The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation for your report.
  • Find and focus a topic to write about.
  • Gather and analyze information from appropriate sources.
  • Distinguish among different kinds of evidence.
  • Draft a thesis and create an organizational plan.
  • Compose a report that develops ideas and integrates evidence from sources.
  • Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.

You might think that writing comes easily to experienced writers—that they draft stories and college papers all at once, sitting down at the computer and having sentences flow from their fingers like water from a faucet. In reality, most writers engage in a recursive process, pushing forward, stepping back, and repeating steps multiple times as their ideas develop and change. In broad strokes, the steps most writers go through are these:

  • Planning and Organization . You will have an easier time drafting if you devote time at the beginning to consider the rhetorical situation for your report, understand your assignment, gather ideas and information, draft a thesis statement, and create an organizational plan.
  • Drafting . When you have an idea of what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it, you’re ready to draft. As much as possible, keep going until you have a complete first draft of your report, resisting the urge to go back and rewrite. Save that for after you have completed a first draft.
  • Review . Now is the time to get feedback from others, whether from your instructor, your classmates, a tutor in the writing center, your roommate, someone in your family, or someone else you trust to read your writing critically and give you honest feedback.
  • Revising . With feedback on your draft, you are ready to revise. You may need to return to an earlier step and make large-scale revisions that involve planning, organizing, and rewriting, or you may need to work mostly on ensuring that your sentences are clear and correct.

Considering the Rhetorical Situation

Like other kinds of writing projects, a report starts with assessing the rhetorical situation —the circumstance in which a writer communicates with an audience of readers about a subject. As the writer of a report, you make choices based on the purpose of your writing, the audience who will read it, the genre of the report, and the expectations of the community and culture in which you are working. A graphic organizer like Table 8.1 can help you begin.

Summary of Assignment

Write an analytical report on a topic that interests you and that you want to know more about. The topic can be contemporary or historical, but it must be one that you can analyze and support with evidence from sources.

The following questions can help you think about a topic suitable for analysis:

  • Why or how did ________ happen?
  • What are the results or effects of ________?
  • Is ________ a problem? If so, why?
  • What are examples of ________ or reasons for ________?
  • How does ________ compare to or contrast with other issues, concerns, or things?

Consult and cite three to five reliable sources. The sources do not have to be scholarly for this assignment, but they must be credible, trustworthy, and unbiased. Possible sources include academic journals, newspapers, magazines, reputable websites, government publications or agency websites, and visual sources such as TED Talks. You may also use the results of an experiment or survey, and you may want to conduct interviews.

Consider whether visuals and media will enhance your report. Can you present data you collect visually? Would a map, photograph, chart, or other graphic provide interesting and relevant support? Would video or audio allow you to present evidence that you would otherwise need to describe in words?

Another Lens. To gain another analytic view on the topic of your report, consider different people affected by it. Say, for example, that you have decided to report on recent high school graduates and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the final months of their senior year. If you are a recent high school graduate, you might naturally gravitate toward writing about yourself and your peers. But you might also consider the adults in the lives of recent high school graduates—for example, teachers, parents, or grandparents—and how they view the same period. Or you might consider the same topic from the perspective of a college admissions department looking at their incoming freshman class.

Quick Launch: Finding and Focusing a Topic

Coming up with a topic for a report can be daunting because you can report on nearly anything. The topic can easily get too broad, trapping you in the realm of generalizations. The trick is to find a topic that interests you and focus on an angle you can analyze in order to say something significant about it. You can use a graphic organizer to generate ideas, or you can use a concept map similar to the one featured in Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text.”

Asking the Journalist’s Questions

One way to generate ideas about a topic is to ask the five W (and one H) questions, also called the journalist’s questions : Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Try answering the following questions to explore a topic:

Who was or is involved in ________?

What happened/is happening with ________? What were/are the results of ________?

When did ________ happen? Is ________ happening now?

Where did ________ happen, or where is ________ happening?

Why did ________ happen, or why is ________ happening now?

How did ________ happen?

For example, imagine that you have decided to write your analytical report on the effect of the COVID-19 shutdown on high-school students by interviewing students on your college campus. Your questions and answers might look something like those in Table 8.2 :

Asking Focused Questions

Another way to find a topic is to ask focused questions about it. For example, you might ask the following questions about the effect of the 2020 pandemic shutdown on recent high school graduates:

  • How did the shutdown change students’ feelings about their senior year?
  • How did the shutdown affect their decisions about post-graduation plans, such as work or going to college?
  • How did the shutdown affect their academic performance in high school or in college?
  • How did/do they feel about continuing their education?
  • How did the shutdown affect their social relationships?

Any of these questions might be developed into a thesis for an analytical report. Table 8.3 shows more examples of broad topics and focusing questions.

Gathering Information

Because they are based on information and evidence, most analytical reports require you to do at least some research. Depending on your assignment, you may be able to find reliable information online, or you may need to do primary research by conducting an experiment, a survey, or interviews. For example, if you live among students in their late teens and early twenties, consider what they can tell you about their lives that you might be able to analyze. Returning to or graduating from high school, starting college, or returning to college in the midst of a global pandemic has provided them, for better or worse, with educational and social experiences that are shared widely by people their age and very different from the experiences older adults had at the same age.

Some report assignments will require you to do formal research, an activity that involves finding sources and evaluating them for reliability, reading them carefully, taking notes, and citing all words you quote and ideas you borrow. See Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information and Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources for detailed instruction on conducting research.

Whether you conduct in-depth research or not, keep track of the ideas that come to you and the information you learn. You can write or dictate notes using an app on your phone or computer, or you can jot notes in a journal if you prefer pen and paper. Then, when you are ready to begin organizing your report, you will have a record of your thoughts and information. Always track the sources of information you gather, whether from printed or digital material or from a person you interviewed, so that you can return to the sources if you need more information. And always credit the sources in your report.

Kinds of Evidence

Depending on your assignment and the topic of your report, certain kinds of evidence may be more effective than others. Other kinds of evidence may even be required. As a general rule, choose evidence that is rooted in verifiable facts and experience. In addition, select the evidence that best supports the topic and your approach to the topic, be sure the evidence meets your instructor’s requirements, and cite any evidence you use that comes from a source. The following list contains different kinds of frequently used evidence and an example of each.

Definition : An explanation of a key word, idea, or concept.

The U.S. Census Bureau refers to a “young adult” as a person between 18 and 34 years old.

Example : An illustration of an idea or concept.

The college experience in the fall of 2020 was starkly different from that of previous years. Students who lived in residence halls were assigned to small pods. On-campus dining services were limited. Classes were small and physically distanced or conducted online. Parties were banned.

Expert opinion : A statement by a professional in the field whose opinion is respected.

According to Louise Aronson, MD, geriatrician and author of Elderhood , people over the age of 65 are the happiest of any age group, reporting “less stress, depression, worry, and anger, and more enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction” (255).

Fact : Information that can be proven correct or accurate.

According to data collected by the NCAA, the academic success of Division I college athletes between 2015 and 2019 was consistently high (Hosick).

Interview : An in-person, phone, or remote conversation that involves an interviewer posing questions to another person or people.

During our interview, I asked Betty about living without a cell phone during the pandemic. She said that before the pandemic, she hadn’t needed a cell phone in her daily activities, but she soon realized that she, and people like her, were increasingly at a disadvantage.

Quotation : The exact words of an author or a speaker.

In response to whether she thought she needed a cell phone, Betty said, “I got along just fine without a cell phone when I could go everywhere in person. The shift to needing a phone came suddenly, and I don’t have extra money in my budget to get one.”

Statistics : A numerical fact or item of data.

The Pew Research Center reported that approximately 25 percent of Hispanic Americans and 17 percent of Black Americans relied on smartphones for online access, compared with 12 percent of White people.

Survey : A structured interview in which respondents (the people who answer the survey questions) are all asked the same questions, either in person or through print or electronic means, and their answers tabulated and interpreted. Surveys discover attitudes, beliefs, or habits of the general public or segments of the population.

A survey of 3,000 mobile phone users in October 2020 showed that 54 percent of respondents used their phones for messaging, while 40 percent used their phones for calls (Steele).

  • Visuals : Graphs, figures, tables, photographs and other images, diagrams, charts, maps, videos, and audio recordings, among others.

Thesis and Organization

Drafting a thesis.

When you have a grasp of your topic, move on to the next phase: drafting a thesis. The thesis is the central idea that you will explore and support in your report; all paragraphs in your report should relate to it. In an essay-style analytical report, you will likely express this main idea in a thesis statement of one or two sentences toward the end of the introduction.

For example, if you found that the academic performance of student athletes was higher than that of non-athletes, you might write the following thesis statement:

student sample text Although a common stereotype is that college athletes barely pass their classes, an analysis of athletes’ academic performance indicates that athletes drop fewer classes, earn higher grades, and are more likely to be on track to graduate in four years when compared with their non-athlete peers. end student sample text

The thesis statement often previews the organization of your writing. For example, in his report on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Trevor Garcia wrote the following thesis statement, which detailed the central idea of his report:

student sample text An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths. end student sample text

After you draft a thesis statement, ask these questions, and examine your thesis as you answer them. Revise your draft as needed.

