The Research Process

How to Write a Good Research Report.

Introducing the Research Process

Think about your prior experiences with the research process. What steps did you take during this process? In order for you to write a good research report, there are certain steps that must be followed. During this lesson, you will read about each individual step.

STEP #1: Create a Research Plan

Follow these steps to help you stay organized as you write your report.

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Connect with Others
  3. Decide on a Topic
  4. Formulate a Research Question
  5. Gather Sources.
  6. Create a Written Research Plan

Each step is explained more in-depth below.

Let's Practice

Which research question is best for a report on dolphins? Why? Explain your response.

  1. Why do people train dolphins?
  2. What do dolphins eat?

STEP #2: Gather Sources

Follow these steps to gather information.

  1. Use an internet search engine and a library card catalog to identify a wide range of print and electronic sources. Begin with secondary sources, such as an encyclopedia, to get an overview of the topic and generate research questions. Be sure to gather primary sources as well.
  2. Consider your sources carefully and choose only those that provide the most reliable, accurate information. Reliable sources include reference works, books, and official Web sites by experts or universities.
  3. Take notes to record useful information. When you see gaps in your research, find additional sources. Record the bibliographic information for each source you use.

STEP #3: Synthesize Information

After researching and investigating your topic, decide if your research question is too broad or too narrow. Consider the following questions:

  1. Did you have trouble figuring out what information to collect?
  2. Did you take lots of notes but still not know what was important?

If so, your topic may be too broad. Use the information you have gathered to find a more specific part of the topic to write about. Then revise your research question to be more focused.

  1. Did you answer your questions in a few sentences?
  2. Did you have trouble finding enough sources?

If so, your topic may be too narrow. You need to think about how to broaden your topic to cover more information.

Let's Practice

Read the research questions below. Revise each one to make it specific and focused.


  1. What is the history of the United States government?
  2. How cold does it get in Antarctica?

STEP #4: Organize and Present your ideas

After finishing your research and revising your questions, you will need to synthesize the information in a well-organized, meaningful format. Keep the following steps in mind as you create your final product:

  1. Categorize your facts and details under your main ideas or research questions.
  2. Use evidence to explain your topic and provide relevant reasons for any conclusions. Summarize or paraphrase your findings clearly.
  3. Decide the best way to present your findings to hep your audience understand the information. You may want to create visual aids, such as charts or illustrations, to support your written work.

Let's Practice

Write a statement about people who explore Antarctica, drawing a reasonable conclusion based on these facts:

  1. The sun rises and sets once a year at the South Pole, making both day and night six months long.
  2. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and highest continent on Earth.