Differences between business report and research paper

Business reports and research papers are the terms that are confused very often, and this is no surprise, because they are very interrelated.  A business report is usually the result of a business research, while a research paper is a more general notion and can be related to any discipline.  These papers have similar structures and are being the outcomes of research activities. However, the structures of these papers have different layout and components. In this article, the descriptions of a research report and a research paper are presented.

Business report

A business report usually contains information about the enterprise, its business operations and performances. There are several types of business reports, which are related to different functional areas of the company and have different purposes. Depending on these factors, reports may include different sections and have different structures. For example: financial and accounting reports represent financial statements.  Usually, this type of reports includes a big variety of financial sections such as revenues, income taxes, fair value measurements, intangible assets, impairment of assets, earning per share, share-based payment, etc. The majority of this data are quantitative and presented in tables, chart and diagrams. A different layout and structure would be in the marketing report. In this case, the information would be qualitative and include a lot of explanation and analysis.  However, most of the time, business reports combine sections that are related to different functional areas. As a result, they include financial statements, management information, procurement and operations activities, marketing and sales reports, etc. Despite the complexity of data, there is a basic structure of business report that is always present. The report is divided into five components:

  • Background – this information explains the purpose of the report and includes its executive summary. It also contains backgrounds information of the business and organizational context.
  • Procedure – the procedure area describes the steps that have been taken while designing a business report.
  • Finding – This component of the business report contains the main information about different functional areas of the company.
  • Conclusions – A logical conclusion must be made after the findings sections. This section presents the results of the analysis and serves as a basis for further business decisions.
  • Recommendations – Finally, the recommendation section proposes to make various business decisions, which are based on the results of the report. It is very important to outline the ideas in a coherent and professional manner.


Research paper

A research paper is a result of continuous study of a particular research topic that can be related to any discipline. Writing it requires effective technical writing skills. A research paper is divided into a number of sections that allows the reader to look it through selectively. This is the main similarity with the business report.  However, while business report contains mostly empirical data, scientific research usually uses a lot of literature sources and very often relies only on the desk research. Research paper usually has the following structure:

  • Abstract – An abstract of the research paper is a concise paragraph summary of completed work. A business report has a similar section, which is called executive summary.
  • Introduction – In the introduction section, the importance of the study is specified as well as the purpose of the research. It shortly describes the approach and the model of the research project and states the research objective or hypothesis.
  • Methodology – The methodology section describes the research strategy, methods and techniques used during collection, interpretation and data analysis.
  • Literature review – Literature review is probably the most time-consuming part of the research paper as it presents a summary and critical review of the literature used for the research.
  • Findings – The findings section presents the outcomes of the research and what has been discovered.
  • Discussion – In this section a critical analysis of the findings is present.
  • Conclusions.