  • Is it interesting? A thesis for a report should answer a question that is worth asking and piques curiosity.
  • Is it precise and specific? If you are interested in reducing pollution in a nearby lake, explain how to stop the zebra mussel infestation or reduce the frequent algae blooms.
  • Is it manageable? Try to split the difference between having too much information and not having enough.

Organizing Your Ideas

As a next step, organize the points you want to make in your report and the evidence to support them. Use an outline, a diagram, or another organizational tool, such as Table 8.4 .

Drafting an Analytical Report

With a tentative thesis, an organization plan, and evidence, you are ready to begin drafting. For this assignment, you will report information, analyze it, and draw conclusions about the cause of something, the effect of something, or the similarities and differences between two different things.

Introduction

Some students write the introduction first; others save it for last. Whenever you choose to write the introduction, use it to draw readers into your report. Make the topic of your report clear, and be concise and sincere. End the introduction with your thesis statement. Depending on your topic and the type of report, you can write an effective introduction in several ways. Opening a report with an overview is a tried-and-true strategy, as shown in the following example on the U.S. response to COVID-19 by Trevor Garcia. Notice how he opens the introduction with statistics and a comparison and follows it with a question that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text With more than 83 million cases and 1.8 million deaths at the end of 2020, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. By the end of 2020, the United States led the world in the number of cases, at more than 20 million infections and nearly 350,000 deaths. In comparison, the second-highest number of cases was in India, which at the end of 2020 had less than half the number of COVID-19 cases despite having a population four times greater than the U.S. (“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” 2021). How did the United States come to have the world’s worst record in this pandemic? underline An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths end underline . end student sample text

For a less formal report, you might want to open with a question, quotation, or brief story. The following example opens with an anecdote that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text Betty stood outside the salon, wondering how to get in. It was June of 2020, and the door was locked. A sign posted on the door provided a phone number for her to call to be let in, but at 81, Betty had lived her life without a cell phone. Betty’s day-to-day life had been hard during the pandemic, but she had planned for this haircut and was looking forward to it; she had a mask on and hand sanitizer in her car. Now she couldn’t get in the door, and she was discouraged. In that moment, Betty realized how much Americans’ dependence on cell phones had grown in the months since the pandemic began. underline Betty and thousands of other senior citizens who could not afford cell phones or did not have the technological skills and support they needed were being left behind in a society that was increasingly reliant on technology end underline . end student sample text

Body Paragraphs: Point, Evidence, Analysis

Use the body paragraphs of your report to present evidence that supports your thesis. A reliable pattern to keep in mind for developing the body paragraphs of a report is point , evidence , and analysis :

  • The point is the central idea of the paragraph, usually given in a topic sentence stated in your own words at or toward the beginning of the paragraph. Each topic sentence should relate to the thesis.
  • The evidence you provide develops the paragraph and supports the point made in the topic sentence. Include details, examples, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from sources if you conducted formal research. Synthesize the evidence you include by showing in your sentences the connections between sources.
  • The analysis comes at the end of the paragraph. In your own words, draw a conclusion about the evidence you have provided and how it relates to the topic sentence.

The paragraph below illustrates the point, evidence, and analysis pattern. Drawn from a report about concussions among football players, the paragraph opens with a topic sentence about the NCAA and NFL and their responses to studies about concussions. The paragraph is developed with evidence from three sources. It concludes with a statement about helmets and players’ safety.

student sample text The NCAA and NFL have taken steps forward and backward to respond to studies about the danger of concussions among players. Responding to the deaths of athletes, documented brain damage, lawsuits, and public outcry (Buckley et al., 2017), the NCAA instituted protocols to reduce potentially dangerous hits during football games and to diagnose traumatic head injuries more quickly and effectively. Still, it has allowed players to wear more than one style of helmet during a season, raising the risk of injury because of imperfect fit. At the professional level, the NFL developed a helmet-rating system in 2011 in an effort to reduce concussions, but it continued to allow players to wear helmets with a wide range of safety ratings. The NFL’s decision created an opportunity for researchers to look at the relationship between helmet safety ratings and concussions. Cocello et al. (2016) reported that players who wore helmets with a lower safety rating had more concussions than players who wore helmets with a higher safety rating, and they concluded that safer helmets are a key factor in reducing concussions. end student sample text

Developing Paragraph Content

In the body paragraphs of your report, you will likely use examples, draw comparisons, show contrasts, or analyze causes and effects to develop your topic.

Paragraphs developed with Example are common in reports. The paragraph below, adapted from a report by student John Zwick on the mental health of soldiers deployed during wartime, draws examples from three sources.

student sample text Throughout the Vietnam War, military leaders claimed that the mental health of soldiers was stable and that men who suffered from combat fatigue, now known as PTSD, were getting the help they needed. For example, the New York Times (1966) quoted military leaders who claimed that mental fatigue among enlisted men had “virtually ceased to be a problem,” occurring at a rate far below that of World War II. Ayres (1969) reported that Brigadier General Spurgeon Neel, chief American medical officer in Vietnam, explained that soldiers experiencing combat fatigue were admitted to the psychiatric ward, sedated for up to 36 hours, and given a counseling session with a doctor who reassured them that the rest was well deserved and that they were ready to return to their units. Although experts outside the military saw profound damage to soldiers’ psyches when they returned home (Halloran, 1970), the military stayed the course, treating acute cases expediently and showing little concern for the cumulative effect of combat stress on individual soldiers. end student sample text

When you analyze causes and effects , you explain the reasons that certain things happened and/or their results. The report by Trevor Garcia on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is an example: his report examines the reasons the United States failed to control the coronavirus. The paragraph below, adapted from another student’s report written for an environmental policy course, explains the effect of white settlers’ views of forest management on New England.

student sample text The early colonists’ European ideas about forest management dramatically changed the New England landscape. White settlers saw the New World as virgin, unused land, even though indigenous people had been drawing on its resources for generations by using fire subtly to improve hunting, employing construction techniques that left ancient trees intact, and farming small, efficient fields that left the surrounding landscape largely unaltered. White settlers’ desire to develop wood-built and wood-burning homesteads surrounded by large farm fields led to forestry practices and techniques that resulted in the removal of old-growth trees. These practices defined the way the forests look today. end student sample text

Compare and contrast paragraphs are useful when you wish to examine similarities and differences. You can use both comparison and contrast in a single paragraph, or you can use one or the other. The paragraph below, adapted from a student report on the rise of populist politicians, compares the rhetorical styles of populist politicians Huey Long and Donald Trump.

student sample text A key similarity among populist politicians is their rejection of carefully crafted sound bites and erudite vocabulary typically associated with candidates for high office. Huey Long and Donald Trump are two examples. When he ran for president, Long captured attention through his wild gesticulations on almost every word, dramatically varying volume, and heavily accented, folksy expressions, such as “The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!” In addition, Long’s down-home persona made him a credible voice to represent the common people against the country’s rich, and his buffoonish style allowed him to express his radical ideas without sounding anti-communist alarm bells. Similarly, Donald Trump chose to speak informally in his campaign appearances, but the persona he projected was that of a fast-talking, domineering salesman. His frequent use of personal anecdotes, rhetorical questions, brief asides, jokes, personal attacks, and false claims made his speeches disjointed, but they gave the feeling of a running conversation between him and his audience. For example, in a 2015 speech, Trump said, “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken” (“Our Country Needs” 2020). While very different in substance, Long and Trump adopted similar styles that positioned them as the antithesis of typical politicians and their worldviews. end student sample text

The conclusion should draw the threads of your report together and make its significance clear to readers. You may wish to review the introduction, restate the thesis, recommend a course of action, point to the future, or use some combination of these. Whichever way you approach it, the conclusion should not head in a new direction. The following example is the conclusion from a student’s report on the effect of a book about environmental movements in the United States.

student sample text Since its publication in 1949, environmental activists of various movements have found wisdom and inspiration in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac . These audiences included Leopold’s conservationist contemporaries, environmentalists of the 1960s and 1970s, and the environmental justice activists who rose in the 1980s and continue to make their voices heard today. These audiences have read the work differently: conservationists looked to the author as a leader, environmentalists applied his wisdom to their movement, and environmental justice advocates have pointed out the flaws in Leopold’s thinking. Even so, like those before them, environmental justice activists recognize the book’s value as a testament to taking the long view and eliminating biases that may cloud an objective assessment of humanity’s interdependent relationship with the environment. end student sample text

Citing Sources

You must cite the sources of information and data included in your report. Citations must appear in both the text and a bibliography at the end of the report.

The sample paragraphs in the previous section include examples of in-text citation using APA documentation style. Trevor Garcia’s report on the U.S. response to COVID-19 in 2020 also uses APA documentation style for citations in the text of the report and the list of references at the end. Your instructor may require another documentation style, such as MLA or Chicago.

