An evaluation report clearly, succinctly, and impartially communicates all aspects of the evaluation.
Writing a research report not only showcases your work but also helps advance the field’s knowledge. Structuring your report in a way that is accessible and descriptive maximizes the report’s reach and effectiveness.
If you are writing for publication, consult the journals you are planning to submit to because they generally have specific instructions for authors about writing style, page limits, and graphics. The general format for a research report includes the following sections:
This section is intended to introduce your topic and to catch the attention of the reader. It sets the stage for the paper and puts the topic in perspective. The introduction often includes general statements about the importance of the program or the need for continued research.
Review of the Literature
The literature review provides background information from past studies on the problem your program is intended to address. If your program is based on theory, identify and briefly discuss the theory. For a journal publication, this section may be extensive. In this section, it is important to show that your work is linked to existing knowledge about the problems and their potential solutions.
Description of the Program
One goal of writing a report may be to promote your program. Including a section describing your program and linking it to more general theory or experience is your opportunity to let others know how you planned and implemented your program.
Purpose of the Report
After introducing your topic, reviewing relevant theory, and describing your program, it is important to specify exactly what you intend to accomplish with your report. In journal articles, this information is typically included at the end of the literature review and moves the reader from what we know to what we intend to learn in this study. In most cases, this is presented as research questions or hypotheses. For your purposes, you may want to use this section to present your logic model and detail how your report will describe this process.
The methods section is intended to describe what data were collected, how they were obtained, and how they were analyzed. Generally, information should include descriptions of any samples surveyed and information on data collection tools and techniques. Your project may have included multiple data collection techniques and tools. Although it is important to include this information, be careful not to lose your reader with too much detail. Use appendixes or references to other sources to avoid this problem.
The results section should lead the reader through your data analysis. If you have developed a logic model, you might consider organizing your results within the logic model. The results section should focus only on actual results; save speculation and debate for your discussion section. The most important consideration for this section is to remember your purpose: do not hide important findings in a sea of data. Highlight important findings with graphics or other methods.
This final section is an opportunity to summarize your results and put them into context. It is also an opportunity to discuss next steps and recommendations. Although the results section should stick to the facts, the discussion section allows you to conjecture why things worked or did not work.
With the work of program implementation and data analysis accomplished, presenting your results in a straightforward, comprehensive manner helps you show your program’s successes and shortcomings and advances your colleagues’ knowledge.