What is the Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report?

Research proposal and research report

When it comes to academic or scientific, quantified research, there are several steps writers need to be aware about before diving head-first into the hypothesis. There is a rhyme and a reason for these steps, and they are mostly to make the student aware of the process and to gather and organize ideas, thoughts, and examples in an efficient manner. One common mistake students make when writing research projects is mixing up their research proposal and research report. Of course, both of them are closely related to the research itself.

What is a research proposal?

The proposal step of research precedes the actual research itself. This is the stage where a student should outline in detail what questions they will explore and analyze. As a preparation stage, the research proposal is presented at the beginning of the research project with the aim of justifying the need for a deeper analysis and probing into the question or hypothesis. The proposal outlines the methods that will be used to carry out the research and the design of the research to ensure that the results are reliable and efficient. 

What is a research report?

Similar to the proposal, the research report is a crucial role in the entirety of a research project. The research report is presented after the research has been conducted already. This can be seen as a post-report stage, as it analyses the information and results of the research and summarizes the student’s findings. The aim of a research report is to critically analyze the proposed hypothesis or questions as well as the results of said research. In some cases, this will be called a thesis or dissertation – a major assignment for college and university students trying to achieve their degree. 

So, how can I write them?

The aims of the research proposal and report are relatively different, so the content of each one will also vary to a certain degree. What’s most important is that the research is supported and recognized.

Inside of a Research Proposal

The proposal lays out many steps and ideas before conducting the research – so it is essential to have a structure or outline that matches with the results you will be looking for. Typically, a good research proposal is five to seven pages long, or 2,000 words or more.

The proposal outline will include:

  1. Title – a title should be straightforward and clear at first glance
  2. Background Information – this includes issues related to your proposed research, as well as the rationale behind the research. It should also include literary sources that will be used to reference from, or maybe where the proposed question or hypothesis derived from. If the topic is widely discussed, there can also be a summary of the topics discussed and the ongoing developments happening at the moment. 
  3. Research Questions – the main part of the research project, the question is what you will be doing research on. It serves as a starting point from where students can branch off into other problems and issues that may arise during the research step. This segment can change based on the information you gather pre-research. 
  4. Methodology – this outlines the process of the research and the resources students will need to conduct the research. It should include the theoretical framework – or how the research will be approached and if they are appropriate for the proposed questions. Theoretically, it should include possible limits of the research and the advantages of the predicted outcome. 
  5. Plan of work – This segment details the amount of time needed to conduct the research and a detailed outline of the schedule to complete the research. Its essential to understand the scope of the project and to set a date to have the research completed in order to analyze the information at the appropriate time. 
  6. Bibliography – just like any academic writing, a bibliography lists the references students will use for the research and a handful of resources at their disposal during the research process. 

Inside of a Research Report

The research report is the golden egg of the research – it provides the results and information students will be searching for. The report comes post-research and serves as the dissertation or thesis that is a deeper analysis of the information. 

The research report will include:

  1. A Cover Sheet – this provides the reader all the information about the writer and the proposed topic.
  2. An abstract – a basic summary of the report itself, the abstract includes the sample size of research, the treatment of the research, the design of the research, and the implications of the research. This is not meant to be longer than a page – just a briefing on the proposed research before diving into the deep analysis. 
  3. Introduction – this stretched beyond the information in the abstract and should include supportive statistics and the purpose and the significance of the research in the scope of a community or the globally. This prepares the reader with the information needed to follow the research steps and the reasons why these steps were taken. 
  4. Research questions – the hypothesis should be presented in this segment, outlining a broader idea and moving towards specific and detailed questions. There should be a large distinction between the quantitative-based questions, and the qualitative-based questions here, to make things more clear for the reader to follow. Students should have more than one hypothesis to be considered a well-conducted research project, as it widens the scope and the purpose of the research. 
  5. Review of literature – the resources used to conduct the research should be present here. This qualifies the research done and supports it with evidence from literature related to the topic itself. It should be able to refute evidence and support the main ideas. The sources should be linked together so as to provide synthesis.  
  6. Method and Results – The methods used during the research period should be detailed at this segment – mentioning the samples, the setting, the treatment, and the data analysis. The results should also be described in details, again differentiating between quantitative and qualitative results.
  7. Discussion – the final aspect of the research project includes an open discussion about the work done. It should restate the hypothesis and check to see if it was correct or incorrect and see why. It should also include the limitations of the study – and maybe reasons why it turned out to be correct or incorrect. The discussion should be wrapped up with a conclusion and a closing summary of the entire research project. 

If students are about to embark on the journey of a research project, it’s essential to know and understand the stages involved so that the process will move along much smoother.