Peer Review: Getting Feedback from Readers

You will likely engage in peer review with other students in your class by sharing drafts and providing feedback to help spot strengths and weaknesses in your reports. For peer review within a class, your instructor may provide assignment-specific questions or a form for you to complete as you work together.

If you have a writing center on your campus, it is well worth your time to make an online or in-person appointment with a tutor. You’ll receive valuable feedback and improve your ability to review not only your report but your overall writing.

Another way to receive feedback on your report is to ask a friend or family member to read your draft. Provide a list of questions or a form such as the one in Table 8.5 for them to complete as they read.

Revising: Using Reviewers’ Responses to Revise your Work

When you receive comments from readers, including your instructor, read each comment carefully to understand what is being asked. Try not to get defensive, even though this response is completely natural. Remember that readers are like coaches who want you to succeed. They are looking at your writing from outside your own head, and they can identify strengths and weaknesses that you may not have noticed. Keep track of the strengths and weaknesses your readers point out. Pay special attention to those that more than one reader identifies, and use this information to improve your report and later assignments.

As you analyze each response, be open to suggestions for improvement, and be willing to make significant revisions to improve your writing. Perhaps you need to revise your thesis statement to better reflect the content of your draft. Maybe you need to return to your sources to better understand a point you’re trying to make in order to develop a paragraph more fully. Perhaps you need to rethink the organization, move paragraphs around, and add transition sentences.

Below is an early draft of part of Trevor Garcia’s report with comments from a peer reviewer:

student sample text To truly understand what happened, it’s important first to look back to the years leading up to the pandemic. Epidemiologists and public health officials had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) published a 69-page document with the intimidating title Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents . The document’s two sections address responses to “emerging disease threats that start or are circulating in another country but not yet confirmed within U.S. territorial borders” and to “emerging disease threats within our nation’s borders.” On 13 January 2017, the joint Obama-Trump transition teams performed a pandemic preparedness exercise; however, the playbook was never adopted by the incoming administration. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Do the words in quotation marks need to be a direct quotation? It seems like a paraphrase would work here. end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: I’m getting lost in the details about the playbook. What’s the Obama-Trump transition team? end annotated text

student sample text In February 2018, the administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; cuts to other health agencies continued throughout 2018, with funds diverted to unrelated projects such as housing for detained immigrant children. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph has only one sentence, and it’s more like an example. It needs a topic sentence and more development. end annotated text

student sample text Three months later, Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic. “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.” end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph is very short and a lot like the previous paragraph in that it’s a single example. It needs a topic sentence. Maybe you can combine them? end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Be sure to cite the quotation. end annotated text

Reading these comments and those of others, Trevor decided to combine the three short paragraphs into one paragraph focusing on the fact that the United States knew a pandemic was possible but was unprepared for it. He developed the paragraph, using the short paragraphs as evidence and connecting the sentences and evidence with transitional words and phrases. Finally, he added in-text citations in APA documentation style to credit his sources. The revised paragraph is below:

student sample text Epidemiologists and public health officials in the United States had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the National Security Council (NSC) published Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents , a 69-page document on responding to diseases spreading within and outside of the United States. On January 13, 2017, the joint transition teams of outgoing president Barack Obama and then president-elect Donald Trump performed a pandemic preparedness exercise based on the playbook; however, it was never adopted by the incoming administration (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). A year later, in February 2018, the Trump administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving key positions unfilled. Other individuals who were fired or resigned in 2018 were the homeland security adviser, whose portfolio included global pandemics; the director for medical and biodefense preparedness; and the top official in charge of a pandemic response. None of them were replaced, leaving the White House with no senior person who had experience in public health (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). Experts voiced concerns, among them Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, who spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic in May 2018: “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no” (Sun, 2018, final para.). end student sample text

A final word on working with reviewers’ comments: as you consider your readers’ suggestions, remember, too, that you remain the author. You are free to disregard suggestions that you think will not improve your writing. If you choose to disregard comments from your instructor, consider submitting a note explaining your reasons with the final draft of your report.

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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/writing-guide/pages/1-unit-introduction
  • Authors: Michelle Bachelor Robinson, Maria Jerskey, featuring Toby Fulwiler
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Writing Guide with Handbook
  • Publication date: Dec 21, 2021
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While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • picture_as_pdf Thesis

Grad Coach

How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.  

In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.

How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps

  • Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
  • Find a unique and valuable research topic
  • Craft a convincing research proposal
  • Write up a strong introduction chapter
  • Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
  • Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
  • Present the findings of your research
  • Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Start writing your dissertation

Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.

So, what is a dissertation?

At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:

  • Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
  • See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
  • If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
  • Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings

 A dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research, reflecting the standard four step academic research process.

In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:

  • Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
  • Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
  • Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
  • Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis

If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.

The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.

If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!

 A dissertation is not an opinion piece, nor a place to push your agenda or try to  convince someone of your position.

Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic

As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…

A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:

Let’s take a closer look at these:

Attribute #1: Clear

Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.

Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:

An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.

As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).

Need a helping hand?

thesis of reports

Attribute #2:   Unique

Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).

For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.

One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.

Attribute #3: Important

Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.

For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.

So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊

Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal

Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.

So, what’s in a research proposal?

The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:

  • You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
  • You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
  • You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)

At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).

Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .

So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .

Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter

Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.

Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.

What’s the introduction chapter all about?

The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.

What goes into the introduction chapter?

This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:

  • A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
  • A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
  • Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
  • The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world

As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.

How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .

The introduction chapter is where you set the scene for your research, detailing exactly what you’ll be researching and why it’s important.

Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.

What’s the literature review all about?

There are two main stages in the literature review process:

Literature Review Step 1: Reading up

The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.

Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .

Dissertation Coaching

Literature Review Step 2: Writing up

Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:

  • You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
  • You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
  • You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .

As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .

But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .

Step 6: Carry out your own research

Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.

There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:

1 – Design your research strategy

The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.

In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:

  • Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
  • Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
  • Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
  • Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)

If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.

2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data

Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.

Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:

  • If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
  • If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).

Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.

The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:

  • If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
  • If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
  • If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach

Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Step 7: Present your findings

Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .

What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?

While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling  – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.

For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:

  • Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
  • Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.

Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.

Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).

For example, if we look at the sample research topic:

In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .

Your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions. It needs to answer the key questions you asked in your introduction.

For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .

Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.

What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.

Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:

Key findings

This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:

While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:

Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…

Implications

The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:

The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….

The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…

As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.

In the final chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and the implications thereof.

Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis

You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.

To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:

  • Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
  • Find a unique (original) and important research topic
  • Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
  • Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
  • Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
  • Undertake your own research
  • Present and interpret your findings

Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.  

thesis of reports

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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Qualitative interview 101

20 Comments

Romia

thankfull >>>this is very useful

Madhu

Thank you, it was really helpful

Elhadi Abdelrahim

unquestionably, this amazing simplified way of teaching. Really , I couldn’t find in the literature words that fully explicit my great thanks to you. However, I could only say thanks a-lot.

Derek Jansen

Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.

Writer

This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.

Sam

Very rich presentation. Thank you

Hailu

Thanks Derek Jansen|GRADCOACH, I find it very useful guide to arrange my activities and proceed to research!

Nunurayi Tambala

Thank you so much for such a marvelous teaching .I am so convinced that am going to write a comprehensive and a distinct masters dissertation

Hussein Huwail

It is an amazing comprehensive explanation

Eva

This was straightforward. Thank you!

Ken

I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂

Osasuyi Blessing

Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*

Dung Doh

Very educating.

Ezra Daniel

Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.

Nice Edinam Hoyah

Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.

Sehauli

thank you so much, that was so useful

Daniel Madsen

Hi. Where is the excel spread sheet ark?

Emmanuel kKoko

could you please help me look at your thesis paper to enable me to do the portion that has to do with the specification

my topic is “the impact of domestic revenue mobilization.

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  • Walden University
  • Faculty Portal

Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

Basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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How to Write a Report

Last Updated: March 15, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 8,726,719 times.

When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!

Easy Steps to Write a Report

  • Choose an interesting topic and narrow it down to a specific idea.
  • Take notes as you research your topic. Come up with a thesis, or main theme of your report, based on your research.
  • Outline the main ideas you’ll cover in your report. Then, write the first draft.

Sample Reports

thesis of reports

Selecting Your Topic

Step 1 Read the report prompt or guidelines carefully.

  • The guidelines will also typically tell you the requirements for the structure and format of your report.
  • If you have any questions about the assignment, speak up as soon as possible. That way, you don’t start working on the report, only to find out you have to start over because you misunderstood the report prompt.

Step 2 Choose a topic

  • For instance, if your report is supposed to be on a historical figure, you might choose someone you find really interesting, like the first woman to be governor of a state in the U.S., or the man who invented Silly Putty.
  • If your report is about information technology , you could gather information about the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information.
  • Even if you don’t have the option to choose your topic, you can often find something in your research that you find interesting. If your assignment is to give a report on the historical events of the 1960s in America, for example, you could focus your report on the way popular music reflected the events that occurred during that time.

Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!

Step 3 Try to pick a topic that is as specific as possible.

