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How to Write a Report in Women and Gender Studies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students

A report is a somewhat vague term whose meaning can vary from school to school; however, usually it means a paper that presents the results of your investigation of a research question, analysis of the information you processed and, in most cases, you recommendations or suggestions for future actions in this sphere. There are many different types of reports: e.g., structures of a business and a scientific report will be somewhat different. However, they share enough common features to belong to the same general category.

Reports in women and gender studies call for a specific approach due to their highly sensitive subject. Irrespectively of what topic you choose to cover, you should tread extra carefully to avoid issuing statements that can potentially be interpreted as offensive.

How to Write a Report in Women and Gender Studies: Preparation Phase

1. Decide on the Topic

Sometimes you receive a topic to work on from your instructor. Sometimes you get complete freedom to choose whatever strikes your fancy. Occasionally instructors offer an intermediary variant, delineating a general theme and letting you pick a more specific subject within in. If you get any amount of freedom, proceed along these lines:

  • Study the instructions carefully. Things like the maximum word count and other guidelines can limit what topics you can realistically cover;
  • Think of a topic you would be personally interested in covering, an area you want to know more about, a well-known subject you want to study deeper – in other words, decide on a general outline of a topic you can relate to;
  • Formulate what a report on this topic would be about;
  • Try to explain, in writing, why writing such a report is important. If you cannot, look for another topic;
  • Figure out what you will need to prepare such a report and be realistic about it. If you see that you do not have the necessary resources, look for another topic;
  • Check if it is possible to complete the report of such magnitude before the deadline. If it is too ambitious, look for another topic;
  • Check if there are any existing reports on similar or identical topics. If they exist, check how old they are. If they are recent, try looking at the topic from a different angle, so that your report has independent research value;
  • If you feel unsure on any of these stages, do not hesitate to consult your instructor.

Eventually, you should end up with something sufficiently narrow to study deeply within the confines of a report and not covered by other scholars recently. Here are some examples of how your topics should look:

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • Development of Gender-Neutral Language Norms in English;
  • Women in Non-Traditional Roles in Modern United States;
  • First-Wave Feminism and Its Effects on Modern Western Society;
  • Analysis of Gender-Based Violence in Modern India;
  • Major Challenges Women Face in Workplace.

2. Plan Your Research

Before you start gathering the information, you have to decide on your procedure and plan approach. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What data do I need?
  • Is there a need for any preliminary background reading?
  • Do I need any specific articles or documents?
  • Do I need the assistance of the university library? Any other libraries? Do I need to contact them in advance?
  • Does my research require observing or interviewing people? What resources will I need for this? How long will it take?
  • Do I have to record data and what means of recording should I use?

By answering these questions, you will begin to outline the procedure, which describes step by step how you carried out your research.

3. Gather the Info

Reports on sociology-related subjects like women and gender studies are usually based on three types of sources: written material, interviews with people and direct observations. Depending on your academic level and the seriousness of your task, the proportion of information received from these types of sources may differ. Some assignments are purely library-based, while others presuppose fieldwork. You should discuss the specifics and guidelines for fieldwork with your instructor, but in looking for written sources students are usually left to their own devices. You can find the necessary literature by:

  • Asking your instructor. Usually he/she will point out at least a few relevant publications you can start with;
  • Your course readings. The topic of your report probably lies within the confines of the course anyway, so you can find some relevant info there;
  • Library index and assistants. If a library has specific assistants covering gender and women studies, all the better – they are knowledgeable about obscure sources of info that may come in handy;
  • Online academic databases and search engines. These include both general-purpose databases like Google Scholar and Academic Search and more specific ones, like GENESIS and Psychology’s Feminist Voices;
  • Bibliography sections of all the sources you find. Look through them in search of other relevant publications.

4. Evaluate the Sources You Found

Evaluate each source across five criteria:

  • Authority. Is the author qualified enough to write about the subject? One way to determine it is to simply keep your eyes peeled for the names that keep cropping up in the sources on your chosen topic. Another is the h-index (i.e., the number of publications by the author, each of which is referred to in other peer-reviewed papers at least the same number of times. Therefore, an author with an h-index of 11 means that at least 11 of his/her papers are referred to 11 times each);
  • Accuracy. Is the information proven, reliable, verifiable and specific?
  • Objectivity. Does the author have an agenda? This point is particularly important in a politically-charged discipline like gender studies;
  • Currency. How old is the source? Is it still relevant?
  • Coverage. Does the source adequately cover the topic?

An alternative approach is called CRAAP:

5. Plan the Structure of Your Report

Structures of reports differ from school to school, but some points tend to be similar. This list contains the most common parts – we do not suggest that this is the only way a report can be structured. Study the instructions received from your college – follow them if you find any discrepancies with our list.

  • Title page;
  • Executive summary – an overview of the main parts of the larger report;
  • Table of contents;
  • Introduction;
  • Terms of reference – background, objective and purpose;
  • Procedure – how you carry out your research;
  • Findings – results of your research;
  • Conclusions – what you believe follows from your results;
  • Recommendations – your proposed solution;
  • Works cited;
  • Appendices – additional information that you, for any reason, do not put into the main body of the report.

