sample
▪    Instrument/s
▪    Other limitations