  • If you’re not sure what to write about at first, pick a larger topic, then narrow it down as you start researching.
  • For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, then you realize that there are way too many of them to talk about, you might choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.
  • However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to narrow it down to something too specific, like “Food at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” since it could be hard to find sources on the subject without just listing a lot of recipes.

Researching the Report

Step 1 Include a variety...

  • If you don’t have guidelines on how many sources to use, try to find 1-2 reputable sources for each page of the report.
  • Sources can be divided into primary sources, like original written works, court records, and interviews, and secondary sources, like reference books and reviews.
  • Databases, abstracts, and indexes are considered tertiary sources, and can be used to help you find primary and secondary sources for your report. [5] X Research source
  • If you’re writing a business report , you may be given some supplementary materials, such as market research or sales reports, or you may need to compile this information yourself. [6] X Research source

Step 2 Visit the library first if you’re writing a report for school.

  • Librarians are an excellent resource when you're working on a report. They can help you find books, articles, and other credible sources.
  • Often, a teacher will limit how many online sources you can use. If you find most of the information you need in the library, you can then use your online sources for details that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.

Step 3 Use only scholarly sources if you do online research.

  • Examples of authoritative online sources include government websites, articles written by known experts, and publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been published online.

Step 4 Cross-reference your sources to find new material.

  • If you’re using a book as one of your sources, check the very back few pages. That’s often where an author will list the sources they used for their book.

Step 5 Keep thorough notes...

  • Remember to number each page of your notes, so you don’t get confused later about what information came from which source!
  • Remember, you’ll need to cite any information that you use in your report; however, exactly how you do this will depend on the format that was assigned to you.

Step 6 Use your research...

  • For most reports, your thesis statement should not contain your own opinions. However, if you're writing a persuasive report, the thesis should contain an argument that you will have to prove in the body of the essay.
  • An example of a straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1) would be: “The three main halls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”
  • A thesis for a persuasive report (Thesis 2) might say: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was intended as a celebration of the Progressive spirit, but actually harbored a deep racism and principle of white supremacy that most visitors chose to ignore or celebrate.”

Step 7 Organize your notes...

  • The purpose of an outline is to help you to visualize how your essay will look. You can create a straightforward list or make a concept map , depending on what makes the most sense to you.
  • Try to organize the information from your notes so it flows together logically. For instance, it can be helpful to try to group together related items, like important events from a person’s childhood, education, and career, if you’re writing a biographical report.
  • Example main ideas for Thesis 1: Exhibits at the Court of the Universe, Exhibits at the Court of the Four Seasons, Exhibits at the Court of Abundance.

Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.

Writing the First Draft

Step 1 Format the report according to the guidelines you were given.

  • Try to follow any formatting instructions to the letter. If there aren't any, opt for something classic, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1 in (2.5 cm) margins all around.
  • You'll usually need to include a bibliography at the end of the report that lists any sources you used. You may also need a title page , which should include the title of the report, your name, the date, and the person who requested the report.
  • For some types of reports, you may also need to include a table of contents and an abstract or summary that briefly sums up what you’ve written. It’s typically easier to write these after you’ve finished your first draft. [14] X Research source

Step 2 State your thesis...

  • Example Intro for Thesis 1: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 was intended to celebrate both the creation of the Panama Canal, and the technological advancements achieved at the turn of the century. The three main halls of the PPIE were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”

Step 3 Start each paragraph in the body of the report with a topic sentence.

  • Typically, you should present the most important or compelling information first.
  • Example topic sentence for Thesis 1: At the PPIE, the Court of the Universe was the heart of the exposition and represented the greatest achievements of man, as well as the meeting of the East and the West.

Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.

Step 4 Support each topic sentence with evidence from your research.

  • Paraphrasing means restating the original author's ideas in your own words. On the other hand, a direct quote means using the exact words from the original source in quotation marks, with the author cited.
  • For the topic sentence listed above about the Court of the Universe, the body paragraph should go on to list the different exhibits found at the exhibit, as well as proving how the Court represented the meeting of the East and West.
  • Use your sources to support your topic, but don't plagiarize . Always restate the information in your own words. In most cases, you'll get in serious trouble if you just copy from your sources word-for-word. Also, be sure to cite each source as you use it, according to the formatting guidelines you were given. [18] X Research source

Step 5 Follow your evidence with commentary explaining why it links to your thesis.

  • Your commentary needs to be at least 1-2 sentences long. For a longer report, you may write more sentences for each piece of commentary.

Step 6 Summarize your research...

  • Avoid presenting any new information in the conclusion. You don’t want this to be a “Gotcha!” moment. Instead, it should be a strong summary of everything you’ve already told the reader.

Revising Your Report

Step 1 Scan the report to make sure everything is included and makes sense.

  • A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were someone reading this report for the first time, would I feel like I understood the topic after I finished reading?

Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.

Step 2 Check carefully for proofreading errors.

  • Try reading the report to yourself out loud. Hearing the words can help you catch awkward language or run-on sentences you might not catch by reading it silently.

Step 3 Read each sentence from the end to the beginning.

  • This is a great trick to find spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that your eye would otherwise just scan over.

Step 4 Have someone else proofread it for you.

  • Ask your helper questions like, “Do you understand what I am saying in my report?” “Is there anything you think I should take out or add?” And “Is there anything you would change?”

Step 5 Compare your report to the assignment requirements to ensure it meets expectations.

  • If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor. It's important to know how they'll be grading your assignment.

Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

You Might Also Like

Write a Financial Report

  • ↑ https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reports/writing-up
  • ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44525
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-7-sources-choosing-the-right-ones/
  • ↑ https://libguides.merrimack.edu/research_help/Sources
  • ↑ https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1779625/VBS-Report-Writing-Guide-2017.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.library.illinois.edu/hpnl/tutorials/primary-sources/
  • ↑ https://libguides.scu.edu.au/harvard/secondary-sources
  • ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/taking-notes-while-reading/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/outline
  • ↑ https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/engl250oer/chapter/10-4-table-of-contents/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/report-writing-format
  • ↑ https://www.monash.edu/rlo/assignment-samples/assignment-types/writing-an-essay/writing-body-paragraphs
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/5-most-effective-methods-for-avoiding-plagiarism/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
  • ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-report
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-12-peer-review-and-final-revisions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

It can seem really hard to write a report, but it will be easier if you choose an original topic that you're passionate about. Once you've got your topic, do some research on it at the library and online, using reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. Use your research write a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your paper, then organize your notes into an outline that supports that thesis statement. Finally, expand that outline into paragraph form. Read on for tips from our Education co-author on how to format your report! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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A Guide To The Top 14 Types Of Reports With Examples Of When To Use Them

Types of reports blog post by datapine

Table of Contents

1) What Is The Report Definition?

2) Top 14 Types Of Reports

3) What Does A Report Look Like?

4) What To Look For In A Reporting Tool

Businesses have been producing reports forever. No matter what role or industry you work in, chances are that you have been faced with the task of generating a tedious report to show your progress or performance.

While reporting has been a common practice for many decades, the business world keeps evolving, and with more competitive industries, the need to generate fast and accurate reports becomes critical. This presents a problem for many modern organizations today, as building reports can take from hours to days. In fact, a survey about management reports performed by Deloitte says that 50% of managers are unsatisfied with the speed of delivery and the quality of the reports they receive. 

With this issue in mind, several BI tools have been developed to assist businesses in generating interactive reports with just a few clicks, enhancing the way companies make critical decisions and service insights from their most valuable data.

But, with so many types of reports used daily, how can you know when to use them effectively? How can you push yourself ahead of the pack with the power of information? Here, we will explore the 14 most common types of reports in business and provide some examples of when to use them to your brand-boosting advantage. In addition, we will see how online dashboards have overthrown the static nature of classic reports and given way to a much faster, more interactive way of working with data.

Let’s get started with a brief report definition.

What Is The Report Definition?

A modern reporting example created with a dashboard tool

A report is a document that presents relevant business information in an organized and understandable format. Each report is aimed at a specific audience and business purpose, and it summarizes the development of different activities based on goals and objectives.  

That said, there are various types of reports that can be used for different purposes. Whether you want to track the progress of your strategies or stay compliant with financial laws, there is a different report for each task. To help you identify when to use them, we will cover the top 14 most common report formats used for businesses today. 

What Are The Different Types Of Reports?

Top 14 types of reports overview graphic

1. Informational Reports 

The first in our list of reporting types is informational reports. As their name suggests, this report type aims to give factual insights about a specific topic. This can include performance reports, expense reports, and justification reports, among others. A differentiating characteristic of these reports is their objectivity; they are only meant to inform but not propose solutions or hypotheses. Common informational reports examples are for performance tracking, such as annual, monthly, or weekly reports . 

2. Analytical Reports 

This report type contains a mix of useful information to facilitate the decision-making process through a mix of qualitative and quantitative insights as well as real-time and historical insights. Unlike informational reports that purely inform users about a topic, this report type also aims to provide recommendations about the next steps and help with problem-solving. With this information in hand, businesses can build strategies based on analytical evidence and not simple intuition. With the use of the right BI reporting tool , businesses can generate various types of analytical reports that include accurate forecasts via predictive analytics technologies. Let's look at it with an analytical report example.

