This chapter addresses preparing the manuscript for your research report. The template used for describing the organization of the report reflects both IMRAD and APA—with optional modifications. The discussion centers on the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, References, and Appendices.
The Title page is the first page of your manuscript, and it is separate. It summarizes the main idea of your study by identifying variables and theoretical issues. APA recommends no more than 12 words because a shorter topic captures the readers’ interest faster than a complex one that tries to squeeze the research question, variables, and background into one sentence.
The Abstract is important because it determines whether a reader will continue to read the paper or skip it. Ideally, it is a summary of the study’s contents with at least a sentence each on the background, problem, sample and participants, design, method, procedures, results, and principal conclusions.
Your manuscript begins with an Introduction of the problem, an exploration of its importance, a discussion of the related literature, and a statement of the hypotheses and how they reflect the literature that your argument developed. In some research designs, you may have one or more research and investigative questions rather than a hypothesis. A synthesis matrix was recommended as a useful organizing tool for your literature. Optional organizing techniques included the CARS model, which creates a rhetorical space and attracts readers into that space, and a discussion of the “Problem and Its Setting,” an eight-point option for reorganizing the Introduction.
The Method section is tied to your research problem and shows the process by which the research question was answered or hypotheses were tested. It describes how the study was conducted and gives a justification and detailed description of the method(s) you have chosen. It should contain sufficient detail to convince the reader that your design, method, sampling, participants, instruments, and procedures were selected to produce the highest degree of reliability and validity.
The purpose of the Results section is to present your major findings in a sequence that reflects the order of your research and investigative questions and, ideally, the order of your hypotheses. Your presentation does not include interpretation of the reported findings, which is accomplished in the Discussion section. The analytical report is organized with textual and graphic materials such as tables and figures. You begin with text and refer to findings in the tables and figures as you progress.
The Discussion section explains to the reader the meaning of what the study accomplished, its contribution to the field, and recommendations for next steps. Its goal is to provide a focused synthesis and interpretation of findings. Your Discussion section, depending on the study’s complexity, is arranged as follows: (1) summary of findings, (2) theoretical context and implications, (3) practical implications, (4) limitations of the research, and (5) suggestions for future research.
Your References give your readers the tools to understand the work of cited scholars and provide a reliable way to locate their materials. References are used to document and credit authors’ statements about the literature and other aspects of the study.
The Appendices are placed at the end of your manuscript. They are used for supplemental material that would otherwise interfere with the flow of the report if it were presented within the report’s sections. The appendices often contain questionnaires and measuring instruments, instructional scripts for participants, consent forms, and other IRB materials.