Research Reports

Reading Research

When you read empirical research, you do not just read from the first word to the last. Instead, you want to read strategically, critically, and with purpose to get answers to specific questions. For example, when reading empirical research, you want to look for the following:
  1. Need – Why is this research needed? Why is it important?
  2. Purpose – What is the purpose of this research in particular?
  3. Sample(s) – Who participated in the study and what implications does this have for generalizability?
  4. Method – What is the research design and how appropriate is it given the purpose of the research?
  5. Results – What were the key findings?
  6. Conclusions – What conclusions may be inferred from the findings?
  7. Limitations – What are the methodological and/or conceptual limitations of the research?
  8. Implications – How do the findings relate to previous theory and research? What are the implications for future research and practice?
Note that these elements are a different arrangement of the criteria used in the article critiques – this is a slightly more compact format for the same set of skills

Summarizing Research (Written – < 300 words)

When you read research, it’s important that you take notes and generate summaries for yourself. There are many different formats for doing this, and you may develop your own during your academic career. For now, we suggest you write structured narratives of not more than 300 words. We call these Written Research Reports. Writing within a word limit is an essential academic skill because it promotes perspicacity and clear communication. Once again, use the eight elements listed above to structure your summary.

Sample Report (272 words)

Baeten, M., Docy, F., & Struyven, K. (2013). The effects of different learning environments on students’ motivation for learning and their achievement. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 484-501.

  1. Need. Research comparing student-centered and lecture-based learning environments often ignores the support of psychological needs. From a self-determination theory perspective, this is a problem because the support of students’ needs is associated with increased autonomous motivation and achievement.
  2. Purpose. This study compares the effects of different learning environments on students’ motivation for learning and achievement while also taking into account students’ perceptions of need support.
  3. Sample. First-year student teachers (N= 1,098) in a child development course in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium.
  4. Method. This study used a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test design to compare four learning environments: (1) lectures, (2) case-based learning (CBL), (3) alternation of lectures and CBL, and (4) gradual implementation from lectures to CBL. Students completed a prior knowledge test, a case-based assessment, and self-reported motivation and need support.
  5. Results. Compared to CBL, autonomous motivation and achievement increased in the gradually implemented CBL environment. Students in the lecture-based learning environment scored higher than students in the CBL environment, and students in the gradually implemented CBL environment scored higher than students in the alternated learning environment. Perceived need for support was also positively related to autonomous motivation, and negatively related to controlled motivation.
  6. Conclusions. The study emphasizes the importance of perceived need support and the gradual introduction of CBL among first-year, Flemish-speaking student teachers in Belgium.
  7. Limitations. The study is limited by the sample, quasi-experimental design, and the use of self-reports.
  8. Implications. Future research is needed to determine whether prior subject knowledge and/or prior experience with CBL affects results, as first-year students may be different than older, more experienced students.

Reporting Research (Oral – 5 minutes)

Another essential academic skill is the presentation of short (5 minutes) oral summaries of empirical research. These presentations should cover each of the eight elements listed above, paying particular attention to the significance of the study and how it contributes to your broader research interest(s).

Your classmates will give you feedback on your oral Research Report based on the following criteria:

  • Introduction – (Need + Purpose) – The presenter introduced the research problem and its importance, described relevant scholarship to the research, and stated hypotheses/research questions and their correspondence to research design.
  • Method – (Sample + Method) – The presenter explained participant characteristics, sample size, and sampling procedures, gave information on measures and covariates, and described the research design.
  • Results – (Results + Conclusions + Limitations + Implications) – The presenter summarized the main results and conclusions, identified limitations of the research, and explained the significance of the study for theory, research, and practice.
  • Delivery – The presentation was organized and delivered in a clear, engaging, and professional manner.
  • Accessible – The presentation could be understood by an educated but non-expert audience.
  • Visual Aids – The visual aids were appropriate, effectively used, and appealing.


Your peers will use the following rubric when rating you on the above categories






Poor/Not Addressed