Analytical report example of a sales pipeline dashboard

**click to enlarge**

The example above is the perfect representation of how analytical reports can boost a business’s performance. By getting detailed information such as sales opportunities, a probability rate, as well as an accurate pipeline value forecast based on historical data, sales teams can prepare their strategies in advance, tackle any inefficiencies, and make informed decisions for increased efficiency. 

3. Operational Reports 

These reports track every pertinent detail of the company's operational tasks, such as its production processes. They are typically short-term reports as they aim to paint a picture of the present. Businesses use this type of report to spot any issues and define their solutions or to identify improvement opportunities to optimize their operational efficiency. Operational reports are commonly used in manufacturing, logistics, and retail as they help keep track of inventory, production, and costs, among others. 

4. Product Reports

As its name suggests, this report type is used to monitor several aspects related to product development. Businesses often use them to track which of their products or subscriptions are selling the most within a given time period, calculate inventories, or see what kind of product the client values the most. Another common use case of these reports is to research the implementation of new products or develop existing ones. Let’s see it in more detail with a visual example. 

Type of report examples: a report on product innovation, useful for product development and pricing decisions

The image above is a product report that shows valuable insights regarding usage intention, purchase intention, willingness to pay, and more. In this case, the report is based on the answers from a survey that aimed to understand how the target customer would receive a new product. Getting this level of insights through this report type is very useful for businesses as it allows them to make smart investments when it comes to new products as well as set realistic pricing based on their client’s willingness to pay. 

5. Industry Reports 

Next in our list of the most common kinds of reports, we have industry-specific reports. Typically, these reports provide an overview of a particular industry, market, or sector with definitions, key trends, leading companies, and industry size, among others. They are particularly useful for businesses that want to enter a specific industry and want to learn how competitive it is or for companies who are looking to set performance benchmarks based on average industry values. 

6. Department Reports

These reports are specific to each department or business function. They serve as a communication tool between managers and team members who must stay connected and work together for common goals. Whether it is the sales department, customer service, logistics, or finances, this specific report type helps track and optimize strategies on a deeper level. Let’s look at it with an example of a team performance report . 

A department report type example for customer support team performance

The image above is a department report created with an online data analysis tool , and it tracks the performance of a support team. This insightful report displays relevant metrics such as the top-performing agents, net promoter score, and first contact resolution rate, among others. Having this information in hand not only helps each team member to keep track of their individual progress but also allows managers to understand who needs more training and who is performing at their best. 

7. Progress Reports

From the brunch of informational reports, progress reports provide critical information about the status of a project. These reports can be produced on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis by employees or managers to track performance and fine-tune tasks for the better development of the project. Progress reports are often used as visual materials to support meetings and discussions. A good example is a KPI scorecard . 

8. Internal Reports

A type of report that encompasses many others on this list, internal reports refer to any type of report that is used internally in a business. They convey information between team members and departments to keep communication flowing regarding goals and business objectives. 

An internal report example: hospital management dashboard

As mentioned above, internal reports are useful communication tools to keep every relevant person in the organization informed and engaged. This healthcare report aims to do just that. By providing insights into the performance of different departments and areas of a hospital, such as in and outpatients, average waiting times, treatment costs, and more, healthcare managers can allocate resources and plan the schedule accurately, as well as monitor any changes or issues in real-time. 

9. External Reports

Although most of the reports types listed here are used for internal purposes, not all reporting is meant to be used behind closed doors. External reports are created to share information with external stakeholders such as clients or investors for budget or progress accountability, as well as to governmental bodies to stay compliant with the law requirements.

External report type example of a client report for an IT project

The image above is the perfect example of an external client report from an IT project. This insightful report provides a visual overview of every relevant aspect of the project's development. From deadlines, budget usage, completion stage, and task breakdown, clients can be fully informed and involved in the project. 

10. Vertical & Lateral Reports 

Next, in our rundown of types of reports, we have vertical and lateral reports. This reporting type refers to the direction in which a report travels. A vertical report is meant to go upward or downward the hierarchy, for example, a management report. A lateral report assists in organization and communication between groups that are at the same level of the hierarchy, such as the financial and marketing departments.

11. Research Reports

Without a doubt, one of the most vital reporting types for any modern business is centered on research. Being able to collect, collate, and drill down into insights based on key pockets of your customer base or industry will give you the tools to drive innovation while meeting your audience’s needs head-on.

Types of reports: research report for customer demographics

The image above is a market research analytics report example for customer demographics. It serves up a balanced blend of metrics that will empower you to boost engagement as well as retention rates. Here, you can drill down into your audience’s behaviors, interests, gender, educational levels, and tech adoption life cycles with a simple glance.

What’s particularly striking about this dashboard is the fact that you can explore key trends in brand innovation with ease, gaining a working insight into how your audience perceives your business. This invaluable type of report will help you get under the skin of your consumers, driving growth and loyalty in the process.

12. Strategic Reports

Strategy is a vital component of every business, big or small. Strategic analytics tools are perhaps the broadest and most universal of all the different types of business reports imaginable.

These particular tools exist to help you understand, meet, and exceed your most pressing organizational goals consistently by serving up top-level metrics on a variety of initiatives or functions.

By working with strategic-style tools, you will:

  • Improve internal motivation and engagement
  • Refine your plans and strategies for the best possible return on investment (ROI)
  • Enhance internal communication and optimize the way your various departments run
  • Create more room for innovation and creative thinking

13. Project Reports

Projects are key to keeping a business moving in the right direction while keeping innovation and evolution at the forefront of every plan, communication, or campaign. But without the right management tools, a potentially groundbreaking project can become a resource-sapping disaster.

A project management report serves as a summary of a particular project's status and its various components. It's a visual tool that you can share with partners, colleagues, clients, and stakeholders to showcase your project's progress at multiple stages. Let’s look at our example and dig a little deeper.

Project controlling dashboard as an example of a project report type

To ensure consistent success across the board, the kinds of reports you must work with are based on project management. 

Our example is a project management dashboard equipped with a melting pot of metrics designed to improve the decision-making process while keeping every facet of your company’s most important initiatives under control. Here, you can spot pivotal trends based on costs, task statuses, margins, costs, and overall project revenue. With this cohesive visual information at your fingertips, not only can you ensure the smooth end-to-end running of any key project, but you can also drive increased operational efficiency as you move through every significant milestone.

14. Statutory Reports

It may not seem exciting or glamorous, but keeping your business's statutory affairs in order is vital to your ongoing commercial health and success.

When it comes to submitting such vital financial and non-financial information to official bodies, one small error can result in serious repercussions. As such, working with statutory types of report formats is a water-tight way of keeping track of your affairs and records while significantly reducing the risk of human error.

Armed with interactive insights and dynamic visuals, you will keep your records clean and compliant while gaining the ability to nip any potential errors or issues in the bud.

What Does A Report Look Like?

Now that we’ve covered the most relevant types of reports, we will answer the question: what does a report look like? 

As mentioned at the beginning of this insightful guide, static reporting is a thing of the past. With the rise of modern technologies like self-service BI tools , the use of interactive reports in the shape of business dashboards has become more and more popular among companies.

Unlike static reports that take time to be generated and are difficult to understand, modern reporting tools are intuitive. Their visual nature makes them easy to understand for any type of user, and they provide businesses with a central view of their most important performance indicators for an improved decision-making process. Here, we will cover 20 useful dashboard examples from different industries, functions, and platforms to put the value of dashboard reporting into perspective. 

1. Financial Report

Visual reporting example for finances tracking metrics such as current working capital, cash conversion cycle, and vendor payment error rate

Keeping finances in check is critical for success. This financial report offers an overview of the most important financial metrics that a business needs to monitor its economic activities and answer vital questions to ensure healthy finances. 

With insights about liquidity, invoicing, budgeting, and general financial stability, managers can extract long and short-term conclusions to reduce inefficiencies, make accurate forecasts about future performance, and keep the overall financial efficiency of the business flowing. For instance, getting a detailed calculation of the business's working capital can allow you to understand how liquid your company is. If it's higher than expected, it means you have the potential to invest and grow—definitely, one of the most valuable types of finance reports.

2. Marketing Report 

A marketing report example for campaign tracking generated with a modern dashboard tool

Our following example is a marketing report that ensures a healthy return on investment from your marketing efforts. This type of report offers a detailed overview of campaign performance over the last 12 weeks. Having access to this information enables you to maximize the value of your promotional actions, keeping your audience engaged by providing a targeted experience. 

For instance, you can implement different campaign formats as a test and then compare which one is most successful for your business. This is possible thanks to the monitoring of important marketing metrics such as the click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and more. 

The visual nature of this report makes it easy to understand important insights at a glance. For example, the four gauge charts at the top show the total spending from all campaigns and how much of the total budget of each campaign has been used. In just seconds, you can see if you are on target to meet your marketing budgets for every single campaign. 

3. Sales Report

A sales report template focused on high-level metrics such as revenue, profits, costs, incremental sales, accumulated revenue, up/cross-sell rates, etc.

