Writing your Research Report
Topic: The topic of the research final paper is open to the interests of the students. Students should find a question they would like to answer using the statistical techniques learnt in class.
To find the topic of your final report you need to start from a broad perspective looking at some general idea that you would like to explore. For example, let’s say that you would like to look at the relationship between interest rates and the economy. This is a very broad topic and you need to start doing research looking to specify your main research question. In figure 1 we can see all the different sub-topics, or more specific areas, in which we can divide our broad topic.
We could list more sub-topics than the ones we represented in Figure 1. However, we need to pick one so we can have a more focused research topic. Let’s assume that we choose to research the question regarding the impact of interest rates on the growth of construction in the United States. Once that we decided what our topic is going to be, we need to solve three main issues regarding our research project:
- Review of literature: we need to research what other people have done previously. Especially, we need to find peer-reviewed publications of researchers that have worked in this specific area and look at their results. To find other research you should go to the website of the UNF Library and search for research papers in this specific area. The following is a guide on how to search the library at UNF:
- Enter the Library website and in that website you click on Databases by Subject
- Once you click that link a new page will open, which will show you all the different databases of research articles according to the disciplines of study. In our case, we will be interested in the Business (Finance, Investment, International, Management) and the Economics and Geography databases. The specific database will depend on the research topic you choose.
- In our specific example, we should click on the Economics and Geography link. There a list of databases will appear. You should select one of them. Let’s say that we pick EconLit.
- Once we picked EconLit, a new page will open, where we can start searching for research reports. Then, if we find one that we believe is germane to the selected topic, we can download it and read it and use it in our review of literature and reference sections.
It is important to remember that when we read other people’s work we are looking for the following:
- How they addressed the research question
- What data they used?
- What kind of statistical technique they utilized?
- What conclusions they reached?
This will allow us to move further in our research project and to be able to understand how to perform our task.
- Data Availability: once we do a review of literature we should be able to tell what kind of data we need to do our research project. At this time, it is very important to be able to find out if the data is available and where we can find them. Many times a research project cannot continue because of the lack of datasets or because the information does not exist yet. It is very important that you can find the data. Useful sites to check out:
- Census Bureau: www.census.gov
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.bls.gov
- Bureau of Economic Analysis: www.bea.gov
- Federal Reserve Database: http://www.research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/
- U.S. Government Open Data: www.data.gov
- International Data (World Bank): http://data.worldbank.org/
- Statistical Methodology: finally, after the review of literature is done and the dataset is located we need to determine what the methodology that we are going to use is. That means we need to decide which technique that we learnt in class is appropriated to answer the research question. Accordingly, you can use your review of literature to inform this decision, the textbook, class notes, etc.
Once you performed these three tasks you are ready to use excel to calculate your model and show your results. Accordingly, we are ready to write our research report.
Format Research Report
The following are the main sections of your research report and a short explanation of what the contents of each section should be:
- Cover Page: contains the title, authors and class section.
- Introduction: this is a short section of your paper, no more than one page. However, this is a very important part of your report, as this is the section that most people are going to read first. As a result, you need to make sure that people are convinced of the worthiness of your research. You should emphasize the following:
- Why is this research topic important? Why the reader should keep reading? Why should the reader care about this paper?
- What are the main findings of your research?
- Why these findings are important?
- Review of literature: Explains the previous work on this topic, if any, and how the topic of this paper fits that body of work. You need to explain, very shortly what other people have found with regards to this research question and how their findings compare to your findings. By mentioning other people’s work you discuss the problem at hand and how other people have addressed this problem. If your research topic is about your company you need to discuss the nature of the problem and the different solutions that were offered and why you think that your empirical analysis could improve those proposed solutions. This section should have 2-3 pages.
- Data: in this section you need to describe the data you found, show a table with the main statistics, like the mean and the standard deviation for each variable. Explain what the sources of your data are. This sections should be 2 pages at the most.
- Methodology and results: In this section you need to proceed as follows: first, explain the statistical techniques that you are going to use to answer your research question. For example, if you are using a regression model you need to show the theoretical equation with the independent variables and why are you using the variables that you are using. Second, you need to show your results and do the tests to show that your model, if it is a regression model, satisfies the assumptions. If you introduced some modifications to satisfy the assumptions, then you need to explain those changes. Finally, you need to explain your results main results and conclusions. This section should be 4-5 pages long.
- Conclusions: Explains what the results are and why they are important. This sections should be 1 page long.
- References should be listed at the back of the paper.
- Appendixes after the references (if needed)
Length and Format: The length of the paper is 12-15 pages (12 pages minimum), including title page, references and figures, but excluding appendixes.
The format of the page should be 1.5 spacing, font size 12 Times New Roman. The margins should be Right:1.25”, Left:1.25”, Top:1” and Bottom:1”
Format Standard: you can use any style: APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. The library has a great guide for citation styles at http://libguides.unf.edu/citationguide
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