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Research Skills

Information to help students find, write, evaluate and reference information for their assignments.


As part of your course you may have to write many different types of documents. Reports, essays and case studies are some of the most common. Here are some tips for writing these different formats. 

You can find out more about academic writing in our Study Skills Libguide here.

Case Studies

Case studies are a way to apply theory you have studied to real-life examples. In general, a case study will require you to examine a scenario or situation and

  • Identify key issues
  • Identify problems
  • Identify possible solutions and results
  • Discuss the implications of the possible solutions
  • Identify and justify the most suitable solution

Case studies may be presented as an essay or a report. Check the format required with your teacher.

Literature reviews

A literature review assesses all the material that has been published in a particular area, evaluating and summarising each source in relation to your field of study.  These resources will help you to conduct and write a literature review.

Reports and essays

A report is a formal document, usually written to inform readers about  a particular topic or scenario. A report will usually have the following parts :

  • Title page
  • An introduction
  • Sub headings in the body of the report
  • A conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • Reference List/Bibliography

It may also  have a table of contents,  an abstract (or executive summary) at the beginning of the report, and appendices containing extra relevant information at the end. Graphics, charts and tables, or dot points to highlight information may be included.

Check what is required for your specific report with your teacher.


How is a report different from an essay?

Any essay is also a formal document, but it usually presents an argument or discussion in response to a question or statement. In an essay, information flows from one paragraph to the next with linking sentences. There are usually no sub headings.

How do I set out my report or essay?

Both essays and reports require planning, setting out (margins, clear spacing) and proof reading to ensure accuracy. Check if a particular font and size (e.g. Arial, 12 point) are  required by your Teaching Centre.

 Further information :

Note taking , summarising and paraphrasing

It's important to record information from your readings, and be able to summarise and put the information into your own words.

You will need to record the details of your sources to use in your reference list/bibliography.

The following website gives you tips on how to take notes that will be useful for your assignments.

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