An intuitive sales dashboard like the one above is the perfect analytical tool to monitor and optimize sales performance. Armed with powerful high-level metrics, this report type is especially interesting for managers, executives, and sales VPs as it provides relevant information to ensure strategic and operational success. 

The value of this sales report lies in the fact that it offers a complete and comprehensive overview of relevant insights needed to make smart sales decisions. For instance, at the top of an analysis tool, you get important metrics such as the number of sales, revenue, profit, and costs, all compared to a set target and to the previous time period. The use of historical data is fundamental when building successful sales strategies as they provide a picture of what could happen in the future. Being able to filter the key metrics all in one screen is a key benefit of modern reporting. 

4. HR Report 

Employee performance depicted with business intelligence reporting processes.

Our next example of a report is about human resources analytics . The HR department needs to track various KPIs for employee performance and effectiveness. But overall, they have to ensure that employees are happy and working in a healthy environment since an unhappy workforce can significantly damage an organization. This is all possible with the help of this intuitive dashboard. 

Providing a comprehensive mix of metrics, this employee-centric report drills down into every major element needed to ensure successful workforce management. For example, the top portion of the dashboard covers absenteeism in 3 different ways: yearly average, absenteeism rate with a target of 3.8%, and absenteeism over the last five years. Tracking absenteeism rates in detail is helpful as it can tell you if your employees are skipping work days. If the rate is over the expected target, then you have to dig deeper into the reasons and find sustainable solutions. 

On the other hand, the second part of the dashboard covers the overall labor effectiveness (OLE). This can be tracked based on specific criteria that HR predefined, and it helps them understand if workers are achieving their targets or if they need extra training or help. 

5. Management Report

alt="Visual of a finance KPIs business executive dashboard example for investors"

Managers must monitor big amounts of information to ensure that the business is running smoothly. One of them being investor relationships. This management dashboard focuses on high-level metrics that shareholders need to look at before investing, such as the return on assets, return on equity, debt-equity ratio, and share price, among others. 

By getting an overview of these important metrics, investors can easily extract the needed information to make an informed decision regarding an investment in your business. For instance, the return on assets measures how efficiently are the company's assets being used to generate profit. With this information, investors can understand how effectively your company deploys available resources compared to others in the market. Another great indicator is the share price; the higher the increase in your share price, the more money your shareholders are making from their investment. 

6. IT Report 

IT report tracking the occurrence of technical issues to improve system operational performance

Just like all the other departments and sections covered in this list, the IT department is one that can especially benefit from these types of reports. With so many technical issues to solve, the need for a visual tool to help IT specialists stay on track with their workload becomes critical. 

As seen in the image above, this IT dashboard offers detailed information about different system indicators. For starters, we get a visual overview of the status of each server, followed by a detailed graph displaying the uptime & downtime of each week. This is complemented by the most common downtown issues and some ticket management information. Getting this level of insight helps your IT staff to know what is happening and when it is happening and find proper solutions to prevent these issues from repeating themselves. Keeping constant track of these metrics will ensure robust system performance. 

7. Procurement Report

This procurement report example provides an overview of the most essential metrics of the procurement department

The following example of a report was built with intuitive procurement analytics software , and it gives a general view of various metrics that the procurement department needs to work with regularly. 

With the possibility to filter, drill down, and interact with KPIs, this intuitive procurement dashboard offers key information to ensure a healthy supplier relationship. With metrics such as compliance rate, the number of suppliers, or the purchase order cycle time, the procurement team can classify the different suppliers, define the relationship each of them has with the company, and optimize processes to ensure it stays profitable.

8. Customer Service Report

Call center reporting type presented with the revenue value, costs per support, average time to solve an issue,  and overall satisfaction

Following our list of examples of reports is one from the support area. Armed with powerful customer service KPIs , this dashboard is a useful tool to monitor performance, spot trends, identify strengths and weaknesses, and improve the overall effectiveness of the customer support department. 

Covering aspects such as revenue and costs from customer support as well as customer satisfaction, this complete analysis tool is the perfect tool for managers who have to keep an eye on every little detail from a performance and operational perspective. For example, by monitoring your customer service costs and comparing them to the revenue, you can understand if you are investing the right amount into your support processes. This can be directly related to your agent’s average time to solve issues; the longer it takes to solve a support ticket, the more money it will cost and the less revenue it will bring. If you see that your agents are taking too long to solve an issue, you can think of some training instances to help them reduce this number. 

9. Market Research Report 

A type of report for market research displaying the results of a survey about brand perception

This list of report types examples would not be complete without a market research report . Market research agencies deal with a large amount of information coming from surveys and other research sources. Taking all this into account, the need for reports that can be filtered for deeper interaction becomes more necessary for this industry than any other. 

The image above is a brand analytics dashboard that displays the survey results about how the public perceives a brand. This savvy tool contains different charts that make it easy to understand the information visually. For instance, the map chart with the different colors lets you quickly understand in which regions each age range is located. The charts can be filtered further to see the detailed answers from each group for a deeper analysis. 

10. Social Media Report 

Social media report example displaying performance metrics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Last but not least, we have a social media report .  This scorecard format dashboard monitors the performance of 4 main social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and it serves as a perfect visual overview to track the performance of different social media efforts and achievements. 

Tracking relevant metrics such as followers, impressions, clicks, engagement rates, and conversions, this report type serves as a perfect progress report to show to managers or clients who need to see the status of their social channels. Each metric is shown in its actual value and compared to a set target. The colors green and red from the fourth column let you quickly understand if a metric is over or under its expected target. 

11. Logistics Report

Logistics are the cornerstone of an operationally fluent and progressive business. If you deal with large quantities of goods and tangible items, in particular, maintaining a solid logistical strategy is vital to ensuring you maintain your brand reputation while keeping things flowing in the right direction.

An logistics report focused on the warehouse performance in the logistics industry

A prime example of the types of data reporting tool designed to improve logistical management, our warehouse KPI dashboard is equipped with metrics required to maintain strategic movement while eliminating any unnecessary costs or redundant processes. Here, you can dig into your shipping success rates across regions while accessing warehouse costs and perfect order rates in real-time. If you spot any potential inefficiencies, you can track them here and take the correct course of action to refine your strategy. This is an essential tool for any business with a busy or scaling warehouse.

12. Manufacturing Report

Next, in our essential types of business reports examples, we’re looking at tools made to improve your business’s various manufacturing processes.

Manufacturing Production report displaying main manufacturing KPIs to keep the pulse of your factory

Our clean and concise production tool is a sight to behold and serves up key manufacturing KPIs that improve the decision-making process regarding costs, volume, and machinery.

Here, you can hone in on historical patterns and trends while connecting with priceless real-time insights that will not only help you make the right calls concerning your manufacturing process at the moment but will also help you formulate predictive strategies that will ultimately save money, boost productivity, and result in top-quality products across the board.

13. Retail Report

As a retailer with so many channels to consider and so many important choices to make, working with the right metrics and visuals is absolutely essential. Fortunately, we live in an age where there are different types of reporting designed for this very reason.

Types of reports examples: retail sales and order report

Our sales and order example, generated with retail analytics software , is a dream come true for retailers as it offers the visual insights needed to understand your product range in greater detail while keeping a firm grip on your order volumes, perfect order rates, and reasons for returns.

Gaining access to these invaluable insights in one visually presentable space will allow you to track increases or decreases in orders over a set timeframe (and understand whether you’re doing the right things to drive engagement) while plowing your promotional resources into the products that are likely to offer the best returns.

Plus, by gaining an accurate overview of why people are returning your products, you can omit problem items or processes from your retail strategy, improving your brand reputation as well as revenue in the process.

14. Digital Media Report

The content and communications you publish are critical to your ongoing success, regardless of your sector, niche, or specialty. Without putting out communications that speak directly to the right segments of your audience at the right times in their journey, your brand will swiftly fade into the background.

Content quality control dashboard as a digital media report example

To ensure your brand remains inspiring, engaging, and thought-leading across channels, working with media types of a business report is essential. You must ensure your communications cut through the noise and scream ‘quality’ from start to finish—no ifs, no buts, no exceptions.

Our content quality control tool is designed with a logical hierarchy that will tell you if your content sparks readership, if the language you’re using is inclusive and conversational, and how much engagement-specific communications earn. You can also check your most engaged articles with a quick glance to understand what your users value most. Armed with this information, you can keep creating content that your audience loves and ultimately drives true value to the business.

15. Energy Report

In the age of sustainability and in the face of international fuel hikes, managing the energy your business uses effectively is paramount. Here, there is little room for excess or error, and as such, working with the right metrics is the only way to ensure successful energy regulation.

Energy management dashboard as an example of a type of report for the energy industry

If your company has a big HQ or multiple sites that require power, our energy management analytics tool will help you take the stress out of managing your resources. One of the most striking features of this dashboard is the fact that it empowers you to compare your company’s energy usage against those from other sectors and set an accurate benchmark.

