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Report Structure and Formatting

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Here you can find some general information on how to structure a report/thesis/empirical study, etc.


You should try to include:

  1. Statement on the importance or relevance of the research topic to marketing (practitioners, policy makers, etc.)

  2. Problem definition and basis of its derivation (e.g. data needed, unanswered questions, contradictory findings)

  3. Purpose of research - you need not state specific objectives (e.g. which variables to study) but a statement on general objectives is welcome


You should include one or more of the following:

  1. Theory or theories related to the area under investigation.

  2. A model (some exemplary elements or a description of the model) with proper justification if the model is a new or recently proposed one.

  3. Brief discussion of variables used in the model (conceptual framework, theory, etc.) – analysis of meaning, if concepts have been given different meanings in the present research project.

  4. Specification of the dependent and/or independent variables that you are going to investigate in your study - state rationale for your decision (why you chose the present research project).


  1. You may express your hypotheses as

  • Statements of relationship between one dependent and one independent variable

  • One independent and several dependent variables

  • A general research hypothesis - no need to be specific on relationships between variables but you should specify general expectations (e.g. relationships between groups of similar variables)

 2. Give a rationale for your hypotheses/expectations (why you expect the variables to relate to each another)

  • It can be based on previously gathered empirical findings (inductive approach) or

  • Theory (deductive approach) or

  • Both


Should include:

  1. Choice of methodology used - it should derive from the questions/problem you are addressing.

  2. Sample

    • Size

    • Characteristics

    • Method of data collection (e.g., interview, mail questionnaire)

    • Nonresponse, follow-up of nonrespondents

    • Who collected data or conducted the experiment and their qualifications (e.g., trained or not)?

  3. Definitions and measurement of variables

    • Treatment of operational definitions - justification

    • Measurement of variables - type of scale used

    • If composite indexes are used, state rationale for combining items

    • State rationale for including specific items in a scale

    • Reliability coefficients.

    • Validity, if variables are introduced.


  1. Choose appropriate technique of analysis. Your decision will be affected by the way variables are measured (nominal, ordinal, interval and rational scales), by the research design (experimental, cross- sectional, longitudinal, etc.) and by the assumptions underlying the test statistic and the statistic’s significance.

  2. Presuppositions underlying the technique(s) of analysis, any problems with them and how they have been taken care of.

  3. Other drawbacks of techniques used in data analysis and how they were taken into account (e.g. percentage of incomplete responses).

  4. Use appropriate statistical test (e.g. t-test, F-test).

  5. Other tests that would help you suggest implications of the data (e.g. W2).


  1. Organize/report findings/results by hypothesis; include a brief introductory statement whenever appropriate.

  2. Interpret relationships and speculate. Try using words such as "may", "appear", "seem", etc., to report causality.


You may do one or more of the following things:

  1. Compare research findings of your study with existing findings - show how they fit or do not fit findings of previous studies.

  2. Discuss limitations of your study somewhere before the concluding paragraph(s).

  3. Point out directions for future research - these new directions should be a consequence of your findings (what findings suggest should be done in the future) and/or of previous studies.

  4. End section/article with a strong paragraph highlighting purpose and findings of the study.


This part of your thesis is particularly difficult. Your statements may be vulnerable to criticism, especially if

  1. Variables do not account for variance (or test used does not show how much variance is accounted for).

  2. Different interpretations can be given to the data.

  3. You suggest implementation of policies/strategies involving high costs or marketing effort.

  4. Similar policies/strategies can be formulated on basis of other methodologies or data that have been available before. As a general rule, avoid these statements, particularly towards the end of your paper, unless you need to do so or your findings are strong.