Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 25 January, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

11. Research outcomes

11.1 Introduction
11.2 Writing the research report

11.2.1 Readability
11.2.2 Suggested structure for a research report

11.2.3 Referencing, footnotes and language

11.3 Types of research outcomes
11.4 Potential audience
11.5 Research dissemination strategy

11.2 Writing the research report

11.2.3 Referencing, footnotes and language
When writing the report use a standard form for citation and referencing. In Section 1.14.3 it was suggested that when starting out on a research project, references should be noted when first encountered and preferably kept in a database in a consistent format as this will save a lot of time later tracking down references for the final report.

It is imperative, when writing the report, that you use a consistent and preferably established citation and referencing system. Rather than use footnotes for referencing, which is rather cumbersome and not easy for the reader, the Harvard referencing system is recommended. It is the method used in Researching the Real World. The system provides a simple and systematic way of referencing other work. It avoids footnotes and thus overcomes the problem of having to change footnote numbers every time a new reference is added. The Harvard system does away with the use of 'op. cit.' and 'ibid.'  which are so common in footnote referencing but which make it much more difficult to find a reference. Harvard referencing makes it much easier for the reader to find the reference for any citation because the system is simple. Whenever a publication is cited, the author's name and the date of publication, in parentheses (including the page number of any direct quote), is inserted at the appropriate point. At the end of the report all the references are listed in alphabetical order of author.

When referring to other work, ensure any citation to online material does not include the Internet address, keep that for the references and make sure you add the date that the item was accessed on the Internet, as very many web addresses disappear over time, often rather quickly, and it is best not to have redundant web addresses in the body of the report.

In general, it is preferable to avoid footnotes. There was a time when multiple footnotes was an indicator of extensive research, as peripheral detail was consigned to such notes. This is no longer the case in most disciplines and footnotes are seen as an unnecessary encumbrance and relevant material should be incorporated into the main text. Use footnotes (or endnotes) sparingly; a report without footnotes tends to be more readable.

It is also important that you do not use  sexist or  racist language or stereotypes in your report. The British Sociological Association at the end of the published Guidelines on Anti-Sexist Language (CASE STUDY Avoiding sexist language). They have been followed by many other professional bodies and international organisations, such as the European Parliament (2018), with its multilingual version, and UNESCO (1999). However, the BSA Guidelines are no longer available online yet the issue of sexist and racist language has not gone away and the suggestions in Figure 2 should be borne in mind when writing.

Back in the 1980s, when the issue of sexist language was challenged, Margrit Eichler (1988) argued that the research should have been designed in a non-sexist way from the outset. This involves avoiding seeing the world in male terms, making sure that references to males are not generalised to the whole population and that the same standards of analysis are applied to both men and women (Harvey, 1990).


Next 11.3 Types of research outcomes