Here, you can also get a digestible breakdown of your various production costs regarding energy consumption and the main sources you use to keep your organization running. Regularly consulting these metrics will not only help you save colossal chunks of your budget, but it will also give you the intelligence to become more sustainable as an organization. This, in turn, is good for the planet and your brand reputation—a real win-win-win.

16. FMCG Report

Kinds of reports examples tracking a report template for the FMCG industry

The fast-moving consuming goods (FMCG) industry can highly benefit from a powerful report containing real-time insights. This is because the products handled in this sector which are often food and beverages, don’t last very long. Therefore, having a live overview of all the latest developments can help decision-makers optimize the supply chain to ensure everything runs smoothly and no major issues happen. 

Our report format example above aims to do just that by providing an overview of critical performance indicators, such as the percentage of products sold within freshness date, the out-of-stock rate, on-time in full deliveries, inventory turnover, and more.  What makes this template so valuable is the fact that it provides a range of periods to get a more recent view of events but also a longer yearly view to extract deeper insights. 

The FMCG dashboard also offers an overview of the main KPIs to help users understand if they are on the right track to meet their goals. There, we can observe that the OTIF is far from its target of 90%. Therefore, it should be looked at in more detail to optimize it and prevent it from affecting the entire supply chain. 

17. Google Analytics Report

This Google analytics report provides the perfect overview of your KPIs, and enables you to discover early-on if you are on track to meet your targets

Regardless of the industry you are in, if you have a website then you probably require a  Google Analytics report. This powerful tool helps you understand how your audience interacts with your website while helping you reach more people through the Google search engine. The issue is that the reports the tool provides are more or less basic and don’t give you the dynamic and agile view you need to stay on top of your data and competitors. 

For that reason, at datapine, we generated a range of Google Analytics dashboards that take your experience one step further by allowing you to explore your most important KPIs in real-time. That way, you’ll be able to spot any potential issues or opportunities to improve as soon as they occur, allowing you to act on them on the spot. 

Among some of the most valuable metrics you can find in this sample are the sessions and their daily, weekly, and monthly development, the average session duration, the bounce rate by channel and by top 5 countries, among others.

18. YouTube Report

Types of reports example: YouTube template to track your video performance with specific video-related metrics and indicators

So far, we’ve covered examples for various industries and sectors. Now, we will dive a bit deeper into some templates related to popular platforms businesses use in their daily operations. With the rise in video-related content, we could not leave YouTube outside of the list. This popular platform hides some valuable insights that can help you improve your content for your current audience but also reach new audiences that can be interested in your products or services. 

This highly visual and dynamic sample offers an interactive view of relevant KPIs to help you understand every aspect of your video performance. The template can be filtered for different videos to help you understand how each type of content performs. For instance, you get an overview of engagement metrics, such as likes, dislikes, comments, and shares, that way, you can understand how your audience interacts with your content.

Additionally, you also get more detailed charts about the number of views, the average watch time per day, and audience retention. These indicators can help you understand if something needs to be changed. For instance, audience retention goes down a lot after one minute and a half. Therefore you either need to make sure you are making the rest of the video a bit more interesting or offering your product or service or any other relevant information in the first minute.

19. LinkedIn Report

Type of report example with a clear overview of key LinkedIn metrics and results over time

Another very important platform that companies use, no matter their size or industry, is LinkedIn. This platform is the place where companies develop and showcase their corporate image, network with other companies, and tell their clients and audience about the different initiatives they are developing to grow and be better. Some organizations also use LinkedIn to showcase their charity or sustainability initiatives. 

The truth is LinkedIn has become an increasingly relevant platform, and just like we discussed with YouTube, organizations need to analyze data to ensure their strategies are on the right path to success. 

The template above offers a 360-degree view of a company page's performance. With metrics such as the followers gained, engagement rate, impressions vs unique impressions, CTR, and more. Decision-makers can dive deeper into the performance of their content and understand what their audience enjoys the most. For instance, by looking at the CTR of the last 5 company updates, you can start to get a sense of what topics and content format your audience on the platforms interact with the most. That way, you’ll avoid wasting time and resources producing content without interaction.

20. Healthcare Report

Patient satisfaction dashboard as an example of a healthcare report

Moving on from platform-related examples, we have one last monthly report template from a very relevant sector, the healthcare industry. For decades now, hospitals and healthcare professionals have benefited from data to develop new treatments and analyze unknown diseases. But, data can also help to ensure daily patient care is of top quality. 

Our sample above is a healthcare dashboard report that tracks patient satisfaction stats for a clinic named Saint Martins Clinic. The template provides insights into various aspects of patient care that can affect their satisfaction levels to help spot any weak areas. 

Just by looking at the report in a bit more detail, we can already see that the average waiting time for arrival to a bed and time to see a doctor are on the higher side. This is something that needs to be looked into immediately, as waiting times are the most important success factors for patients. Additionally, we can see those lab test turnarounds are also above target. This is another aspect that should be optimized to prevent satisfaction levels from going down.

If you feel inspired by this list and want to see some of the best uses for business reports, then we recommend you take a look at our dashboard examples library, where you will find over 80+ templates from different industries, functions, and platforms for extra inspiration! 

What You Should Look For In A Reporting Tool

As you learned from our extensive list of examples, different types of reports are widely used across industries and sectors. Now, you might wonder, how do I get my hands on one of these reports? The answer is a professional online reporting tool. With the right software in hand, you can generate stunning reports to extract the maximum potential out of your data and boost business growth in the process. 

But, with so many options in the market, how do make sure you choose the best tool for your needs? Below we cover some of the most relevant features and capabilities you should look for to make the most out of the process. 

  • Pre-made reporting templates

To ensure successful operations, a business will most likely need to use many types of reports for its internal and external strategies. Manually generating these reports can become a time-consuming task that burdens the business. That is why professional reporting software should offer pre-made reporting templates. At datapine, we offer an extensive template library that allows users to generate reports in a matter of seconds—allowing them to use their time on actually analyzing the information and extracting powerful insights from it. 

  • Multiple visualization options

If you look for report templates on Google you might run into multiple posts about written ones. This is not a surprise, as written reports have been the norm for decades. That being said, a modern approach to reporting has developed in the past years where visuals have taken over text. The value of visuals lies in the fact that they make the information easier to understand, especially for users who have no technical knowledge. But most importantly, they make the information easier to explore by telling a compelling story. For that reason, the tool you choose to invest in should provide you with multiple visualization options to have the flexibility to tell your data story in the most successful way possible. 

  • Customization 

While pre-made templates are fundamental to generating agile reports, being able to customize them to meet your needs is also of utmost importance. At datapine, we offer our users the possibility to customize their reports to fit their most important KPIs, as well as their logo, business colors, and font. This is an especially valuable feature for external reports that must be shown to clients or other relevant stakeholders, giving your reports a more professional look. Customization can also help from an internal perspective to provide employees who are uncomfortable with data with a familiar environment to work in. 

  • Real-time insights 

In the fast-paced world we live in today, having static reports is not enough. Businesses need to have real-time access to the latest developments in their data to spot any issues or opportunities as soon as they occur and act on them to ensure their resources are spent smartly and their strategies are running as expected. Doing so will allow for agile and efficient decision-making, giving the company a huge competitive advantage. 

  • Sharing capabilities 

Communication and collaboration are the basis of a successful reporting process. Today, team members and departments need to be connected to ensure everyone is on the right path to achieve general company goals. That is why the tool you invest in should offer flexible sharing capabilities to ensure every user can access the reports. For instance, at datapine, we offer our users the possibility to share reports through automated emails or password-protected URLs with viewing or editing rights depending on what data the specific user can see and manipulate. A great way to keep everyone connected and boost collaboration. 

Types Of Reporting For Every Business & Purpose 

As we’ve seen throughout our journey, different report formats are used by businesses for diverse purposes in their everyday activities. Whether you’re talking about types of reports in research, types of reports in management, or anything in between, these dynamic tools will get you where you need to be (and beyond).

In this post, we covered the top 14 most common ones and explored key examples of how different report types are changing the way businesses are leveraging their most critical insights for internal efficiency and, ultimately, external success.

With modern tools and solutions, reporting doesn’t have to be a tedious task. Anyone in your organization can rely on data for their decision-making process without needing technical skills. Rather, you want to keep your team connected or show progress to investors or clients. There is a report type for the job. To keep your mind fresh, here are the top 14 types of data reports covered in this post: 

  • Informational reports 
  • Analytical reports 
  • Operational reports  
  • Product reports 
  • Industry reports 
  • Department reports 
  • Progress reports 
  • Internal reports 
  • External reports 
  • Vertical and lateral reports 
  • Strategic reports
  • Research reports
  • Project reports
  • Statutory reports

Now, over to you. Are you ready? If you want to start building your own types of reports and get ahead of the pack today, then you should try our BI reporting software for 14 days for free ! 

  • Get 7 Days Free

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U.S. Plan to Protect Oceans Has a Problem, Some Say: Too Much Fishing

An effort to protect 30 percent of land and waters would count some commercial fishing zones as conserved areas.

A fishing trawler, seen in silhouette at some distance, cruising with outriggers extended.

