Depending on your current course load or discipline, you may find yourself stumbling into various banking topics this year. Whether they be basic ones such as, the different types of banking, the history of, technological changes, or the faults of the industry, its likely that all of them, to some degree, will require the use of financial information.
This data or information may come in the form of empirical results, an illustrated example, or as supportive evidence to back up a particular statement or claim. And how you intend to incorporate and present your financial data will largely depend on the role it plays in your research (in accordance with your thesis statement and objective). Some people may need a ton of financial data to support a point, while others may simply need a few tables and charts.
Financial research papers
In most cases your research paper on banking
or any other finance topic
, will involve some form of empirical research. Empirical studies for example, may involve an investigation of a specific bank and some of their activities or researching a particular banking practice, its outcomes, and so on. A paper that doesn't involve new original research for instance (a more theoretical-based paper), may, for example, focus primarily on the history of banking or the application of relevant banking theories.
If your paper covers the empirical side, you may be interested in using financial data to support or illustrate your findings. This is likely the most popular use of financial information in banking-related research papers.
*For example, if your research topic seeks to examine banking regulatory practices for one or two banks (that have been known to have serious problems in the past), your key financial information would likely be; call reports. Call reports are important documents that are usually filed quarterly for the regulators of a particular bank (this practice is a requirement mandated by the FFIEC-Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council).
Where to include financial information?
One of the most important points regarding the presentation of financial data is knowing exactly where to place it. Just like a good quote, the strategic placement of data is crucial to the proper development of your argument as well as the organization and structure of your paper. One method of placing data is to first examine the full layout of the research paper
. You may ask yourself; Which sections would best house my financial information?
Common sections of the research paper
Though paper structures vary, in most cases a paper would be set up as follows;
- Background information and review of literature
- Research design or Methods and Procedures
- Results or Findings
- Conclusions, Discussion, Recommendations
- Appendices (if necessary)
So in reviewing these chapter headings, we can see that the ideal places for our data would be the results or findings section. Naturally if conducting empirical research, as this outline suggest, the information obtained from the study would be placed in that section.
And also using the previous example on call reports
this information may actually appear in the background section of the paper instead of the results or findings
section. For instance, the quarterly reports that a student obtains to illustrate a point about a particular banking institution, wouldn't be considered empirical research for that paper. It would simply be data that was gathered to help support the research question or the paper's thesis statement
. Therefore this information may end up in the background or introduction section of the paper
as well as an additional resource in the appendix section.
Utilizing the appendix section of your research paper
The last section noted here is the appendix. The purpose of the appendix is to provide supplementary or additional information regarding the research that was conducted. This information is optional and therefore not required to make sense of the paper. And this point alone is a very good distinguishing factor. So if the data you have is necessary for the body of your paper, it shouldn't be in the appendix. *Often times readers will not even bother to look it over, so any information there should definitely be optional.
And from that explanation we can see that the appendix is actually a great place for raw numbers and other financial data (possibly a report that shows a breakdown of numbers, or just a document that provides a bit more detail than what is needed).
*Its also good to note that the above example is a scientific form of the research paper outline. Other outlines for more theory-based papers may appear differently (perhaps without a clear cut methods section) but will still present many opportunities for the inclusion of financial data.
Making use of tables and charts
Finally, one of the most common ways to integrate financial data into a report is through the use of tables and charts. In many cases these inserts are a result of a student's own calculations but may sometimes be taken directly from a source (if the need for such data is pressing). These tables and charts can present a multitude of information and be used throughout the paper-wherever needed-from the background section to the conclusion. An example of a table being used in a finance-related document can be seen below.
An example of data inclusion from a paper prepared for The Brookings Institution of Washington, DC
In a paper about multifamily housing units and how they are financed, the author, Ann Schnare, follows up her introduction with a definition of what a multifamily unit is (this may also be considered her background section). In her definition of this term she provides a table that illustrates the makeup of multifamily dwellings according to an estimation that was derived by combining several sources. Along with this she also brings another table that details the median household income of multifamily units as compared to all housing units.The end result of both charts is the placement of relevant information into the background or definition section of the paper.
This too can be done with numerous financial calculations derived by students as well as those imported from other sources (which of course, should always be properly credited and sourced).