How to Write a Report in Women and Gender Studies: Working on Specific Parts

1. Title Page

Follow the instructions and guidelines provided by your college. If you have any doubts, consult your instructor.

2. Executive Summary

It outlines what your report is about and summarizes the recommendations you make at its end. In a sense, it is your entire report boiled down to its very basics – it is usually about 100 words long. If it is required at all, it comes at the beginning of your paper, but you actually write it last of all, after you completed the research per se and made some conclusions. You cannot summarize what you have not yet done. Show your report to your instructor before writing the executive summary and finalize its structure and contents.

3. Table of Contents

Again, write it after you finish the rest of the paper. If you make any last-minute changes, make sure to recheck it and reflect them. Carefully study the formatting guide and follow it to the letter – although it may sound like a small thing, some minor deviation from the accepted order of things can mean a lot of trouble.

4. Introduction

Introduction points out the topic of the report and explains what it is about. Sometimes it is conflated with the Terms of Reference.

5. Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference provide a wider context for your research and give all the necessary information the reader needs to understand your report. So make sure it:

  • Provides background for your research (existing body of literature);
  • Explains the issue under scrutiny and your motivation for doing a report;
  • Points out the aims and the purpose of the report;
  • Gives a concise outline of the report’s structure (if it is long enough).

6. Procedure

Here you describe how you carried out your research: what methods you used, what equipment you applied, how you processed information and so on. Make it as detailed as possible, for it is supposed to guarantee your research is repeatable and verifiable.

7. Findings

The findings sections brings together everything you learned on the subject matter of your report through reading, observation, interviews and analysis. This is the main “meat” of your research, its primary basis. Do not just recount everything you learned: do it in a structured and consistent manner. Note which information was supported by multiple sources, what needs additional clarification or investigation, which points you were not able to prove and so on. Depending on the nature of your report, include any pictures, photos, graphs, tables and other visuals that can make your paper easier to follow or provide a more direct proof of this or that point.

8. Conclusions

Conclusions are the results of processing, analyzing and interpreting your findings. Boiled down to their simplest form, they represent an answer to three questions:

  • What did I find?
  • Is there anything significant or noteworthy about what I found?
  • Do my findings suggest anything?

For example, if you study the low share of women in programming and coding jobs, you can point out the following:

  • How the data you gathered explains why this situation exists;
  • What this means for the industry as a whole;
  • What are the possible outcomes if the situation persists (or does not persist).

9. Recommendations

Recommendations are what you believe to be the proper solution(s) for the problem discussed in the rest of the report. To zero in on potential recommendations, you can:

  • Carefully reread the Findings and Conclusions sections;
  • Think about similar situations and how they were resolved;
  • Study the existing trends and suggest ways of influencing them;
  • Check if your recommendations are viable and logically follow from findings and conclusions;
  • Provide enough details and supporting evidence to explain what you believe needs to be done and how it can be carried out.

Recommendations section is usually presented in the form of a numbered list, from the most to the least important.

10. Works Cited

Make sure you listed all the sources you used when working on your report.

11. Appendices

Here goes all the information you cannot include in the main report. Usually it is done because:

  • It is too long to include in the body of report in full and impossible to shorten;
  • It is supplemental material (huge graphs and tables, statistical calculations, etc.).

How to Write a Report in Women and Gender Studies: Proofreading and Editing

1. Check if You Followed the Instructions

If you were given a particular task, did you perform it? Did you follow all the guidelines received from your instructor? Did you answer the question you had to research?

2. Check the Structure

Does your report include all the required sections in the necessary order? Does each of them contain information pertinent to this particular section?

3. Check for Accuracy

Is all your information verifiable? Are the sources you used as proof trustworthy and objective?

4. Check for Logic and Consistency

Did you provide all the necessary information? Are there any gaps in your logic or reasoning? Does the information you provide fully support your findings, conclusions and recommendations? Are there any internal contradictions between the parts of your report? Do your recommendations logically follow from your findings and conclusions?

5. Check for Terminology

Did you explain all terms, expressions, abbreviations and acronyms that can be misunderstood? Did you used consistent terminology throughout the text?

6. Check Supplemental Materials

Are all your graphs, table, spreadsheets, pictures and photos properly numbered and labelled?

7. Check Your Formatting

Did you consistently use the same formatting and citation style throughout the report? Pay attention to page numbers, citations, headings and subheadings.

8. Check Spelling, Grammar and Syntax

If you do not trust yourself, use an online grammar checker like Grammarly but do not blindly follow all its recommendations – use them more like guidelines than instructions. Hire a proofreader or ask a friend or another student to read your report and point out your mistakes.

Writing a report, especially in such a sensitive topic as gender and women studies, is a lot of hard and meticulous work; but we believe that with the help of this guide it can be done.