By Catrin Einhorn

New details of the Biden administration’s signature conservation effort, made public this month amid a burst of other environmental announcements, have alarmed some scientists who study marine protected areas because the plan would count certain commercial fishing zones as conserved.

The decision could have ripple effects around the world as nations work toward fulfilling a broader global commitment to safeguard 30 percent of the entire planet’s land, inland waters and seas. That effort has been hailed as historic, but the critical question of what, exactly, counts as conserved is still being decided.

This early answer from the Biden administration is worrying, researchers say, because high-impact commercial fishing is incompatible with the goals of the efforts.

“Saying that these areas that are touted to be for biodiversity conservation should also do double duty for fishing as well, especially highly impactful gears that are for large-scale commercial take, there’s just a cognitive dissonance there,” said Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, a marine biologist at Oregon State University who led a group of scientists that in 2021 published a guide for evaluating marine protected areas .

The debate is unfolding amid a global biodiversity crisis that is speeding extinctions and eroding ecosystems, according to a landmark intergovernmental assessment . As the natural world degrades, its ability to give humans essentials like food and clean water also diminishes. The primary driver of biodiversity declines in the ocean, the assessment found, is overfishing. Climate change is an additional and ever-worsening threat.

Fish are an important source of nutrition for billions of people around the world. Research shows that effectively conserving key areas is an key tool to keep stocks healthy while also protecting other ocean life.

Nations are watching to see how the United States enacts its protections.

The American approach is specific because the broader plan falls under the United Nations biodiversity treaty, which the United States has never ratified. The effort in the United States is happening under a 2021 executive order by President Biden.

Still, the United States, a powerful donor country, exerts considerable influence on the sidelines of the U.N. talks. Both the American and international efforts are known as 30x30.

On April 19, federal officials launched a new website updating the public on their 30x30 efforts. They did not indicate how much land was currently conserved (beyond approximately 13 percent of permanently protected federal lands), stating that they needed to better understand what was happening at the state, tribal and private levels. But they announced a number for the ocean: about a third of U.S. marine areas are currently conserved, the website said.

The problem, according to scientists, is how the Biden administration arrived at that figure.

Everyone seems to agree that the highly protected areas classified as marine national monuments should count as conserved, and they did: four in the Pacific around Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa that were set up and expanded between 2006 and 2016; and one in the Atlantic southeast of Cape Cod, designated in 2016. A vast area of the Arctic where commercial fishing is banned was also included, with wide agreement.

But other places on the list should not be counted unless protections there are tightened, said Lance Morgan, a marine biologist and president of the Marine Conservation Institute, a nonprofit group that maintains a global map of the ocean’s protected areas.

For example, 15 National Marine Sanctuaries are included. While these areas typically restrict activities like oil and gas drilling, they do not require reduced quotas of commercial fishing. High-impact fishing techniques like bottom trawling, which damages seafloor habitat and captures vast amounts of fish, are prohibited in certain sanctuaries but permitted in others.

Also included on the list are “deep sea coral protection areas” that ban seafloor fishing like bottom trawling, but not some other commercial fishing methods.

“Much more effort should be focused on improving the National Marine Sanctuary program and ensuring that new areas being created provide conservation benefits and ban commercial fishing methods like bottom trawling and long-lining,” Dr. Morgan said.

Senior officials with the Biden administration emphasized that ocean work under 30x30 was far from over. Very little of the conserved marine area is near the continental United States, for example, and one of the administration’s priorities is adding places there to make the effort more geographically representative.

But they defended the decision to include areas that allow commercial fishing. Despite the high-impact gear, national marine sanctuaries have long been considered protected areas by the United Nations, they pointed out. More generally, they said, the administration weighed various approaches to defining what it would count.

For example, while an atlas of marine protected areas maintained by Dr. Morgan’s group considers 25 percent of American waters to be conserved, the U.S. Fishery Management Councils puts that number at more than 72 percent . Administration officials said their number reflected important conservation work by a variety of agencies and stakeholders.

“We do have very highly regulated fisheries in the U.S.,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, the chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which is helping to coordinate the 30x30 effort. “And so, our domestic definition of conservation may be a little bit different, and other countries’ definitions may be a little bit different.”

Even though the United States has not ratified the biodiversity treaty, it will still submit a conservation total to be counted toward the global 30x30 commitment. Officials said they were still weighing which areas to submit.

In a statement, representatives of the Fishery Management Councils praised the inclusion of commercial fishing areas, noting that they are managed under “very stringent sustainability and conservation standards.”

But sustainably managed commercial fishing is what should be happening in the rest of the ocean, said Enric Sala, a marine biologist who studies and advocates for marine protected areas. Allowing commercial fishing in places conserved under 30x30, he said, is “padding the numbers.”

“People are looking up to the U.S.,” Dr. Sala, who is originally from Spain, said. “That sends a really bad signal.”

Catrin Einhorn covers biodiversity, climate and the environment for The Times. More about Catrin Einhorn

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COMMENTS

  1. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  2. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  3. Research Report

    Thesis. Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master's or Doctoral degree, although it ...

  4. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself.

  5. 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report

    The thesis is the central idea that you will explore and support in your report; all paragraphs in your report should relate to it. In an essay-style analytical report, you will likely express this main idea in a thesis statement of one or two sentences toward the end of the introduction.

  6. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  7. How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

    Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal. Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter. Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review. Undertake your own research. Present and interpret your findings. Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications.

  8. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  9. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize, and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing. Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question, and interrogate.

  10. PDF Writing a Research Report

    Use the section headings (outlined above) to assist with your rough plan. Write a thesis statement that clarifies the overall purpose of your report. Jot down anything you already know about the topic in the relevant sections. 3 Do the Research. Steps 1 and 2 will guide your research for this report.

  11. How to Write a Report (with Pictures)

    Easy Steps to Write a Report. Choose an interesting topic and narrow it down to a specific idea. Take notes as you research your topic. Come up with a thesis, or main theme of your report, based on your research. Outline the main ideas you'll cover in your report. Then, write the first draft.

  12. Thesis

    Thesis is a scholarly document that presents a student's original research and findings on a particular topic or question. It is usually written as a requirement for a graduate degree program and is intended to demonstrate the student's mastery of the subject matter and their ability to conduct independent research.

  13. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  14. PDF A Sample Thesis Report, Showing the Reader the Wonder of Formatting

    \part book & report only \chapter book & report only \section \subsection \subsubsection \paragraph \subparagraph Table 2.1: Structural commands in LATEX. 2.2 Packages LATEX packages, or style files, define additional commands and environ-ments, or change the way that previously defined commands and envi-ronments work.

  15. 14 Types of Reports

    10. Vertical & Lateral Reports. Next, in our rundown of types of reports, we have vertical and lateral reports. This reporting type refers to the direction in which a report travels. A vertical report is meant to go upward or downward the hierarchy, for example, a management report.

  16. Thesis Format

    Thesis Format. Thesis format refers to the structure and layout of a research thesis or dissertation. It typically includes several chapters, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of the research topic. The exact format of a thesis can vary depending on the academic discipline and the institution, but some common elements include:

  17. How to review a dissertation, thesis, or report

    Beginning in fall 2021, faculty advisors will be asked to review and approve dissertations, theses, and reports in Digital Commons. This will replace the Approval form, and will allow faculty to see the work their student has submitted and be notified when it is published. This process is similar to reviewing a journal article. When . . .

  18. Apple is Buffett's biggest stock but moat thesis faces questions

    As Berkshire investors and fanboys of the 93-year-old Buffett flood Omaha this weekend for the 2024 annual meeting, Apple is likely to be a hot topic of discussion. The tech giant on Thursday ...

  19. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples. Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on July 18, 2023. It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation.One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer's block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

  20. LyondellBasell Earnings: Sequential Growth Supports Our Recovery Thesis

    LyondellBasell's first-quarter results showed demand was recovering in line with our outlook for the cadence of the year. Adjusted EBITDA rose sequentially from the fourth quarter driven by profit ...

  21. U.S. Plan to Protect Oceans Has a Problem, Some Say: Too Much Fishing

    An effort to protect 30 percent of land and waters would count some commercial fishing zones as conserved areas. The primary driver of biodiversity declines in the ocean, according to researchers ...

  22. Electronic Arts Q4 Earnings Preview: In Search For The Next Blockbuster

    Tero Vesalainen/iStock via Getty Images. Investment Thesis. Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is scheduled to announce their full-year FY24 earnings report next week on Tuesday, May 7th, after market ...

  23. Writing a Research Paper Conclusion

    Table of contents. Step 1: Restate the problem. Step 2: Sum up the paper. Step 3: Discuss the implications. Research paper conclusion examples. Frequently asked questions about research paper conclusions.

  24. Srnl-sti-2024-00184_historical Savannah River Site Tritium Releases

    S&T Accomplishment Report · Mon Nov 27 00:00:00 EST 2023 · OSTI ID: 2341547 WARD, PATRICK SRNL-STI-2023-00635 CFPC Soft Smart Tools Using Additive Manufacturing Report FY23 SRNL Craps.pdf